We’re another week into 2018 and, as promised last time, I’d now love to tell you a bit about what I did work-wise in 2017.
Then – hopefully the more exciting part – I’ll do my best to give you a feel for where things may be headed this year.
To be honest, ever since I began writing regular posts at Moodscope in 2007, I’ve always been deliberately vague about references to my own financial circumstances.
It was a conscious decision, as it felt that for me, our relationship (yours and mine) ought to be more about you than about me.
The truth, however, is that like the majority of people, I need to work to pay the bills.
After I moved to California at the end of 2013, I applied for a visa on the basis of the development I’d carried out with Moodscope, and was granted this in 2014.
It meant I could start earning money (phew), but only in a limited way (ooh).
Then last year, after submitting an application accompanied by more than 1,000 pages of evidence, I was fortunate enough to be granted a Green Card, which makes me a “permanent resident,” although not a full citizen, of the USA.
This gives me many more employment options than my original visa did.
For a couple of years after I got to the USA, I worked as a freelance copywriter for a San Francisco biotechnology company.
Among many other projects, I wrote over a hundred weekly newsletters about the microbiome (the bacteria that lurks in and on our bodies) which others said were more fun than they might otherwise sound.
In May last year, this same company offered me a full-time position as their creative director, which I happily accepted.
I therefore spent a sweet (but short, it turned out) six months commuting to San Francisco every day, to work with a talented team of really fun people.
Somewhat extraordinarily, this was my first proper employed position since I started my ad agency in 1986: other than this one job, I’ve always worked for myself.
It was fantastic to get paid every two weeks (which is the way it usually works here in the States) along with all the usual SF start-up perks like free lunches, all the snacks you could eat, even your commuting costs paid, but I soon came to see that it just wasn’t what I came to California to do.
My mission when I came here was to continue my work in supporting people’s emotional health.
It really wasn’t about writing newsletters about E. coli, pooping, and unpleasant diseases.
It really wasn’t.
Towards the end of last year, therefore, I bid a reluctant farewell to my co-workers, my paychecks, and the free lunches, and found myself with greatly renewed energy to get back to really making a difference in the mental-health world.
Hardest of all was turning my back on the unlimited snacks, of course, but sometimes these things just have to be done.
Almost exactly a year ago, I experimented with publishing one of my “nudges” in audio form, which met with significant approval from lots of readers or, rather, listeners.
Then in March, I took this concept a stage further, playing with an idea where rating your emotional well-being with a simple test took you to one of four audio nudges, each customised to a particular state of mind.
If you tried it, and many did, you would then have gone on to hear tailored feedback if you’d been feeling anxious, angry, or sad, for example.
Again, this met with gratifyingly positive feedback, and it’s this broad idea which forms the basis of what I plan to do next.
Measuring and tracking my emotional well-being has made the most enormous difference in my own life, so it’s not surprising that I’m a huge advocate of the principle that, as in so many areas of life, we can only manage what we measure.
Coming soon, therefore, is an app called Signpost that has three strings to its bow.
Sign up with it, and you’ll get a text message every day, prompting you to take a brief test that rates your emotional well-being.
You’ll take the test on your phone, where you’ll also be able to view a graph showing your progress over time.
Finally, you’ll get immediate audio feedback from me, tailored to how you happen to be doing at that very moment.
I’ll be recording fresh feedback every day, so my intention is that this will really strengthen the relationship we have, enabling us to work together on managing either occasional or even chronic emotional health challenges that you may face.
I know of nothing else quite like this, so it’s new and somewhat experimental work, but based on my now ten years of working in this field, I have a really good feeling about Signpost.
Offering it will have associated expenses, making it necessary to offer it on a subscription basis from the start, but I will all I can to keep the price as affordable as possible.
By this time next week, I plan to have a bare-bones version of Signpost working well enough to offer a (free) seven-day version of it to a small number of Moodnudges readers.
More details next Thursday, therefore, along with full information about how you can register your interest.
Thank you so much for reading today, and for hopefully being okay with rather more personal disclosure from me than I’ve historically been comfortable with.
Have a great week – see you on January 25.