I have a problem. It’s a small problem. It’s definitely a first world problem.

I am what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’ve done it! Honestly, it’s very fulfilling. I love what I do and I love who I work with. I have for several years now and I’m able to sharpen my swords and feel good about it.

So now what?

The million dollar question is what comes next? Early in my life I found my passion for problem solving to be insatiable. When I discovered that writing software is problem solving I knew that was what I wanted.

Notecards can solve anything.

Prior to this discovery, frequently I wrote down things I learned on 3x5 notecards. I wrote a lot. I’m not sure where we had 3x5 notecards but I always seemed to have them. I loved them and used them prolifically. I wrote a lot about professions. Not really in the form of what I wanted to be, but simply what they were.

I wrote about astronomers, pharmacists and many countless others. Then I wrote about programming and I never wrote about a profession again. I was in 5th grade.

Spending decades doing something makes you really good. And complacent.

This year marks the twentieth year since I compiled my first C program. Twenty Years. Most of that wasn’t professional but I’ve been writing software for a long time.

I think I’m pretty good at it.

Now my focus has changed and my expertise has certainly gotten more specific. Most notably now I feel completely adrift in life. I feel very happy but adrift. I feel as if I’m coasting. More specifically, I feel that no matter how hard I work now, as a creator of software, I will not progress.

You can’t progress without a direction.

Progress is just activity unless you can measure it. Without knowing exactly what I’m after, I can’t measure it.

Growing up I knew that I wanted to love my job. That was really the most important thing for me. I still want that. I have a fear that I cannot truly love my job unless I’m responsible for it.

This drives an entrepreneurial side to me. However I don’t have the bold desire to change the world. I just want to create something useful.

When I sit and think, completely honestly, I don’t need a huge paycheck but what I need is my own ownership. As long as someone else is signing my paychecks, I’m at their mercy. That’s a big responsibility on them; if I’m unhappy, I look elsewhere.

Being responsible for my life is my responsibility.

So now I’m wondering if I’ve reached the limit of what I love doing, how can I still be responsible?

One of my beliefs is quite simple:

Never act until you have a victory condition.

This goes back to measuring progress, but slightly different. I want to know when I’m done. I can’t evaluate how much work or even what acceptable failure is without knowing what victory means to me.

Because of this, I haven’t acted on anything, really. I don’t know what victory is. Life is funny. If my life continued as it is right now, I would be extremely happy. I have a very blessed life. That doesn’t stop me from eagerly waiting for more, I just don’t know what more is yet.