My focus

Posted by Tim Zöller on October 18, 2020 · 6 mins read

In this post I am writing down some thoughts I had for the past days about focus, goals and my life in general.

Over the past two years, I attended several conferences as a speaker, organized a JUG meeting every other month, wrote many articles for Java magazines, started taking my blog more seriously and started streaming about Clojure on Twitch, all while working on some Open Source projects, and being a Senior IT Consultant and team leader at ilum:e in Mainz. Writing these achievements down here feels kind of weird for me, as my self-perception was always, that I do not get many things done. I often had people asking me “How do you manage to do all those things?” or “How many hours does your day have?” while I did not really understand the question while I beat myself up for “wasting time” which I could have invested in some more of these things.

For two weeks now, there is nothing on my plate: No CfP deadline, no session I have to prepare, no article I have to write. As I quit my job and will start my own company in January, I handed my team leader position on to a colleague, and don’t have any obligations in that matter, too. I had lots of time to reflect instead, and one of the questions that colleagues and friends asked, came to my mind again: “How do you manage to do all those things?”. The answer is plain and simple: “I sacrifice my wellbeing and my personal life”.

The important question: “What is your goal?”

When I started applying to conferences and magazine autorship, I had a clear goal: I wanted to make myself, my team and my employer more visible in the public. I wanted the developers in Germany to know our companies name, and also mine. Don’t get me wrong, I am having lots of fun doing these sessions and articles, but the main goal was to gain more visibility. This also persisted, when plans formed to shift to a freelancing-carreer. The more people knew me, the higher the chances would be to get good offers and projects, right? I felt more and more that it was really important to use all the opportunities that were presented to me, to get my name out there and lay the foundations of my freelancing carreer. I said “yes” to almost everything, applied to conferences and suggested more articles. The deadlines came in, and I just had the pressure to deliver on them. I jokingly said to a coleague, that it is easy to agree to a deadline, when “Future Tim” needed to deal with those. There was a week in September when I had a conference talk, a deadline for a conference session and a deadline for a magazine article in a single week. I delievered all three of them, while sleeping less than 5 hours a night, delivering a bad performance at work, eating unheathily, not going for runs and being stressed out all day. I completly tangled my professional life with my private life, losing something that was fun for me in the beginning to the feeling, that it was an obligation. I sacrificed being healthy, my guitars gathered dust, and my progress on some video games I was excitedly waiting for for years (The Last of Us 2!!) was just stuck. I did not read books, anymore. “I’ll do that again after that deadline”. For doing what, exactly?

My next year

While having time and space to think, I realized that my goals shifted in the past months. I did quit my job, but from January on I will not only freelance, I will found a company with the goal of creating software products for consumers. To tell it plain and simple, my goal is to quit doing IT projects for customers in the next ~18 months and live from the revenue of these products. My short term goal is for the company to survive and covering my costs of living. To achieve these goals, I need to become more experienced in sales, in cloud infrastructure, in marketing and economics. I do not need developers and companies in Germany to know my name and I don’t need to be recognized as an expert in any technical field. What I need instead is to have a levelled life, be healthy and to make sure I do things that are fun to me, like running, reading, or spending an entire weekend in front of a TV and a Playstation, sometimes. This does not necessarily mean, that I will stop writing articles, blogs and do conference talks altogether (I do enjoy these, after all), but it means I will do less of them, and might not commit to any until I have figured out if I feel obliged to to them, or if I enjoy doing them. I will be a little more silent on Twitter and LinkedIn, I will do less blogs, and might not do one Twitch stream per week anymore. Instead I might be hiking with my wife and dog, run through the woods, cross-ski, slay some virtual zombies, read a Terry Pratchett novel or work on a product and company that brings me a lot of joy and purpose. Or I might not be doing anything at all, and get myself some hammock time 😊