About 2019 (Year in Review)

I used to hate writing about myself – and I still do to some extent. I thought, “Why the hell would anyone be interested in the life of some guy on the Internet they’ve never met?”

But after publishing more than 200 articles and also reading a bunch of posts by other dudes (and chicks) I realized that people love reading stories. And more particularly, the stories of other people who they admire – or at least follow online.

Why?

As social animals who are primarily driven by emotions, we understand things better when we hear someone else’s story. A personal fable can affect us in a unique way and propel us towards greatness – going to the gym, eating healthy, staying away from social media, etc. In addition, a well-crafted, unique, and relatable story can help us see things from a new perspective.

So, besides getting full access to all of the book summaries published on my site, I’m also going to post, exclusively for members, personal short-form articles where I share my musings about things from my life and not only. I’m going to unleash my thoughts about topics I find interesting – minimalism, habits, settings goals, running this website, etc. Basically the stuff I normally talk about but these private posts will more like behind the scenes. Hopefully, I’ll give you a fresh perspective and help you find inspiration.

To kick things off, I’m going to share the things that happen to me in 2019 (ala “2019 year in review” kind of post).

My goal is not to brag or purposefully bore you. It’s more to show you what I did well (and not so well) which can potentially motivate you to take action yourself and also help you avoid some of the mistakes I did.

So, here’s what happened in the life of Ivaylo Durmonski in 2019:

Personal:

Good:

  • My son was born on the 3rd of May. We named it Alexey. He’s now (while I’m writing this) 8 months old. If you want to see his cute little smile, you can glance at my Instagram stories. That’s the only thing I publish on social media. Why? Partly because I want to brag (he’s so cute) and also because I want to have a place where I see how he grows.
  • I was able to prepare the apartment for his noble arrival – pain the walls and assemble a bunch of baby things.
  • We decluttered our home but the free space is now filled with toys.
  • I’ve completely revamped my wardrobe. I now have, and wear, only black clothes. This saves me money and also helps me dress super fast.
  • I read 40 books and I learned a bunch of new things in 2019.
  • I’m no longer trying to be famous online. For years I thought that I should post like crazy on social media in order for my site to blossom but I don’t think that anymore. At the beginning of 2019, and the years prior, I tried to be someone I’m not. I turn out that I don’t want to be an online preacher who constantly adds “oh I’m so smart” threads and stories. Rather, I want to help more people move away from these channels.
  • I rarely check social media these days and I feel a whole lot better. I install Instagram only when I share a pic of my son and after that, I remove it from my phone. Also, I unfollowed everyone on Facebook. When I visit it I see “Welcome to Facebook.” I still keep it because most of my friends are using it and we’re communicating using the Messenger app.
  • I’m getting up at 05:30 every day for the last ~4 months – previously at 06:30. I owe this (curse?) to the book Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins.
  • I was able to pay off in full one of my loans at the beginning of 2019. Now I’m saving to pay off the mortgage for my apartment.
  • I’m exercising every single day for the last year.
  • I no longer drink alcohol and sodas. I drink only water and coffee (without milk) and I feel a lot better.

Not so good:

  • I’ve put up some weight. Last year I set a goal to lose weight and become strong and muscular. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the desired beach body partly because I don’t get enough sleep and also because I still love eating chocolate.
  • I still get easily distracted. My mind constantly drifts and thinks about things that I don’t really need in my life – getting new stuff, what people think of me, other self-sabotaging thoughts.
  • This next (bad) thing is something that happens in my mind: I’m unable to relax. Every spare minute I have I try to fill with work – I either read books so I can later summarize, or, I simply do minor adjustments to my site. It’s like I forgot where’s my off switch. Thanks to this dedication I was able to publish so many posts but a lot of times this work-24/7 mindset is draining me.
  • Most of the time I don’t put words in the right order, and I make a lot of grammar mistakes. Since English is not my native language (obviously), I sometimes make really stupid mistakes and once I found them I get really sad because people are probably thinking that I’m an idiot. Unfortunately, I have never been good at grammar which contradicts with my main hobby for the last few years – writing. (Why I’m sharing this? I see no reason to hide my flaws as they are part of who I am.)

Business

Good:

  • I continue to publish articles on a regular basis despite the fewer hours I have now in a day – I want/need to spend more time with my son. I published 95 articles (this includes also the book summaries) in 2019. The secret? Time blocking. Every morning I wake up, exercise, and spend the next 2-3 hours writing – from 06:00 to around 09:00.
  • Since I don’t want to clutter my site with ads, I just launched a membership program. Hopefully, this will allow me to turn my passion into a business. While this is something that happened in 2020, preparations for this premium program began in mid-2019.
  • I read 40 books this year and published around 50 book summaries. The extra 10 summaries are from books I read in 2018.
  • My newsletter grew from 50 subscribers at the beginning of 2019 to 450 at this moment. The biggest boost of subscribers came from one article that was upvoted more than 60 times on Hacker News. From there, that same piece of content was shared on a couple of other sites. I got ~240 people joining my email newsletter in just a couple of days.
  • For January 2019 my site got 1,013 sessions. For December 2019, the session count was 32,187. A couple of my articles were suggested by Google Now which basically means that I got a shit load of traffic compared to a regular day.
  • The organic traffic to my site grew from close to 0 in the early days of 2019 to 4,500 organic visitors per month in December 2019.
  • I often receive emails from readers who say that they love (yep, some people really use the word love) the content I publish. That’s the main thing that keeps me going.

Not so good:

  • The growth (if we can categorize it like that) of my site is painfully slow. I tried different things to get more traffic but after paying for ads twice on Facebook I decided to never ever do it again. I don’t want to support the (evil) social media platforms in any way. Unfortunately, I’m still struggling to find a decent way to promote my site.
  • I’m constantly feeling like an imposter (the imposture syndrome is a real thing!). As mentioned, even though I re-read my posts a bunch of times before publishing them, I make a lot of grammatical errors. This makes me doubt my work.
  • I launched an eBook in the middle of the year but I sold only 4 copies. Or in other words, a total disaster.
  • I’m still far from making this site profitable. The expenses to sustain my site are close to 600 USD per year not counting the money I spend on books (I spend an extra 600 USD on books per year). However, there is something else that’s costing me a lot: time. Since I also have a daily job, I don’t have enough time to work on the site and at the same time spend quality time with my family. In order for a website to make a profit, it needs a lot of traffic (plus offer something valuable, of course). And you get traffic by doing a lot of things – marketing, paying for ads, sharing on social media, talking about yourself on social media, all stuff I kind of hate.

Goals for 2020:

I don’t have lavish goals. Actually, one of the lessons I learned in 2019 is that goals don’t deliver results. Daily actions do. So, instead of setting a bunch of inflated goals that only look good if you share them online, I’m going to set tasks that, when executed, will bring me the desired results after a long period of time.

Personal:

  • Spend quality time with my son and teach him different things about life.
  • Spend quality time with my wife – discuss topics of her interest.
  • Reduce the intake of fatty substances on a daily basis and eat more salads.
  • Practice some sort of concentration method to keep my mind centered on where I want it, not where the monkey minds direct it.
  • Read every single day.
  • Exercise every single day.

Business:

  • Work on my writing skills for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Read every single day so I can publish 40 book summaries in 2020.
  • Write at least 500 words a day in order to publish at least two articles per month.
  • Work on a course for members for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Be persistent and keep the motivation flying high so I can overcome the setbacks that will surely come.
  • Find a way to increase the traffic to my site without paying for ads or sounding like a “know it all dude” both online or offline.
  • Take some time off. Do stuff that are not work-related.

Probably these tasks will alter a bit throughout the year but the main idea will always be the same: Devote the majority of my time on things that will help me move the needle closer to my desired future.

Thanks for reading and I wish you all a wonderful year!

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