What I Want To Do For A Living, And Why

Your Move
Image courtesy of artemisphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In this post I will try to figure out 1) why I want to work; 2) Why do I want to work in a certain field; 3) What fields?; 4) What do I want to work with in this field?; 5) Why would I want that; 6) How I want to work; 7) Why do I want to work like that; 8) What freedoms do I want to have, i.e. what should I be able to do in the future?

You can stop reading now unless: You’re stuck in one area of your life, in a life crisis, interested in my thought process and for inspiration, or just interested in me. This post is entirely for my own sake of figuring out what I want to do with my life. Note that this post will be quite messy as I don’t have any clear plan for how to go about it, i.e. I will write things in the order I think about them. That said I stride to be as clear as possible because,

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
—Albert Einstein

My Current Situation — I.e. Facing Reality

First I want to face reality and evaluate my current situation. I’ve heard it in so many places; you need to know where you’re currently at before you can actually decide how you want to get to your goal. E.g. if a random stranger on the Internet would ask you “How do I get to the Ocean?” You need to know at least two things. 1) Where the stranger is located at the moment (or do they mean from a specific place); and 2) how does the stranger define Ocean? Are they actually looking for a beach, a great view of the Ocean (or Sea), or something entirely different? I’m not sure if it’s best to start with your current situation or if you should start with your mission, vision, and goal. By starting with my current situation I will, however, discover aspects of my current life that I’m not content with. I might then be able to discern how I would like it to be instead.

At the moment I’m studying and try to work at the same time. I find it hard to work, especially when because some tasks require a lot of willpower before I get started with them. Thus I tend to procrastinate on work quite a lot—like this post that I’ve wanted to write for three weeks. If I’ve been in school I’m usually too tired to do things after 3pm; the clock isn’t that much really, but being in school drains a lot of my energy as I’m required to be social. It would probably work better if I’m studying courses at a distance, meaning I never need to go to the school. The programme I’m studying at the moment isn’t that interesting, some parts are interesting, but far from all. My idea was that I could focus on subjects I liked or just parts of a subject as grading isn’t important for me, but as almost every subject requires group work and I want to do a good job in a group this doesn’t really work. You might wonder why I’m studying at all, I wanted to learn more about how to be a good leader (and get some training) and I needed an apartment (which I only could get if I’m studying). To summarize, it seems the problem is that I’m actually going to school, I’d rather work on my own things; or if I want to go to school I should read about topics that I’m currently interested in (namely psychology and behavioral sciences), I should probably study a course at distance or try courses that doesn’t have much group work. tl;dr: Don’t Study, or study psychology with minimal groupwork, maybe at distance.

I’ve been working on a game for over three years now, and although it’s very close to beta release (it’s a matter of creating a few simple levels, creating an installer, fixing a small bug, and then publishing it). Although that’s all that’s left I’ve been procrastinating on it for about five months. I feel like the game won’t be good. Even though the result usually doesn’t matter for me it seems I still care what other people think. I made the game because it was fun, sure the intention was to also make money, but that was secondary to making the game. I really don’t feel like working on the game anymore. I don’t really know how to solve it, “just do it!” doesn’t work, having someone to report to doesn’t work, that puts even more pressure on me. One thing I know for certain is that I don’t want to create such a big project again for a long time. I want projects that are three months or shorter.

I could say I’m extremely stressed out by not having finished the game and releasing it. I want to, but at the same time I don’t want to. Anyway, I will release the game, I’ve said that I will, so I will do that. I keep my promises. I just don’t have a clear and stress free way yet. Hopefully I’ll have some plan before the end of this post. tl;dr Release game, stress free plan, three month projects, it’s OK.

I feel trapped inside my company. I want to try new thing, whenever I have an idea I want to follow suite and implement and do my own inventions. I.e. I feel I can’t explore every aspect of what I like. I like being a teacher or coach, currently I’m not doing anything like that. I like to help people, currently I’m not doing anything like that through my company (although I’m hopefully doing that through this blog). Lastly I don’t want to focus on money. But don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to earn money so I can continue working and I want to be more effective in earning money from my products. The reason I want to create a product should never be to earn money though, it should be to solve a problem or be of some other use. When I’ve finished the product, then I can focus on making money from it.

What I Do

I saw this TED-talk about How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes where I can answer my life purpose with five questions. 1) Who are you? 2) What do you do? (if you have trouble with this question, ask what are you most qualified to teach?) 3) Who do you do it for? 4) What do those people want and need? and 5) How do they change as a result of your work? Be sure to keep the answers really simple. Afterwards you can summarize all these five questions into one sentence. If someone ever asks you the question “So, what do you do?” you can either answer with the complete sentence or just the answer of your fifth question. Answering “I teach people about game design through practise and observation” is a lot cooler than “I’m a game developer” in my opinion 🙂

I’m not sure where these questions will take me, and I will probably refine the answers as I go. 1) I’m Matteus; 2) I’m a programmer; 3) I create apps for people that want to simplify some tasks in their life, or games for creative people; 4) App: Simple, intuitive, and elegant apps that helps them make their tasks simpler. Voider (game): Simple tools to create their own survival sidescroll; 5) App: People will focus more on elements they like instead of spending time on mundane things. Voider: Learn about game design through practise. My answer to what do you do, would then be either one of these below.

App: I create simple, elegant, and helpful apps so that people can spend their time on what they want.

Voider: I’m creating a game that teaches people about game design through practise and observation.

So I’m doing this, but is this what I want to do?

What I Want To Do

I will create a mindmap of important aspects of work and life. Mindmaps usually solves complex problems for me when I need to map out lots of facts, ideas, etc. It also helps when I’m not sure in what end to start as I find it easier to start somewhere using a mindmap. Thanks to the mindmap below I can now discern some patterns and ideas that are important to me.

mindmap - important aspects of life and workLegend: Required, Wants, Nice

Structure

The most important aspect for me is that I want to work on projects in three month intervals with one month breaks. I have wanted to try this out for more than 2 years, but I always wanted to finish my game ‘Voider’ before testing this out. Currently I’m studying so I don’t really have time for that. This means that I can’t be studying and looking on the mindmap studying in college isn’t listed at all. Projects could be anything from creating something entirely new to improving something existing. The idea is that I should get something like a finished product by the end of the project, although the project doesn’t have to be release-ready (if it’s a larger project). Project examples could be a) Create a weather app and release it; b) Write a draft to a personal development book; c) Finish the book and release it; d) Improve the weather app due to many requests.

The time between the projects—i.e. the one month break—I want to both have leisure time but also use this time to gain inspiration from trying new things; maybe learning another programming language, doing a prototype app, learning music theory, fully immerse myself in a game for a month, spend time with family, learn how to juggle, go on a longer vacation, or learning a new language; the most important aspect is that I shouldn’t feel any pressure to do anything, I will do things because I want to. If I get tired, or find it boring I can do something else 🙂

I want six hour workdays instead of the normal eight as I have done some experiments and notice that I rarely work efficiently on Fridays if I work more than six hours per day (unless I really want to). One thing I missed in the mindmap is that I won’t be able to use all six hours to the project, probably only around five hours per day since I will have to fix programming bugs for previously released apps (in the future), and some time for support and administration. Meaning the five first hours should be devoted to the project.

Summary

I want to work in three month projects with one month breaks. During these breaks I will do whatever I feel I want to do. I, however, strive to try out new things and learn new skills, do fun and inspiring activities, and spend time with friends and loved ones.

What I Want From Work

I want to learn new things that are challenging. I find it extremely rewarding when I for example find a good solution and understanding it for an impossible new programming problem or when I have attained the skill required to play a certain piano piece with ease. Although every now and then it’s really fun and relaxing to create without having to learn something new, just applying all the skills I’ve attained throughout the years. I.e. I can focus on the creation process and not on challenging problems, this makes a good break when I’ve had a challenging project. But I can’t only do these kinds of projects as I tend to get bored if there isn’t any challenges.

I want to create beautiful things and experiences (piano pieces, apps, games, paintings, etc.). I like beautiful minimalism and when everything seems like it’s perfect (it doesn’t have to be perfect though) as I’m a perfectionist. I think I like creating various things, but then maybe all people like creating things 😛 I’ve always seen myself as an inventor and a creative person. I guess this is also why I want to do something new that no one has done before, or at least do something better (and in another way) than people have done before.

What I Want To Work With

By the looks of it I want to continue working on programming for the time being. Although I like teaching, working in bursts of three months and six hour workdays doesn’t align well with regular teaching in school. I think there’s some way I can start teaching that aligns with these requirements, but it’s nothing I feel I want to try out for now. I also like writing and I’m currently blogging (in this writing moment :P), but I also want to write a personal development book and a fictional book. I also want to create and release an improvisational piano album, and maybe a composed album later on (piano or electronic).

In programming I want to switch it up when creating apps and games, meaning I will not focus on one area, but instead do whatever I feel most inspired creating, whether it’s an app or game. One thing I long to work with is game AI, I haven’t worked with game AI for an extremely long time and that was my  favorite subject when I went to college before. I find creating a game AI challenging and fun and it’s immensely fun to watch or play against your own AI 😀 The hard part is coming up with a game that can be implemented in three months and where the AI is a central part of the game experience. For games in general I want to a) create experiences that makes people think, whether it’s about morality or they are hard and require some problem solving; b) all games should be engaging in one way or another, but they don’t have to be fun; c) people should learn something from them, either about themselves or how it is to live as another person.

Just now I remembered that I want to create a game with my own music in it. Or rather I want to create a game for my music rather that create a game that has my music in it. Previously I wanted to create a game all by myself to prove something; I don’t have that egocentric approach now. Instead I want to really share my emotions with people in a one way or another, i.e. create a simple emotional game.

When creating apps I want to create simple and small apps that solves one particular problem. These should be intuitive and fun to use and actually useful for people. The reason I want to work with apps to is that they are very different from games thus they have different problems and solutions. I have also noticed that I can use some of the experience I’ve gained from game programming and apply it on apps which is rather cool, hopefully it works the other way around too 🙂

Another thing I just remembered is that I’ve been learning how to paint and it would be cool do maybe do something with this. Maybe paint some paintings, scan them in and sell them online?

I Want To Create …

  • small, simple and intuitive apps that are useful and fun for people use.
  • games that engage people, makes them think, conveys some experience (new or old), and where they learn about themselves (in any combination)
  • games with cool AI
  • a game with my own music that convey my feelings
  • books, either fictional or about personal development
  • music; improvisational piano music, piano album with composed pieces, or electronic music.
  • paintings; sell them, or scan them and release them to the world?

How I Contribute To The World?

Mainly I want to be an inspiration to others. I want people to believe in themselves—if I can do it, so can you, I believe in you! I want to help people take action and live the life they want to have now and not “when I have time”. I want people to get an inspiration to get a life/work balance they enjoy and want, but also work with things you love. In the end I want to help people grow. I love seeing people grow as a person; I don’t really know why, maybe because when they grow I feel (more) hope for humanity and as an inspiration to grow myself.

So how do I want to help people grow and be an inspiration for others? Either directly by speaking to them, through this blog or other media; but also indirectly through various experience. For example they can listen to a piano piece that makes them feel a certain way, this could spark an inspiration, or they could play an engaging game that either makes them pick up programming or inspires them to do what they want in their life.

In addition I want to create experiences that lets you put on the boots of another person and feel whatever that person feels. Through this I want people (including me) to understand how it can be to be an immigrant, someone who’s fleeing from another country, or a minority in general. But it could also be a game that takes the perspective of legislators as I think the legislation culture today is counterproductive. I.e. I feel legislators aren’t allowed to change their minds or just say that they were wrong. I want more discussion and cooperation where people can listen to all sides and actually think about the strategies of all sides and not only their side. Maybe there will be a blog post about this in the future.

What I Will Do

Now that I know what I want to do and why, I thought it would be nice to summarize everything in those nice sentences I created under What I Do.

  • Overall: I create simple, elegant, and engaging art that inspires people to learn and relax.
  • Apps: I create simple, elegant, and intuitive apps that lets people focus on the things they love.
  • Game with my music: I create games that makes people stop, think, and admire the beautiful and sad things in life.
  • Personal development book: I create books that guides people how they can find their own way of growing and being happy.

If you’re still reading this and haven’t fallen asleep you might’ve noticed that this list is a lot shorter than the previous list, this is because I think most items on the list fit into the overall category quite well 🙂

In the future, before each project, I will answer the five questions for each project as I can see that the answers will guide me and keep me focused what it is I want to accomplish with the specific project. Before today I never really had any clear vision for projects except that I wanted to do something for fun or thought others would find it engaging, but no underlying vision. This often led to that I didn’t know why I was building the game and what I wanted with the game, i.e. I lacked focus. How do these five questions bring focus? I can only speak for myself, but I can see that it allows me to prioritize between for example features inside a game (mediocre particle effects and better graphics, or just awesome particle effects) or in a book: what chapters should I write about, and how much should I branch out? In addition it constrains me to focus towards a specific goal, result, and vision which in turn allows me to come up with new creative ideas as constraints increases creativity (Lessons From a Vexillonaire: Creativity, Simplicity, and the Carefully Constrained Life).

The Plan From Here

I now know what I want to do and how I want to do it. But there are somethings that I need to “clean up” before I can actually start working on three month projects. I call them clean up obstacles as they are obstacles that I need to clean up before I can start on a clean slate. To give an metaphor if I have a cluttered desk like the one below I find it hard focusing on the current project because there are documents from other projects or administrative tasks lying around that keep getting my attention. I.e. If I don’t clean up my desk I won’t find it fulfilling to work with another project as I’m constantly reminded of other things “I must do”. With a clean desk I can put my entire focus on the project at hand with no (or minimal) distractions 🙂 Even if my physical desk is clean I still have some obstacles that keep getting my attention.

Cluttered Desk
Image courtesy of bocotek.com

Clean Up Obstacles

  • Release Voider — I’ve been working on Voider for more than three years and it would be awesome to have it off my back. I can always come back to it later as a three month project if I want to.
  • Administrative Work
    • Bookkeeping — I’ve been putting of bookkeeping for a while now and it makes it hard to focus since it’s nagging me all the time
    • Taxes — Last date to fill in company taxes is coming up in two days from now (26th of February). For this I need to have done the bookkeeping
    • Control information — Send in information to the tax bureau
  • College — I can’t begin my three month projects until this semester is over. I can begin now but then I must quit college and I’ve decided to finish this semester.

Administrative Work

In total I think it’s about 4–5 hours of work, that isn’t much. I will do this tomorrow on the 25th of February. The problem I can see is how I keep up with administrative tasks and don’t let them fall behind as they always have done. I want to prioritize administrative tasks above other tasks once a month, and it’s not that they take long time either, but I have to do them. So how can I do this? I can either use a carrot, for example I can buy one Ben & Jerry ice cream when I’ve finished the administrative tasks for the month; or I could use punishment, I can’t do anything fun until the previous month’s administrative work is completed (after the first Monday in the month). Hmm… This seems like a good tactic, always do administrative work on the same day (e.g. first monday) in the month.

Always do administrative work on the first Monday each month. When completed I can buy a Ben & Jerry ice cream to celebrate. If I don’t complete the work on the specified date I’m not allowed to do anything fun (play games, watch series, read/listen to fictional books) until the work has been completed.

I’ll test this approach for some months and see how it works.

College

I’m not entirely sure what I want to write about here. I guess I want to know if I should work and if that’s the case how I want to work or what I should focus on. I want to finish Voider during school, but I’m not sure if I’m up for the task, or at least working on it non-stop. Maybe I should treat the spare time I get from school as the break time between projects. I.e. I can focus on whatever I want for the moment. If I one day want to focus on working on Voider I can do that, if I want to try out something else I can do that. I really want to finish Voider as soon as possible, but at the same time I want the excessive time to be spare time as I don’t want to get stressed out again and as my energy levels are low after school.

One thing I’m not pleased with is that I usually sleep in late nowadays if I can, I really would want to get up around 7–8 and start studying, then I have lots of spare time to do whatever I want. The more spare time I have the more projects I tend to work on 🙂 I’ll consult my previous post Strategies for rising early for tactics 😉

Then is the question how much time I should spend on studying topics I’m only moderately interested in or not interested in. Should I actually try to get a good grade in those subjects, or is it OK to just pass? Although it’s never waste of time to study, I’d rather use that time learning things I’m inspired about, trying out something new, or starting or continuing on a mini-project. I.e. I should only try to pass.

During this semester I will treat any spare time as free time. I don’t have to work on anything. I will, however, strive to try out new things and learn new skills, do fun and inspiring activities, and spend time with friends and loved ones.

I’m not sure if I’ll use the spare time for projects or learning other things, but if I remember correctly when I was studying between 2007 and 2012 I spend quite much of my spare time to work on projects or learning new things—I fondly remember those days, back then I was motivated to continue “studying” or learning new things even though no one pressured me and I could’ve spent all time on leisure.

Voider

Now I know that I don’t have to worry about Voider until I’m done with this school semester. There is both a sense of relief and one of failure, but now I can finally relax; I have a sort of a date/deadline when Voider will be finished. After school I might take up to a month’s break depending on how motivated I feel then to jump right into work. I know one thing for certain, I’d like to try out the new three month project structure for releasing Voider. I’m not sure if I’ll start with Voider project directly, or finish another project I started during Christmas break.

I wouldn’t have to list everything that’s left to do for the Voider release, but since I might actually want to work on it during school I will list out some tasks I can work on when I feel motivated.

  • Create 4 levels
  • Fix Various bugs
  • Upload Voider to Google Play (don’t release it)
  • Test game on all my Android Devices
  • Create installer for Windows

Conclusion

The whole idea with this post was to gain insights what I want to do with my life and what, how, and why I want to work. I feel that this post solved the problem and once again I can see that writing about my problems work 😀 Anyway I want to summarize the most important parts I’ve covered so I can easily go back to this conclusion and read everything here instead of all the post as it’s quite long 😛

I’m frustrated over that I don’t have energy to work when I’m studying. I’ve come to the conclusion I will study this semester and then quit college. During the remainder of college I will not feel obliged to work on anything. I will, however, strive to try out new things and learn new skill, do fun and inspiring activities, and spend time with friends and loved ones.

After college I will work in batches of three month projects. I will be strict to only work for three months, on no occasion am I allowed to work more than three months. I will turn my entire focus on the project and trying to complete it on time. I will strive to work six hours per workday, but if I ever feel inspired I can continue working and I can even work on weekends, but only because I’m motivated and never because I “need to”. At the start of each project I will answer the five questions: 1) Who are you? 2) What do you do? 3) Who do you do it for? 4) What do those people want and need? and 5) How do they change as a result of your work?

Between projects I will take one month breaks. These breaks are to revitalize myself, get inspiration, learn new things, do inspiring activities, spend time with friends and loved ones, and think about the next project. During the breaks I only do thing because I want to, never because I feel obligated.

The things I mostly want to create are apps, games, game AI, game for my music, personal development book, fictional book, music album (improvisational piano, composed piano, composed electronic), paintings. In general I want to create simple, elegant, and engaging art that inspires people to learn and relax.

Through my work I want to inspire people to believe in themselves, take charge of their lives, and grow as a human. I want to people to learn more about themselves. I want to make the world a better place by placing people in the shoes of minorities and groups in general.

Every first Monday in each month is dedicated to administrative work. When completed I can buy a Ben & Jerry ice cream to celebrate. If I don’t complete the work on the specified date I’m not allowed to do anything fun (play games, watch series, read/listen to fictional books) until the work has been completed.

Last but not least. Be aware of your rising times Matteus!

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.
—John Lennon

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