Focus

One of our jobs as parents is to expose our kids to a wide variety of experiences so that hopefully they find something that floats their boat and can run with it later on in life.  My parents did a good job in this area.  Maybe too good.  With the notion of having a well-rounded child, I was exposed to football, basketball, baseball, golf, music, cross-country, ping-pong, woodworking, writing, computing, ham radio, and of course, being a Ducks fan.

I enjoyed them all immensely — which can be a problem.

What happens when you enjoy too many things?  You can find yourself in the situation where you desperately want to become expert level at something and then realize you’re not and probably never will be.

I’m mediocre at best at a lot of things.  Simply not enough hours in the day. I find that even truer in my 6th decade as I try to keep up with technology.  The list of languages and technologies I need to keep up with is long.  I would love to an expert at all of the scripting languages like Python, Ruby, PHP, and Perl6 now that it’s been released, but I basically have to work 2 jobs to get there.  My day job affords very little time to study and play without interruptions.  Oh, and I need to learn Java, Javascript, Groovy, HTML5, Ansible, Docker, and Gradle.  Some of these I need in my tool-bag as of last week.  I left off Objective C, Scala, and becoming more seasoned at vimscript because I just don’t see how there’s any way I’ll ever get to these things, much as I’d like to.

One of the a-ha moments came as I looked over my bookshelf and realized I have about 40 books where I haven’t read past the first chapter.  It’s nice to have the reference, but sadly, just owning the book doesn’t mean you know the subject.  Similar story with music that I’ve purchased.  Tons of books where I’ve had good intentions of expanding my playing in either guitar or piano,  but it’s all been a mirage that there’s free time available to do these things.

Looking back, there have been a few times when I’ve really — I mean really focused in on a goal and done myself proud.  I can think of a few things I’ve built that turned out pretty good.  The summer of 1990 I had a singular goal in mind — run the Portland Marathon and I stuck to it and finished in 3:44.  Not bad for a guy who has never been mentioned in the same sentence with the word fast.  It took some pretty good focus to get some songs written and produced.

I think the thing is, if you have my personality type, then you have to really want it or else you’re easily distracted from your goals.   I recall a humorous bit of satire from my childhood – ( I used to be regular reader of M.A.D. magazine ) where they were having fun with the evolution of New Years resolutions.

  • 1973: I’m going to read 10 good books this year
  • 1974: I’m going to read 5 good books this year
  • 1975: I’m going to finish ‘Airport’

Which brings me to thinking about a bucket list.  Great concept this bucket list.  Write down some things you’d like to do before the one’s expiration date comes into play.

Do I have time to write and record an album, invent a music practice app for the iPhone, become a runner again, save enough money for retirement, write a book and travel all the places I want to go?  Seems unlikely.

But hopefully I’ll develop some mojo to attack a few of these items in earnest so that my legacy won’t be that I sat around and watched a bunch of Duck games.

The current thinking is to just go with whatever moves me in the moment and don’t over think it.  Just go with it.  But do SOMETHING!  Okay, I’m over-thinking it now…

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