And managed to buy a house at the same time

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Photo: Ales Nesetril/Unsplash

While most people awoke the morning of January 1st, 2020 — blissfully unaware of the dumpster fire ahead — I awoke in a panic.

No, I was not some psychic capable of predicting the horrible events of 2020, I awoke in a panic because of another number.


After a major repair on our aging car, moving to a new city, going a month without a paycheck, and two years of poor spending habits, our credit card debt had ballooned out of control.

On January 1, 2021, exactly 366 days later (2020 was a leap year) that number was $0.

How to find the time you supposedly don’t have for your side gig

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Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

I get it.

You hate your job. You wish you could do something more meaningful with your life. You want more freedom, blah, blah, blah.

If it were 2015, I’d probably say something like “Quit your job! Follow your dreams! Who wants to die shackled to their cubicle?”

When I left my full-time job to do God-knows-what, I even low-key bragged about it.

Many of my projects don’t yield positive financial returns. But the growth I experience and the knowledge I collect by challenging myself with new projects is an investment in myself.


Do you know what happens when your “projects don’t yield positive financial returns?” You end up $26,000 in debt, emotionally scarred, and a bit more jaded than you should be. …

I don’t like pets.

There I said it.

They’re messy. They throw up everywhere. You have to feed them special food.

Long gone are the days where animal-human relations were mutually beneficial — we give you fire if you give us meat sort of thing.

However, even I, a curmudgeon at heart, can’t explain this feeling of happiness I currently possess.

Tomorrow, we adopt a puppy.

The thought of it should make me miserable but it doesn’t.

Instead, I’m filled with joy thinking of my boys’ reaction when we tell them the surprise. …

Every three months a box shows up on my front step.

Inside the box are six carefully selected bottles of wine.

I didn’t have to awkwardly stand in the aisle at the liquor store and pretend to decipher which one to buy (when all I’m doing is picking out which label looks fancy but not too fancy).

I didn’t have to make a decision, someone else did that for me.

Netflix has a recommended section. Spotify curates custom playlists. Even your big box grocery store will send you coupons based on past purchases.

Everyone’s stepping in to make the choices for you. It’s easy, it’s convenient, and it’s a sure way to make a quick buck. …

I did it without remorse. One by one, I unfollowed everyone on Twitter until my timeline became a barren desert.

Well, it wasn’t completely barren, Twitter still tried to serve up irrelevant “promoted” posts. But that wasn’t going to stop me.

I was going to beat the Algorithm.

You see, when Charles Dickens wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” he was referring to a not-so-distant future society. One where each person would attach themselves to tiny devices to do the tiniest of activities — eat, talk, find love.

These devices, as he accurately predicted, would be a blessing to mankind, and a curse. …

The answer is neither and both.

I — like many writers — find myself faced with the same predicament: We have ideas we want to share in a book but don’t have the “sizable” platform to land a publishing deal.

It’s the “how do you land a job without job experience conundrum?”

So what do you do, write the book and try to sell it on your own? Or spend more time on Twitter and various websites to slowly grow your audience?

Like I said, neither and both.

Your job as a writer is to connect ideas. You do so by staying informed, by following your curiosity, and most of all, by sitting down and fleshing out your thoughts. …

Like many people, my love of chess was rekindled after watching Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit late last year.

My wife and I (and our 5-year-old son) soon were all playing each other daily, watching YouTube videos of strategy and tactics, and playing with other avid players around the world (thank you

Chess is a relatively easy game to learn. Each side has 6 unique pieces, 32 in total, across 64 black and white squares. Each piece may move a certain way. Whoever captures the King first, wins. That’s it.

However, the more I studied and filled my head with tactics the more I lost. …

Success is a nice thing to desire.

I want it. You want it. We all secretly want it.

But then there’s the level of success where success is more of…

There are 7.594 billion people in the world — 2.3 billion more than when I was born.

With so many humans, it’s tempting to play with such thoughts as:

  • What use do I still have?
  • Can I possibly be original?
  • How will I ever stand out?

Throughout my 20’s that’s all I could think about — how to be more, how to be better, how to be useful.

And then there was a turning point, right around when I turned 30, where I set aside ambition and felt comfortable with my role in life.

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” …

Back in 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted was nothing more than a washed-up journalist with a small interest in parks and gardens. He was 35 with few prospects available and little career experience.

That didn’t stop Olmsted from applying for a superintendent job.

Not just any superintendent job, the one to oversee the design and development of the then-unknown “Central Park” of New York City.

He and his good friend, Calvert Vaux, submitted their idea to a design competition for a new park to be built in New York City.

Their design won, why? Because it was the only one to include sunken transverse roadways effectively hiding the much-needed cross traffic. …


Declan Wilson

Stay-at-home dad. 9-to-5 escapee. Aldi aficionado. Author of this book 👉

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