Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.Miles Davis
This time feels different. Or is it just me? My eyes start to blur over when I read 2020 and can’t help but wonder whether we’re actually here or if my astigmatism has just gotten worse.
Where I might usually start my annual reflection around this time, looking back at what went well and what didn’t, this year is, in fact, a bit different. Amy and I started that process about two months ago when things were just, well, not going well.
Transitions are always difficult, simply because they take you out of what you know and are able to rely on and shake it all up. Even if the change is for the better, there’s almost always a step or two in the wrong direction to actually realize the benefit.
A lot of it comes down to space.
As humans, we have a tendency to fill the spaces we have—be it our calendars, homes, or minds. It’s a basic instinct to utilize our resources fully, but unfortunately, those instincts are not as effective as they might have been when humans were hunting and gathering their food.
This is largely what we experienced with our move across the country, delivering two in-person weekly video podcast seasons, packing our lives up once or twice per month (dog and all) to produce video projects for our wonderful clients, and trying to sustainably and consistently produce blog posts, YouTube videos, and social media content here for Break the Twitch.
We had already filled the spaces we had by throwing a major transition into the mix, a new community, and living environment. It all combined to be where we didn’t feel like we were doing anything nearly as well as we could.
I’m certainly not looking for pity here; all of the things we’ve done this year are choices we have directly made for ourselves. I’m sharing to be transparent so that we can all, as always, learn and grow together.
Over the last two months, there have been a lot of conversations with friends, family, and what feels like millions of post-it notes across every wall of our dining room.
At one point, I went into the bathroom and shaved all the hair off my head. That was something I’d never done before. I realized that I felt trapped and was living in fear of what would happen if I lost all of my thinning hair, so I just decided to own it. I cut it all off and found out what would happen. It wasn’t that bad. More on that in another blog post, though.
Through all of this, we’ve had some relatively clear takeaways that I’ll share with you now.
Margin is essential.
This should be obvious after five years of writing here at Break the Twitch, but it’s incredible how quickly we fill up space in our lives. We need margin in everything we do so that we can do it to the best of our abilities. Margin allows you to correct for mistakes and unexpected setbacks, and say yes to unexpected opportunities that arise.
Decisions are multi-dimensional.
Always. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of making a decision because of one seemingly obvious data point, and that is a big no-no. Test ideas before you go all-in on them and find ways to explore how sustainable the outcomes will be. While there might be something that seems obvious, dig deeper into the why.
Starting something new is usually the last step.
When looking at most of the prosperous businesses run by the people I admire, I notice that they do not often start new things until the things they’re already doing have either reached stability or maximized its potential. For example, if you sell one product, the inclination is to add new product lines as quickly as possible to expand.
Instead, focus on making the product as good and efficient as possible while fine-tuning your business model. It’s better to copy an optimized model than a mediocre one to whatever new thing is started.
Find ways to do what you already do, better. Then explore new opportunities. Every new thing will come with a new learning curve and spin-up period that will add to the mediocrity of it all. This is how, as Amy and I have been saying, one can, “screw up their space (or margin).”
Don’t screw up your space, and remember that margin is essential. Exploring and trying new things for fun is a different phase though. Unless you’re in a discovery mode or kicking around for fun, keep it simple.
So that leaves us here, where we’ll be headed with Break the Twitch. I’m going to keep it simple because at this point I’d rather you see the outcomes of these things rather than my talking about them in excess.
1 / Own your attention, build better habits.
One day at a time. That’s what Break the Twitch is all about. As simple as it is, it took over a month to get there. While I used to talk about minimalism, habits, and creativity, we’ll be zoning in on the first two. Removing distractions and showing up one day at a time, so that we can Break the Twitch. Voilà. In reality, it’s a return to the original focus of living with intention. Did you know there are at least four different Twitches? Yeah.
2 / More YouTube videos
We’ll be producing more regular YouTube videos in the typical 5-10 minute format you’re used to on the Break the Twitch YouTube channel. Periodically, we’ll also share longer-format, podcast-like content there as well.
3 / Membership content
Break the Twitch members will get one additional in-depth video based on a public video topic from that month. There are a ton of benefits, but this works like a private Patreon where you join and get access to everything. It’s a great way to bring your intention into focus this year and help us keep BTT running.
4 / Select sponsors
To support our efforts while membership grows, we’ll begin taking select sponsors for BTT YouTube content. I’ve avoided this for the last five years, but to continue forward we’ll need to consider this option. This will be done responsibly and transparently, as I hope you would expect from me.
5 / Podcast shift
The podcast dominated our Break the Twitch efforts over the last year and a half, and seriously hindered our ability to output in other areas that reached more people and grew more quickly.
We’re still going to put out episodes, solo shows, and interviews. They just won’t be on a weekly seasonal production schedule and will vary more in format. I had high aspirations for a three-camera in-person podcast and what it would take to produce it, and it just simply wasn’t sustainable. The podcast might come back in that format in the future, but for now, interviews will be one-off and content more varied. I’m really sorry to those we may disappoint with this announcement, but we just can’t see another way right now.
6 / Play like myself
This year I’m only making one personal goal to focus on. As Miles Davis says, learning how to play like myself.
It’s amazing how easy it is to let outside influences create the perception of how to do things “right” in our minds. Minimalists don’t need to wear gray t-shirts, have white blank walls, or have a certain aesthetic look. You can be accepting of how things are and still push yourself while wanting to be better. There are unwritten and written rules that we’ve acquired from parents, peers, movies and random Instagram celebrities who seem to control our perception of the world around us.
Where do you get your influences on what success means or what certain things are supposed to be in your life? If you haven’t thought about it in a while, it’s worth acknowledging that some of those influences and perceptions might not be serving you well.
I hope you’re willing to come along with me here at Break the Twitch and continue on this journey. From everything I’ve learned, it’s a worthwhile one.