This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately over the past couple months. I’ve never really thought about my life long term. In my late teens / early twenties I was mostly concerned with having some individual freedom. From my early to mid/late twenties I was mostly concerned with partying. From my late twenties until now (currently 30), I’ve been concerned with learning as much as possible. At 26 I went back to school for information and computer science and for the past 4 years I’ve been learning so much. Even on a month to month basis I’m realizing I know so much more than I did the previous month.
I’m reaching a point, however, where instead of just grinding away day to day on the task at hand, I think it’s a good time to take a step back and think about strategy. How can I position myself to be in the best position for my own well being and stability? In order to answer this, I think it helps to envision yourself in 5 years. Picture — in your ideal world — where you’re living, what you’re doing, and how you’re feeling. Then construct a long term plan to get you there within 5 years.
Where I see myself in five years
In five years, I’ll be 35 years old. I’ll be coming up on 10 years of solid web development experience. I have a master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction. Professionally, I’ve spent the past five years honing my development and organizational skills. I’m a much better problem solver than I was in the past and am excited about solving new problems in an efficient manner. Constructing interfaces and experiences that people use and enjoy helps me wake up excited every morning.
I’m working remotely for a distributed company doing some kind of front-end development/UX work. I sometimes work long days, but I enjoy the challenge and am compensated appropriately. My wife and I are living in a home in the country. Not too far into the country, but far enough not to outside street and foot traffic outside our home. Far enough into the country to hear absolute silence at night and get a clear view of the stars. But not too far in the country to disrupt broadband internet access.
At this point in my life, I’m at a crossroads. I wonder whether I should keep doing development work or begin focusing on project management and bigger picture issues. I’ve also thrown around the idea of going back to school for my PhD to become a professor. Learning and growing is still extremely important to me.
I’m much more health conscious than I was in my late 20s and early 30s. A routine runs my life and keeps it in balance. Much of our food is sourced from the garden outside our home. I have a regular exercise routine and enjoy the energy it brings me.
I don’t want to get too specific, but I believe this is a good blueprint for where I’d like to see myself in five years.
Making it happen
Professionally, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m going to work hard and learn as much as I can. I’m going to try as hard as I can to be a unicorn.
In addition, I will be spending a set amount of time to external projects. Committing at least 5 hours per week to open source or side projects will help grow my skills. I wish it could be more, but for now I have to start with something realistic.
Designing the design process