Invest in yourself.
Matt Trask • April 12, 2019
Read Time: 5 minsgrowth learning
For the past 6 years or so I've been doing everything I can to learn software development. It started when I realized it was a career option and it hasn't stopped. Along the way I sold my Xbox, stopped playing guitar, and put all of my efforts into what I am doing today. On the one hand, it seems to have worked out well as I am now a senior software engineer. On the other though, I turned 30 a few years ago and realized my hobbies were all programming related. As I turn 32 in a few weeks (let's not talk about it), I started making some changes to make sure my life was as rich as possible. I don't mean rich in the financial sense (although that is part of it) but I mean in the sense of having amazing experiences.
You can't take it with you when you die.
I have been fairly open about my financial struggles and efforts over the years. While this post isn't about that, one thing I have started doing is trying to be more generous with the money I have. As the saying goes "you can't take it with you when you die" and so I would rather help people now. I've given myself a goal that at least twice a month I need to find some sort of cause to donate to. Whether it's a friend from high school raising money for their honors college program or a coworker's kid raising money for their wrestling team, they are all worthy causes in those people's eyes. I challenge you to do the same. Money can't buy happiness, but it can help create lasting memories.
The internet is full of amazing ways to learn something new. I should know: the interet is how I learned to program. I don't know where I would be without it. While it's great to have some fun to troll, there is a vast amount of ways to learn something new. One thing I started was to watch a TED Talk a day. Or at least I try. TED Talks, and I try to find the official ones before the TEDx ones, are a great source for learning. The people presenting are passionate about the topic they are talking about, and usually its about something I have no idea about. Based on when you are reading this (if anyone reads this), the current fascination is that we finally have a picture of a black hole. Katie Bouman, a lead scientist and developer on the project, gave a TED talk about what the process was to get this image. Her excitement was contagious and you can tell from the video that she is bursting with energy wanting to show everyone how cool this is. I've watched this video twice and I am still learning things from her talk. I challenge you to watch a TED talk, or something similar, once a week or so and think on it.
The last thing I have made a push on is getting better hobbies. Not to long ago I would sit on the weekends coding my life away. That's not a good way to live! Thanks to friends like Jacques Woodcock, Kat Zien, Michael Moussa, Cody Covey, Rob Allen and Kevin Boyd, I have a great group of people for two of my favorite hobbies: cycling and photography. Between riding 45 miles in Miami to getting photography help, these people have all helped me develop these hobbies to something that brings me joy. Now on the weekends I give bike tours, venture downtown (what a nightmare) with my camera, ride out to a remote area and see new areas. The camera gives me a new way to see the world. Whether its a tight image of a flower, or a sweeping landscape of a city skyline, you find new ways to view old things. With biking, you get to explore a city from a different angle. You are more alert to people walking and cars driving, but also to intersections, bridges and other areas of interest. You can easily park your bike on top of a bridge for a quick picture and you can then keep going with the wind in your face! What hobbies do you have that get you away from the computer?
The last thing I have done, thnaks to my boss, is found my love of reading. A huge help has been Audible, which I tend to listen to on the drive to and from work and while out walking my dog. While I still love a physical book, the audio books help so much. From personal finance to fiction to personal growth, the amount you can get into is just amazing. This year I have finished more books than in the past 5 years. I have finished two personal finance books, a book about leadership, a book about the 96 Everest disaster, and am now reading a book about principles from Ray Dalio. If it's a physical book I try to set aside 30 minutes a day, usually at the end, to read. I have a nice comfy chair to curl up in and just let myself get lost. It helps me think, be creative, and sleep.
All of these are things Im doing to invest more in myself and enrich my life. I challenge you to do the same. Whether its woodworking, reading, or exploring you can create an enriched life by creating experiences that can't be forgotten and will stay with you forever.