Brad Bollenbach is applying the Getting Real approach to life hacking with his site 30sleeps.com. It's a site for people who want to change their lives, with the idea being that it's a lot easier to make changes if you take them one month at a time. Brad wrote to tell us more about how Getting Real has influenced him.
As an entrepreneur, writer, UI designer, and software developer, your philosophy of "Getting Real" is the motive power that's brought my business ideas to life. It's helped me make lightweight a lifestyle, and driven me to Get Shit Done (TM).
What's Your Problem?
Getting Real suggests building things that solve your own problems.
Almost a year ago, I asked myself, "What most frustrates me about the world?" The answer, for me, was that so many people seem to live at a fraction of their potential. This motivated me to build something that would inspire, educate, and empower people to change their lives.
I created a site called 30 sleeps, which is based on the idea of using 30-day goals (an idea I got from personal growth blogger Steve Pavlina) as a primary vehicle for personal change. Realizing my own shortcomings too, I knew this would be a great way for me to explore, decipher, and document the day-to-day problems that my own life presents, whether related to building meaningful relationships, breaking bad habits, or even figuring out how to set my hourly consulting rate.
A lot of people can identify bugs in their daily life, but stop short of authoring the patch. The Getting Real approach of building something that I want has imbued my work with a fire that is hard to light in any other way. And when you're building to change the world, that kind of passion is a nuclear weapon.
I've had several business ideas in the past, none of which ever made it out of thoughtspace.
In starting 30 sleeps, I took a lesson from how you guys used constraints to drive the development of Basecamp. My primary constraint was a deadline: June 1, 2007. I made a commitment to myself that, no matter what, 30zzz was going live on that date. This gave me only a few weeks to get something running.
Tightening the noose forced me to start building something right away, even though I had only a vague idea of what I wanted the site to be. My first coding session involved literally opening up TextMate and just plowing. The UI went from nothing, to horribly bad, to ugly, to tolerable, to usable, to running in production.
Had I waited until I was "ready" to start this project, I'd still be twiddling my thumbs.
Go With the Flow
My plan for 30 sleeps was to offer two services: a goal tracking application where people could create, manage, and discuss their goals with liked-minded folks, and a regular stream of articles full of stories and ideas extracted from my own experiences, that would propel people to live their own adventures.
I originally planned to focus on the goal tracking app and publish a few articles per month. But when the fourth article I ever wrote, Social Skydiving: The Art of Talking to Strangers, hit the reddit front page, I took the hint and invoked the Getting Real principle of Going With the Flow.
I had no idea how much I'd enjoy reaching out to others through writing, and how much others would enjoy my articles. Being a One Man Army made it easy to change gears.
10 months after its conception, the site is alive and kicking. I've published 61 posts, had about 40,000 unique visitors in the past 30 days, and I've connected with people all over the world who've written to me with stories of personal change. I recently formed a personal growth group in Montreal related to 30-day goals as well. And documenting my life in front of my readers has helped me keep both feet squarely planted in my discomfort zone.
So thanks guys, for showing me what simple is all about. Getting Real has played an integral role in my pursuit of happiness.