Choosing Your Future
I have just completed my tour, and now need to decide what to do next. This is a difficult decision because I have a blank page—no financial pressure, no other work obligations—and therefore an adundance of things I could do. In order to pare down the decision tree, I have developed a framework for evaluating possibilities, consisting of four criteria against which I can rate each idea.
This framework builds out of my last post about knowing your foundations. By asking myself “why?” continually and pushing further and further down the reasons, I was able to find what I really care about (at the present moment) and formulate criteria to express what I want.
The underlying theme is challenge. I am young with not much to lose. I want to take some risks. I have just finished a world tour which was pretty cool, but still a pretty safe bet. I want something bigger. Not only bigger, but something down a path where I will learn some radical new things.
Align with my values. Practically, this means the big areas I am considering are food, teaching, green tech, and sustainability. There is not much else I feel really good about.
For profit. At this stage in my life, I want to swing for the fences. My efforts could go to good use in a non-profit, but I do not have the social or financial clout to make the magnitude of impact I would like. I am talking Giving Pledge type impact. Aiming high? Sure. That is the point. In a few years if I have failed perhaps I will re-evaluate.
Ownership. I want to own what I am working on. There are a lot of unique challenges in running your own venture that simply do not come up working for someone else. This is not a criteria I hold to be universal; there are many great projects I could work on in a salaried role, but at the moment I am looking for a different challenge. This is a difficult criteria to fulfil. I have some capital (but not enough to turn heads), some IT skills, and some money skills, but no deep domain knowledge in any particular field I want to work in. I have the general knowledge, the technical knowledge, but no domain specific knowledge, so miss out on the trifecta needed for a successful venture. I either need to get involved more heavily in domains I am interested in, or find someone to partner with. I am going to explore both options.
Things, not time. This is the “no freelancing” clause. I think about consulting and I see myself spending all my time trying and failing to find projects that not only align with my values, but want to and can afford to hire me. Frankly it just does not interest me. I want to create something.
This framework is deliberately restrictive so that only the best ideas will be able to run the gauntlet. This is not a universal framework: there are some criteria that would be different for other people, or even different for me at other times in my life. The point is that I have thought about and created these criteria, building them up from my foundations, to buffer myself against life’s tendency to sweep you away for its own purposes when you are not firmly at the helm.