Ten directions I can pursue from here
"Here" is 43 years old, married, 3 kids ages 8-13, nice house in the suburbs, well-paying but boring work-from-home government job.
1. Continue the same direction
I'd probably have a decent, if unremarkable life. Work until I'm 60 and retire with a nice retirement plan and pension. Vacation twice a year. See my kids go to college and start their own lives. But... things rarely go smoothly according to plan, do they?
2. Pursue writing
This is kind of the direction I'm steering towards. I'd like to be a novelist and share my stories with the world. That means taking it seriously like a second job. Write at least 2 hours a day. Publish my writing publicly regularly and often. Read books on the craft of writing. Hire editors to work with. Submit to writing contests. Get those writing reps in.
3. Relearn programming
A lot has changed since I was a computer science student and software engineer 20 years ago. I was really good at Web 1.0, but now we're entering Web 3.0 (I stopped programming at the beginning of Web 2.0, when I was learning AJAX and experimenting with dynamic websites). I find Web 3.0 very exciting. Perhaps I should jump back in and learn modern programming. Maybe some Python and full stack web dev. Learn to write mobile apps. Learn to code Ethereum contracts or something. Perhaps some generative art.
4. Jump back into the art world
Speaking of generative art, I did a lot of art before I graduated from college. I took so many painting and graphic design classes in college that I graduated with a minor in Studio Art. Some of my paintings are still hung up on walls around my house. And art is exciting again. People are using artificial intelligence to make art. They're writing code to generate art. They're selling art online as NFTs. People have a renewed interest in buying art, with the advent of NFTs and fractional shares of artwork investments.
5. Go hard into the FIRE movement
I'm not rich, but I'm also pretty solid with my finances and have a stable well-paying job. I love taking vacations with my family. The Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement intrigues me. It looks doable for my situation. Maybe I should just work really hard at my day job, try to invest as much money as possible, and try to retire before I turn 50. The main problem I see with this is, I also need to enjoy the time before I turn 50. It's the time when my kids are still living with me. Also, as morbid as it sounds, I should not assume I would live to see 50.
6. Become a gym rat
Health is so important as we get older. I've gotten overweight and weak over the years, but I need to turn it around. Maybe the best use of two hours a day is in eating healthy and exercising. As much as an introvert I am, maybe it would also be good for me to join a team sport or get back into martial arts. It's a big time commitment, which is why this fits as a "direction in life."
7. Go into real estate
My wife and I are both interested in real estate. Back in 2008, we even considered us both studying and getting real estate licenses so we could jump into the market when it rebounded. Just yesterday, she asked if I think we should start investing in rental properties. If we sold our current home and downsized to free up some capital, then maybe. Maybe this is a direction I could pursue. Learn a lot about fixing up houses. Get a real estate license. Buy distressed homes, fix them up, flip them. Or buy nice homes and rent them out. Sounds like a neat second career.
8. Start an online business
I also find sites like EmpireFlippers and Flippa intriguing. What if I bought an existing online business in an area I'm knowledgeable in, and run with it? Or, I could buy a good product, store it in my basement, and sell it online out of the stock in my home? Or maybe there is something I could make and sell online. The possibilities are endless.
9. Open a restaurant
I've been experimenting with cooking since I was a teenager in college. These days, I cook dinner for my family of five almost every night, and everyone loves my cooking. In fact, when given the choice of eating at a restaurant or something that I cook at home, many times my kids choose eating at home. So... maybe I should open a restaurant! But... my parents owned a Dunkin Donuts when I was a kid and I saw first hand how rough the restaurant industry can be. I'm not sure if I love cooking enough to deal with paying customers and all the headaches that come with that.
10. Become an attorney
My workplace will pay for my education if I decide to get a law degree. I could get my JD and become a patent attorney, then join an intellectual property firm. Maybe someday I could make partner and rake in the big bucks as a lawyer. But... I'd rather shoot myself in the head.