100 Days After Quitting My Job, How Have I Been? | Jul. 2020

A Letter to My Future Self

Dear Zake,

I’m the 26-year-old of you from 2020, how have you been? Since 2015, I decide to take a day every month to reflect on work, life, relationship and mental clarity. This is the 55th mail that I send to you.

July, 2020–100 Days After I Quitting My Job

By the time you see this post, I have been self-employed (or “unemployed”) for 100 days. Do I regret my decision of giving up a good promising opportunity? Definitely no.

I want to talk about what I’ve been doing in the past 2–3 months, what I’ve been pondering and what’s next… It’s a way of self affirmation and documentary, but I hope it might also help you somehow in the future.

What I’m doing?

I realize my main focus are on these 5 aspects:

1. Video Channel ( Bilibili | YouTube )

This used to be my hobby and thing to work on in late nights or during weekends. Now I spend a little more time on it, and promise myself to update weekly and be more professional about the channel, not just an amatuer weekend playground.

I make videos on personal development and self experiments, so I always take me more time to make a video than most creators. Because usually I give myself 30 days or 7 days, to try something, then I can talk about my opinions and what I’ve learned.

To be honest, the cost and traffic show that this kind of videos really doesn’t attract many views and platform algorithms’ preference. But the process of making that video means a lot for me.

I can always learn new things and skills during researching, writing scripts and editing, and surprisingly, although I only have 46K subscribers, the activeness, respect and trust I see among them are incredible. I have to keep making impact and sharing.

At this point, I don’t consider much about monetizing the channel, which means I don’t want to take any ads and sponsors.

The channel is more like a window to the world that most people never see but should know as soon as possible in order to learn and grow.

By learning the world through my channel and windows, I hope I can help more people have their own windows to their own worlds.

2. Online Course

How I’m going to help those people? By online courses.

In July, I have my course v1.0 launched and delivered to 17 people. I only released a small number of seats, so that I can fully cover the program and any unexpected things at the very beginning.

As the course is about to close in the end of July, everything runs smoothly. Next I will be working on collecting feedback and updating the course. But there’re still some part need to be solved:

  1. Activeness & completion rate

Only 2–3 out of 17 stay active as the first day, and make the most of the course. 2 people never show up during the course.

I want to understand why, but after reminding them to finish assignment twice, some even do not reply my message. It’s probably not my responsibility, but I expect people get what they are looking for and make their money counts.

2. Course flexibility

In the second half of the course, I encourage people to document and have their own voice on social platforms. This might not be what everybody is comfortable with, and I need to rethink about my approach, to be more user-friendly and starter-friendly.

3. Course scalability

My course got signed up full in only couple hours. Many people are still waiting in line and expecting to reserve a seat for my next issue. But to keep the quality of the course and intimate interaction between people, small class is required, and I cannot cover many classes at the same time.

There should be a point where I need to hire someone as instructor or coordinator.

3. Paragliding Camp

The last 10 days of July, I joined a paragliding camp with my girlfriend in Inner Mongolia. This is my second time of training paragliding, the skills are honed and I’m now better at managing my fears, my body and mind.

If you haven’t tried flying once yourself, I highly recommended.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

- Leonardo da Vinci

4. Interviews

During the period, I also take some job interviews, to see if I fit in any culture or teams. While away from product management role, I still feel connected to the fast growing industry, excited for every new product launch and new technology.

Yet I will be extra more cautious and picky about the role, the team, the growth, the challenge and of course the salary. So far, none of the opportunity meets my standard. And I guess on one hand, I’m learning and making the best use of the time to grow and prepare, on the other, developing multiple sources of income.

5. New skills

Since I’m home most of the time and have the ability to schedule everything myself. I try to experiment with many subjects, Chinese calligraphy, color grading basics, photography, boxing, and Japanese… which benefit my mind, body and skills as a content creator.

What’s not working?

While I’m onto many things during this self-employed period, new problems come to me every day as well. This might happen to whoever quit their job and make their transition to a freelancer, or even in between jobs.

So I think it would be meaningful to share my struggles and solutions:

1. Productivity

If you know what it feels when you work from home during the quarantine, imagine it becomes infinite after quitting your job.

Without an environment which provides you positive pressure, fixed deadlines and all kinds of urgency, you gradually lose the ability to perform like the productivity champ, which leads to less challenging and productive working state.

Solutions:

  1. “Study with me” online meeting room. Studying by yourself might be hard, but studying with some accountabuddies might be more productive and challenging.
  2. Creating urgency. I usually find myself most productive if it’s close to deadline or I really need to go to the bathroom. I try to break down the task into 15-minute or 30 minute sessions, and challenge myself to finish it before the alarm rings.
  3. Hide your phone. I still check my phone on and off during breaks, which always take more time than I should have for break. Need to work on it.

2. Schedule

Since YOU are the one who define the daily workload, set the deadline and schedule everything, you might not push yourself enough and perform your best.

While writing this review, here I make a new schedule to follow in August:

7:00AM-8:00AM, Morning workout

8:30AM -11:30AM, morning “study with me” session (taking courses, writing and thinking)

2:30PM -5:30PM, afternoon “study with me” session (taking courses, replying work related message/email and researching, the mundane work)

8:00PM-10:30PM, do the work that doesn’t feel like working (video editing, music recording or interviewing)

Solutions:

The best way to achieve all these plans is to have some accountabuddies, the one who can keep the promise and workout with you, the one who you can study with and share experience and feelings.

3. Hunger

I’m not sure about others, but I feel myself not hungry enough for learning opportunities and making more money.

Before quitting the job, I basically put every minute I have off work to content creation and always push the body limit to experiment with new things and share. Yet now while I take fully control of my day, the amount of things I’m able to accomplish stay static.

Solutions:

  1. Explore multiple source of income;
  2. Set specific number as goal, or buy expensive things as reward;

4. Quality

For the past 6 months, especially recent 2 months, I feel stagnant on quality for the videos I’ve created. Maybe I consume more quality content on YouTube, which leverages my standard yet my skills couldn’t keep up. Maybe it’s time to learn some video creation skill in depth, and play around with some new ideas and formats.

Solutions:

  1. Dedicate (at least) 1 hour every day on learning new video skills (color grading, animation);
  2. Besides “30-day challenge” series, build 1–2 more iconic series (deep dive on personal development, podcast interview and maybe stupid entertainment content just for fun);

What’s next?

In August, I want to have these things done:

  1. Build a more authentic, deep but funny persona on video channel, which requires different video series, more frequent updates and creativity;
  2. Update and launch my course v1.1, set multiple product lines and services;
  3. Have more interviews and look for more job opportunities as backup;
  4. Execute on solutions for “what’s not working” mentioned above;

What I’m Digesting

1. Move over product manager, introducing the Behavioral Product Manager

2. View from the Top: Craig Federighi

3. Master Shi Heng Yi — 5 hindrances to self-mastery | Shi Heng YI | TEDxVitosha

4. Quality vs. Quantity: Creating a Content Strategy in 2019 | Melbourne Australia, 2018 Keynote

5. Books I read in July

If you are using wechat reading app WeRead, you can get my reading list here.

断捨離 — 山下英子 Hideko Yamashita

人间值得 — 中村 恒子 , 奥田 弘美

把时间当作朋友 — 李笑来

Deep Work — Cal Newport

So Good They Can’t Ignore You — Cal Newport

Atomic Habit — James Clear

NETFLIX Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

LIFE IS A DRUG. LOVE IT. LIVE IT.
Zake

Product Manager / Content Creator || searching for mental clarity by making films.