top of page
Search

Co-Author: Emilie Wong


Step 1: Meditate


Establish your environment



Illustration of a girl on a bean bag chair embracing a book.

Start by finding a quiet and safe place, where you will not be disturbed. Situate yourself in a comfortable position. It could be sitting on a chair, on a cushion, with or without your back supported or lying down. Bottom line is, you need to be comfortable with the arrangement. The purpose of this meditation is to bring your attention inwards, towards yourself finding stillness. Guided meditation prompts can help you learn the fundamentals of getting started.


Once you are feeling confident, you can try a one-minute silent meditation, gradually increasing the duration with each practice. This is one of the most ancient meditation practices, being used to self-transform through self-observation. You can find many resources online to dive deeper into this subject.



How to observe


Illustration of a girl sitting on a window sill looking downwards.

Once you are comfortable, breathe deeply into your stomach through your nose and out through your nose. This is acting as your clearing breath, to calm your mind and is used as a focus aid. Once you are ready, you can return your breath to a regular pace, and start to observe what comes up physically. Start by observing your body. Often the sensations in your body can tell you many things about your current state, whether you are stressed, angry, anxious or simply tired. Using a body scan, start from the top of your head, moving down to the tips of your toes, noticing how every inch of your body feels.

After that, draw your attention to any thoughts and emotions that may arise. Bring awareness to each floating in and out of the mind, as if you were observing clouds going by. Try not to be consumed by removing them altogether, simply labelling them objectively as they arise. For example, say to yourself, “Thinking” or “Feeling” when one arises. Then draw your attention back to breathing. If any thoughts and emotions come up again, gently repeat to yourself “thinking” or “feeling”. Continue to do so until the end of the practice.



Why meditation is important for mindful journaling?


Illustration of a guy walking down an empty road.

You may not understand what is the end goal of observation for now. However, as you continue practicing, you will notice yourself getting better at becoming an observer, seeing yourself objectively from a third-person’s point of view. You will become more self-aware, as you notice more and more what is going through your head; what emotions you are experiencing and how your body is responding physiologically. It can be overwhelming at the beginning to have this amount of new knowledge and awareness about yourself.


As you become more self-aware it becomes important to write any symptoms, thoughts, and feelings down. It will help you assess your behaviours on a regular basis and help you to determine to detach from the outcome of certain thoughts and emotions. Certain thoughts and emotions have been taught to be suppressed, and often in adulthood, we simply run away from them. If you have chosen to pursue this practice, you will begin a life-long journey of developing the skills to combat the challenges in front of you. If so, you need to learn to do the next step.



Step 2: Write your observations down


Illustration of a person floating, holding a pencil and a book.

Mindful journaling is dynamic, fluid and functional. You don’t need to write beautiful paragraphs to impress an audience, the purpose is for you to reflect, heal and enquire. You could write in bullet point format, using prompts or as a brainstorming session with arrows and circles. After your meditation, if you notice any recurring thoughts that are constantly nagging you or something positive that you want to expand on, jot them down. Then examine where those thoughts or emotions come from. If they are affecting you negatively, allow yourself to explore if there is another angle to approach the situation.

If there was something positive that came up, write down how you want to cherish that experience and bring more of those qualities to your life. Soon, you will find yourself feeling either more accepting of your situation or empowered by being proactive to change your self-perception.



Mindful journaling is something you can do either with a physical notebook or our app Flow Journal. Flow journal offers mindful journaling and regular journaling. You can use our meditation timer and journaling prompts to create structure and commit to your practice. The app also offers weekly insights to track your progress and all of your data is stored locally and can be viewed in privacy.



124 views

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

At the start of 2020, I was employed at The Weather Network. It was a comfortable life having a well-paid job and a great team to work, but I left a great job to pursue my dream of being my own boss. In the past, it had not felt like the right time to take the plunge into entrepreneurship because I was pulled back by financial fear and trust in my ability to complete the task. Thanks to years of effort in growing myself, I finally gained the courage to take action.


Fast forward to today, I built a cross-platform MVP. It is a journaling app with auto-renewal subscriptions called Flow Journal: Self-discovery. The app allows users to write, meditate, reflect and gain insights into their thoughts and who they are. I call myself an indie app developer as of now, because I am self-funded, working alone and operating in a more risk-averse manner. Being an indie app developer means, I am my product/project manager, designer, developer, sales manager, marketer and more. I am a one-person company, and hopefully, this will change with the right people. During my journey, I have learned a few things about building an MVP. Here are the five best lessons I've learned in no particular order:


1. Do not jump into partnerships too quickly, test-drive them first.  


If you are set to pursue entrepreneurship or building things full time without much previous experience, make sure you do not give away control too easily in the beginning. Working with people is a lot of fun, especially if you are an extrovert. It keeps you accountable and engaged. More importantly, you can bounce ideas off each other and provide feedback. It’s easy to get caught up with the excitement of “changing the world together” with someone. However, if you are going to do this full-time and partnering with someone that is not, it will create a sense of imbalance for both you and the partner.


Entering a partnership prematurely can create trust issues and doubts, if you have not test-driven the other person’s level of commitment, skills and values. Before I quit my full-time job, I was working on a different idea with a friend. We worked so well together, and she knew I was going to quit my full-time job from the very start. However, when I did, something immediately shifted and our partnership ended fast. Even though it was a mutual decision and we did it very respectfully, it had a huge impact on our friendship.


If you are passionate about an idea and taking on all the risks and commitment to do it, make sure you own it. Startup life is full of unknowns. When you own your idea, it gives you and the people you are bringing on board a sense of direction and stability. Test people out, until you find the right person to partner with. Unless you are sure, be aware of entering a partnership with a friend because it will affect your friendship.


2. Find advisors but do not make it official...yet. 


This piece of advice is similar to the last one. Since you are just figuring things out, things can change at any moment. Having an advisor is important, especially someone who has a specific industry experience that you do not have. However, a formal contract and a detailed equity agreement are not yet necessary. Have your regular meetings scheduled and have a basic agreement about how much equity and time you expect from your advisor for a given period (weekly, monthly, etc.).


When I first started, I had a Psychotherapist as an advisor to give me feedback and guidance on my product. We met almost every week for a month until I started to put all my focus on developing the app. Now, we still keep in touch, but I realize I need significantly less advisory time than I thought I did. Although I still want her as my advisor, it is clear that we need to revisit what we both need and how our advisory relationship works.


3. Feedback is so powerful that it should be mastered, contained and respected. 


I learned this lesson the hard way. The week before development started, I asked for feedback on the mockups. I wanted to get one more validation from a designer. After receiving her feedback, I went into a state of complete chaos where I lost sleep, spent all day and all night changing the whole product and the design last minute. I started doubting myself and feeling completely exhausted. Her feedback was very helpful, but the way I acted on it was not sustainable. I realized feedback is a powerful double-edged sword. Continuous feedback can help us to build products that customers want. Yet, if not done correctly, it could potentially harm my effectiveness, productivity, confidence and decision making.


The book Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan that Works, shows a graph of a continuous product/development cycle like below. It outlines different stages that go into the cycle, and each has its unique purpose and goal. They are compartmentalized and should be kept that way, especially as a one-person team. Some companies have a dedicated full-time customer success team to collect feedback, or a data team to master what best ways to measure and make sense of data. This allows those companies to be able to deal with feedback faster and in parallel with other stages of product development. Agile teams that have more resources still spend a lot of time strategizing on how to turn feedback into a backlog of actionable items before engaging developers. Make sure you time-box feedback. More is not always good for a small team or a solo developer.


Taken from "Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works"

4. Be confident in yourself and know what kind of feedback you need.


Receiving feedback is not always easy. If we are not confident in ourselves, we can get defensive, feel hurt, overwhelmed, and even feel like someone is patronizing us. It is important to remember feedback is just information to help us, but what we do with it is in our control.


“Feedback is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you are gonna get." — not Forrest Gump

It’s important to learn tools to minimize noise from feedback and find what is useful in the moment or months from now on.


To save you and other people’s time, be specific about what kind of feedback you want (there is a time and place for open feedback as well). Narrow it down to specific things you want people to comment on whether it is the performance of your app on a specific screen or functionality, or how accessible your colour palette is. Be very clear on what exactly you want to know. People do not have the entire context of your situation, such as which stage of development you are in, the limitation of your resources, or what you have tried. Knowing what kind of feedback you want and giving people the context they need, can help them to make better judgements and provide better feedback.


5. You are working alone but you are not alone.



Working alone can be hard for many of us because it requires a lot of passion and discipline to keep ourselves engaged and motivated. When I decided to pivot from the original idea and part ways with the partner I had, I was in a bit of a funk. I felt sad and unmotivated and wasted a lot of time doing things I wasn’t so proud of. Luckily, I have a very supportive and observant boyfriend to challenge and support me. After many days not being myself, he asked me, “You know you are not alone in this right?” His words made me realize I was isolating myself. I was overwhelmed and paralyzed because I felt alone. I started to engage him more with my ideas, asking him for feedback and help. This also helped me to look deep into my support system and found other help that I wasn't expecting such as my dad. The book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey mentions the importance of interdependence instead of being completely on your own or being independent. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a sign of emotional intelligence and the ability to be dependent on one another.


Find that person, whether it’s your significant other, a parent, a friend, an acquaintance or a random person on the internet. Spend the time to build a support network for yourself. Remember you may be working alone, but you are not alone in this world.


I hope you learned something here. If you are curious about what I built, here are the links to Flow Journal: Self-discovery on the App Store: https://apple.co/2RuDlNr and Google Play: https://bit.ly/2ZG2t8F. You can also become a subscriber on this website to receive updates on new features from our mobile app and blog posts.

238 views
bottom of page