Mistakes I’m Glad I Made In 2017

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I’m proud of my 2017, but not because I “crushed it.” Upon reflection, I did some things this past year that I hope to never do again.

Each point below represents (1) my biggest mistakes of 2017 and (2) my correlating resolution for 2018.

I sought after big breaks instead of daily disciplines.

  1. It’s both addicting and exhilarating to have a video go viral or be invited to debate on TV. I clearly remember where I was when both these things happened and I also remember thinking that this was my “big break.”

    But it wasn’t. Life moved on and those things didn’t turn into a thriving career. Instead, they evaporated about as quickly as they showed up, along with several other “big breaks” that happened this past year.

    I spent so much time trying to jump 300% forward that I often missed out on the opportunity to improve myself by 1% everyday. And the ironic thing is that every “big break” that happened was something that I just lucked into. I never orchestrated them myself, they just happened.

    So while “big breaks” are one way to progress, they’re only meaningful if they are nested within a routine of well-thought out daily disciplines.
  2. I resolve to measure the product of important daily disciplines with monthly OKR’s (and yes, that means using a spreadsheet)!

I flippantly pushed out content

  1. I put out more content in 2017 than the entire rest of my life combined. That’s not an exaggeration. Hours of podcasts, blogs and videos were released to the world for consumption. Some of that content I am extremely proud of and some of it I am legitimately embarrassed by.

    My thinking was that if I put out a lot, then I’ll get better at making content and some of it is bound to resonate with my audience. While that statement is true, the mistake I made was this: releasing subpar content was taking my audience for granted.

    And there’s one easy distinction to be made between content I’m proud of and content I’m not proud of: my gut. Whenever my gut tells me something is ready to go, it’s usually right. And if I’m unsettled, that’s usually right too. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend enough time listening to my gut this past year, which meant a lot of premature content was released on my part.
  2. I resolve to put out more thoughtful and highly produced content that passes the “gut test.”

I unproductively burnt bridges

  1. A shrieking homeless person will probably command your attention while you pass by him. But the content of what he says will be forgotten shortly afterwards, for all of eternity.

    A big mistake I made this past year was using an insensitive tone to get people to listen to me about global poverty. There’s no question that I was able to generate some head turns, but to what end? Did more people learn about global poverty? Or, instead, did they completely miss my point because I didn’t take the time to explain my position with an empathetic tone?

    Sometimes the truth is offensive. But a tone doesn’t have to ever be offensive. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned that it’s okay to state the truth, so long as it’s spoken with empathy for the audience.
  2. I resolve to only offend people with content and not with tone.

I set unrealistic goals

  1. At the beginning of last year I resolved to be on the cover of Time Magazine in 2017. And I only sort of accomplished it!

    But seriously, what was I thinking? Oh that’s right…I wasn’t! I just wanted to say something that would provoke a reaction and see if it would miraculously come true.

    It was delusional at best and a distraction from much more important things at worst. And, after tracking my goals for the month of December in 2017, one of my biggest regrets of the past year was not starting sooner.
  2. I resolve to set challenging, but realistic and trackable, goals on a monthly basis.

I got distracted

  1. I’m fortunate to know that I have things to say that people want to hear. But that doesn’t mean everything I say needs to be heard. In other words, I need to keep my mouth shut, especially when it’s a distraction from what I really care about: extreme poverty alleviation.

    Politics, AI, tech startups, cryptocurrency, current events, VR, social media, apologetics, etc. I will happily converse about any of these things for hours, but I know I need to keep my public posts focused on just one thing.

    This may just be the hardest resolution I have to keep, which likely means it’s also the most crucial.
  2. I resolve to only post content pertaining to my life’s passion: extreme poverty alleviation.

“Mistakes” may not be the best word to describe the above list. “Learning experiences” fits better. I did things that I hope not to do again. But they weren’t regrettable experiences, so long as my 2018 shows a conscious improvement on my 2017.

I wish the same for you. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!