Living with Intention

· 6 min read

I went meta with my escapism in my teens and early twenties. I holed up in my room and developed bots that work together as a team to play a video game for me. When I found a way to monetize my work by selling the in-game items my automated characters found for real world cash, it was clear that I want to make a living by having full creative control over my projects. I was in my element.

Much of what I seek in my adventure is mental clarity, truth, and a greater understanding of the world — all of which will help support me in becoming a better person and finding creative ways to generate enough income to support this lifestyle indefinitely. I feel like I’m finally entering a positive feedback loop where I am able to explore, learn, and grow in ways that work for me. It took a little over a decade to work my way here and I don’t take it for granted one bit.

Living with intention and setting measurable goals around things within my control was a great contributor to getting to this point. Retrospectives and planning are processes I’ve applied from workplace experience to my personal life, adapted to better suit my personality. My approach to this has shifted drastically since I first started this practice. What seems to work for me in the present is to run through this process both daily and weekly.

I try to set aside time every night to reflect on what went well and what could use improvement. After, I write a list of tasks I’d like to complete the next day. I try to break the tasks down as much as I can in the moment so that they are less daunting to approach when I wake up. There’s a fine balance though because I’ll be up all night if I cross an invisible threshold.

Every Sunday, I review the past week of daily retrospectives. I’m reminded of all the positives throughout the week and reflect on actions I can take to address the things I felt could use improvement.

In this next phase of my life, I’m going to add a monthly layer to this practice and publicly share a high level view of things I spent the most time on and what I plan to do in the upcoming month. This is a new practice and it comes at a time of unprecedented life changes so I may fumble a bit as I figure it out but I like the idea of documenting the journey.

In retrospect, last months update was a very loosely structured form of this exercise. Anyway, here’s what I spent the most time on this month.

June Tasks

Secure a Taiwanese COVID-19 special entry visa.

I’ve had a calling to learn Mandarin for over eight years now. It was always something I did for a month or two and then dropped off. I’m ready to give it a fair shot this time. I’ve been studying on my own every day since I quit my job and committed to six months at NTNU MTC in Taipei beginning in September.

Educate myself on the Black Lives Matter movement.

I read a lot but I came across a Statement by the Parliamentary Black Caucus that outlines actions government can take to eliminate racism. The statement was illuminating as a whole but what specifically caught my interest was the call for publicly available disaggregated data. As stated in the document, “it is hard to change what one cannot measure.” I can envision a future where citizens can develop tools for exploratory data analysis or find other creative data-driven ways to raise awareness and drive change.

Update cli package.

I’ve been slowly iterating on this package for several years now as my needs and taste develops. I use it as the basis for most of my side projects as the command line is my primary interface. I felt the automated help approach of past iterations was great for building applications quickly but subtly encouraged minimal documentation, at least for flags. I made these updates to reflect my growing interest and practice of technical writing.

Learn double-entry bookkeeping basics.

The importance of well-kept records has been brought to my attention. As I enter this new chapter of my life, I require a system to help manage my finances. There is beauty in the simplicity of this system.

I discovered Ledger, a command line tool for maintaining and reporting on a double-entry accounting ledger, and a whole community of people around the world managing their finances on the command line. I’m into it.

Learn copywriting basics.

I’m off on my own now. I’m good at what I do but eventually I’ll need to sell. I really didn’t need to worry about this quite yet but I stumbled upon a short video series on direct response copywriting and decided I’d dive in to see what it was about. Much of it was a bit shady to say the least — unsurprising, after I learned what it was. However, there were some ethical transferable lessons that I took note of.

Update security plan for remote work.

I’m not wearing a tin foil hat yet, but I’m definitely on the spectrum. I had to revise my threat model as my life situation is changing dramatically.

July Plans

File for divorce.

Not the most glamorous action item to publicize but a significant task of the month. The court registry remained closed longer than anticipated and so plans needed to shift. Such is life.

Test backup restore procedure.

Backups are worthless if you can’t restore them. It’s been about a year since I last tested my encrypted backup restore procedure and my livelihood depends on the usability and contents of this laptop so I figure I should run through a fire drill before I move abroad.

Automate bookkeeping imports for primary bank.

I am going to write a program to import the data from my primary financial institution to my plain text accounting ledger. What’s more exciting is that I’ll be able to build off of this foundation in the future. I can eventually auto-categorize transactions so I can use this for budgeting.

Close the lease on my apartment.

Selling most of my possessions, storing what remains, and saying my physically distanced goodbye’s are going to take up a good chunk of the month.

Conclusion

It has been a wild month filled with unexpected events. I’m learning to ride the waves and find beauty in the chaos. Closing this chapter is a little bittersweet but I’m totally stoked for what is to come.