As I spend a lot of time at a computer solving technical problems, it’s no secret that I need to keep myself awake and focused for extended spans. One of the things I do to support my energy levels is drinking caffeinated drinks. This year I discovered a coffee-based drink that’s perfect for hot summer days, and I want to share a recipe with you. It’s called cold brew coffee.
For cold brew coffee, you need:
1 cup of ground coffee beans.
3 cups of cold drinking water.
More water, milk, or vegan milk alternatives.
Ice cubes (optional).
This is how to make it:
1. Take 1 cup of ground coffee beans and 3 cups of clean drinking water. Pour them into a pot and stir them with a spoon.
2. Let the coffee grounds absorb the water for five minutes and then stir them once again. Put the pot into the fridge for 12 hours, and you will get the concentrate.
3. Use a paper filter to filter the grounds from the concentrate. Put a pot of clean concentrate to the fridge.
4. When you are hot and thirsty, mix one-third of the concentrate with two-thirds of water, milk, or vegan milk alternatives. Add some ice and enjoy it. You can have around seven glasses of cold brew coffee out of that concentrate.
You can try Cold Brew Coffee at Starbucks, Espresso House, Coffee Fellows, and some other franchise coffee shops. But if you spend a lot of time at home or office, why not make that type of coffee by yourself, especially when the recipe is so simple?
If you know me for quite a while, you probably remember how obsessed I was with game development culture. To me, game development had a significant influence since I played my first video game at 12 or so. I chose to study computer science to learn how to create games. Later I blogged about game development. I created a few small games (but usually I didn’t finalize them till polished projects). Also, I attended a few game development jams and other related events.
As I matured and developed my personality and self and global awareness, I concluded that video games are not an area where I want and need to spend the rest of my life. Yes, they were fun and challenging, but unfortunately too narrow, too fictional, and required a lot of mental power for short-lived results. Instead, I would promote searching for the truth and interconnectedness, finding your place in the world, and making a positive impact in your environment.
So the idea of “Make Impact” came to me. It encompasses many technical areas that are interesting to me: blogging, gamification, recommendation systems, social interactions, content creation, etc. It also has a noteworthy meaning: people are encouraged to donate to organizations of their choice to make a positive impact around them. The platform is in development, and if you want to have a sneak preview, drop a comment below.
After taking considerations of crowdfunding or venture capital, I decided to bootstrap another software project, so that I could fund the donation platform. I developed a commercial strategic prioritizer, “1st things 1st“. It lets you evaluate anything by multiple criteria and calculates their priorities. It simplifies strategic decision making and allows you to make more rational life choices.
I don’t abandon video or mobile games altogether. I still play some logical games on my iPhone from time to time to sharpen my brain and have some quality free time. I will create some casual games as a hobby in the future, probably when my children grow. But for now, I am concentrating on the realization of the strategic prioritizer and the donation platform.
What lessons did I take from game development?
Intuitive user interfaces are essential.
Games are safe simulations of the real world.
Although games usually don’t solve real problems, they stimulate the brain by letting you solve artificial difficulties, and you can use them for training.
Video games are some of the most sophisticated software programs. You can use the knowledge gained from various game development in mapping software, self-driving cars, accounting software, different simulations, and probably even rocket science (Although I have never achieved this level at game development).
Virtual and augmented reality are bringing game elements to the real world.
Video games let you test innovative logical and technological ideas.
It’s interesting to see how the development of interactive software will evolve in the future when we have even faster graphic cards, more capable smartphones, and snappier Internet connections. Be it games or other types of software. And I believe that the two projects I am building at the moment will add up to the greater meaning and sustainable progress. Let’s strive for a bright future instead of a Black-Mirror-like dystopia.
In my younger days, I was obsessed with finding the formula for happiness and success. Why do some people achieve more than others? Why do some people suffer when others enjoy their lives? What is the secret of some people’s advantage against some others? What do successful people do differently from the poor ones?
At some point, I realized that happiness and success are two different things. Happiness is something that you feel yourself, whereas success is something how others perceive you. There are happy people without significant achievements as well as successful but stressed and depressed people.
Success might be random, like a toss of a coin. That will likely be short-term. Have you heard that 70% of lottery winners spend all their money just in a few years after receiving the big amounts? There has to be something else. Something better than randomness.
As of now, I know that circumstances are one of the factors. But mostly everything depends on the mindset. A human being can change their mind and then be able to change the conditions or adapt to them.
Success happens through forming better habits and sticking to your goals.
1) Your luck (randomness). 2) Your strategy (choices). 3) Your actions (habits).
Only 2 of the 3 are under your control.
But if you master those 2, you can improve the odds that luck will work for you rather than against you.
Did you notice that in life, everything happens in cycles?
I want to introduce you to the cycle of long-term success as I see it today.
Everything begins with prioritization. It can be some productive work using mind mapping, TODO lists, decision matrixes, and other tools. It can be something that you do intuitively or meditatively in your head. Or it can be something that your managers and bosses do for you.
Then there is planning. It’s dividing big tasks into small ones, assigning time for different tasks, deciding who will do what, choosing appropriate tools. Maybe you’ll also be using Trello, Monday, or Clubhouse, to name a few.
Now it’s time for action. Do what you have to do to move towards your goal. Try to make progress. Try to fit the timetable. Remove all the bottlenecks. Make that call. Write that email. Create that masterpiece. Travel to that destination.
The last step of the cycle is celebrating your successes. Or, if your actions failed, you have something from what to learn and improve for the next time.
Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Masterclass, Mindvalley, edX, FutureLearn, Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, and so on and forth – with so many online learning platforms and their offerings, it is not so trivial to choose the right online course for you. What if I say that there is a rational way to make the right decision? I will show you how I did that with my online-course preferences.
A great opportunity to study
Coronavirus lockdowns forced us to spend more time at home. The lucky ones got possibilities to work remotely while saving commuting time. Many others were forced to stay at home without work, and that opened even bigger time slots to learn new skills.
I am not an exception. While staying home, I noticed that there is a little more time and decided to build up my skills. For quite a while, I’ve had a dream to learn the basics of piano, I wish to learn more about digital marketing, I want to improve my memory, and I think that machine learning skills could be beneficial in my professional life.
Over time I collected a list of courses that I would like to take:
“Piano for all” by Robin Hall on Udemy, because it teaches different genres of piano music, not just the classical, and should be fun to learn.
“All Access Pass” on 42courses, because all of those courses look very lively and modern, and teach different kinds of marketing skills that I would use for my company Human Insights.
“Applied Machine Learning in Python” by Kevyn Collins-Thompson on Coursera, because one day once and for all, I want to have a good understanding of Machine Learning and be able to solve real problems with it.
“Copywriting secrets” by Len Smith and Sean Kaye on Udemy, because I want to improve the writing skills that I will use in this blog, the 1st things 1st website, and elsewhere to create content that persuades and sells.
1st things 1st is an online tool to rate anything by multiple criteria and calculate total priorities. You can prioritize anything in these 4 steps:
List out things (such as online courses)
Evaluate things by each criterion
Examine the priorities
Let’s have a look at how I prioritized my selected online courses to find out the first one to study.
⚙️ Project setup
I added a new project to my personal account. From the project templates, I chose “Online Courses”. The same project template exists at an organizational account too.
The project creation wizard guided me through the essential questions:
1. The project title and description – I was alright with the defaults, so I immediately went to the next step:
2. Then I had to decide how to name things. The preselected values suggested evaluating Online courses by Criteria. That sounded pretty good to me. Next!
3. Then I could choose up to 5 criteria. I took the three ones that resonated with me mostly.
Now when I created the project, let’s explore the main steps of prioritization.
🧭 Step 1. Review and edit criteria
In the first step of prioritization, I could edit the list of criteria and change their importance or evaluation types. The default importance for all of them was 100%, and the evaluation types differed depending on the context.
For example, this is how I set the criteria for online courses:
Improves skills for personal mission because the mission itself is what defines my future.
Self-paced course because I don’t want to be bounded to specific times of the day and week for studying.
Entertaining because I like edutainment, not just dull streams of information.
Needed soon because I want to apply the knowledge gained as soon as possible before it is forgotten.
Low-cost because currently, I have other critical expenses that I need to cover.
All of those criteria mattered to me, so I set the 100% importance to all of them.
Your criteria and their importance would depend on your attitude and perspectives. For example, maybe these things mattered to you: the authority of the lecturer, the popularity of the course, direct contact with the teacher, or the certificate after the successful completion.
💡 Step 2. Add online courses
In the next step, I had to list out the courses.
I clicked on the button “Bulk add online courses” and pasted this list:
As a result, my online courses were created at the prioritizer:
🎚 Step 3. Evaluate courses by criteria
Now it’s time to evaluate all online courses by all criteria.
For example, learning piano didn’t follow my mission, but learning marketing skills did. All of those courses happened to be self-paced. The machine learning course was probably not entertaining, but the others were. Some of those courses were very affordable or even free, and some of them were very expensive.
📊 Step 4. Examine priorities
The prioritizer showed calculated and sorted courses grouped into the ones:
to choose for sure,
to consider, and
For me, the first course to take was about copywriting secrets: it supposed to move me towards my mission, it could be interesting to study, and it was very affordable. I took it without procrastination and completed it just a few hours ago.
The other courses were also quite high in the priority list, and I would take the opportunity to study them sooner or later.
Only learning piano could wait until I reach my primary goals.
Use your intuition when selecting a list of online courses, but evaluate them rationally if you want your life to lead you somewhere day after day.
Earlier I described how people are different by finding meaning either in having, or being, or doing. And then, I introduced you to the Ikigai concept and ways to figure out your Ikigai. This time I want to explore more of the territory of meaning. You shouldn’t necessarily have one true calling, monetized, and useful for others, to live a meaningful life.
Care about yourself
It is challenging to be happy with your life if you are always disappointed about yourself and your achievements. You have to love yourself and not attach your happiness only to success. Life is a rollercoaster. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But you must try your best as much as you can.
Take care of your health. The life will be more fulfilling if you are fit and healthy when your body is sound, and your mind is clear.
Save some money. Have some savings at least for half a year of expenses. You never know when you might need to spend extra.
Learn to understand yourself at your deepest. Learn to control your attention. Calm down the storms in your head. Live life as peacefully as you can. You can!
Travel. Visit galleries, museums, theaters, and movie theaters. Browse exciting information online. Try foods and drinks. Explore nature. Get hobbies.
Challenges and adventures
From time to time, try doing something that you haven’t done before. Visit a new country. Sing karaoke. Try a new sports activity. Speak in front of a group of people. Challenge yourself doing something for 30 days to form new habits.
Clean up the mess at your home. Make your bed in the morning. Clean up your desk. Don’t keep things that bring you negative emotions in front of your eyes, but gather things that bring you joy.
Care about others
Being content with yourself is crucial, but even more important is what you do interacting with others while being self-contented.
Family and Relatives
Respect your parents and elders. There were lots of times when you got help from them. There will come a time when you will have to help them. Call or visit them regularly. Keep contact.
When or if you have children, love them and be a role model to them. They are the ones who will continue the circle of life.
Don’t waste yourself. Try to find meaningful relationships. And when you do, cherish and appreciate the moments.
Once in a while, meet your friends. Party together, have in-depth conversations, travel as a group. Show them your most authentic self. Keep their secrets. Support them in difficulties.
If you choose to have a dog, a cat, or a chinchilla, you must take care of them no less than of your other family members. Provide food for them, take care of their health, allow them to live a joyous life.
Know and respect your neighbors. Keep your stairway and yard clean. Participate in the events of the neighborhood. When you party, inform your neighbors in advance about the possible noise. If they party, be the last one to call the police.
Be a member or a board member of your local, regional, and global communities of interest. Provide help when you have time and resources, or money otherwise.
Whether you care about human rights or animal wellbeing, local communities or remote disaster relief, arts or sport, science achievements or religion; there is always some organization that acts in that area and needs your financial help. Donate some money now and then to support your cause.
Help communities and organizations with make-impact.org
You will be able to choose an organization of your interest and support them financially at user-centered donation platform make-impact.org. Until it is ready, you are welcome to do that through other channels, like their direct websites, Facebook fundraisers, or crowdfunding platforms. Use your chances to make a positive impact around you.
Do I live my full potential? I don’t get or experience everything all at once. But I try to seize the day as much as possible. If not now, then when?
Previously, I was describing how different people find meaning either in having, or being, or doing. Taking into account that doing plays an essential role in our lives, as it is what creates progress, I would like to introduce the Ikigai concept.
Japanese have a concept of fulfillment that they call Ikigai. It combines what you are good at, what you like doing, what is good for the World, and for what you could get money. We could illustrate that with the following Venn’s diagram: Ikigai appears where all those areas cross each other.
To live a more fulfilling life, you might monetize one of your hobbies, find something likable in your current work activities, market what you are already doing to broader audiences, or find a niche where your products or services have a higher value. Don’t worry! Everyone’s situation and maturity are different. Maybe you won’t have your Ikigai in your twenties but will live your full potential in your fifties.
But how to find the thing about which you are genuinely passionate and would like to continue working on it if you do a lot of different joyful activities? What is the one true calling that would describe the deepest you?
One way to find that is to use the prioritizer – 1st things 1st, that I built to help people crystallize their thoughts and choices.
Using 1st things 1st to clarify your Ikigai
At 1st things 1st, you have something to prioritize and criteria by which to evaluate. When you rate each item by each measure, the tool calculates and sorts the elements from the most important to the least one.
In the case of the searching of your Ikigai, you could have these criteria:
Do I love doing it?
Am I good at it?
Can I be paid for it?
Does the world need it?
There is a project template for that.
Then you would add all the activities that you have ever done that are very specific to you. Remember things from selling ice cream on the beach at your childhood to carving wooden figures in your free time, from enjoying movies on Netflix to visiting far-away secret locations of the World.
The next step would be to rate the activities by each criterion. For each activity, you would answer those questions with answers like:
Only you know what you like doing most and how good you are at that. Be open-minded and creative when deciding how much the World needs your activities and how much profit you could get out of it. In the age of the Web, there are many more possibilities than before.
If you don’t agree with my evaluations, that’s OK. You would evaluate your activities according to your worldview.
And then it would be the time to unveil your Ikigai. In the end, the tool would list you out the most valuable activities on which you should proceed to work.
For example, according to my choices and evaluations, my Ikigai is programming and writing. It is one of the reasons why I write this and other blogs, published a book about programming with the Django framework, and work on web projects.
The meaning of life is personal. There is no global meaning that works the same for everybody. Everybody has their definition, and either recognize it, or believe that it is something to achieve, or still seek it.
I would put the meanings of life for different people into these categories:
What I have
What I am
What I do
Every person aligns with one or more of those categories.
What I have
People from this category ask questions like these: Do I have a diploma? Do I have an Instagram account? Do I have a family? Do I have enough experience points on my CV? Do I have a house? Do I have a car? Do I have enough money for whatever I decide to get?
What I am
People from this category ask questions like these: Am I a University graduate? Am I an expert in my field? Am I a loving husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother? Am I a social-media influencer? Am I a good person? Am I the right person? Am I handsome, beautiful, stylish, cool, experienced? Am I rich and famous?
What I do
People from this category ask questions like these: Do I do at work what I love? Do I travel as much as I want? Do I care about others? Do I live a fulfilling family life? Do I have in-depth conversations with friends? Do I go out enough? Do I enjoy nature, arts, or parties every weekend? Do I get enough income for what I need and like doing?
At this point in my life, I believe that not having, and not being, but action gives the most pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment. To do something that I like and find meaningful or at least fun is something that drives me to get up and enjoy another day again and again. Of course, there will be hard days now and then. But at those moments, I can stop, look at what I have, and think what I became. I should express gratitude to the universe for letting me be where I am. And the next day I go forward again.
Using 1st things 1st to clarify your priorities
But how should we decide where we should draw the most of our thoughtfulness and care? Do we live a meaningful life already, or do we still lack something?
The strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st can help you sort out what you do or should do, and what you have or would like to have by your values so that you could align your decisions and become a better version of yourself by your definition.
It may be hard to believe, but people experience the same facts differently. When someone sees, hears, tastes, smells, or touches something, they filter that through their perception and make corresponding conclusions: I like it, I hate it, this is good, this is bad, this is interesting, this is dull, etc.
Previous experience forms the perception. The more happenings a person has and the more conscious a person is while experiencing; the more subtle will be the conclusions.
On the web, there are intriguing examples that are interpreted differently by different sides of people.
For example, there is a photo of a dress that looks like striped gold and white dress to some people, and it looks like a blue and black dress to some other people.
The thing is that some people expect there to be light colors in a shadow, and some others expect a photo of dark colors with high exposure.
In another example, there is a mysterious track, where some people hear “laurel,” and some other arguably hear “yanny”.
I can explain that too. The track is built from both sounds at different frequencies: some people hear higher pitches better than lower ones.
Or let’s have a look at the picture in the cover. What are the colors of this shoe? White and pink or cyan and gray?
Opinions, attitudes, mindsets
Fact interpretations are contextual. The same gray buttons will look lighter on a dark shirt, darker on the light shirt, or even colorful on a colored shirt. As people add contexts to facts by their previous experiences, they make different interpretations of the same events and make different conclusions.
So opinions are formed. Repeated opinions develop attitudes. Finally, attitudes create mindsets, which are later more and more difficult to change.
Cultural norms, rules, laws
As people communicate with each other, they form collective opinions, attitudes, and mindsets. So cultural norms are created. Some of those norms become rules and regulations. If the rules are good enough for the communities and society, they become governmental laws.
There are some laws that are more difficult or almost impossible to change compared to governmental laws. And these are the laws of nature, universal laws, or scientific laws.
You can’t change your genes to become someone else than you are.
You can’t make gold out of elements that don’t include gold atoms.
You can’t resist gravitation and float in the air.
You can’t take a thing and copy it without using resources to build it.
So what is subjective and what is objective
The observable things and happenings that are around us are the facts. They are objective. They just are. They just happen. They have explainable known or unknown causes to happen.
But any interpretation of the causes is subjective. It’s like modeling a picture of reality in our heads, trying to understand it. It’s like coloring the facts in the colors we are given from past experiences.
All the subjectivity we have is there to serve us or go against us. It’s for us to decide. It’s for us to choose when we should keep fighting for what we believe and when it is time to release the blocks and change our perceptions, attitudes, and shift our mindsets towards more objectivity and wisdom.
Clarify what is the most important to you using 1st things 1st
I built the 1st things 1st for you to choose which of the activities, ideas, thoughts, wishes, items, pieces of art, are the most important to you so that you could spend more time and energy on them, but lose the clutter. Why spend ten years on everything that just happens, when instead you could spend that time to build expertise in your field or live your dream.
After years of making a silent pause, I finally decided to get back to personal blogging.
There are some special occasions why I am doing that.
First of all, now I have a more precise understanding of myself and the direction I am going to, and I want to express my opinion about what matters to me.
Also, I have a couple of lifetime projects that I am building. These are tools to improve your life and the lives around you. So I want to spread the word about them.
My lifetime projects
Soon I will be founding a company “Human Insights.” This company will manage two of my mentioned projects:
Non-commercial non-political donor-centered donation platform Make Impact. Over time I can promise the best user experience for making donations to causes that matter to you.
Commercial progressive strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st. With this tool, you can sort anything by the criteria that are important to you. This strategic prioritizer should fund the donation platform.
You will learn something about them in this blog often.
“Human Insights” will be bootstrapped, which means that I will use my finances to start it, and I will not apply for venture capital. I made this decision to have better control of the direction of those projects so that I could always balance the growth and sustainability.
In the beginning, things take time. There are lots of details to think through, to learn, and to organize while starting a company. At some point, I expect the company to grow to 10 people and make the best positive impact on the world.
As always, I am open to your opinions and suggestions, as I am interested in increasing the quality of those projects and giving more value.