May 192015
 

For a while I’ve been thinking about “What do I want to do?”.

Building a house in the form of a question mark actually seems like quite a cool thing to do!

Building a house in the form of a question mark actually seems like quite a cool thing to do!

What I do is help large financial organizations build and use risk models. But is that what I want to do?

I don’t dislike the work I do. It’s intellectually stimulating, I get to work with nice people (this is certainly true in my current assignment), it makes a very decent amount of money.

But are those things enough? It feels like something is missing…

So when I found out that one of my favorite non-fiction authors, Seth Godin, was doing an online course on freelancing, I signed up.

Part of the course is “homework”, the first set of which was to answer a bunch of questions, which you are suggested to do “in public”. Which I get; doing something in the open makes it more clear in your own head, it creates momentum, it makes you accountable. The questions were:

  • What do you want to do? (Not your job, but your work, now, tomorrow and in the future)
  • Who do you want to change? How do you want to change them?
  • How much risk? from 1 [a little] to 10 [bet everything]), how much are you willing to put at stake to make the change you seek?
  • How much work are you willing to do? Be specific about the trade-offs
  • Does this project matter enough for the risk and the effort you’re putting into it?
  • Is it possible – has anyone with your resources ever pulled off anything like this?

So here goes:

What do you want to do? (Not your job, but your work, now, tomorrow and in the future)

I haven’t posted anything for quite a while. That’s not because I didn’t want to or couldn’t be bothered to make the time. It’s because my website got hacked (if you logged in using a mobile phone you might have been confronted with some well-endowed and scarcely clad ladies…) and the kind people at my provider asked me not to change anything until they got it fixed… It was a simple “redirect” so nobody who visited this site was at risk!
This is the question it started out with, so if I could answer this, it would be much easier. That’s not entirely true though, I have some fairly good ideas on what I would want. It’s just that those things are quite different from what I’m good at. Or better, what I’m experienced at and what people will (most certainly) pay me for.

What I want to do is to create something that will delight and inspire people.

There are different “mediums” I can imagine this in:

  • Written word: I love to write (hence this blog). This could be a story or a book. It doesn’t specifically have to be fiction, I enjoy writing non-fiction as well. Delighting would perhaps be more difficult? Or not?
  • Code: I enjoy programming. But again, how to delight and inspire using this? A (computer) game might do that?
  • Teaching / speaking: With eager students, I like being in front of a classroom. This could certainly inspire and perhaps even delight. But what do I have to tell that others want to hear?
  • Making the above more concrete:

  • A course in building and using risk models. This would entail writing and teaching and I can certainly imagine the writing (and perhaps teaching) to involve programming as well. If done well it might delight and even inspire, though most certainly not to earth-shattering proportions (is that the level to go for?)
  • Create a game. This would be less writing and teaching, but it would certainly be programming and it would feel more “creative” than the previous option.
  • Write stories / a book. I’ve been working on a book for a long time (even though I haven’t actually done anything about it for well over a year now). Certainly writing, certainly creative. It might delight and inspire, if done well.

Not a full answer, but perhaps the beginning of one.

Who do you want to change? How do you want to change them?
I want to change people.

That seems fairly obvious, but for me it makes sense, because in my current work I change (big, soul-less) corporations. Or I change numbers. And yes, there are some people who are happy with what I do, but they’re hardly delighted or inspired.

As this is something I want to pour my passion into, I would want to do it for people who are also passionate. So the most general answer is “people like me”? Be they quantitative risk managers, people who read books or gamers.

Again, not a full answer, but for now I’ll leave it at this.

How much risk? from 1 [a little] to 10 [bet everything]), how much are you willing to put at stake to make the change you seek?
At this point I feel I am comfortable with a fair amount of risk. I’ve got money set aside for rough times. I also believe that if it doesn’t work out (within a reasonable amount of time) it would be possible to “go back” to what I had been doing before. I don’t want to bet the farm, but I’ll wager the stables.

That would be about an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10?

How much work are you willing to do? Be specific about the trade-offs
I regularly comment that I’m lazy and I’m very glad to work less than the “standard” 40 hours per week. On the other hand, when I’m passionate about something I’ll happily go all out.

And perhaps that is my current issue, not being passionate?

In the short term (until the end of the year) I’m “stuck” in the assignment I’m on (I could back out of it if I really needed to, but I wouldn’t feel good about coming back on my word). And even if I’m passionate, I do want to have a normal life, so doing a whole lot more on top of that is not something I would choose. Then again, I do work less than full time, so I could use the difference to get the ball rolling?

Does this project matter enough for the risk and the effort you’re putting into it?

Tips, ideas and suggestions based on this post are more than welcome!
I don’t really have a project yet. But I’ve got ideas. Especially while I’m still working “normally”, the risk would be minimal and the effort over-seeable.

It’s after my current assignment ends and I need to make a choice where things get more difficult (scary!). But let’s burn that bridge when we get to it?

Is it possible – has anyone with your resources ever pulled off anything like this?
Yes, most certainly!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

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