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Looking At What’s Next

by wforbes
Main image for the blog article, man stands with a saw in his hand looking out of a Windows icon logo shaped hole he cut in the wall that reveals a green grassy field seen in the popular default Windows XP desktop wallpaper

Turning my journal into tasks

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’d started journaling to organize myself. It’s reshaped everything about my life and who I am. Getting everything in my head typed out into a doc has me so much more organized and capable of doing more than I ever thought possible. Coming to terms with the past, understanding the present, planning for the future. It feels like I have a second brain. 

The brain in my head used to have to manage to keep track of remembering everything, keep up with my imagination on everything, thinking about my day to day life, and making it all somehow cohesive so I can progress. Like trying to do difficult math homework, hold a witty conversation, answer a bunch of emails, plan for the future and do my taxes all while juggling a bunch of random items on a unicycle over a pool of alligators. As you get older and your life becomes more complex, it just gets to be too much.

The brain in my journal can now take care of keeping track of remembering most things. Writing forces me to express my imagination literally and put it into words to help make sense of it. Then this frees my focus to be more present in my day to day life. I can exist in the moment with people and really pay attention to them; instead of drifting in and out of my unsorted thought processes.

Since 2017 I’ve written 300+ pages (some 250k words, give or take). Although I took a break from it during the first half of this year, I’ve written 150 pages since July 2019. Much of it has had to do with putting together what I’ve found that I like doing, shaping up my daily habits, planning for the next 10 years and where I want to be at 42 years old, and combining everything I’d researched in the last few years to form a plan to keep doing more with my life. I wrote a few essays I’d like to expand on and refine in my blog here too when it’s time for it.

Now I’m doubling back through this year’s journal to summarize it for myself and turn its contents into actionable tasks to work on going forward. Looking at the next year of my life and what I’ll focus on throughout it. I’d like to keep doing what I’ve been doing recently, only better. More streamlined and focused. Managed enough to do away with needless wastes of time, but free enough to decide what I can work on depending on my mood each day.

Here’s a rough list of everything I’m doing:

  • Finish my Bachelor’s in Computer Science by 2021 (https://wgu.edu)
  • Get my Ethical Hacking Certification before 2020, and my CSSLP before 2021
  • Learn the C++ programming language with professional proficiency
  • Work on my video game to practice my Java (and C++), and Game dev skills (Omnia2013 project)
  • Flip (buy and resell) websites and business opportunities for profit and passive income
  • Take online tutorials daily to broaden my knowledge (PluralSightFreecodecampKhan, etc)
  • Practice editing videos on Adobe Premier
  • Compile my school work and research to write articles and create video tutorials based on them
  • Post videos on my YouTube channel: Vlogs, Product Reviews, YouTube Channel Spotlights.. etc.
  • Read at least 50 pages (or one chapter) from a book each day
  • Write book report articles on the books I complete to sum them up
  • Research and study neurology with the goal of working with neurologists as a programmer
  • Write tutorials/textbooks styled like a fantasy RPG D&D choose your adventure book
  • Write a novel centered around telepathy and future technology
  • Organize and expand my Indicium project – a repository of useful and interesting web links
  • Learn the React.js framework
  • Get better at WordPress development
  • Build a web application that makes a game out of blogging and journaling
  • Build a web application that gives insights and research info based on browsing history
  • Build a prototype for [proprietary idea] … more info on that soon.
  • Set up and run a physical web server (Windows & Linux)
  • Learn how to fly Freestyle FPV drones (like this)
  • Learn to play Magic: the Gathering well and win a Friday night tournament
  • Learn D&D and start playing it with a group of friends regularly
  • Play and write music at least once a week (Exits Exist)
  • Skateboard at least once a week
  • Draw on my tablet at least 5 hours per week (learn photoshop/illustrator)
  • Work out at least 8 hours per week

“Time Is A Concept”

First, I know already that everything I’m planning to do and already doing is more than my schedule can handle to excel at most of it. I work a fulltime job (8 hours per day) and I’m taking fulltime classes for another 4 hours per day. With the remaining 4 hours I have each day during the week and another 8 hours per day on the weekend: an accumulated approximated 30-40 hours to spare at the most… I have some room to work on other things but not much.

I know I won’t be able to work on all of this all the time. Avoiding burnout is really important. I’m sure I’ll try making schedules for myself and drop the ball on them. Plan things out and then change the plans. That’s ok with me. I won’t read that much every day at first, I might never be good at Magic any time soon, or flip a single website successfully. I won’t beat myself up about it if that’s the case. In truth, I have 10 years from right now to get it right. 

I wrote a detailed 10-year plan that tracks my estimated income and expenses, concentrations and projected focuses, with alternate plans for problems arising – like failing health, losing work, and other misdirections. More on that later.

The main idea here is that without this journal, this list and these ideas, I wouldn’t ever have a chance at getting anywhere close to accomplishing these things. This list and set of goals I’m forming is just an upper bound goal to keep reaching for this year and this blog post is an opportunity to break the ice and start writing about it.

I think the key is forming my tasks to accumulate together. Kill multiple birds with one stone. Everything having to do with learning software and writing code can be considered one big project, everything with videos and tutorials are another. Researching and writing articles can be done in the same set time of my schedule as studying for subjects in school and taking tutorials, and the new hobbies I’d like to learn can all be given the same time slot during the week that gets rotated out with one of them being focused on at a time. 

There is a way to manage all this and it’s my overarching main goal to be able to do that successfully by October 2020 and then keep getting better at it until 2030. Let’s see where I am when that time comes.

Birds and Stones

Study

Studying and taking classes at home affords me the opportunity to also listen to videos and take notes for certifications and other stuff. Bouncing back and forth between tasks when I get bored or reach a stopping point with each one has been a really good workflow for me. I’m actually currently projected to graduate WGU by 2023… so finishing by the end of 2021 is incredibly accelerated. Like I said earlier, this is an upper bound to reach for. Graduating by 2021 is the best possible achievement I could ask for here, that’d be a maniacal pace. Good thing I’m a maniac. Those three items can be combined to be something simple like… ‘Study’

What’s next?

A hiker reads a book high on an exposed mountain peak near Taipei, Taiwan.

Creative Research

  • Research and study neurology with the goal of working with neurologists as a programmer (and understanding the brain in more depth)
  • Write tutorials/textbooks styled like a fantasy RPG D&D choose your adventure book
  • Write a novel centered around telepathy and future technology

These are less important things to study but will require a different pace and they really don’t have much in the way of a time restriction. The work with neurology won’t be that important until I have my Master’s degree. The fantasy styled tutorials are just a fun idea I worked on one day that I’d like to continue. The novel has been in progress on and off since 2016, and who knows when it’ll be good enough to say what I want it to say? So these are like.. ‘Creative Research’

And then there’s…

Business

  • Flip (buy and resell) websites and business opportunities for profit and passive income.
  • Organize and expand my Indicium project – a repository of useful and interesting web links
  • Learn the React.js framework
  • Get better at WordPress development
  • Build a web application that makes a game out of blogging and journaling
  • Build a web application that gives insights and research info based on browsing history
  • Build a prototype for [proprietary idea] … more info on that soon.
  • Set up and run a physical web server (Windows & Linux)

It’s very clear to me that working a day job, even if it pays reasonably well, is not going to provide enough to do all the extra very important things that go into having a GREAT life. I don’t just want to scrape by and have a GOOD life. I want it to be great like Tony the Tiger would say. These important things include: being able to actually HELP others and provide meaningful value to their lives, travel and see more of the world than just this Californian desert I’ve been mostly relegated to, save for retirement so I can begin a new career and have freedom when I reach my 50s, and finally – do fun cool projects ‘n’ stuff.

I figure that starting a technology company is the best way to go right now, with what I know how to do already and what I want to know how to do in the future. With considerations on the type of people I want to be around in my life, and the type of people I want to be able to help consistently. The plan for this company is something for a later blog post, but roughly I figure that starting small and just flipping websites like people flip houses is my safest bet. I can hold profitable websites for passive income, make large flips and collect big revenues when the opportunity arises, and get more knowledgable about what goes into a successful online business. From there, building web applications and native apps on mobile or desktop would be a natural next step. Then on to building and producing devices that harness the new technology on the horizon after that. I intend to focus on Business to Business verticals and stay insulated from the ups-and-downs of consumer trends or market instability. File this stuff under… “Business”.

And on to the next…

Video Editing

  • Practice editing videos on Adobe Premier
  • Compile my school work and research to write articles and create video tutorials based on them
  • Post videos on my YouTube channel: Vlogs, Product Reviews, YouTube Channel Spotlights.. etc.

Alright so, YouTube is huge and online video has a more broad and inclusive audience now more than ever. Most people have phones and laptops that can stream and play 1080p and 4k video, the quality of all of it is really prime now. So.. editing videos, even at a novice level for my own stuff is really important. I could write all the articles in the world, but if everyone is much more receptive to watching a video on it instead – why not try to provide that?

It struck me that most people can’t go to college and they may never be exposed to coding and technology topics. Getting into something like software development really requires a lot of context and introductory knowledge to get off the ground and understand the lay of the land. If I can do something to make it more accessible and fun to get into, I think that’d be a great use of time. File these under “Video work”

Continuing…

Reading

  • Read at least 50 pages (or one chapter) from a book each day
  • Write book report articles on the books I complete to sum them up

So far this year I’ve gotten through 5 or 6 audiobooks and started reading a few physical ones. My eyes are far far better at reading text on a screen right now than they are on paper, but I think it’d be a really important habit to just bake into my days consistently. After selling books on Amazon back in 2016, I have a huge pile of them left over ready to get started. It will just be a matter of carving through that and picking up new titles (I’ve purchased like 14 books in just the last few months). Most importantly though, I believe that writing summaries and thoughts on what I read will really drive it home and make the activity more meaningful. I’ve noticed people will speed through audiobooks, racking up dozens and dozens of them … but how is all that new knowledge cemented in their mind? I have no idea. For me to get the most value from reading, I will need to reflect on everything and what better way than little book reports like revisiting 3rd grade? Categorize these under “Read”.

Next…

New Hobbies

  • Learn how to fly Freestyle FPV drones (like this)
  • Learn to play Magic: the Gathering well and win a Friday night tournament
  • Learn D&D and start playing it with a group of friends regularly

Learning these are just things I always wanted to do but never knew anyone that did them. There’s other stuff I could add to this list too, but this is enough for now. Won’t take a whole lot of time, but will require commitment to regularly doing them and adding to my knowledge on them. Label them “New Hobbies”.

Finally…

Passion Routines

  • Play and write music at least once a week (Exits Exist)
  • Skateboard at least once a week
  • Draw on my tablet at least 5 hours per week (learn photoshop/illustrator)
  • Work out at least 8 hours per week

These last four are things I’d be doing WAY too much of if I wasn’t on this new way of living, in fact, I think they’d be all I would be doing. I don’t know how to balance the time I spend on them yet. I feel like for stuff like Skateboarding or Drawing, I will either not do them at all for months at a time or spend all day on them everyday and not look up for months at a time, 10 hours at a time, no limits, all chips in. So learning to balance it will be the biggest challenge for me. In truth I’d like to start a clothing/skateboard brand and sell my designs/artwork printed on products, but that’s not really in my scope right this moment… but may be added if I can do these routinely.I’d categorize this under “Passion Routines”.

Summary: From 25 to 6

Ok so what do we have from that? Boiled down 25 subtopics into 6 main topics:

  • Study – WGU, CEH, PluralSight, FreeCodeCamp, Khan Academy
  • Creative Research – Neurology, Fantasy themed textbook, Telepathy/Future Novel
  • Business – Flip websites, Indicium, Learn React.js, WordPress dev, Set up server
  • Video Editing – Learn editing, Tutorial Videos, Youtube videos (vlog, review, spotlights)
  • Reading – 50 pages, book reports
  • New Hobbies – FPV drones, Magic, D&D
  • Passion Routines– Play music, Ride skateboards, Draw, Workout

Although this is all the same amount of tasks and activities as we started with, categorizing and combining them suddenly makes them manageable. There are 7 days in a week, at least three of those topics are daily routine kinds of things(study, read, passions.. maybe new hobbies); so really I’m looking at just planning weekly blocks of time for three pursuits here: Creative Research, Business, and Video Editing. I’m imaging that right now, I’d best serve these by really spending multiple hours on them in each sitting.

Now I suppose my job will be to work out a schedule for myself and start a checklist every week to make sure I hold myself to task. Thanks for reading, I’m looking forward to sharing more about all of this when I can.

(Originally published 10/23/19 on  https://wforbes.blogspot.com/2019/10/looking-at-whats-next.html  )

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