This quarter I reached a new checkpoint in life. I’m delighted for my future self, but my present self doesn’t feel like I hoped – I’m the only one home to celebrate. When I set this checkpoint, I kept my key result vague. This OKR had room for multiple narratives. While in this situation it was only a disservice to my own life; in business I suspect vague key results are methodical.
Falling back a decade ~ I recall sitting in a college class focused on making a viable business from within the Photography industry. The final project for this class was to build a 5 year plan for this career path. Its purpose, at least that I took away, was to really think forward – committing these ideas to paper (or a google doc). To define the steps needed to reach the desired outcome. Later in tech learning about OKR’s and Jira Epics – these I consider near-synonyms.
I love these types of plans today; the plans that really can take me into a new meta. With these plans, I find myself also noting specific timeframes. By x I should complete y – and so forth.
Life is gamified for me in this way – a shot clock. I don’t make time for videogames because what I consider main quests haven’t slowed down. One of these years I plan to beat the N64 Zelda’s – just not in 2023. Each time I make these plans, I’ve gotten a bit better at predicting what I can accomplish. I’ve been out of school less than a decade and I’ve lived at least 15 years of plans. The quarterly plans – what I think I can complete in 3 months – these I tend to overestimate how much I can do. This is sometimes froth, but sometimes it’s just miscalculation – it’s often an additional week or two. If I continue to be interested; I roll this activity into the next quarter. The alternative is tossing this froth over to a side quest – sitting along with those Zelda titles.
At the beginning of May, I finished one of these longer 5 year epics. It just doesn’t feel like I thought it would; I was hoping it would be better than great. I’d say it’s certainly ~ around ~ great, yet definitely not better. I’ve felt just as great from riding my bike or talking with friends. Though, I think I narrowed why this feels different. In my _every day_, I’ve lost my best friends. They were in my life when I set these goals. They were in my life for most of the plan – so much so that I just took it for granted they may not be waiting at the checkpoint. Today, all I have is photos from past moments where I felt they were proud of me. I wish there was a video of these times – to replay – a camera on me as well.
As I write this it’s Memorial Day weekend. To share another look back, this weekend in 2021 I was on a backpacking trip. I remember not having a campground reservation; rather driving down a Forest Road until we reached snow so high the hatchback couldn’t pass. In the morning, we hiked on foot to the trailhead – this took nearly all day. We didn’t get far up the trail as it was still snowy, yet soft enough to break with each step. We saw 2 other hikers near the end of the day. They said about 10 minutes back, they saw a bear. We ate boxed Mac and Cheese and played the card game War until dark. In the morning we walked back to the hatchback. I tried to be into the moment, but I just thought about my shoulders, then my feet.
In my own life, backpacking is not appealing. I live on acreage. I hear birds when I go outside. I could go on a long bike ride with no weight on my back, take a shower, cook a meal with my preferred tools, enjoy the benefits of refrigeration at any time, and still sleep under the stars in a tent. I also don’t have to drive to the mountains. That’s a con rather than a pro from my current position. For some, particularly folks who always hear traffic outside, I’m sure it’s great.
And now that I’m reflecting, I think I’ve made out better than had I included more details in my narrative when the checkpoint was set. Today I’m 95% sure I don’t like backpacking, albeit I expect I’d try it again in the distant future just to be sure.