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This is an archived page. I was working a lot with it back in 2012-2013. Keeping it here to avoid breaking many internal links, though I don’t quite subscribe to this methodology anymore. I checked a lot of the stuff on this list off, though…

There is a lot to do in the world.

I get satisfaction from accomplishing goals and making things happen. I fear regrets. If I accomplished everything on this list tomorrow, I would just add items to the list, but this is a start.

Many of the items on this list count as an “investment”. I can make an up-front effort and then let momentum exert its powerful influence. 

I can enjoy most of these things for a long time with low-level “maintenance” work. Some of the items are stupid party tricks. The items on this list are not to make me look good, they are a reflection of my interests.

Steve Kamb’s Epic Quest of Awesome inspired this list.

As I accomplish an item, I’ll link to a post about it. Click on what looks interesting.

Josh’s Epic Quest #

Money #

My first categories are about money. Money is not everything, but its important. For many reasons, it is right and appropriate to manage it well. I also see money as a proxy of value, so if I accumulate money, that means I’ve delivered value. 

Spending #

  • Track spending. How much goes out every month, what percentage of income is it? (done - write about YNAB)
  • Categorize spending. How much is regular, how much is variable. (Discretionary vs. non-discretionary.) (done - write about YNAB)
  • Save half of our income for one month (done)
  • Save half of our income for two months (done)
  • Save half of our income for three months (Done - YNAB reduced expenses, I maxed out 401k, roth, etc. Write about this.)
  • Negotiate rent reduction (even just $50/month) - possible prepay by the quarter? Willing to do so for $100/month decrease in rent. (Was given free parking pass)
  • Negotiate Comcast internet bill back down to the $30/month I was paying. (Got it reduced by $15/mo for one year)

Saving #

  • Max out employer match for 401K (done)
  • Open Roth IRA (done)
  • Create automatic transfers to Roth, other savings accounts. (done)
  • Create savings accounts for long-term goals (done)
  • Carry no debt but student loans, and finish those up at above-minimum-payments. (done)

Earning #

There are two ways to have more money. Spend less, or earn more. I like the idea of both, so I have quite a few “on-the-side” financial goals, in addition to optimizing a fixed income as much as possible.

  • Earn $100 by selling unneeded clothes and crap (yardsale - was a lot of work, worth it?)
  • Sign up for Odesk or Elance. (I choose to not do this. See “freelancing and decommodifying your services” - DYFR)
  • Meet with one company about Customer Experience freelance product (done)
  • Earn/book one job w/Elance or Odesk (nope)
  • Land one contract w/CX Freelance (Instant level up here) UX Feedback/implementation with KMDC Training Center!
  • Schedule a meeting to discuss compensation with manager
  • Earn a raise based off of my initiative. Minimum: $2/hr or $4000/yr. (done)
  • Meet with one freelance consultant, learn
  • Meet with three more consultants, to learn from them
  • Pay consultant for three hours of formal training
  • Earn $500/mo in “on-the-side” projects.
  • Earn $1000/mo in “on-the-side” projects.
  • Sell one digital product. (done)
  • Sell ten copies of a digital product.
  • Sell one copy of a digital product without being involved in the process. (done)

Investing #

  • Read three books about investing and the stock market (done. Motley Fool, I will teach you to be rich, and “money, master the game”)
  • Open a mock stock market account (free, no actual money involved) to practice. (nope)
  • Open savings account that will provide stock market money. (yep)
  • Set up automatic transfers for stock market money account (done)
  • Buy minimum number of stocks in 1 company (nope)
  • Buy three more minimums in three other companies (Forrester’s CXI Top 5 companies)
  • Don’t touch the money for a year

Reading #

Reading is a tremendous gift. There are wise, experienced people out there who have done what you want to do, done what you don’t want to do, and lived through every imaginable experience. Sometimes it comes across as fiction, sometimes as non-fiction. It is all worthwhile. Reading can change your life.

Another benefit of reading is just about every thought in the world has been had before. If you claim to hold strong ideas, but don’t know who it is that had them first, you’re just repackaging (without attribution) the ideas of someone else. It makes it hard to have reasonable discussions when both parties think they’re having a bunch of original thoughts.

  • Read 56 books/yr, at 225 pages/book (or ~225 pages/week). Some books are much longer than that, so if I read a 500 page book, it’s fine that it takes two weeks. (Have met this goal regularly, so I’ll just leave it open.)
  • I read a ton, so here’s a partial list.

Marriage #

Money can buy happiness, but only until you can pay for “the basics”, like shelter and sustenance. After $40K a year or so, it no longer is a predictor of happiness. There are a few things that correlate well with happiness and are independent of income: Experiences, relationships, and serving others. Those three can be tightly linked with happiness. 

  • Surprise Kristi with something (flowers, a gift, a note) once a week.
  • Take Kristi on one date a week
  • Have entry in OUR journal/record once a week.
  • Improve quality of our fights.
  • Read and re-read quality marriage books together
  • Find a mentor couple. Meet once every other month.
  • Mentor a couple. Meet once every other month.
  • Seek out wise old people (WOP) to spend time with. Each meeting is a level.

Traveling (experiences) #

  • Sign up for credit cards that earns miles a la Frequent Flier Master. (done)
  • Earn 30,000 miles (additional levels @ 30,000 miles each. I stand currently at about 100,000 miles, with plenty of room to improve.) (done)
  • Earn in-flight or at-gate seat upgrade. (One level per upgrade) (I earned two “upgrade to exit-row” levels) (Saved $130, were I to pay outright for ‘em)(And upgraded another five flights or so…)
  • Redeem miles for ticket (one level per passenger per flight. If Kristi and I go to Paraguay and it’s two stops, that equals four levels) (Redeemed for flight to Colorado) (done)
  • Kristi and I book international itineraries for less than $1000 total.
  • Book round-the-world tickets for Kristi and I within two years. This spring: Paraguay (visit four other countries while there)
  • Spend one month traveling. (done)
  • Spend one summer traveling. (done)

Relationships #

Relationships and experiences are what matters. Most other stuff doesn’t. To that end:

  • Implement Never Eat Alone
  • Intentionally meet with one new person. (Per “Never Eat Alone”) (Done, seven times)
  • Get counseling via CCEF (done) 
  • Host at least one person for at least dinner once a month. Get good at it, so it’s easy. (4/13 5/13 6/13 7/13 8/13) (9/13)
  • Reply to all personal emails within 24 hrs for two weeks. (done)
  • Reply to emails I don’t want to reply to when I see them, even if just to say “I got this message - don’t have time to reply right now, but I’ll get back to you in a few hours.” One level per week.
  • Follow up via email with every person I meet 24 hrs, 1 month, six months out. (link to personal CRM)
  • Compose “Wish List” of people or companies I’d like to meet.
  • Seek out, get to know, and meet with one person from the wish list.

Serving Others #

I am rich in relationships, freedom, time, money, health, and many other ways. Even if I were not, I should serve others.

  • Set aside fixed percentage of income to give away. (done)
  • Be on the lookout for spontaneous opportunities to help. (I.E. changing tires, giving rides, running errands, etc.) (Given a half-dozen rides, changed a few tires, bought someone a meal, etc.)

Stuff #

Stuff ties you down. Some things are worth being tied to, most are not. Here is where I try to be tied to less, both physically and mentally. 

  • Reduce t-shirts by 15% (done)
  • Own ten t-shirts
  • Reduce pants by 15% (done)
  • Own 4 pairs of pants (done)
  • Own six pairs of socks (Smartwool helps here) (done)
  • Get rid of old laptop (done)
  • Sell Petzl Harness, get low-profile (and packable) Arc’teryx
  • Sell rope, get bag and a 9.6mm 70m double-dry rope
  • Reduce blogs that I follow by 20% (done)
  • Reduce blogs that I follow by another 20%
  • Reduce technical clothing by 50% (Gusseted crotches, waterproof stuff, etc.)
  • Reduce formal clothing by 20%, but improve quality (done)
  • Reduce ties and belts by half. (done)

Blog/websites #

  • Write two articles a week (first month = 1 level)
  • Write content five days a week (But publish once or twice a week)
  • Maintain schedule for one month
  • Maintain schedule for three months
  • Install Google Analytics on blog (done)
  • Get 1000 page views (done)
  • Get 2500 page views (done)
  • Get 5000 page views (done)
  • Get 25,000 page views
  • Get 10 comments on a post
  • Get 10 subscribers (done)
  • Get 100 unique visitors/month (done)
  • Get 500 unique visitors/month (done)
  • Create “Suggested Reading” page (Example: “Anything I have worth saying has been said before by more capable and much smarter people. If you want high-quality, lucid, and non-traditional ideas, do yourself a favor and read these books…”)
  • Create “Get Started Here” page that lists a short manifesto, gamification of life, and a call to action (Follow me on twitter, subscribe to updates, etc)
  • Get 10 followers (twitter) (done)
  • Befriend one fellow blogger
  • Befriend five fellow bloggers
  • Have a guest article on my blog
  • Write a guest article on someone else’s blog. (cruxcrush, done)
  • Improve one person’s life through this blog. (Spontaneous feedback on their behalf - non-solicited.) (done)
  • Improve ten people’s life through the blog. ditto. Save feedback.
  • Direct ten people to Ramit Sethi, Steve Kamb, or Scott Guilibleau’s blog.
  • Create manifesto that links to a strategic view for this blog.

Full-time Job #

Got new job. Updated tasks soon. - Phew. So much to put here.

  • Don’t get fired. (That happened once - was a great thing, but I’m not eager to repeat it.)
  • Succeed in role. ohmygod this can be hard to define. I’ll write a lot more about this. 

Climbing #

  • Onsight 5.12 (One level per NRG onsight. RRG does not count unless 5.12b or above) (done)
  • Send 5.12 (done)
  • Send 5.12c 
  • Send 5.12d
  • Send 5.13a
  • Train (and track my training) regularly for six months (done)
  • Train/track via excel regularly for another six months.
  • Climb as many routes as hours driven for a trip (sorta done)
  • Do three climbing workouts a week (First iteration) (Second iteration) (done)
  • Hang from the door frame from one hand for five seconds
  • Hang from the door frame with one hand for ten seconds
  • Hold one-arm lock off from door frame for five seconds
  • Hold one-arm lock off from door frame for ten seconds

General Fitness

  • 15 one-arm pushups, each arm
  • 100 meter sprint. Time it. Reduce time by 10%
  • Do a standing back flip
  • Be able to do a flip that finishes with a dive
  • Climb 5.13b at the NRG
  • 100 RKB swings @ 55 pounds in less than four minutes. (done)
  • 100 RKB swings @ 85 pounds in less than four minutes.
  • Fifteen pistol squats per leg.
  • Master Parallettes 1 and 2
  • One-arm pull-up w/door frame, three each arm
  • Hold a front Lever for 5 seconds
  • Run a sub-6 minute mile
  • Run 100 meters in less than twelve seconds
  • 1 mile swim in good time
  • 1 Handstand pushup
  • Double my one-rep max in deadliftsquat, and clean & jerk

Misc part 2 #

(or, things I’d like to learn more about. Prioritization is hard) #

  • Krav Maga (done)
  • SQL
  • Coding via Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, and/or Python
  • Basics for markup: CSS/HTML/JavaScript and the permutations thereof.
  • Spanish
  • Cooking
  • Video Editing (iMovie, nothing fancy)
  • Mental Math (For fun I taught myself how to memorize long strings of numbers. Hint - convert numbers into sounds, and sounds into words. Flick Rail Lonnel Sack is my wife’s home phone number. I’m not crazy.)
  • Mechanics (I changed some valve gaskets and replaced my spark plugs. If that’s not master-level mechanics, I don’t know what is.)
  • Colemak (Attempted, rejected)
  • Speed reading
  • Writing in italics (Attempted, rejected)
  • Everyman sleep schedule (not attempted, rejected)
  • Toastmasters
  • Improv

 I want to make failure and vulnerability (gasp!) hip and cool, because of all the things I have to talk about, a pretty consistent theme is feeling like I’ve failed. The only way to talk about that (and thereby make this content relevant to you kind souls who are reading this) is by being vulnerable, which is hard, and generally uncool in our society. So I want to be vulnerable on here. I don’t always have my act together, but I generally try way  too hard to seem like I do.