Effective planning to achieve my 2023 goals

As I continue to contemplate the future I want and the things I want to achieve, the blurry haze of indecisiveness fades and my perspective sharpens. In my last post, I stated that I want two things:

  • To make $10,000 of monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
  • To release my first musical performance on YouTube

I’m aware that I want these things, but how can I achieve them most effectively?

How I can better my odds at 10k MRR

A few actionable steps come to mind, the first being: writing blog posts on material I know I want to learn and teach. This is a great way to better my understanding on a topic while providing a method of marketability via SEO and lead generation.

If I’m to have an enjoyable experience recording a tutorial for YouTube or Chris Courses, I almost always need to know the topic well enough where I can record a lesson on the first try. If I’m struggling with a topic and try to record, I stutter, I get frustrated, and I ask myself “why the hell am I doing this?” This is no mindset to have when attempting to teach others, so it’s very important that I REALLY know the material, and I think some basic blog posts are a great way to do that.

Can't really go wrong with bettering myself while improving potential business, so this step seems like an obvious winner.

Make the annoying tasks less annoying

Another thing I can do to close in on this goal is provide a more enjoyable experience for writing the previously mentioned blog posts. Right now, all of my blog posts on chriscourses.com are written and styled with HTML and Tailwind.css. This works, but after using markdown and .mdx files to write my articles (like I’m doing right now for this blog post), I’ve realized writing articles doesn’t have to include the pain of wrapping paragraphs in HTML tags. Even if something like ChatGPT can wrap these paragraphs with their corresponding tags automatically, I’ve really enjoyed the simplicity of writing in markdown, and I wish to continue to do that for my technical posts over on chriscourses.com.

Make recording as easy as pressing "Record"

Finally, I think getting a smaller, yet higher quality camera, will encourage more consistent video releases. Right now, to record tutorials, I use a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC) and a simple green cloth as a green screen behind me. The BMPCC is quite compact for a cinema quality camera, but it's still too bulky in my opinion—I'm always needing to move shit around my desk to get myself in frame. Not ideal when I'd like to just focus on recording rather than setup.

Another gripe I have with the BMPCC is that doesn’t have a flippable viewfinder. This means I have to hook the camera up to an external viewport which costs money, takes up space, and requires battery (all annoying). These issues annoy me quite a bit so when I compare my current setup method to placing my iphone on a small tripod and hitting record, I feel a slight moment of nirvana and relaxedness. Within the week, the plan is to sell one of my BMPCC cameras (I have two) and eventually replace it with one of the newer iPhone 14 Pro’s that take cinema quality video.

Taking action

So there are three action items that I feel will definitely improve my chances of reaching that 10k MRR goal. To recap, they are:

  1. Write descriptive, technical blog posts on topics I struggle with
  2. Reconfigure my technical blog to use mdx formatting
  3. Sell one of my large cameras and replace it with a smaller, yet still powerful version

One other idea I have is to improve my credibility in the online tech world. A couple of ways I could do this are through Awwward winning websites, highly rated video games on app stores, obtaining a potential masters and or PhD degree, and working at a high level tech company like Google. This is for another time though, I just want to make sure I don’t forget the ideas for later.

Music success

To better my chances of posting a musical performance on YouTube, the number one thing I can do is, wait for it… PRACTICE. Of course, if you want to get good at something, it's pretty common knowledge that you should be doing that thing multiple times a day. But typically, just performing the action is not enough. I could pick up my guitar and cover a song without any trace of mental activity, yet this is a terrible way to improve as actual betterment requires a dedicated mental focus on the hard stuff.

If I were to imagine a successful performance for myself, it’d include a very clear tone, rhythmic vibratos, and the ability to play a whole song without looking at the fretboard. The practice routine I’ve devised for myself to achieve these three things is as follows:

  • 1 hour of vibrato practice a day, really focusing on the movement and mind / muscle connection required to get a good tone (it should become natural and you should be able to do this without thinking)
  • Record self, specifically improving on any struggle portions

There’s more I’ll have to focus on, including getting the right tone with my equipment, but I’ll save that for the 10 days leading up to this goal as it’s a bit less important compared to the actual practice.

Now I need a way to hold myself accountable for a task such as 1 hour of vibrato practice every day, therefore, I’ll just track it here in this simple markdown table:

1hr Vibrato Practice⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️
1hr Vibrato Practice⚠️⚠️

❌ = Did not practice
⚠️ = Practiced but less than one hour
✅ = Practiced full hour

I’ll also need some immediate action items to get going on things, so therefore, today I’ll reconfigure my technical blog to use mdx formatting, and tomorrow, begin writing my first technical blog post in forever on robust collision detection.

Lots to talk about, lots to think about, that means there’s lots to do. Let’s get after it.

Update (Feb. 8 2023)

Had a busy day yesterday, so today I edited this post to improve its clarity and add in the markdown table for my guitar practice tracking (looks way better than I expected). I was also able to get .md files working on my technical blog posts using nuxt-content. It was quite a pain to setup since I'm restricted to the older docs of nuxt-content v1 and migrating my Nuxt 2 project to Nuxt 3 seems like an insurmountable task at this point—there's just way too much that's changed between the releases to make the migration a day-long process (has to be multiple weeks long with the way it's set up right now).

Nevertheless, glad to say one of my deliverables is already out of the way. Next up, write that technical blog post. Deadline? Tomorrow before midnight. Will report back here with updates.

Update (Feb. 9 2023)

I'm quite surprised I only gave myself til midnight today to finish up my technical blog post since I've only finished half. Wow, what an effort it is to write good, legible, and understandable content. It's in the works though and it's looking great so far. To quote a famous Spongebob quote, "Tomorrow, for sure..." Guitar practice going great btw, I've been very disciplined and motivated so far. Seeing improvements already.

Update (Feb. 13 2023)

So it's already Feb 13th and when it comes to completion of my goals, well, it's not so great. I could go back, edit this post, change my goals to match up with what I've been doing (30 minutes of practice a day instead of 1 hour), but what good is that for the sake of progress tracking and integrity. Rather than beat myself up over not staying totally inline with everything, I think it's good to reflect, see what went wrong, and adjust accordingly so I can hit these goals more consistently.

Let's review what's happened so far. Although I've practiced guitar every day since creating this goal list, it hasn't always been the full hour. Most of the time it's been around 30-45 minutes which is still great (I'm the best I've ever been at vibrato bends and it's only been five days, but it's still not what I said I would do per day. Is it a matter of not caring enough, not having enough discipline, setting goals that are too ambitious, or something else?

My initial thought is that I don't dedicate any time in my day to get these things done. I kind of just do them when I feel like it which is usually late at night. I also have a day job so I typically use that as the standard excuse of "not having enough time." Yet, when I last had a full-time job, I was able to launch my YouTube channel and find time to record usually at least once per week.

So if the suspected issue is not dedicating a specific time to do these things, what can I do about it and not make the task feel like a chore?

The first thing I want to try is just dedicating a certain time during the weekdays towards these two goals. I typically have no problem sitting down, turning on a timer, and going through my guitar practice routine. It doesn't feel like a chore and I know I'm working towards a goal I'm passionate about. Regarding my blog post, same deal—I know I can sit down, learn, and write out some really good technical paragraphs, so I'll test setting a specific time just to work towards that goal.

So the test for this week is, 1 hour of practice from 5-6pm and one hour of blog writing from 6-7pm.

I assume there will be a mixture of discipline and will-power involved to get this done, but I know that I can as long as I attach emotion to each goal. So let's begin another week of working towards these goals and get em done.

Update (Feb. 15 2023)

There's no doubt I'm probably ten-times better at guitar vibrato than I was prior to practicing this week. However, bouncing off of my last post, I mentioned that I wanted an exact time to practice. Although that worked on the 13th, it was much harder on the 14th due to semi-random events coming up.

I think dedicating an hour a day to both practice and blog writing is a totally fine goal, I just need to find a way them an easy-to-start habit.

I have a few other ideas floating through my mind of what I'd like to achieve, but before I get there and make a new post on them, I think it's incredibly important to see these current goals through (guitar performance posted on YouTube and technical blog post released).

Keeping up here on my blog has been quite useful in reflecting on what's helpful and not quitting on my goals overall, so maybe I'll just continue to write updates daily stating what I'm going to do and how I'm going to do it.

Let's try that.

Regarding my technical blog post, today I will:

  • Enlarge font sizes for legibility
  • Create an image for my post
  • Create a mobile table of contents
  • Ensure other posts still read correctly
  • Test if other posts can use auto table of contents
  • Add post to blog listing and push live

Update (Feb. 18 2023)

I think my prior method of stating what I'm going to do directly in these updates was effective, but it also requires that I post here daily which might be beyond my level of discipline. As I went through those tasks I listed, one of my good friends reached out to me asking if I had heard of something called flow.club. Naturally I replied, "tf is that?" Turns out its a video-conference related app where people from all over the world join a group, state what they're going to do, then spend the next hour or two doing it in a deep work state of mind. I tried it out for two sessions, and wow, it really does help push you towards finishing those pesky tasks that've been lingering on the backburner.

I'm quite convinced that this is a very useful method for getting stuff done and doing what I say I'm going to do, so I will continue to use it to the best of my ability.

With my February 21 deadline coming up for my guitar YouTube video, I feel pressure and nervousness creeping in, but I've been practicing daily and I should be able to make this a reality. The only piece of equipment I think I need is an external power source for my pedal board since I'd like to film this somewhere in the city that isn't a small studio apartment. It's integral that I order that today, otherwise it might jeopardize the quality of the final release.

Next to ordering this power source, I need to continue practicing as if I'm actually performing which I just started doing for the first time today. That means getting the loops down without messing up, playing while standing, and adding some movement so I don't look like a lifeless robot.

Update (Feb. 22 2023)

I am proud to say, that I stuck to my goal of releasing a musical performance to YouTube on February 21, 2022. It isn't a top-tier performance, but I am still proud of how much I learned in such a short amount of time.

justin bieber - peaches cover

This was a great way to stay motivated, it was almost as if I were preparing for a live performance making me practice more than I would've ever otherwise. I am definitely going to do this again, but first I'd like to finish off my technical blog post goal.

I just coded up a full-fledged comment section, added a dynamic table of contents for future posts, and touched up the styling for an ultra smooth reading experience. All that's left is transferring the prior posts to markdown and hitting deploy. With that, I can finally release my new post to the wild. I'll give myself a deadline of tomorrow 12am (Feb 23, 2022) to finish that so I can proceed with my next goal.

My next music goal is going to be an acoustic song since my electric will be in the shop getting a setup for at least a week. After my last lofi performance of Peaches, I went through a couple of other Justin Bieber's songs, and at the risk of looking like a Belieber, truly, his stuff slaps.

I heard an awesome acoustic version of his son "Intentions," so my goal will be to replicate it. I'll be learning how to sing this time, so I think it's safe to give myself three weeks instead of two to better my chances of not sound horrible. So that means on March 16th, I should have a cover with video, guitar, and vocals all pushed live to YouTube.

Let's bring back the practice chart and make it happen.

1hr Guitar Practice⚠️
1hr Guitar Practice
1hr Guitar Practice
1hr Guitar Practice⚠️

Update (Feb. 28 2023)

I am incredibly proud to say that yesterday I launched my revamped technical blog over at chriscourses.com/blog.

Here's some of what I did:

  • Converted all posts to markdown format
  • Added a dynamic table of contents
  • Added a comment section
  • Fixed missing images
  • Enhanced styling

The overall goal was to make writing blog posts enjoyable, something made possible with @nuxt_js's Nuxt Content package.

Took me about two weeks of work in total with the most effort going towards the features like the comment section and table of contents. Converting posts to markdown also took forever and flat out sucked, but I made it through after a couple hours worth of mind-numbing work.

In addition to this revamp, I posted a new article (my first in three years) on how to code collision detection with JavaScript and HTML canvas.

This means I can successfully check off goals one and two that I mentioned earlier in the post:

  1. Write descriptive, technical blog posts on topics I struggle with ✅
  2. Reconfigure my technical blog to use mdx formatting ✅

All that's left for the small goals in this post is:

  1. Sell one of my large cameras and replace it with a smaller, yet still powerful version

Just need to put my Pocket Cinema 4k up on eBay and swap it with an iPhone 14 Pro while I'm here in Tampa. These are two things I really don't want to do because they're boring, annoying, and tedious tasks, but I will achieve them before this Friday (Mar 3, 2023).

Let's knock this out and move onto a new post once done.

Sold my camera btw, eBay is currently holding my funds (better not be scammed somehow) - Mar. 16, 2023

Update (Mar. 16 2023)

Time flew by the past three weeks, but I'm proud to announce that I've completed my second music goal of releasing a cover to YouTube with both guitar and voice. This was definitely one of the harder things I've done as I probably have less than 24 total life hours of singing practice under my belt. Obviously I'm no Andrea Bocelli, but sticking with a practice regimen and gaining the confidence to even post something at all is a huge win for me:

justin bieber - intentions cover

If anything, this experience makes me want to start taking lessons so I can get to the point where singing comes naturally.

Now that this is done, I need another goal...