Goodbye “Dmitri’s Impossible Year”
From this point on, there is no more impossible year. There is no goal of making $5K/month in revenue by June 2020. It’s over.
What does that mean? Are you giving up on entrepreneurship? Did you burn out? Are you tired? Are you running out of money?
No, I’m feeling pretty good actually, thank you. My bank account isn’t too happy though.
I’m still running Interview Insider, and many other projects.
So what’s actually changing?
It isn’t called “Dmitri’s Impossible Year” anymore, and I’m not trying to make $5K/month.
So what are you trying to do? And what’s it called?
I’m trying to design a life that makes me happy, and it isn’t called anything. It’s just my journey.
Yeah, I understand your confusion. Allow me to explain.
The thing about setting a goal is that you end up orienting yourself towards achieving it. So when you choose a single overarching goal, you better think a lot about that and choose it wisely.
When I was originally coming up with the “Impossible Year”, I thought a lot about what it should be called, and what the goals should be. I was very close to calling it my “Year Of Making”, and not having a revenue goal at all.
At the last minute, I decided (against my feelings at the time) that there should be a revenue goal. It would make everything more hype and interesting than if I just said my goal was to “Do stuff I like, and see where it goes”, which would’ve been far more accurate.
Last month, when I was considering ending the impossible year, this came up again, and I chose not only to keep the revenue goal, but to increase it. Rationally it made a lot of sense. I needed to make money after all, and that new number was more grounded in reality than before.
There’s only one problem, which has been around since the beginning of the impossible year, which is that I don’t care about money. The only reason I needed revenue was to repay my student loans. If I had no loans, I’d just be building cool projects, and money would not be a part of the equation.
There were a lot of projects that I wanted to build that I thought could have some social impact, but they would make no money in the short-term. Since I was prioritizing revenue, I couldn’t justify building them.
But I also couldn’t build a business that I didn’t care about just because it had good revenue potential. It would be too hard to get the motivation to work on it.
So I ended up in a compromise where I built things I kind of liked, that could kind of make money, but that weren’t really the best things I could be working on.
A better position might be to work on projects that I really love for a longer term timeline, i.e more than 1 year, and slowly build them up to be profitable.
It wouldn’t be a quick 1 year $5K/month success, and I’d need a job to sustain myself in the extra time needed, but maybe I would be a lot happier working on those projects.
Do I even want to start a business?
I consider entrepreneurship to be one of my hobbies, and I have a long list of hobbies. Is it the one I want to spend most of my time on? I don’t know yet. I haven’t been doing it long enough to answer that.
I think it *might* be the thing to spend my time on right now, but maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe I should drop my mixtape instead.
The impossible year goal was based upon some serious short-term thinking. Even though it is largely agreed upon that long-term thinking allows for better planning, my plans were based on very short-term thinking.
How did that happen?
Visas and immigration
The first reason for my short-term thinking was visa and immigration issues. I’m not American, so there are a lot of restrictions on what I can do. The tl;dr is that while I can legally run a business right now, it will become illegal in one year when my OPT runs out (I know, what an amazing law).
Therefore, I could either try to achieve massive success in this year to get a better visa, achieve massive success and leave the US, or get a job and wait 5 years until I have my green card to actually be an entrepreneur.
Most of my international entrepreneur friends choose the last option, and I can’t blame them. It’s the only option that allows for long-term thinking.
The second reason is my student loans, the great millennial crisis of 2019. As much as I have tried to brush them off, I’ve had no choice recently but to face the reality of my loans. I owe over $200K (thanks UCLA).
Given that reality, I could either get my well paying software job, which would allow me to repay my loans in a few years, or I could take on the impossible goal of paying that entire loan off through my own business.
Me being me, I chose the second option.
The problem isn’t even whether or not I can make the $5K/month, I think that part is do-able. The problem is that I cannot possibly predict when that will happen. Maybe I’ll make it next month. Maybe it’ll take 2 years.
That time uncertainty, combined with the time restrictions of the visa situation, leads to an inevitable conflict.
The pivot to long-term thinking
Short-term thinking is not a good way to make major life decisions.
Life is long, so long-term thinking is just more accurate. Thinking in long-term timelines allows me to do things like focus on a project that will take 3 years to make revenue, but that I’m in love with. Short-term thinking would instantly delete that idea because it isn’t making money *right now*.
Long-term thinking allows you to think more broadly about the life you really want, and the things that make you happy, and figure out the right systems to get you there.
To find myself
There was actually a hidden goal in the impossible year. Secretly, I didn’t even care whether I succeeded at the external goal or not.
I wanted to “find myself”. I wanted to know who I was. Some people go travel the world to find themselves. Some of us set ridiculous goals to see how far we can get.
To me it wasn’t about whether the $5K goal was achieved or not. It was about learning who I was along the way.
Do you know who you are? Do you really?
I didn’t, but I’ve learned a lot so far, and I’m still learning.
The real goal is happiness
I don’t care about getting $5K in revenue, and I don’t even care about starting a business to be honest. I just care about finding the things that make me happy, and designing a life where I can do those things.
I enjoy building things, and I enjoy solving problems. Starting a business allows me to do those things, but I can also do them without a business. And there are other things I enjoy, such as writing.
Is starting a business my best path to happiness? I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. Maybe it isn’t, and that’s alright with me. I’m not trying to be the next great business legend. I’m just trying to be happy.
I just want to be useful
When I think about what the meaning of life is, and what purpose I should be working towards, the only answer that makes sense for me is to be as useful to humanity as I can (while being happy of course).
One of the reasons I wanted to start a business is because I thought, based on my own self assessment and the observation of others, that I could be more useful to humanity by building new products than by getting a job.
It’s not that I want to “be my own boss” or “get rich”. I just think I can be more useful starting a company based on who I am. Many people are more useful (and much happier) at a job they love, which is great.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m more useful at a job, or doing something else.
Life Is A Journey
This blog, if it continues, will no longer be about trying to make $5K in revenue in a year. It will simply be my story as I try to find my way in this world.
I’m working on various projects right now, I like writing, and I make music sometimes. Who knows what I’ll do next. I tend to change my mind a lot, so anything can happen.
If you find that interesting, I welcome you to join me on this journey.
If you were only here for the story of the $5K revenue goal, then thank you for joining me this far, and goodbye.
If you made it all the way to the end of this introspective meditation, then I thank you for taking the time to read my words, and I hope there’s something here that you can apply to your life as well.
Much love, and the journey continues.