My first counselling session, shipping things people won't use, and budgeting hurts
Kia ora Friends,
How has the week been for you?
Monday was a public holiday for me, so I planned with a friend to make a trip up the mountain to do some skiing (which I haven’t done in a while).
Sadly, the mountain was closed due to high winds. However, on the flip side, the friend, to whom I was supposed to make this trip, and I decided to have a breakfast catch-up instead.
Despite not getting to glide along the slopes, the conversation I had with my friend was stimulating. We talked about his difficulties as a business owner and how he plans to overcome them, our feature goals, and we were overall very vulnerable in front of each other — I appreciated this human contact.
My first counselling session
Human contact is important for mental wellbeing and this moves me onto my next topic of discussion — counselling. I had my first proper session this week.
Before you think there is something wrong with me, I can assure you there is nothing bleedingly wrong — though I don’t think anyone is 100% normal.
I do feel great, so you might be thinking why go to a counselling session?
I even questioned that with the counsellor. Aren’t I just clogging up their resources with my self-referral?
My counsellor used the analogy of a car. He said to me, you still get your car serviced even when it’s running fine, you can do the same with your mind.
And that is exactly how I would like to treat those sessions.
Furthermore, the service I went to is run by donation. There is no consultation fee. You just pay what you can. It blows my mind that there are services like this and I feel like more people should know about this.
During my first session, here is what we’re able to extract and what to do about them:
I am guilty about the privilege in my life. For most people, life gets harder: bills pile up, health declines, you get dependants, your parents get sick, and your relationship can break down. The optimism you had early in your life starts to dwindle. Seeing this around me is difficult. But even if my life is great, enjoy this chapter while it lasts and don’t feel guilty because of this. I am single with few essential expenses — so go out there and take risks, and learn new things. But this can change, enjoy it now and feeling guilty is only a waste of time.
I am paralysed by the level of opportunity I have. I am someone who thinks too much. And I am actually presented with a good problem, here. The worst thing I can do is nothing. And the best thing I can do is to keep moving. This comes back to the first point about enjoying and taking risks. Since I’m blessed with very little baggage, the opportunity is overwhelming. This can make it feel like I’m missing out on something and that alone makes you feel paralysed. But we must realise that we can always try something new and if you don’t like it or can’t justify the time, then you can move onto something else — there will always be some regret and we need to be okay with this.
I plan to have these sessions once a month. It benefits me because I am given some homework and I am forced to stop and think life through often instead of just pushing things off to the side. Did you have anything to add or contribute? Feel free to provide your own experiences.
Shipping things and showing agency
I’ve got back into the motion of creating hobby projects outside of work. I touched on it briefly in last week's edition, where I am creating a static site generator using SvelteKit.
The goal of this project is to create an internal wiki for our development team. The reason is I don’t like using GitHub Wiki.
The thing is I haven’t told the team about this project. So I’m a bit fearful that when it comes to showing this off in our next standup, they won’t like it or it won’t get used.
So I just keep hacking away at it until it’s “perfect”. But at the moment, it’s viable to show. And working on it, wasn’t a waste of time because I learnt so much working on this.
The more I delay showing this project, the more time I “waste” working on something that will never be used, because I’m getting to the stage where the project just needs tweaks — the learning experience is diminishing for fixing time-consuming edge cases. So, the goal is to share this project and gauge if it will be used or not. If not, I can move on.
Moving on from this idea, I had a meeting with my big boss. We talked about the idea that I could contribute more to our biweekly product demos. So far, I just attend the meetings and don’t say much — for one reason, there is very little I need to say. But this is where I can pitch some ideas and potentially get a project that I can work on of which I can hopefully add value to the team.
With that, I am more than just pixels on a screen, as is the case with a remote team. This is much more stimulating than just knocking off issues on the backlog.
On the other hand, we need to be weary that we can have grand ideas that involve a lot of effort and might just lead to more burden on the team — bringing things down to reality. As well as this, we implement scrum for a reason, and that’s to focus on the work that needs doing.
It’s been six months since I’ve been employed full-time. I’ve had my fun. And now it’s time to painfully sit down and look at where the money is going.
Budgeting is something I put off often because it’s the harsh reality of looking at what you are spending, and potentially wasting money on.
However, after you get over that initial discomfort, writing a budget does give you a sense of control over what you are putting your money towards.
You start to prioritise what’s essential and what’s non-essential. You also are able to discipline yourself on purchases. For example, if you want to buy ‘x’, you know how much time it will take you to save for it and then you really start to question if you really need it or not. Before, I’d just make the purchase and wonder why the bank balance isn’t going up.
Finally, I thought I was wasting money on flying lessons when analysing my budget. I told my mother this, and she said to me that putting money towards learning anything new is never a waste of money. This is similar to how I think about shipping products no one will use — you have to focus on their positives, which I a lesson for myself.
Last week I talked about starting a podcast with ManawaTech, episode #0 is booked for tomorrow so wish me luck. I haven’t had a good chance to playground with the gadgets provided by Blueprint, but now I have another idea involving 3D printing, so watch this space.
Thanks for reading all of this, I hope you found some value in it.
I hope you have a good week, and catch you next weekend.
My Favourite Things
1. Video — Ali Abdaal on Journalling
This a high-value video on journalling, which is something I have done consistently for almost 4 years. I am going to implement gratitude, again.
Abdaal offers some good prompts like:
Write about life 5 years on the same path
Write about life 5 years on a different path
Taking a different path if month and others’ judgements didn’t matter
Wheel of Life
Actions to improve a spoke of life (e.g. seeing friends, work etc).
Write about the worst-case scenario thing that can happen from doing what you are scared to try
How to prevent the worst-case
How to repair the worst-case
Benefits of a partial attempt
Ask what life will look like if you didn’t undertake
At the moment, I just put on my todos. What I want to do more of is write about my feelings, which I do sometimes, and rationalise them (you realise how irrational your fears are). And I want to reflect on my day more — a story a day.
Directed by Adam McKay, Vice is an interesting look at Dick Cheney’s incumbent as Vice President of the United States. It’s an interesting retrospective for me who was a child during that era. What stuck out to me was the fact that Cheney was running the country while George W. Bush appeared more as a figurehead. This was an interesting watch.
3. Film — First They Killed My Father (2017)
A great film directed by Angelina Jolie. I remember watching The Killing Fields (1984) back in high school and from those days I will never forget the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge. This film cements it further. It is based on the Loung Ung’s memoir, and this is another recommended watch.
Quote of the Week
"Numerous studies across academic fields suggest that people comfortable with uncertainty are more creative and are more successful as entrepreneurs and more effective as leaders." (Nathan Furr, The Upside of Uncertainty)