John Potess

2019: Difficult Transitions

A year of transitions

January 21st, 2020

It seems often too easy for me to forget everything that happens after the fact. I imagine it's the same for a lot of people.


This year was packed with changes. Growth, loss and gain. A lot happened.

The transition out of a marriage - and the subsequent redefining of self and what life is now. Along with that came the move out of the US to Portugal.

I’ve been in Portugal 5 months now, and it’s been a wild ride. I feel like I’m just now able to take a breath for a moment and settle in. I've just moved into a new apartment, I once again have flat mates - which I haven't had for maybe 8 years now.

I went with the cheapest option in downtown. I've accepted that at the price I snagged for a room in downtown Lisbon it's bound to have some issues. Such as when it rains the roof leaks straight on my bed - which was a fun surprise to wake up to in the middle of the night.

Portugal was a big move, I’ve always wanted to travel and be location-independent. I always imagined that would be to Spain - for some reason. But we ended up coming to Portugal - for some reason. Who knows why things turn out the way they do.

But I love Portugal and the people and the architecture and the weather and the language and the food and the pace of life. It's fantastic. But I never intended to make a permanent move here, wo we'll see what happens next.


It feels like a life-time ago, but this year I also discovered my love for bouldering. Back when I was in Denton, Texas, me and my buddy Dan would go and climb a few times a week. There's something magical about being completely immersed in the moment - using your mind and body fully to navigate these bouldering problems everything else fades away - so satisfying.

It was a completely different experience to get into my body and physically use it and challenge myself. It’s also been a great way to focus on the present. I’d imagine like other sports, it’s hard to be thinking about that deadline at work when you’re trying to make that reach to the top.

The physical nature, and mind strategy of climbing is very appealing to me and lets me use parts of my mind and body that I normally don’t get to just working on the computer all day or working out. The strategy, and physical exertion needed to climb and improve compliment each other.

I haven't been bouldering in Lisbon yet which has been kind of a bummer - transportation to the two gyms in Lisbon is about an hour to there on public transit..


At the beginning of the year I also set the goal of launching a product idea each month (this started as a goal of 12 products this year and transformed into three products).

If you kept up at all with the progress, you’ll know this didn’t happen. For the first few months I stuck to launching monthly, but once things started progressing towards the move to Portugal, the focus on the product launches fell off and didn’t return.

I launched three product ideas (one a re-launch of my podcast business), and got about half way through the fourth product idea.

While I wish I had been able to focus on following through with my goal more, I really enjoyed having the challenge, especially the first third of 2019 when I was fully engaged with it.

Personal Growth

Another major aspect of 2019 was a focus on personal development toward the latter half of the year. I started going to therapy online, and this has been the catalyst of so much change, personal growth and exploration. I really couldn’t recommend it more.

Having a professional that can help talk you through your personal difficulties, insecurities, negative patterns and blindspots has been incredibly helpful.

I use Betterhelp, which is reasonably priced, compared to other options (in th US at least) and is fully remote. They can also do video or phone calls, but I tend to gravitate toward the written communication.

When I walk down the cobblestoned streets of Lisbon, or take an espresso in a neighborhood cafe, I still get hit with the surreal realization that I’m actually in Portugal almost 5000 miles away from Texas.

If I was to sum up 2019 in one word, it would be transitions. It was a trying year, vibrantly beautiful and painful. And in those times of turmoil, trials and loss was also appreciation, self-discovery and self-love.

Life is so ephemeral and fleeting, and each moment brings something new and the unexpected, I’m grateful to feel the fullness of the breathtaking highs and lows and am ready to greet each day of 2020 with no-expectations other than being present and aware of each moment as it comes.

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