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:
- Retire with complete financial security.
- Measure exactly what “retire with complete financial security” means.
- Have enough assets to last through my lifetime.
- Be a fantastic partner for my loved ones.
- Be a wonderful partner for Erika.
- Be a good son and brother.
- Enjoy my time on Earth as many ways as I can.
- Be healthy enough to enjoy the experiences I love.
- Experience stuff that makes me happy.
- Help other people enjoy their time on Earth too.
Future Work/Retirement Achievements
I debate a lot – even in 2015 – about putting work or family first in this list. 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.
- 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.
- Own a house with zero debt – I’ve been living the Dave Ramsey way for over a decade. I don’t have credit cards, and I only pay cash for cars. Buying a house and paying it off within a few years is the next step.
- 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 goal below.
- 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?”)
Future Partner Achievements
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 everyone’s handwritten holiday and birthday cards out on time for an entire year straight. I am such a selfish jerk. (2015 isn’t going to be the year, sadly, off to another rocky start here.)
- 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.)
- Learn to say “Thank you very much” in ten languages – because it seems like a good thing to know.
- Take my sister Emily on a cruise – I’ve already done this with Mom, Dad, and Caryl (my stepmom), and I’m really, really looking forward to doing this with Em.
- Take Dad & Caryl on a land trip through Alaska – they really enjoyed the Alaskan cruise we did, and I think they’d like a train/lodge/car trip even more.
- Take Erika to Greece – neither of us have ever been, but the crisp white walls on the blue sea have always called to us.
- Take Erika to a Rick Bayless party – we both love his cooking, and she’s got a crush on the real-life version of the Dos Equis spokesman.
- Hire Better Than Ezra to play at a private party – Erika and I have followed them for over a decade and see ’em every chance we can get.
- For 5 years straight, take 2 straight weeks off per year with Erika. We started this in 2014 with a 2-week trip to Tulum to burn up the holiday weeks where nobody wants to book consultants. It was a fantastic experience. (In progress.)
- Vacation with Erika at an overwater bungalow – she’d love one of these.
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 2016/09/21. Failed while at the PASS Summit, restarted 2016/10/31.Failed due to work, restarted 2016/11/28 on a Vegas trip of all places.
- Weigh 190 pounds or less for 6 months straight – Until mid-2014, I yo-yo’d between 210 and 220. When I made it a life quest to stay under 200 for 6 months straight, I was able to pull it off. Guess that means I’ve gotta set the next goal.
- Work out for 3.5 hours per week for 6 months straight – Shamelessly stolen from Andrew Notarian’s list of life quest tasks, aiming for 30 minutes of cardio per day. I think this one’s gonna require a personal trainer.
- 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
This group is the stuff I really want to experience before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
- 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.
- 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.
- Take a photography class – I enjoy photography, but I suck at it, and I should learn some basics to kick things up a notch.
- 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.
Future Enjoyment Stuff: Helping Other People
This is last in the list not because I don’t wanna do it, but because I have to take care of myself first before I can help others.
- Build a completely open source product – Identify a problem, help the community build the solution, and finally, market it so that people are driven not just to use it, but to contribute code to make the community better. The real mark of success here is getting traction from at least two outside contributors.
- Help raise $100K for charity – It’s one thing to retweet what somebody else is doing, but it’s another thing to design a charity campaign that can really effectively help both the charity and the donors. I’ve teamed up with some folks, and we may have announcements about this in early 2017.
- Volunteer for one month at a pet shelter – sooner or later (hopefully much later), Ernie’s going to pass away. 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.
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’s still a few left, though.
- Take a cruise through the Panama Canal – by now, you can kinda tell I like the whole cruising thing.
- Visit Tokyo – I’m not one of those guys who adores all things Japanese, but there’s just something interesting that calls to me about this city.
- 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.
- Visit Cuba before the changes – Before the inevitable happens and the crush of American tourists starts, I’d like to see Cuba the way Anthony Bourdain did. Abercrombie & Kent is doing educational tours already.
- Visit the Grand Canyon – I’ve seen it from airplanes, but I’d like to see it closer. Maybe a helicopter tour.
- Visit Mladen Prajdic in Slovenia – While it’s not the first country that comes to mind when you think about world travels, Mladen is probably one of the first guys that comes to my mind when I think of excellent potential hosts.
- Go ATVing or dune buggying with TJ Belt in Moab – TJ’s a fantastic guy that I’m honored to call a friend, and I was surprised to really love the scenery in Utah. We drove through en route to Vegas, and I’d love to spend more time here.
- 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.
- 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 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 Greedy, Self-Centered Experiences
It’s my life, and there’s a few things that I just want to achieve for myself. These go at the bottom of the list because they’re just trashy fun.
- 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.
- Attend a vintage car auction – after seeing a lot of ’em on TV, I’d love to watch how these go down in real life.
- Buy a vintage Porsche 911, Mercedes Pagoda, or Corvette – the classic sports cars that have always held my eye. Sure, I’d also love to own an Alfa Romeo Graduate, a Fiat Spyder, a 1970s Trans Am, or any number of other classic cars, but these three are the serious tasks worthy of the experience points.
- 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.
- Drive in the Power Racing Series – start with a kid’s toy, add electric power, and spend no more than $500. Then race. Doing this will require having a garage with a work space, something I can’t even dream of while we’re living in Chicago.
- Drive in a 24 Hours of LeMons Race – a hilarious event for $500 cars. Yes, $500 cars. That doesn’t mean it’s cheap, though: you still have to put a roll cage, safety gear, new tires, etc on the car. Fielding a team costs $7-$20k. I have no intentions of winning, but this just seems so hilariously enjoyable. I’d like to start by driving in someone else’s team first. To learn more, check out Car & Driver’s 24 Hours of LeMons blog posts.
- 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.