My Epic Life Quest

As a child I watched television and watched movies. The influence of the shows I watched on me is undeniable. It didn’t take much to build a vision of how life is meant to progress. At least, the version that is so commonly displayed on the television. I “knew” that I needed to graduate from high school, move on to and graduate with a four-year degree from college, and then start my first job as a middle manager or at least a supervisory position. Formal education was supposed to be the golden ticket. All I’d have to worry about is my performance once I got that job so I could keep it.

Now I know better. The path I explained above is a path that can bring you to success but it is nowhere near as much of a guarantee as I thought, and it is only one of many paths to success, not “the” path. Thankfully, I joined the U.S. Navy out of high school and for six years I matured and began to understand more about how to succeed in life. While working from within an organization that is heavily constrained by bureaucracy I learned the value of long-term goals and how to create micro-goals to achieve them.

Keeping a goal oriented mentality and an appreciation for the value of out-of-the-box or creative paths has worked very well for me thus far. Then I stumbled upon  Brent Ozar’s ( w | b | t ), “Epic Life Quest.” Brent’s quest was based on of Steve Kamb’s ( w | t ), “Epic Quest of Awesome,” and I found it to be a fun way to manage life goals in the same way that we progress in our favorite video / role-playing games. So here is my Epic Life Quest!

How it works

The best role-playing games create a strong connection between the player and real life. Sometimes this connection is difficult to see because of the fictional nature of these games but the appeal to the game is that you have the opportunity to fantasize about another life. Without key elements of the story to relate to, the player doesn’t gain the satisfaction expected from the game. So while we create games to relate to life, why not treat life like these games? Your typical role-playing game will use some variation of a leveling system to illustrate the sum of your experiences. This is similar to life, we are the sum of our experiences and achievements. There is one key difference though, in life there is no one around to define our goals and let us know when we’ve leveled up. That’s what my epic life quest is about, defining long-term goals and using a fun way to track progress.

Following Brent’s lead, I’ve chosen to grant myself a level for every five goals that I meet, whether personal or professional. Level 1 will include the notable accomplishments of my life up to the start of my quest.

Level 4 Quests (Completed before Apr. 1st, 2017) 

  • Be granted the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award for the Data Platform. (Completed on April 1st, 2017)
    • I know that this is not five goals achieved but I find the MVP award to be large enough to merit an Epic Life Quest level.
  • Hit 150,000 life time views to my site. (Completed before Jan. 1, 2016).
    • This goal was achieved and then, while I was not looking, the site reached 280,000 life time views by April 1st, 2017.

Level 3 Quests (Completed before Aug. 11th, 2015) DING

  • Secure a $<redacted> annual salary.
  • Speak at a user group meeting (Architecting Availability Groups, FairfieldPASS).
  • Speak at a SQL Saturday (Architecting Availability Groups, #SQLSAT386).
  • Certification achieved – Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (70-461). Completed January, 2015.
  • Complete my first consulting job.

Level 2 Quests (Completed before Dec. 15th, 2014) DING

  • Graduated from DeVry University with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Information Systems with a focus in Database Management, summa cum laude achieving a 3.97 GPA. Completed June 21st, 2014.
  • First editorial published. Publish date: July 16th, 2014 – One Size Does Not Fit All – SQLServerCentral.com.
  • First article published. Publish dates: Oct. 21st, 2014 – Backup testing with PowerShell – SQLShack.com.
  • Certification achieved – Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases (70-462). Completed October, 2014.
  • Started a PASS User Group. Hampton Roads SQL Server User Group relaunched on Nov. 19th, 2014 with myself and David Stokes as leaders.

Level 1 Quests (Completed before 2014) DING

This is a list of some of the most major landmarks in my life up to January 1st, 2014.

  • Lead a technical team (Head of Database Operations | Liberty Tax Service) – Completed 2013
  • Have a second child (Kayla Hammer) – Completed 2013
  • Buy my first house – Completed 2013
  • Have a child (Paige Hammer) – Completed 2010
  • Achieve an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy – Completed 2011
  • Get Cap’ed to E-6 (meritorious advancement to First Class Petty officer) – Completed 2010
  • Go on a Cruise (pleasure, non-Naval) – Completed 2009
  • Marry the love of my life – Completed 2009