Jul 032016
 

So do we go forward or turn around?

So do we go forward or turn around?

Half a year ago I officially quit my last assignment at a big London bank. I had been developing risk models, which though not bad, didn’t fill my heart with joy.

Six months I’ve spent, delving into the world of board-games.

Initially I had thought to do something in the digital domain: Board-games that included augmented reality, or a platform which could be used to play / develop games on. Unfortunately I’m not a software developer, meaning I’d either have to learn that trade, or hire people to create the actual product (whatever that might’ve been). The risk seemed too high in either case and I stepped away from that.

Instead I dove into what was initially a side-project: Developing my own (physical) board-game. Plus learning about everything that went with trying to make any money off of that.

I’m picking up bits about marketing, sales, production, business, next to the “technical” part on how you actually go about designing an interesting game.

The last half year I’ve learned more about more different subjects then I did in the years before that.

Unfortunately, one of the things I learned was that actually making a living off of designing board-games is very hard indeed. It’s not that big a market and there are a lot of people who hope they have the next Monopoly or Catan.

It’s been a long time since I wrote for this blog, mostly because my attention has been at everything else I’ve been doing. I do still regularly write though, so if you’re interested in board-game design, take a look at: Make Them Play
I don’t see a reason why the game I’m developing would be a failure. But I’m realistic enough as well to know that it’s extremely unlikely it’s going to be a big hit. Which means that I might get a bit of money out of it, but nothing close to a decent yearly salary.

At the beginning of 2016 I gave myself a year. A year to try, to learn, to fail. And if I didn’t do the latter, perhaps to continue on the road taken afterwards.

I haven’t failed. But I certainly haven’t succeeded yet either.

On the one hand, I learned so much in the first half year, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the second will bring an equal amount.

On the other, all the learning in the world doesn’t put bread on the table, unless you are able to turn it into something people are willing to pay for.

I wouldn’t mind if at the end of the year I have to look back with a smile, admire what I tried, but admit that it didn’t work out. That it wasn’t sustainable.

What I would mind is going back to what I did before. To working 9-5, for a company I didn’t care overly much for. And that is what might happen if it doesn’t work out what I’m trying now.

The year is half gone. The year is half left.

At this point I don’t know from which side to look at it.


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!

Apr 072016
 

Voluntarios - Set-up and ready to be played!

Voluntarios – Set-up and ready to be played!

It’s been a bit over three months since I said life as a freelancer goodbye and plunged into the world of board-game development.

When I started on this endeavor I expected I would feel a lot happier. The funny thing is, that is not really the case. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I’m doing, but I wouldn’t say I’m happier.

I am feeling other positive emotions though:

  • An eagerness to start my day
  • A sense of flow while working
  • Joy when people obviously enjoyed playing my game (try it yourself here!)
  • Accomplishment when I strike something off of my todo list
  • Feeling like I’m doing something worthwhile
  • And perhaps most important of all: I never feel bored!

The most shocking thing so far: On a Saturday morning regretting not being able to go to work…
I always thought that happiness was the “end goal”, the thing to optimize for. But now I’m finding there are many other positive feelings that, though related, are distinct from it! (I’m sure there will now be lots of people going: “Well, duh!” 😉 )

All in all I feel I’ve made a good choice in taking this step.

And that makes me happy! :-)


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!

Mar 142016
 

sunday evening bluesWe all know the feeling: You just had a great weekend, spending time with friends, your loved one(s), yourself. You got out of the drag and did some things you really enjoy. You got to relax and really be yourself.

And then it’s Sunday evening.

The weekend is over, it’s time to go to sleep. But you don’t really want to. Because as soon as you wake up, it’s a new workday. And who wants another workday?

It turns out that I do!

Since I started for myself, I haven’t had a single evening with Sunday-night-blues.

And this I feel is the biggest change in my day-to-day life.

Because when I was on assignment, I never disliked being at the office, getting the job done. And right now, working for myself, it’s not like I’m singing behind my computer because I get to do work. In both cases there is an interesting intellectual challenge, a feeling of progression and a sense of accomplishing something. But I wouldn’t say either of them is fun.

While I was at the office, I was quite happy with the work. I wanted to do something well and I wanted others to recognize that I did it well.

But as soon as I got out of the elevator, my mind was at that evening’s dinner, what game I would play when home, my girlfriend or anything else. Anything but work really.

“I’m not crying because it’s Monday. I’m crying because I have wear real clothes…”
That is no longer the case. Whilst hiking I think about the game I’m developing. Under the shower my thoughts are whom might be able to help me with my current dilemma. I deeply enjoy talking about what I’m trying to build.

The difference is that I care.

Before I cared about what people thought of me, whether they considered me to be good at what I did, whether I was a nice person. But I never really cared about the work. I was there to earn money. Whereas now I’m building something (which hopefully will earn me some money as well).

How much do you care about what you work on?


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!

Feb 252016
 

To here and no further! Until I get the chance to grow a bit that is...

To here and no further! Until I get the chance to grow a bit that is…

Recently I was having a discussion with someone on boundaries and freedom. She felt that true freedom meant that there were no boundaries, that anything and everything was possible. And that this was the thing to strive for.

This got me thinking back to a recent post of mine, where I discussed setting boundaries to limit freedom, so as to be able to actually make some choices. Because if everything is possible, how are you ever going to figure out what the best choice is? Whereas if you only have 2 options, it’s much easier to see that one will probably give better results than the other.

Now, freedom is definitely something to strive for (even if it is the freedom to limit your own options to make it possible to get an overview of your own choices). But boundaries and limitations also make us human. Taken to the extreme, complete freedom implies freedom from the consequences of your actions. And without consequences, what is the meaning of an action? Or what is the value of the person taking that action?

And of course complete freedom is impossible. Even if the laws of mankind can be broken, the laws of nature cannot. So the laws of nature are not meaningful boundaries to gain freedom from.

So what then is a boundary? I believe this is something we put on ourselves: “This is something that I can’t do (even though I wished that I could)”.

Personally, I can’t go bungee-jumping. I’m too afraid of heights to seriously consider the notion.

But maybe, some day, I will be able to go bungee-jumping.

I don’t like having this fear, so I am willing to work on it. I go and stand at the ledge of a building (whilst clamping on to the railing) and every time I survive that (so far every time!) the fear gets a tiny bit less. Maybe (maybe!) in 2 or 5 or 20 years, I’ll be able strap some rubber cords to my legs and jump off of a bridge. And until that moment I’ll still be a happy person.

Most boundaries don’t really matter. My life isn’t any worse because I can’t go bungee-jumping.

Some boundaries do matter though. If I’m afraid of leaving my own house then I have a serious problem. Or a little bit less extreme, if I can’t tell my boss that I’m overworked then that majorly downgrades my happiness (yes, I’ve had that problem. It sucked!)

Being “free” of such a happiness-reducing problem / fear most certainly is a great good and many people would happily take the option of magicking their largest boundaries away.

Freedom like all things human is measured not in absolute but in relative terms. And like any measurement, comparing yourself to others doesn’t work. The question to ask: Am I more free today than I was a year ago?
At the same time there is joy and beauty in overcoming a boundary, in being able to do something that you couldn’t do before. Every time I stand on a ledge I’m scared out of my mind. But at the same time I’m very proud of myself that I am actually standing there. And finally talking to my boss to indicate that I wasn’t able to cope with the work felt like a major victory!

Of course I learned from this. If something similar were to happen today I wouldn’t find it half as hard. This boundary was pushed back and my freedom increased.

So, is the ultimate goal ultimate freedom? As I wrote, that is unattainable and if it were, it would mean we stopped being human. So no.

What I think the goal is, is to increase freedom over time. To bump up against a boundary and to work on tearing it down, going over, under or through it.

The goal is not ultimate freedom. The goal is striving for ultimate freedom.


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!

Feb 172016
 

Having more arms definitely would help to be more busy, but being more productive would require more heads?

Having more arms definitely would help to be more busy, but being more productive would require more heads?

How do you measure productivity?

When I was doing assignments this was fairly easy: How many things did I get off of my todo list and how big were those things? And I tended to get lots of stuff done. Documents written, code programmed, senior management kept up to date. Todo lists filled and todo lists emptied!

That however is a very narrow, local and selfish view of productivity. Maybe this would be a decent way of saying how much work I had done, but is that the same as being productive?

Productivity for me has a feeling of “usefulness” to it (whereas work does not necessarily).

Somehow what I was doing fitted into the bigger picture of what the organization was trying to accomplish. But how exactly I only had a vague idea of. I guess I was helping with risk management, keeping the bank safe from all sorts of unspeakable bad stuff. But mostly it felt like keeping the regulators happy so that they didn’t shut the whole bank down.

And maybe that was part of my problem: I was doing a lot, but it didn’t feel like it actually mattered all that much; things have to get quite bad before your bank gets shut down and I was only a tiny tiny part in that whole process anyway.

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker.
It’s not easy to figure out what needs to get done though!
Now my problem is sortof opposite. I don’t have the feeling I’m doing much. I read. I think. I try to put some stuff on paper. I talk to a few people. But nothing much is happening. I don’t have nice reports, code, documents, actionable information for other people.

I do have a goal. Maybe not entirely clear, perhaps still a bit vague. But it’s there. I want to set up this company so that it generates enough money for me to live off, whilst doing things I enjoy.

And with every bit I read, with every five minutes of thinking, with every idea I write down, I get a bit closer to reaching that goal.

Or should I say, I get a bit closer to understanding how to get there?

And of course, the understanding is part of the process.

I might not feel busy with this. I might not have a lot of work on my plate. But thinking about it, I have to admit that it is productive!

Are you busy or are you productive?


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!