Call me crazy, but sometimes I think life's timeline is a Git repository, and the different branches are Side Quests, which are (if we follow the analogy) enhancements of your central life. You can merge Side Quests into your Main Quest, integrating these improvements in a streamlined way.
Missing activities in your Main Quest may harm your later life if you keep playing the playbook of the path you're travelling to (e.g., not going to high school may hurt you if you try to enter the corporate world, but if you prefer to be an independent worker you may do well in life, given you genuinely put your heart at it).
Now, life's Side Quests seem to be optional. Avoiding side quests will just result in missing opportunities for life's improvement (e.g., not having been certified in a specific technology you could have studied and that makes you a suitable candidate for a job ad just happens to be very well paid). The pitfall with life's Side Quests is that they later become a requirement if you select a path where it's needed to be competent, then your best bet is to choose those Side Quests that add the most value to your Main Quest.
Long ago, I missed the opportunity to become a Front-end Web Developer. Back in the late 2000s, when the jQuery train was in full force, I just stayed with my basic HTML, CSS, and JS skills in favour of Windows desktop applications. I used to be a Delphi Developer back then, which was a downward trend in employability in Latin American companies.
It's not like I cannot pick up these missing skills, but what are web packer and build tools? React? Angular? Vue.js?
yarn? I feel pretty much left behind in that career path, knowing that my HTML submit form reloads the entire browser tab, and that's it.
I took the Back-end Web Developer train, and I'm confident I can develop solid APIs with Flask; it's just that any front-end code I produce will seem crude by today's standards. A friend of mine once said, "never regret the road not taken", so I'll just stop lamenting that. I can always bring someone on board to help me out. One cannot just know and do everything all the time!
Before continuing mixing apples with pears, avoiding Side Quests might mean missing activities and also mean missing the acquisition of habits. Merging great patterns into your Main Quest will compound your life in ways you cannot even imagine since, after a while, these will become second nature to you. Conversely, merging bad habits leads to a life of self-harm and destruction (to yourself and the people around you).
Ignoring that life just levels up the difficulty, and not keeping up with it will strain your later years. The most straightforward example to explain this is the fitness life; the harder it becomes to start as it will require more willpower than ever before. You can always start now; just recognize that you must shift your mindset towards a healthy life identity and that this change is like fixing a tree's growth by the trunk. It'd have been easier yesterday, but don't make it harder by waiting for more, as you might run out of life.
Another pitfall with Side Quests is that it might be overwhelming to choose any, so you must filter which ones to take. How? By knowing where you want to be headed in your life. Be it professionally, personally, or among other life aspects, each milestone has requirements and Side Quests that will improve your chances. This is what I'd call having a vision, a final state where you can lay down a path towards it and prepare yourself to get there.
Do you want to become a top executive? Work every single day on your management and soft skills. Do you want to get married? Choose wisely your Significant Other, don't rush it, and be intentional in developing that relationship. Just beware of paralysis by analysis. There's always the danger of stalling ourselves on our road trip. Some Side Quests are just going the extra mile.
Reflect on what you want out of life. Taking on a path has a cost along with its Side Quests, so be willing to pay the price. Will you commit to your mission?
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