Howdy friends,

It is time to give you some updates about my life and the current progress of my journey to financial freedom.

I started Project Horizn around January 2016 with the goal to become more independent in the future.

Project Horizn is a 3 years journey by the end of which I hopefully achieved financial freedom in order to free up my time and work on bigger projects.

Now it is already half time and about time to reflect if I am still on track or not.

What is financial freedom?

Before jumping in, I want to quickly explain the term financial freedom for those who are not familiar with the concept.

Financial freedom is basically the state of having enough wealth to live off without having to put in active work.

That means that you have a source of passive income that generates enough money so you can cover your expenses entirely and free up your time.

But before you say anything, let’s get something right out of the way.

No, my goal is not to turn into a lazy fucker and drinking cocktails at the beach all day.

The myth about passive income is that people think they don’t have to work at all. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

It requires a lot of energy to build it and requires continuous energy to keep it alive.

BUT the biggest difference is that it does not require to exchange time for money 1:1, like in a job.

In the end, my goal is to free up my time so I can focus all my energy and creativity on building products.

1. Building the general foundation

Before jumping into the details I want to give a quick overview of the most important focus areas of Project Horizn:

  1. Developing a strong entrepreneurial mindset by learning from successful people
  2. Creating the right habits and routines that supports life changes
  3. Embracing the journey of entrepreneurship and going through the process of learning new skills

Developing the right mindset

The first year was dedicated to learning. I started to read more books and create new habits. The initial goal was to finish 6 books in 12 months.
I got hooked and by the end of the year I managed to read more books than initially planned. Here is the entire list of books of 2016 (not in chronological order):

  1. Richard Branson – Losing my Virginity
  2. Think and Grow Rich
  3. The Fastlane Millionaire
  4. The Education of Millionaires
  5. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
  6. How to Win Friends and Influence People
  7. The Richest Man from Babylon
  8. Choose Yourself
  9. Sam Walton – Made in America
  10. Ready Player One
  11. The Alchemist
  12. The 4 Hour work Week

Some of the books where available as audiobooks on youtube.
I used this page to convert those into mp3 in order to put it on my phone:

This saved me a ton of time and I could listen to it whenever I was traveling or commuting.

I also listen to podcasts of successful entrepreneurs when I am commuting to get inspired and continue to develop my entrepreneurial mindset.

I realized how much these things helped. The more you integrate those things in your life, the more you train your brain and especially your unconsciousness.
This sounds incredibly nerdy, but I believe that without a focused and strong foundation you will not be able to build anything.

Creating the right Habits

After reading ‘The Miracle Morning’ I got so inspired by Hal Elrods story that I wanted to try it myself.
At this time I had full time job and I had to find a way to work on my side projects. The only possible time slot was in the morning.
So i started to develop a morning routine starting at 5am and wrote a blog posts to share all the details.

How A Miracle Morning Can Accelerate Your Personal Growth

I couldn’t keep up this specific morning routine throughout the year but managed to keep the habit of getting up early.
Today, I try to get up at 5am. Sometimes 6am if I had training the night before and feel that my body needs more resting.
My morning routine includes these core elements:

From time to time I include reading, journaling or learning Javascript but most of the time I spend answering emails from Chinese manufacturers because of the time difference.

Another habit I actually created by accident was, Writing.

In January 2016 I published a Linkedin post that surprisingly got a lot of traction.

I got so hooked on the idea of sharing knowledge.

This is when Project Horizn was born.

The idea was to share my learnings along the way, and at the same time create a diary for myself that I can look at in 30 years and laugh about it.

Writing also helps to crystalize ideas and thoughts and to think about learnings.

But more importantly it helps me to practice my english and writing skills that will be valuable in the future when I go more into publishing.

2. Product Updates

As most of you know, in early 2016 I had the idea of bringing Vietnamese Coffee to the western world.

Well, it’s not entirely true because it already exists in the west, but still not many people know about it.

Many still don’t even know that Vietnam is the second biggest exporter of coffee in the world.

Anyhow, I created a coffee filter that gives the traditional phin a modern look which aims towards coffee lovers here.

At this time I only had a sketch and had no idea how to make the product real.

vinabrew first sketches
vinabrew sketching and ideation

I went through the process of product development and learned how to turn a simple sketch into a tangible form and going into mass manufacturing.

My first prototyping attempts failed badly but after a while I got the hang of it.

How to create a physical product 101: 3d printing
How to create a physical product 101: ceramic 3d printing
Tools to create physical product

This was a very steep learning curve but an extremely valuable one.

At first I wanted to have this product on the market before Christmas 2016 but it took longer than expected.

Until the end of 2016 I had to redesign my product multiple times because the initial design didn’t work well.

how to create a physical product testing
how to create a physical product design

I also had trouble to find a trustworthy manufacturer and lost quite a bit of money in the process.

Today, I luckily found a good and professional partner that is able to realize my product in great quality.
I am currently in the stage of refining the packaging and next would be mass production + shipping.

I am aiming to launch the product in autumn this year and to be ready for christmas.

VinaBrew Coffee Set
how to make a physical product and sell online - packaging

If you are curious about the entire process and how to make a product yourself, checkout my guide that explains everything step by step.

How To Make A Product To Sell Online 101 : Design

3. Blog Updates

I started several blogs before but never kept up the habit of writing.

Not so with Project Horizn.

As I mentioned above, it all started with that single article on Linkedin.

Blogging is a hard business and in order for a blog to succeed it requires a lot of energy for creating the content.

I was extremely busy last year with my full time job, traveling for work, creating my own product, reading and creating new habits.

In the end, my blog didn’t got much attention, but I still managed to publish 28 articles which is equal to average 2 articles/month.

This is still not enough for a blog to get attention from google or anything else. Other bloggers manage to publish 2-3 articles/week = 104-150 articles a year.

Still a long way to go, but because my blog is not my main business yet, I don’t feel too bad about it.

However I learned that focus is extremely important if yo want to succeed in anything.

Don’t juggle too many balls at once.

4. Health & Fitness

It took me a while to realize how much impact nutrition has on physical and also mental performance.
If you study really successful people, you will observe 3 habits that they all have in common:

  1. First, everyone has a very strict morning routine and takes advantage of the early morning.
  2. Second, everyone is working out multiple times during the week to keep their physical body fit.
  3. And lastly, everyone is feeding their body high quality food with great nutritional value.

The reality is: if you want to perform on a high level, you need to fuel your body with the best stuff possible.

Your body is like a complex high performing engine.
If you feed it well it will perform well.
If you feed it with mcDonalds, it will perform accordingly.
No matter how many times a week you’re working out.

I used to workout multiple times a week already, the only thing that I needed to change to get to the next level was to optimize my nutrition.

For that reason I changed my diet to a 95% plant based diet.

Why 95%?

Well sometimes when I go out with friends I need to stay flexible.

I cannot expect everyone make sacrifices just because of me.

But most of the time it’s no problem because many restaurants have vegan or at least vegetarian options.

So far I’m living off a plant based diet for almost 5 months and observed the following:

  1. I am less tired throughout the day
  2. I have more energy when going to training after work
  3. I feel much lighter
  4. I lost weight (there is no proof, but it feels great anyway)
  5. I feel that my skin is more healthy

Of course not everything is shining bright.
At first I had stomach problems during the time when my digestion was adjusting.
I felt bloated many times but it seems like it’s gone now.
I also feel that I’m more hungry and eat more throughout the day.
I think that’s normal and not really worrying.

But in total, I feel much better than before and will probably not go back at any point.

why I changed to a plant based diet

5. Career Choices

Alright, so what happened to my career after all.

To make it quick: I quit my job at frog after 2.5 years in order to work as a freelancer.

The goal was to free up more time for myself so I can put more energy into my own projects.

By becoming a freelancer I can also increase my hourly output which gives me more leverage for my own projects.

As a result, I can invest money more quickly and cut down the time without going broke.

Because I see things a bit differently now (maybe because I am still very naiv) my goal is not to have the standard designer career anyway.

Now I rather focus on learning skills that are valuable for my entire life rather than my job only. It’s a conscious decision that will probably lead me to many other careers instead of one.

I am looking forward to that.

freedom vs security and why i quit my job

6. Summary

To sum up quickly, my journey is going well so far.

I managed to build a great foundation from a mindset perspective but my actual goal of becoming financially free is a bit delayed.

My product is arriving a year later than expected and then it’s not even sure if it will be successful. (I planned to have 3 products in the market by now, haw haw)

But that’s totally fine with me because the process is the most important part.

And I will keep going until I get there.

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch. I am happy to talk about my process as openly as possbile and share all my learnings so you can start your own journey.

We live in a world with a lot of opportunities and the only thing you need to do is to embrace them.
Let’s rock’n roll!

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