tl;dr – design your Level 50 Character, and then plot out the tasks you’ll need to achieve in order to live the life you want.
You’ve heard of a bucket list – this is different.In Steve Kamb’s book Level Up Your Life, he challenges you to dream big – really big – and come up with what your bio will look like when you’ve finished Level 50 of your personal Epic Quest.
Here’s Steve’s Level 50 character:
“Steve Kamb, Rebel One: Living in a house on a coastline, up early with the sunrise to write articles or work on my next book. Late morning is spent at the gym training with powerlifting, gymnastics, and capoeira exercises. My afternoons are spent playing golf or music until my kids come home from school. My evenings are spent with family and/or friends, eating a home-cooked dinner outside around a fire, live music being played, and fun being had by all. When I’m not at home living my life, I’m traveling on an important mission or adventure that challenges me physically and mentally.”
Isn’t that crazy audacious? Note that he isn’t actually working in the way you or I would probably define working, but that’s the life he wants to lead. Sounds awesome. Given that Level 50 character profile, that would dictate the steps he needs to take to work his way into that life: he’s gotta come up with enough passive income to make it work.
Here’s my Level 50 Character.
“Brent Ozar: Each morning I wake up before dawn, working for a few hours to maintain my passive income portfolio. I live in a bright, sun-soaked place, spending my mornings helping baby sea turtles get into the ocean, my days by the pool, and my evenings at a favorite local restaurant. I have a couple of really nice sports cars, and I love sharing them with others at local events. When I’m not at home living my life, I’m traveling to beautiful, inspiring locations.”
Now for the most challenging part: I wanna get to Level 50 at age 50.
So now, how do I get there?
In my Epic Life Quest levels page, I track the progress of the tasks I’ve already finished. In this page, I track the work I want to do to in order to make my Level 50 character a reality. Some of the tasks are absolutely required – like those that ensure financial stability – and others are ones I just personally value, like travel to specific destinations.
I’ve broken out the tasks into a few different arbitrary categories. These aren’t prioritized because life changes your priorities pretty quickly. Some years I make more progress on financial goals, others on personal goals, just depends on what opportunities life throws at me.
Future Enjoyment Stuff: Health
Once I hit Level 50, I’d like to stay there as long as I can enjoy it:
- Work out 3x/week for 3 months. I used to run half-marathons, but the time drain for long runs was pretty bad. Then after I broke my arm, I babied myself for a while. I didn’t realize just how bad my upper body strength was until I started with a personal trainer, and I couldn’t do a single push-up! Started & failed this one a few times since 2016.
- Get annual health exams for 3 years – including physical, eye exam, and dental exams. Boring, but it takes discipline, and it’s part of being a responsible adult. I struggle with this.
Future Enjoyment Stuff: Experiences I Want
Things I’d like to experience for myself before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
- Take a photography class – I enjoy photography, but I suck at it, and I should learn some basics to kick things up a notch. (I don’t ever want to buy a camera again – I’ve owned a bunch, but the best camera is the one you have with you, and the iPhone cameras are pretty doggone good.)
- Build a listening room – I love music, and I’ve got great ears for details. I really appreciate good audio, but living in an apartment, I can’t really bombard the neighbors with high volume music. We built a townhome in Houston, but at the time, we didn’t have the financial ability to include a listening room as part of the blueprint.
- Visit a Zen rock garden – I’m not really into taking care of plants myself, but I’m really intrigued by the thought of tending a public rock garden as I get older. I want to visit one before I consider tackling the challenge of building one myself.
- Take a one-day skiing class – I have zero ambitions to be good at anything physical, but this seems like a fun achievement to unlock. Snow skiing, not water skiing.
- Ride in a go-fast boat going 100mph – every morning before going to high school, I watched a rerun episode of Miami Vice.
- Ride in a glider – I’ve never wanted to fly a small plane: the angry noise and failure rate doesn’t inspire me. However, Tom Roush’s post about flying a glider sounds like a hell of an experience.
- Learn Ikebana – the Japanese art of arranging flowers. Something about this just really calls to me ever since I saw Anthony Bourdain show it in his Tokyo show.
Car-based stuff, which I threw into their own group because I wanna balance out my life with the above stuff and the below stuff:
- Attend a high performance driving class – I suck at driving fast, even in video games. I’m not one of those guys who goes fast on public roads, but I’d love to have the confidence to attack a track and not feel like Hellen Keller at the wheel. Now that I’ve bought a 911, I’m thinking the Porsche Experience Center in LA makes sense.
- Learn to drift – sure, I can slide around on the snow, but I would love to be able to just knock out a lurid slide on dry pavement on a moment’s notice, especially given that we’ve got a great car for it.
- Ride in a ‘Ring Taxi – The Nürburgring is a famously difficult race track in Germany that I don’t have the slightest chance of ever learning, but I’d love to ride along with a driver who knows it well.
Future Enjoyment Stuff: Places I Want to Visit
I’ve been so absurdly lucky to have had jobs that required international travel, so I’ve been able to cross off a lot of amazing destinations. There are still a few left, though.
- Take a long repositioning cruise – my favorite thing about cruising is the quiet time spent at sea, watching the world go by, reading books, contemplating life, and drinking tequila.
- Set foot on Antarctica – I don’t want to just sail past it, which many short cruises do, but actually get out and walk around.
- Take a true first class flight – because the Emirates first class suites sure look different than the business class flights I usually take.
- See a major mountain range – the Alps, Himalayas, whatever. I don’t want to climb a mountain, mind you, I just want to see one for scale.
Future Work/Retirement Achievements
I debated a lot about ordering the groups of tasks in this page, and sometimes I rearrange it. I think putting retirement first sends a bad message, but the reality is that I want to make sure my family is taken care of, and that starts with financial security. Therefore, these tasks are important even though they’re at the bottom of the page.
- Own a home with zero debt – I’ve been living the Dave Ramsey way for over a decade, only buying things I can pay cash for. This is the next logical step, but it’s not on the near-term horizon just because I like to move around a lot, seeing different cities in the US, so apartments are a lot more convenient with the unpredictable real estate market. A related goal: own a Mexico or California beach place where I can hear the ocean.
- Retire – and what retirement means to me is living my Level 50 character: not taking any new live clients, not teaching live training classes on a schedule, only making money from passive sources like selling recordings or online services. I’ll probably always work a few hours a day, but I want those days/times to be chosen by me ad-hoc, based on how my week is going and where I’m at in the world.
These aren’t my only goals – there are private revenue and profitability metrics that I don’t share here. (I just don’t want you thinking, “Hey, why’s this guy counting blog posts but not tracking his expenses per year?”)