Time

I remember as a teenager we were visiting some friends just outside Dallas and at one point we want to the local mall and then stopped at a bookstore.  The bookstore was absolutely huge – bigger than anything else I had ever seen at the time.  I left with mixed emotions – awe and excitement at all of the reading choices along with sadness.  Sadness, because I would never have the time to read half the books I had found interest in.

I’ve struggled lately with how to best optimize my time and I thought I’d take some time to rationalize through the choices and possibly even pass along some insights, thoughts or motivations along the way.

So the first priority is my job which including commuting takes up 60-80 hours a week on the average.  That makes boosting my skills and community participation a secondary priority.

Being a vExpert I have access to vSphere Cloud Suite for my home lab and also to Train Signal for Certifications (If only I had access to these when I was unemployed 2 years ago!).  The home lab is great for building my VMware/vCloud skills which is critical because I don’t get any opportunity at work to work with these technologies.

The only active certification I have now is NetApp (VMware is not an option due to the 5-day class requirement) so I could be using these resources to gain some Cisco, Microsoft or other certifications, or just learning new skills.  On top of this I’m a 3-year vExpert and I would like to continue to support the community with new blog posts and more.

Home lab, certification and blogging.  How much time have I spent in last 3 months working on any of these?  Zero – which causes me a degree of discomfort if not anxiety. Not only do I need to spend more time on each of these things but I need to find the right balance or priorities among them.

As much as I want to correct this imbalance on my professional side, I also don’t want to lose sight of a broader focus and goals.  Our lives in this world are so short and chances are our work contributions won’t matter for much of anything in 30, 50 or 100 years from now.  What we can do to make our lives more meaningful?

To me the answer comes down to two things – our children and the sharing and promotion of ideas.  The influences and values we instill upon our children will impact society – for better or for worse – after our time has passed.  Technology changes rapidly but ideas – ideas can have a more profound effect.  Today we are still reading Plato’s Republic, Cicero, Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville and many more.  Yes, technology can improves people’s lives, but there’s far more to building strong and stable societies than just this.

When I choose my classes in college I intentionally did not select any computer classes.  Admittedly there were some social reasons for this, but it was also because I knew that I didn’t want to spend my life working with JUST ones and zeros, but with ideas and concepts (or course in the cloud era I do wish I had more experience in programming however).

On a more personal note I’ve had ideas for writing a book for over a decade now (which would touch on philosophy, economics, politics, society and much more) but never had the time to start it.  Do I focus on my technical deficit with my career or do I take a chance and work towards some more ambitious (and risker) endeavors?

As useful as Twitter can be, it’s rather difficult to be profound in 120 character bursts – in a way the format almost seems to be designed for “snark” at times.  We might not all agree on any number of things, but if you’re like me you know that you can write something well-reasoned such that people will say “I might not agree, but I can respect his opinion.”  I would love to take time to post on topics in a more reasoned format and provoke some serious discussions about a multitude of issues I don’t think get enough attention in our society.  Quick tangent here, but I made a blog post earlier this year on Ludwig von Mises‘ classic treatise, “Human Action” where a key point I borrowed is how concepts which affect us all – economics, engineering or how to organize society – should be studied by all.  In fact the ancient Greeks had a word for those who had no interest in public affairs which was “idiote”.

Long tangent….back to topic.  So I’ve got some difficult decisions between careers focused goals and some more ambitious goals in the pursuit of value and purpose.

Now I also need to find some time with my 3 kids who are growing up so fast and help them with their studies.  When we look back on our lives, chances are we will not regret working on that project a little big harder, putting in more overtime or getting that extra certification (that will be obsolete in 5 years).

So there’s no magic formula for this but somehow we have to strike a balance between our careers and related goals and developing relationships and memories with those close to us.

So…choose to spend what free time I have between improving my career, more riskier and ambitious propositions, and spending time with family and providing guidance to my children.  On top of this I’d really like to spend an hour a day working out and maybe some time doing something fun once in a while :) .

If you’re like me and you’re on the younger side, you’re focused on your career which you should.  Be ambitious, curious and learn at every opportunity.  But at the same time life is short – make sure that you somehow find time for what is important to you.  What do you want to be your legacy?  What will you leave behind?

There’s no magic formula here beyond a few simple principles:

  • Work hard and be diligent
  • Decide what is important to you – and what kind of impact you want to leave behind on this world.
  • Find balance between your relationships, and your career.  Both are important and yet neither can afford to be neglected.

This was just a quick spontaneous blog post and much of it structured around my own concerns about time but hopefully others will find some value in even just thinking about time, your life, your priorities and your goals.  Many of us set objectives for our careers but how many of us set objectives beyond this?

What are your career and life goals?  Discover them, prioritize them and pursue them while you still can, finding balance along the way.  Work hard but stop every now and then to ask “what’s important in the long run” and focus on the impacts we make on those around us along our journey.

3 Responses to Time

  1. Rory says:

    Great post. It’s a tough graft keeping up with community contributions, keeping your skills up and somehow having a life away from all of that. Interesting to read about all of this from somebody else’s perspective.

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