Hi Jason,

I just realized you were in Europe on holiday :-) How was Paris? It has been quite some while since I last was there. It would be nice to go there again (and it is pretty near – only four hours by train, I think). But then I would need to speak French, and I’m not good at it at all :-D Did you get around well with English?

Wow, that is a long time at the same place. I can not quite compete on that point; I was in my ninth year at the old workplace. There was also a lot of change, but I had more personal change and development in the end. So, I needed something new. And I also wanted to switch to product development compared to agency/consulting work.

Volleyball is fun, but it would not work for me to do regularly – too much social responsibility – which is one reason I like swimming. I can do it alone. But I also like being in the water. It is easy to do, and you can think about stuff while swimming. I don’t need to look outside so much compared to running. And I don’t only use my legs, which is also good, as I have a lot of tension in my arms and shoulders from being at the computer all the time. I started with around 500m at the beginning of the year, and now I’m up to 1000m, which was my unofficial goal for this year. Right now, I need around 30 minutes for it.

It is interesting how sometimes you don’t want to be alone with your brain – I also have this. But it got less so over the past few years (as my mental health got up again). But I’m used to being in my world inside of my brain. And it helps me when my body is doing something physical simultaneously. I struggle with classical meditation, where I must sit still and not think. There is so much going on in my brain at all times :-) Luckily, there is more positive stuff now again.

It is interesting how you can use them as a journal. I was initially using my blog as a journal as well. But when I started to write morning pages, I managed to move some of the stuff to a private place. I can use my blog again more for intentional writing – right now, I’m still trying my hand at fiction writing. But it did not go well this quarter. I was too distracted by the new job and the migraine battle.

Although the workshop was fun, I was much more nervous than I should have been, and I’m still trying to figure out why. I need to work on my pacing; I should have rehearsed it at least once. But at least everybody is not up to date on “Cybersecurity.” They think a bit more about strange emails they receive and ask me whether I made another test with them.

And speaking about work. I’ve seen that you work in a fully remote company. Was this an intentional decision for you to not work in an office? I assume that you were doing this already before the pandemic. I’ve only switched to remote work with the pandemic now. And I would not want to do it any other way. Unfortunately, I have already started to feel the pull of the office as most of my coworkers are in the office regularly. But I don’t want to. Having 100% remote work in my contract is one of the perks of the new position!

Cheers Chris

Hi Chris,

We were fine with mostly English, though we stayed largely in central parts of the city and my partner Elsa does speak French (and Spanish) fluently. I am unsure how I would have felt without her and zero French to fall back on, but I think overall the city was more welcoming to me as a very obvious American than I expected. It was my first time in Paris, and the furthest north I’ve been in Europe (probably pretty close to as far north as I’ve ever been, now that I think about it – most Americans, myself included, don’t remember just how far south we are compared to Europe).

I work with quite a few people who grew tired of agency work and wanted to build a product. I don’t think I’ve ever had someone leave to go back to agency work who had that experience, but I haven’t had a conversation in some time about the advantages or disadvantages with any of my employees. Most of them tired of not getting to influence what they built, of feeling like they did a less good job because clients only wanted to pay to make something work, not make it last and all of that. But I also suspect that swimming in the problems of your own past decisions doesn’t always feel good– I know I’m constantly in a state of frustration with my past self.

Allovue has always been at least partially remote. When I started, I lived in Providence, Rhode Island about 375 miles from where I live now and where our “home office” was. We had a few team members in the Baltimore area, but we always had a few remote. Some of us travel quite a bit for work, and even the folks from Baltimore often worked from home at least a few days per week. Over time as we grew, the team was almost never majority Baltimore based. So as a result, we were always a “remote first” workforce. We had an office, and use ebbed and flowed. Some teams were a bit more locally-based, others more likely to be remote. In the end, with less than a third of the company in Baltimore, we had way more office than we needed. 2020 was year four of a five year lease and we were already contemplating downsizing the office or radically reconfiguring it. We actually subleased most of our space. But COVID was the clear end of in office work for us– we actually got out of our lease early because another tenant wanted our space, and we never seriously considered having space again. We now have a small room in a co-working space that we mostly use as climate controlled storage. It also gives us access to a conference room for times when that makes sense to use.

I was probably one of the folks who used the office most, even though I travel a lot. I moved to Baltimore about 7 years ago for various reasons (I needed to move, and work and my best friend being here made Baltimore the right choice). My first year here I didn’t have any office space at home, so it was pretty important for me to go in. But once I bought a house in the city and space for a home office, it became less important.

I think remote work has to be a priority to actually work. I don’t think you can be a part of a small percentage of people doing it.

I’ve never done morning pages– I’m not a morning person and can’t even really generate a morning routine, unless you count staying in bed too long, then staying in the hot shower too long, then begrudgingly starting my day. But for some time I was writing in a journal at night. I would write the things I got done, then reflect a bit on work and my personal life. I’d write how I was feeling in just a few sentences, then rank the day. It helped me when I needed it, but for some reason didn’t last long.

While I am a person that likes certain comforts and consistency, I don’t know that I have a lot of habits. I think I view a lot of habits as things that are almost compulsions. They don’t stick. But there are times where I can use a … short term habit (which, this feels like totally not a thing) to break out of a certain thought pattern or rut.

Letters-as-journal for me really just means that writing a letter like this at the pace I write them creates time for a kind of introspection and retrospection that I don’t normally have. I don’t let out thoughts that are diary level private, but it’s also not quite a log. That’s why I settled on journal.

Constraints change outcomes. I didn’t want to get too deep into my own head, so I wanted to write in public. I wanted to write letters to slow down the pace of today’s “common” internet interactions. I thought it would build a different kind of communication, and it has. And I wanted to mostly talk to strangers so that the topics would keep me on my toes. That’s worked too.

Congrats on hitting your 1000M goal! Thirty minutes sounds both short enough to be manageable and utterly exhausting. I’m about to start book 29 for the year. I have a very modest goal of 30 books this year– the least I’ve read since 2018– and I hope I’ll hit it. What other goals did you have for this year? As we fast approach 2024, what are your goals for next year?