This is a follow up post to Vision Quests & The Power of Intention.
“Now I certainly see the value in having goals and improving yourself. But I’m avoiding making a list of declarations to internally grade and beat myself up over.” — Kevin Rose in his January 2017 newsletter, The Journal
Goals are golden. New years resolutions intend well. They can serve as powerful propellers, mobilizing us toward grand achievements and new experiences.
Around this time last year I was preparing for something called a vision quest. The core element of the vision quest being a three night solo fast in the wild. My wild would be aspen forests and mountain meadows at 10,000 feet amongst the rugged San Juans of southwestern Colorado.
“You’re doing what?”
I can still hear my mother’s voice ringing inside my head.
I know, it sounds wacky. No food. No humans. No tent. Just water, some kit to sleep in, and your lonely self for three days in the wild world.
In 1994, Jeff Bezos was working at a Wall Street hedge fund, making great money in what he called a “stable career path.”
But he had a crazy idea. One that would require him to quit his job for a riskier path. He wanted to start a business selling books online.
“[I wanted] to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal.”
“Don’t start with the problem, start with the people. Start with empathy.” –Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, Designing Your Life
Last week I explored a super-nerdy approach to choosing my next project(s).
This week, I’d like to touch on another decision-making tool, one based less on personal drivers like interests, values and excitement, and more on the external factor of service.
Last week I posed the question “How do you choose what’s next?” I’m considering this in my own career, as I evaluate where to spend my time and energy, and what new projects to sink my teeth into.
Some of you responded with fantastic resources and ideas – thank you! This is a huge topic, one that books could and have been written on. And the more I dig into this…it’s a deep dark rabbit hole down here. So I’ll approach this topic Bird by Bird – one thought at a time.
In the spirit of personal growth and learning in public (what this blog is all about), I’ll also use myself as a case study to explore decision making frameworks in real time over the coming weeks.
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ve spent the last couple weeks cleaning up the blog, relaunching this weekly newsletter (more on that here if you missed it). Some running, some weights, and when I tweaked my foot last week, mending it back to health.
I’ve been reading and writing a bunch too, including dusting off old, unfinished posts, which I’m excited to share in the coming weeks.
But mostly it feels like I’m procrastinating on making a decision:
What project do I work on next?
When you’re a human in midst of reinventing yourself, no question produces angst like the cookie cutter: “So, what do you do?”
One day we’ll collectively design a better question. Until then, you and I will continue to fight the good fight, attempting to sum up our zig-zagged lives and convoluted careers in a breezy byline that both pleases and delights.
Or we’ll continue to introduce ourselves however we damn well please.
Either way, we can find solace in the fact that some of the most fascinating people alive today struggle with a punchy one-liner as well.
On his wildly popular podcast, Tim Ferriss asks many of his guests a version of: How do you currently answer the question, “what do you do?”
Here’s a baker’s dozen of my favorite answers.
We’re already one month into 2017, but in the spirit of finishing, I needed to get this post out.
If years had mythical personalities, 2016 would be the gorgon Medusa — a slithering, monstrous head of year that you never want to meet, and heaven forbid if you do, should never look directly in the stone cold eye.
We collectively beat up 2016 to a bloody pulp already — that poor, poor number — so that’s not my intent here. Personally speaking, 2016 wasn’t my finest hour either. I set myself big, bold goals…and then promptly accomplished hardly any of them. Heaven knows I also spend enough time beating myself for things not done, so that isn’t my intent here either.
Instead, I’ll try to harness my inner Perseus and approach 2016 like he did Medusa: with a sharp indifferent sword and a shiny reflective shield.
After all, 2016 was just a year and I’m just a human. Here’s how this human lived their life last year.
“I’m in my head a lot — and it kind of sucks. There are certain things I have to do to be out of my head and just to get to normal. I’m not talking about being really super effective. Just to get to normal…” –Rainn Wilson, actor
It’s been a wild few weeks, hasn’t it?
I deliberately keep this blog and my writing apolitical to focus the human and more-than-human side of stuff. And typically I’m an optimistic guy. But when I read about these 13 crises that humanity faces, many of which are influenced by the U.S. election results, I’m not feeling much like myself these days.
Coupled with my sister’s boyfriend getting into a cycling accident with severe head trauma and still unknown brain damage – I’ve experienced a complex mix of emotions, thoughts, and mental states that I can’t seem to articulate.
But I’ve since learned to describe it: grief.