Unrealistic goal

Solving a wrong problem with tools I didn’t have

Last week I came across Small Product Lab, a challenge to launch a small product within 10 days. This post is an assignment on day 6 “… write down something you’ve learned or were inspired by in the last few days”.


When I decided to join the challenge I already has a product in mind, a book on specific topic of iOS, since I’m iOS developer. The fact that I have absolute zero knowledge on writing an ebook, choosing topic that I already have knowledge save me from learning two new things at the same time, so I can focus on making a product.

First few days were very fun and pleasant. I made progress on the product (at least that what I thought back then) I write down my plan, make a landing page, finding tools to write an ebook, I do everything but the writing.

On day 5 it was the day I started writing and that was when reality hit me.

I spent whole day sitting, writing a few paragraph, cross that out and this activities goes on and on.

Two day passed by and I still got nothing, writing required some set of skill that I don’t have yet. At that moment I’m ready to quite and I got my excuses ready in place.

  1. English isn’t my native language.
  2. I may not smart enough to teach anyone anyway.
  3. 10 days are very short period of time to get thing done.

With these excuses I feel safe through the rest of the day.

Solving wrong problem with tools I didn’t have

That night I have a chat with my friend about why I quit, here is some part of the conversation.

Me: Writing is very hard, I have no idea what to write. Even I can write those information also available in the Apple document. I can’t think why they should read my book.

Him: You know what? the problem is those who don’t know didn’t read.

This simple response make me look back to my goal, the reason I decided to write a book about iOS is because I have knowledge and I see lot of people asking and making simple mistakes (the one that you wouldn’t if you read online document), but what I tried to do was writing yet another book that they not gonna read (who would read a book with poorer writing style right?).

A new constraint

After I realize I have made some mistake I come up with a new constraint.

Make it easier to read, so those who don’t want to read will read.

It turn out this new constraint really help me.

The solution I came up with this was I won’t write, I will draw! I forgot that I’m better at drawing than writing, there is no language involved in drawing and I used to doodle in my free time, so I start playing with this approach and I quite satisfied with this so far. It would be like picture book for programming.

Here are some sample.

A page from my working picture book for programming.

In the end I don’t know that I will able to sell this to someone or not, I will write another post when I see the result.

Shameless plug: If you want to notified when product come out you can follow me at Gumroad or Twitter

So, lessons learned from the last few days are

Have a clear and right goal

Know your audience and craft your product tailored for them.

Be realistic and embrace constraint.

Figure out what you got and what you needed to achieved your goal and don’t fool yourself like I did. And sometime constraint give you a new way to solve a problem.

Adjust goal based on your constraint.

with unrealistic goal you will get nothing, but miserable along the way (in my case two days of miserable). Evaluate