Few weeks ago, I was talking to my friend Oday Maleh, and we agreed to start a programming podcast in Arabic, we are both programmers so it felt like a cool idea to start a programming podcast where we share our (and our guests) technical knowledge with the programming community in the MENA region.
We were excited to start, but at the same time we were a bit nervous, since we’ve never done any podcast before and we had no idea whether the programmers will love or hate it! The good news is, we received some very good feedback from the community, and we are working to record more episodes and to keep improving the quality.
Few days ago, I decided to start a personal Facebook page for this blog. Having my own page is a part of my objective to have a more balanced life, and its main purpose is to be able to connect with new people in addition to current site visitors.
This blog provided me with the opportunity to share my ideas and personal experiences with the world, and by sharing these posts on social media, I will get the opportunity to connect with genuine people that otherwise I may not have the chance to meet.
Here is how I see it, in the past few years I met a lot of cool people because I was attending more events, and I was socializing more, and it wasn’t easy for me at first, it was even a bit awkward, especially that I am an introvert, and because I didn’t use to go out much before, but with time and practice, interacting with new people and building relations started to become easier, and I was able to initiate and engage in conversations in a much smoother and natural way, which led me to hear cool stories, learn a lot and build connections.
My aim from the page is to communicate and connect, and maybe this will lead me to build new friendships or meet some awesome people, I really don’t know.. but what I do know, is I am putting myself out there by sharing topics and personal stories on my blog.. and if you would like to meet or connect, just leave me a message and I will be happy to hear your story, because everyone has something interesting to share!
You can check/like the blog’s new Facebook page by clicking here.
After writing my first post (My journey towards a balanced life – Part 1), I started setting a plan to move forward, to set a plan I specified non-work related activities that are important to me and that will help me create a more balanced life, and they are mainly divided into 3 categories:
Meeting new people and expanding my social circle
Re-connecting with my friends
It wasn’t enough for me to say I am going to start, I needed an action plan, because I know myself, if I didn’t do that, I will just get super busy with projects and just postpone other stuff, the ‘intention’ alone is not enough, I think you can easily relate, let me ask you a question:
How many times you decided to start exercising or going out more and then you found yourself sitting on the couch months later and doing nothing (despite the fact that you are totally aware that these activities are beneficiary for you)?! (does new year’s resolution(s) ring a bell?!)
so, based on all that I knew that planning is totally the key to proceed.
What I did next is writing on a piece of paper what I want to do for this month, and I divided them by days, I ended up with this list:
meeting a friend
attending non-technical event (because I already attend many technical ones!)
working on my blog
The above were important to me to create my balance and to feel more relaxed and energized, your list may be totally different but you get the point.
later on, I found a website to help me print a calendar (Link here), I organized the tasks into days and I printed a calendar of repeated tasks that I posted on my wall:
I recommend you do the same if you are struggling to balance your life, and remember, the main key is to give these tasks the same priority as your work, or else, years will just pass by – and you will suddenly wake up wondering what have you done with your life!! well here is what you have done: You didn’t follow the advice on my blog !! (No Pressure 😛 )
on the other hand, if you decided to do that, and you would like some support, I would be happy to feature your progress in one of my posts.
I always wanted to start my own business, to do something innovative and special in the domain of programming and technology. The thought of working in a big company, climbing the corporate ladder, was never a dream of mine, nor an objective I aspired to attain.
after graduating from university with a degree in Computer Science, I worked for around 2 years as a full-time developer, after that, I left to pursue a career as a freelance developer for few years, then I co-founded Menaversity and later I started Qualtech, a full-service digital agency.
The journey was never easy, my friends and family, were supportive, but many of them also shared their honest and genuine feedback, which was a variation of:
“What the f**k are you doing !!! Go get a REAL job with an income that doesn’t involve following up with clients all day long, and programming all night till the next morning !!”
For years I barely had enough money to survive, most of the income that I get from my early clients, I spent paying for my business expenses (rent, servers, etc..). Having hundreds of dollars as monthly expenses without any fixed income is no FUN at all !
Programming by itself can be very stressful sometimes (though I love programming), add to it the fact that I was working to build a business then add to all that sleepless nights and you can get a rough idea how messed up my life was ‘perceived’.
But, despite all that, I enjoyed what I am doing, because I have a vision and a goal and because along the way I learned a lot, and these are some of the great stuff I experienced (whether as a co-founder at Menaversity or as a founder at Qualtech):
1- Speaking in front of a crowd
Yes, talking in front of a crowd can be an intimidating experience, and no matter how much I am confident about my idea or performance, I always feel the stress and the fast heartbeats before speaking, whether the talk was in front of a large audience like at Arabnet (watch video here) or in front of a smaller crowd, but once I start talking, the stress starts to disappear and I become more confident and excited.
The moment I am on stage is very symbolic to me, it is a validation that it was totally worth it. All the working hours, the frustration, the sleepless nights, the anxiety, the excitement that is mixed with a feeling of whether anyone actually cares or not, all of that starts to make sense.
2- Participating in competitions and winning them
While we were working at Menaversity, we participated in different competitions (Hackathon, PitchFest,…), The competition atmosphere is stressful, yet amazing, especially when we win 😎 !
3- The excitement of meeting people from different backgrounds
What I love about starting Qualtech digital agency is the diversity of my clients. I feel excited when I meet a new client, because I enjoy learning about new industries, this keeps me energized and motivated. In addition, it is always a good idea to be well connected with people from different domains and backgrounds.
4- Survival by continuous learning
The darkest moments for me were also the most crucial to my success. Of course I panic and get angry sometimes, especially when I work so hard and finish so many projects, and in the end, I look at my bank account and realize that I can barely pay the expenses for next month.. But in these moments, I become very creative, and I start to learn more and more, about marketing, sales, and I start to draw plans in order to get more income for my business to survive. These moments aren’t easy, but each time I overcome a new obstacle, I realize I am a step closer to sustain my business.
5- Applying my love for reading to the business
My close friends know how much I enjoy reading, from psychology to marketing to human behavior. I just love learning new stuff! And by running my own business, I was finally able to benefit from this curiosity in an applicable way. of course, I still delegate the tasks that are outside the scope of my expertise but it is always nice to chat and exchange ideas with people I work with in order to build the best solution.
These were some of the stuff I love about having my own business, you might have totally different ones, but that’s the beauty of it, every story is different and if having your own business is your goal, I hope this post helps you to proceed with your vision.
In the past few years, I achieved many things that I am really proud of, like co-founding Menaversity, starting my own digital agency Qualtech, sharpening my Marketing and Business skills, attending and pitching in conferences and events, in addition to expanding my business and professional connections and my programming and technical skills.
Starting my own business is a dream of mine but still, it is a really difficult task, it requires working for long hours, communicating with clients, respecting deadlines, in addition to coping with stress and handling a lot of pressure while keep moving forward in steady steps (or at least as steady as possibe).
All that, made me realize how much I am neglecting my own social and personal life. weekends for me, are just like any other day and sometimes, in order to finish a project I work in cycles of work and sleep (and Netflix series), work and sleep (and more series…), to the extent that I finish a project on Wednesday or Thursday while still thinking if today is Sunday !! don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, and no one has forced me on such a lifestyle.. I LOVE what I am doing and I am so passionate about all these techie/nerdy stuff, but at the same time.. I want to create some balance, I want to meet people, to go out more, enjoy the social aspect of life, because deep down I know that this is affecting me negatively.. and because I know that by doing so I will actually benefit both my personal and professional life !
The secret to achieve such a balance is taking the decision, we will always have work to do, projects to finish, and if we do not take a “conscious” decision about going out, meeting new people, having fun with friends, taking a break, relaxing, or even a time to “do nothing” we will end up with an unbalanced life, and that’s rarely a good thing !
I’ve made up my mind, and I hope this is going to be a new exciting chapter in my life.