Life’s a lot more challenging when you turn it into a game and start keeping track of your progress. For a few years now, I’ve been on an Epic Life Quest: I made a list of future achievements I want to unlock, and when I unlock five in a row, I level up.
Here’s the five I pulled off over the last several months:
- Acquire small Sas Christian paintings – I started with some of her pencil sketches in 2013, and this year I was able to pick up two of her smaller paintings, Peephole #1 and #3. (And a couple more pencil sketches, much to Erika’s dismay.) I’m being specific about “small” paintings because I’d really love to pick up at least one of her larger ones someday, and that deserves its own achievement. Completed 2015.
- Hire a salesperson and hand off sales duties – I truly enjoyed doing sales work, but the time has come to hand that work off to a professional and get back to what I’m good at. What was that again? Completed in March 2015.
- Train DBAs at 2 of the top 10 consulting companies – I’ve had a few pretty big consulting companies bring me in to train their staff, but these two are huuuuge. It’s such an ego boost to know that when it comes time for their staff to learn, they bring me in. Completed in mid-2015, but I can’t name the companies due to NDAs.
- Do a fully coordinated online product launch – in the past, I’ve done a half-ass job whenever I launch a new training video or script. This time, I wanted to use techniques that self-publishers have used for years to really make a splash. Completed in June 2015.
- Take a cruise in an aft balcony cabin. I’ve always wanted to get one of those balconies that hangs off the back of a cruise ship.
Last week, I took a one-week Alaska cruise in a balcony cabin and checked the last one off my list. It was a goofy timing thing – Erika and I flew out to the Oregon coast for the company retreat in July, then I had a free week between that and teaching our SQL Server Performance Troubleshooting class in Portland. Erika knew I’d been itching to take a cruise again (I hadn’t taken one in years), so she said, “Why not drive up to Seattle and hop on a boat?” She stayed behind in Seattle and had her own solo vacation week, hanging out in downtown Seattle.
I loved cruising alone. You can buy Internet on board, but it’s slow and expensive. I value that disconnected time, and I did a lot of writing and planning about my big-picture personal and business goals. I learned a lot about myself, thinking about my successes and challenges over the last year. (I do this a couple times a year.) When I got back online, I updated my Epic Life Quest Future Achievements page to more closely reflect my GTD 50k foot goal list.
It’s funny – I would have thought my future achievements wanna-do list would get longer as I got older and honed my Epic Life Quest and GTD stuff. It’s been the opposite; knowing my actual rate of progress (I’m lucky to unlock one of these per month), it makes me think much harder before I add something to the list, and it makes me much quicker to delete something off the list. I think I deleted 25+ things off my private lists this go-round.
Focus also means letting go of things I’ve already done, too, and I’ve been letting DBAreactions coast to a stop. I had an awesome time doing it, and it was a great experience seeing it grow to huge popularity overnight, but I feel like it’s a box that I’ve checked off now. I still go in weekly and approve submissions, but I don’t write new material there anymore. I’m not sad about that – I’m excited for the time it gives me to focus on other new fun stuff.