A Transparent Look at 2015 and My Goals for 2016 (plus, how I plan to use the “5x5x5 Scale” to quit my full-time job)
Welcome to my final post of 2015. I’m applying B.J. Novak’s advice from a recent podcast with Tim Ferriss and reflecting on my experiences, both good and bad from this year. The TLDR version of this post is: I underestimated how much I could accomplish in 2015, thus I am upping my goals in 2016 by a factor of 5. Bring it.
The beginning of 2015 reminded me of my teenage years. Awkward, self-conscious, and pimply. No, I didn’t experience a late-in-life growth spurt, rather a crisis of identity.
A few short months after my wife and I decided to re-brand Millennial Type away from a multi-author journal to our own personal blog, I was unsure about the direction I wanted to take.
Fearing I made a big mistake leaving Cooking in College, I questioned what the point of all this was. Should I even continue?
The short answer is yes, but along the way I learned some valuable lessons.
[Part ONE]: Meeting Mr. Goins, The Birth of my Son, and Underestimating my Potential
Suddenly, I had a clearer vision of what I wanted MT to be — I wrote a manifesto and set out to work with my new found purpose.
But my excitement quickly dissipated as the due date for my son approached.
My dreams of becoming “Internet Famous” wavered as I thought: How will I ever find the time to create anything with a baby around?
However, the perceived lack of time had an opposite effect. Instead, I created more content than my previous 4 years of blogging combined.
Something changes when you become a parent. There is the obvious increase in bodily fluids everywhere, sleepless nights, and lack of time, but at the same time there is an increase in your appreciation for the tiny bits of time in your day, what I like to call, the margins of life.
These small moments become so precious, you don’t dare waste them.
And waste them I did not.
[Part TWO]: I Destroyed my Goals for 2015
To start with some perspective, I started 2015 with 17 people on my email list and about 300 Twitter followers. I’ll get to why this is significant in a moment.
Early in 2015, I wrote out a list of goals in my notebook.
For nearly half a year now, I’ve learned to live with a lack of sleep chasing those goals. Not because of my son (who’s a good sleeper) but because of the self-imposed late nights spent writing, creating, and thinking.
Retrospectively, I underestimated my talents and how much I could achieve. People tend to overestimate how much they can do in a day, but underestimate how much they can accomplish in a year.
I’m a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Here are a few of my goals I wrote out for 2015:
- Grow MT email subscriber list to 100
- Grow MT Twitter followers to 1,000
- Write a 20,000 word draft of my eBook
At the beginning of the year, I was so gung-ho on hitting the numbers: the number of subscribers, the number of Twitter followers, the number of words written, etc.
But once my son arrived, none of that mattered anymore. Instead of feeling dejected about the amount (or lack thereof) of views MT had, I shifted my focus to serving the existing audience I already had. I wrote a guest blog post for Todd Brison about my change of heart here.
This method had a reverse effect: the numbers started to grow more! Here is where I currently stand:
- 189 email subscribers
- 1,263 Twitter followers
- I’m not really sure how many words I have for my eBook. Currently, I have roughly 15,000 words of word vomit that might or might not end up in the finished product.
So lesson learned? I need to set my sights on loftier goals for 2016.
[Part THREE]: The 5x5x5 Scale and Why I need to Make $4,500 Next Year
I’m going to just lay it out on the table, here are my goals for 2016:
- 1,000 subscribers to Millennial Type
- 6,250 twitter followers
- Write 12 guest blog posts
- Read 12 books
- Write 500 words every weekday
- Effectively launch and promote 1 eBook
- Make $4,500 from my blogging and content creating efforts
At first glance, these goals frighten me. But at the same time, they don’t seem way out of my league either. In fact, they seem just challenging enough for me to aspire without despairing and giving up hope.
If you do the math, all of my goals are roughly 5 times greater than my baseline I set this year. I call this the “5x5x5 Scale.” In layman terms, take a baseline of something you know you can do, and over the next three years, scale it by a factor of 5, year after year after year.
The big goal I want to attain is the $4,500 of income generated from blogging. Full disclosure, I made $900 of income this year. But I’m going to need a lot more than that to “retire” from my nine-to-five and start my own venture in 2018.
I need to prove to myself, and more importantly, my wife, that I can do something I love and support our family at the same time. So if I can generate $4,500 in 2016, scale that by 5 in 2017 and again in 2018, then I’ll be looking at a six-figure business (enough for me to comfortably leave the confines of the cube farm).
To be honest, I keep hearing inside my head: Declan, this isn’t possible. There is no way you can make a living doing something you love.
I’ve battled this voice the majority of my adult life. But I know if I can break up my dream into smaller, more manageable goals, I have a shot of reaching my dream.
It’s time for me to stop fearing what I think I can’t do.
[Part FOUR]: Conclusion and Thank You’s
After becoming a father, everything changed.
What I didn’t anticipate was the sudden change in perspective about my life and it’s purpose. I realized leaving behind a legacy for my son is much more important to me than becoming “Internet Famous.”
Now I just need to discover what that legacy is.
To wrap up, I want to thank all my readers who have encouraged me throughout this year. I also want to thank my wife for her support and amazing mom abilities!
Finally, I want to give a shout out to these wonderful individuals who I’ve been lucky enough to interact with because of this blog: Anu and Suyog, Lisa Kirk, Jordan DePaul, Alex Rawitz, Chef Chris Hill, Catherine Cason, Todd Brison, Andrea Wien (Duchon), Jon Westenberg, and many others!
See you in 2016!