Epic Life Quest Goal: write more quest tasks down on a cruise ship.

Epic Life Quest Goal: write more quest tasks down on a cruise ship.

As I work on my Epic Life Quest, here’s what I’ve got on my possible future achievements.

These roughly line up with my Getting Things Done 50,000 foot goals:

  1. Be a fantastic partner for my loved ones.
    1. Be a wonderful partner for Erika.
    2. Be a good son and brother.
  2. Enjoy my time on Earth as many ways as I can.
    1. Be healthy enough to enjoy the experiences I love.
    2. Experience stuff that makes me happy.
  3. Retire with complete financial security.
    1. Measure exactly what “retire with complete financial security” means.
    2. Retire.
    3. Have enough assets to last through my lifetime.

Future Partner Achievements

Test driving convertibles with Mom

I try to be pretty transparent: I want to share nearly everything with you, dear reader, to inspire you to be a better person and to challenge myself to fulfill my goals.  However, this particular category stays mostly offline.  Here’s what I’ll share:

  • Get my family’s handwritten holiday and birthday cards out on time for an entire year straight.  I am such a selfish jerk.
  • Learn conversational Spanish – I know just enough to be dangerous and funny, but not enough to hold a serious conversation with a stranger.  Erika’s family is from El Salvador, and I look forward to the day when we can have a relaxed conversation.  (Today, they just feed me wonderful food, and hey, there’s a lot to be said for that too.)
  • Take Dad & Caryl on a land trip through Alaska – they really enjoyed the Alaskan cruises we’ve taken together, and I think they’d like a train/lodge/car trip even more.
  • Vacation with Erika in Greece – neither of us have ever been, but the crisp white walls on the blue sea have always called to us.
  • Vacation with Erika in an overwater bungalow – Erika’s always dreamed of vacationing in the Maldives or Bora Bora or something similar.
  • Get Erika a split flap display – I built a cheap projector version, but we both still want the real thing.

Future Enjoyment Stuff: Health

  • 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. (In progress: done for 2018 and 2019.)

Future Enjoyment Stuff: Experiences I Want

Things I’d like to experience 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.  Erika and I 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.
  • 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.
  • Drive a go-fast boat 100mph – I grew up with a steady diet of Miami Vice, and I’d like to experience what it’s like to pilot a boat this fast.
  • Pilot 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.
  • Volunteer for 3 days a week for one month at a pet shelter – Erika and I have agreed that we’re not going to get another dog because it’s a lot of commitment and travel restrictions, but I’m sure I’ll want animal time again.

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 high performance driving training – 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. I need to knock this one down so that I can register for the 24 Hours of Lemons down the road.
  • 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.
  • 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

At Niagara Falls

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’s still a few left, though.

  • Take a repositioning cruise – twice a year, most cruise ships move from one region of the world to another. The moving process is a quiet, long at-sea cruise with no or few port stops. That’s actually what I like most about cruising, watching the ocean go by.
  • Take a cruise around Cape Horn – the southern tip of South America, famous for its rough weather.
  • Take a cruise on a freighter – because why not? Sure, the amenities aren’t the same, but I don’t cruise for the shows and music anyway.
  • Take an around-the-world cruise – this one has to wait for retirement, obviously, because these things are months long. By now, you can kinda tell I like the whole cruising thing.
  • Take a true first class flight – because the Emirates first class suites sure look different than the business class flights I usually take.
  • Visit Germany – I did spend a few days here in 2008 while working for Quest Software, but that wasn’t good enough.  I really liked what I saw, and I’d love to take a nice, slow journey through the country. Erika’s really interested in ordering a custom Porsche, taking European delivery, and then driving it through Italy.
  • Visit the Grand Canyon – I’ve seen it from airplanes, but I’d like to see it closer. Maybe a helicopter tour.
  • 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.
  • See the Northern Lights – I saw ’em when I did the Chicago-Mac sailboat race and in our 2019 Iceland trip, but neither were really fantastic viewings.
  • See a near-24-hour-day – as a fan of Arctic Circle stuff, this one intrigues me.
  • See a near-24-hour-night – see above.
  • Set foot on the North Pole – It’s not that I have some kind of obsession with Santa Claus, but it’d be amazing to be there for no other reason than to just be there.  I’m young, relatively speaking, and I think that travel technology will make this easier over time in the same way that more people seem to visit Mount Everest every year.  I’m not so keen on going to Mount Everest, though, and I’m not sure why that is.  For other extreme trivia, check out Wikipedia’s Extremes on Earth.
  • Set foot on Antarctica – broken into a separate category from the below because even this is hard enough, but doable on a long cruise.
  • Set foot on the South Pole – see above.
  • See Earth from space – One of my favorite movies is 2001: A Space Odyssey, and one of my earliest computer community memories is the Whole Earth Review cover.  What they share: a beautiful view of the Earth from outer space.  While I probably can’t zoom out quite that far, I’d at least like to see the curvature of the Earth.

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.

  • Be gone for 2 months in one year – regular readers will know that vacations are really important to me, and that I’ve worked remotely for a long time. I’m gradually taking it up a level: this year, I aimed to be gone for 2 months. For me, being “gone” means that I’m away from home, and I’m mostly on vacation. I still do work before Erika wakes up each morning – email, write, learn – but when I’m “gone,” I’m not available for client work (because I’m often in places with odd schedules or sketchy Internet.) In 2019, we’re spending time in Iceland, Paris, Colorado, Napa, and Isle of Man, then finishing with a 2-week Hawaii cruise in Oct/Nov 2019. For 2020, I’d like to take that up one more notch and aim for 3 months. (The hard part of this is making it work while not sacrificing income – the company’s still at $2M/year in top line revenue, but just barely.) A couple related goals:
    • Be gone for 3 months in one year
    • Be gone half of the year
  • Get 1,000 paying subscribers for SQL ConstantCare® – it’s easier to be gone more often if more of my revenue is passive (meaning, if I’m not trading hours for dollars.) We’ve also got the Consultant Toolkit as a subscription product, but I don’t have grandiose goals for that one. I’m happy that we’ve got over a hundred paying subscribers in the first year – I didn’t expect the market to be that big, that quickly.
  • Outsource my online store management – we sell about a million dollars a year of online training and services, and I’m still managing WordPress and WooCommerce myself – and doing a pretty poor job of it. I don’t bring value to this task, and if I’m going to be away from the computer for extended periods of time, then I need someone else managing the customer support.
  • Own a home with zero debt – I’ve been living the Dave Ramsey way for over a decade. I don’t have credit cards, only buy used cars, always pay cash, etc. This is the next logical step, but it’s not on the near-term horizon just because Erika and 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 couple related goals:
    • Own a home in Mexico where we can hear the ocean
    • Own a summer home (like San Diego or Telluride) – look, if we’re sketching out big goals, let’s go big
  • Have $1mm in liquid assets – and almost unthinkably, achievements for $2mm and $3mm.  At $3mm, though, I need to be looking closer at the next goals below.
  • Measure exactly what “retire with complete financial security” means – set an exact dollar amount that I need to have in order to stop working full time. There are financial professionals who do this for you, but it’s not top priority for me right now because I gotta focus on execution for a while longer.
  • Retire – and this one’s a little tricky.  I really, really love what I do, and I do what I love.  To me, the concept of retirement is a little vague because I’d do a lot of this stuff for free.  Right now, my definition of retirement is not taking any new clients, and having the financial knowledge that my complete future is taken care of. I’m not there yet.

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?”)

Want to read more?  Here’s what I’ve done so far on my quest, and here’s Steve’s Epic Quest that inspired me to start.