Where do you see yourself in five years?

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.

Thoughts on my next 30 day challenge

As I wrap up my first 30 day challenge, which was a pretty easy one, it’s time to start thinking of what I’m going to do for my next one. I’ve already had some ideas bouncing around my head but I think it’s time to start putting them into practice.

I started thinking about doing something healthy for 30 days, but when I got thinking about it, I started wondering why would I only want to do something healthy for 30 days. Why not just make that change in my life?

So for my next 30 day challenge I want to spend at least 1 hour per day creating a jQuery plugin. In the beginning it will probably be mostly about reading how to make a plugin and planning it out. The rest of the time will be spent developing and testing.

I have a few ideas. It may not be the greatest plugin ever but it’ll be something I made. Top contenders right now are a plugin version of my simple jQuery sticky footer that I’ve written about in the past or an accordion that I developed while working at Binghamton University.

Either way it should be fun and give me an opportunity to give back to the coding community. I’ve used so many libraries and plugins that other people have written, it’ll feel good to give something back.

The beginning of 30 day challenges

This is a video by Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google. The video is only ~3 minutes long so give it a watch if you haven’t already. This got me thinking: since I said “bye bye” to Facebook, I have a little bit more time to do things that make me better. This time, even if its 30 minutes or an hour per day needs to be seized and invested into something useful. This video is a great way for me to focus a little more on being better by giving me a method. This method is very very simple. I just need to pick something, then do it, everyday, for 30 days. It may not make me an expert in whatever I choose, but I’ll be a hell of a lot better off than I was before the 30 days began.

I saw this video around a year ago and I remember thinking, “Hm, that’d be cool to do.” I made one half-hearted attempt to try something and it fizzled out and I continued on in my life. Recently, a co-worker sent me this video and shared that he would be spending his 30 days re-tooling his workflow. It got me thinking about starting up these challenges again. Yeah, I failed to keep at them for 30 days last time but why not try again? I’m at a pivotal point in my life right now. I have a growing desire to become better and improve upon who I currently am and I’m still young enough to make meaningful change in many areas of my life. If one person reads a 30 day challenge that I did and becomes inspired, I’d consider this a success. Or, if I create something during a 30 day challenge that helps someone, I’d also consider this a success. Finally, if I learn something about myself I will definitely consider this a success.

Current Ideas For 30 Day Challenges

  • Write a blog post a day
  • Learn something new about web programming every day and post my findings
  • Walk 3 miles every day
  • Do 60 minutes of cardio/weight lifting every day
  • Write a tutorial of something I know how to do but other people might not every day (that might be hard to come up with 30)
  • Take a photo every day and post it
  • Diet related challenges (no sugar/only raw/alternative therapies)
  • Suggestions?

I’m sure there are many more I’m not thinking of. My schedule isn’t quite ideal right now to start a 30 day challenge, but it will be soon. In the meantime I’m going to think of some good 30 day challenges and actually do one of them for 30 days! I’ll let you know how it goes.