My 2019 challenge - If not now, then when?

It might not work out. But at least I will have tried.

Fri, 28 Dec 2018

So here’s the thing.

I got into tech so that I could create things. And I’m doing that. And that’s cool.

I also got into tech so that I could have financial and location independence. I’m not really doing that as much. This is not cool.

See, I like my job. But eventually, I’d like to be able to work for myself. I’d like to make things that I’m passionate about. Things that make money, not 5 or 10 years from now, but like, now. Projects that make a difference in people lives. Apps that people actually enjoy using.

I guess I used to think that I simply couldn’t make or launch anything on my own, because I don’t have enough experience.

But this this past year, I’ve gained some confidence because of a few things:

First, from working on a project I own at my job. The idea, design, and development was mostly done by me (with the help of my coworker Faye). Working on this project has been an exercise both product building and confidence building. There have been so many times throughout the year when I just thought I couldn’t do it. I still think that sometimes. But I keep pushing through, and I remind myself that I’m a bad bitch and I can do whatever the fuck I want. That includes building and launching an app.

We’re not really at the point of launching yet, but we’re getting there. This past year, I’ve learned a lot about how to make an app, but more importantly, I learned that I can make something.

photo of Keziyah on Table Mountain

Second, I discovered the indie maker community. It’s really nice to know that there are people out there who like me, just want to make meaningful products that are profitable on their own. I like that there are alternative models to startup building, instead of the traditional route. I don’t want to raise a shit ton of money to fund a terrible product, while having no revenue, in the hopes that years from now I’ll make an exit that will make me a multi millionaire.

Dare I say this: I really don’t even care about being a millionaire.

I’d rather work on something meaningful, that has real customers from the start, and that makes enough money to let me travel, pay off my debts, and get my mom a house. That’s it.

Financial stability is the goal, not hoarding wealth.

Third, I actually made and launched something. The Juniors in Tech newsletter started in October, and right now there are over 700 subscribers. (The official launch will be on January 16th.) I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback on it, and I even got my first sponsor (thanks Halite!) this month. I didn’t know what this newsletter was going to be at first. I honestly wasn’t sure that anyone would subscribe to it. But people did.

This gave me the confidence I needed to work on some other projects:

  • Revolnote - a tool that helps people commit to practical actions that advance social justice causes
  • Kursor - a journal app that helps you stay consistent with your journaling habit, especially if you use journaling for mental health

So, in 2019, I’m going to continue to work on my side projects, and monetize them.

Or at least, I’m going to make an attempt to do this, while traveling. I stayed at home for most of 2018 to save money. It would honestly be wise to do the same for 2019, if I want to pay off my debts anytime soon. But I also just would like to enjoy my life more.

This is morbid, but a question I ask myself often is: What if I died 3 months from now? A year from now? Tomorrow? Will I regret the decisions I made, even if they were “safer” or “more responsible”? Or will I wish I had just done the things I wanted to do?

I want to be responsible, but I also don’t want to have any regrets. If not now, then when?


photo of Keziyah hiking near the Kabal Tunnel on Hvar Island, Croatia

So, here’s the challenge for 2019. Is it possible for me to:

  • Keep my job, while
  • Making progress on my side projects, especially by monetizing them, and
  • Keeping up with my health and fitness goals, while
  • Traveling for at least 6 months out of the year, as cheaply as possible, while
  • Continuing to pay off my debts?

Looking at that list above makes me shake my head because I know it’s going to be hard. First, usually when I travel, I tend to spend more money (even if I’m staying in a hostel or otherwise trying to save money), and fitness usually goes out the window. I also have a hard time working on my side projects while traveling because I want to enjoy the places I’m staying in.

So this is going to require a lot of planning and discipline, and perhaps some sacrifice. I’m absolutely worried about what will happen if when I start this journey.

But I’m more worried about what will happen if I don’t.

On this blog, I’ll be documenting my progress. I’ll set concrete monthly goals for myself and my projects (for example, launch MVP, lift 3x/week, get 2 more newsletter sponsors, climb Everest), and I’ll blog about my process for achieving those goals.

I’ll also blog about my general thoughts on tech, being a digital nomad, and being an indie maker.

I’m kinda scared, but I hope you’ll join me and be scared with me. Sign up for my newsletter below to stay up to date, and follow me on Instagram for pretty travel photos with long, deep captions.

Thanks for reading, and here’s to a great 2019.

Sign up for my weekly newsletter.

Keziyah Lewis

Keziyah Lewis is a software developer, designer, and indie maker. She works on products that help people make a difference in their own lives, and the world. In 2019, she is documenting her attempt to monetize her side projects while keeping her full time job and being a digital nomad.