Little Quests

Keep learning fun by going on little quests around small topics.

Although I haven’t touched my Xbox in months, I absolutely love video games. Especially adventure games and RPGs, stuff like Skyrim. That phenomenal game consumed days—if not weeks—of my life. I’m far from mad about it.

One of my favorite things in video games are side quests. You know, those little challenges you undertake while embarking on the greater adventure.

Apart from being (mostly) fun, side quests serve a useful purpose in video games: they allow you to learn new skills, get gear you might not find elsewhere, and level up so that you are better equipped for tackling the challenges in the main storyline.

I jump around between a lot of things in my free time, video games being but one of many hobbies. When I’m not helping make email better at Litmus, I can be found playing around with photography, working in my sketchbook, digging into video editing and animation, playing around with code, reading, writing, and doing all sorts of goofy shit with my family.

It seems scattered, but I like to think of all of those things as little quests on the path to a grand adventure. None of them are the focus of my career or even directly related to my day-to-day work. But each, in their own way, equip me with skills and knowledge that have the oddest ways of insinuating themselves into my daily work.

For example, playing around with video and animation—and knowing how to record audio—gave me the skills required to produce the first in a series of videos explaining email design and marketing concepts for Litmus.

I sometimes get down on myself for having too many interests, too many hobbies. The same way I got down on myself for pursuing all of those side quests in Skyrim before completing the main storyline. But there’s a lot to be said for diving into those little quests. Something I was reminded of recently when watching this great TED talk from Emilie Wapnick.

Instead of worrying about picking up new interests only to drop them after getting bored, Emilie realized that this pattern was actually a good thing. It taught her how to learn things quickly, synthesize new ideas by joining disparate fields, and adapt to challenging situations.

Her side quests helped shape her personality, skills, interests, and career. I’m seeing the same things happening in my own life.

I’m finally learning to trust myself when starting a new little quest. I don’t always know where it will lead, or how it will fit in with the overarching adventure of my life, but I know that it will help me level up to make that adventure the best it can possibly be.

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