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Dream Big, and Build Optionality

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We all can dream big. I have dreams, and you probably do to. For example: Travel, location independent living, being wealthy/choosing to do work that interests you, enjoying “simple” things. The list could go on, and on, and on.

But then we go right along doing all the normal things, wishing and wishing, but never taking any action.

I don’t want to spend the next ten years of my life wishing for lots and doing nothing - that is one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to do epic stuff, and writing about my progress helps me do that. more

And then I came across another phenomenon. I wrote down a huge list of things I want to do and learn, and I have made progress on many of them. I’ve experimented with a Dvorak keyboard layout, I’m learning to write in italics, I set aside enough time to read at least two books a week, I’m learning Krav Maga, and my wife and I are slowly sorting out how to cook.

But here’s the problem: None of these things will produce disproportionate rewards. Even if I could type at 150 wpm, write at 55 wpm, read four books a week, cook amazing meals, and was amazing at Krav Maga, I’m no closer to my really big goals. (Travel hacking, having an awesome job, eventual location independence/self-employment, etc.)

I derive significant value from the things I’m learning, and I’d rather invest my time in something that produces returns, rather than spend another hour a day commuting, or watching TV, but right now, my  efforts at self-improvement lack direction.

My attitude has changed as I’ve read and integrated information from two sources. I am not currently working on specific plans to achieve my strategic goals, because there are so many different ways to those ends, and its pretty foolish to predict what may be happening in six months.

I am currently working on building stability in a few important areas of my life, so I can expose myself to limited risk that could have tremendous payoff.

  • If I can achieve significant financial security, I can experiment more with self-employment, if a good opportunity comes along.

  • If we can reduce our monthly expenses to just a few hundred dollars (not including rent), Kristi and I can experiment with extended international travel.

  • If I can build a strong network of professional relationships, I can learn from experts and expose myself to really cool job opportunities.

  • If I can achieve a fairly high level of fitness, I can enjoy opportunities to by physical, as they arise. (Have you ever run all the way up the Medical Center metro escalator? I’ve tried a few times, and last time I went up it, I ran the whole way. It was awesome.)

  • If I can build a strong, trusting relationship with my wife, we can do hard things without experiencing as much relationship stress as we would if it were a weak relationship.

Where on this list does Dvorak typing fit in?

It doesn’t.

How about learning to code?

Not yet.

I want to build antifragilityinto our lifestyle. We’re getting there, but have a ways to go yet.

I don’t yet know exactly how to make my big goals happen, but I do know I can take steps to be prepared. I cannot let my uncertainty prevent preparation, so right now, we are figuring out how to reduce our possessions, reduce our living expenses, possibly grow our income, and expose ourselves to cool opportunities and relationships. Then, when something amazing comes up, we will be able to jump on it.

How about you? What big dreams do you have? Are you putting yourself in a position to be exposed to these opportunities, and take advantage of them when you encounter one?