Pillars and Schedules

The four pillars of health are:

  • Eat Healthy
  • Exercise
  • Abstain from Substances
  • Meditate

I’m going to start working out again.  The schedule is going to be, exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, meditate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and one of the weekends.  I’ll try it for a month and see if it works out.  There might be some adjustments, but ideally I’ll only make adjustments after a month, so that I can make sure those are necessary adjustments instead of whimsical ones.

There’s a bigger theme here of self-improvement.  It’s time to get things back in gear again.  Time to actually place the rubber on the road and get things moving.  There’s going to be some self-reflection and some planning involved, but the main focus is to continue moving.  I’m going to start running and I’m going to keep the momentum going, until it gets me where I want to be.  When I get there, there will be new goals, and I’ll keep running again.  I’ll keep running until I can’t run anymore.

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The end of a cycle.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and it’s about damn time that I did.

A few updates on what’s currently happening. I’ve been working an internship at a placed called Ezra. Today will be my last day and I’m happy that it’s over. The summer has not gone the way I wanted it to. My projects have been left unattended to and I’ve not made any progress towards finding a job. School starts in two weeks, and I’m moving into a new apartment. Overall, a very boring summer, but also eventful in tiny ways here and there.

I’ve been reading a whole lot. About a book every two weeks. Not at a breakneck speed, but a lot more than during the regular semester. I’m quite proud of this. There’s something to be said about reading to improve yourself. With every book I feel like I’ve matured in a small but significant way. I only wish I had the opportunity to continue doing this during the semester.

I’ve not done any exercise at all. After neglecting my projects, this would be my second biggest disappointment with this summer. Nothing much to say on this subject. They all sound like excuses and I’ve pondered them at length. The only worthwhile reply is to acknowledge the failure and resolve to work harder.

Moving on, I need to get the engine firing again. I’m pretty excited about the next two weeks. It will be a good space of time for my to get really creative and get really hardworking. I look forward to seeing what I can accomplish during this period.

In the mean time, there are some issues that need to be tied up before I consider this cycle to be closed. It is very important that I absolutely close this loop before I start the next one. I want to start the next cycle fresh, energized and motivated. Let’s say Monday will be the starting date. We should have everything ready to launch a new cycle by Monday.

I must have faith that I can, and I know I am fully capable of making things happen.

Between Work and Passion

You know how certain people are just so in love with a certain thing, like the engineer who’s in love with electronics or the otaku who’s in love with anime or the musician who’s in love with music.  Those people are proud of what they love and their passion for their subject allows them to commit time and effort into their careers.  We all know that passion goes a long way in motivating a person to do something.  It is the catalyst that drives someone to work beyond their limit and gives them the drive to put in more and more time into their work without ever felling bored or fatigued.  Their single-minded focus propels them towards their goal.

And then there is the other group of people who are in love with so many things.  It’s not that we lack passion, it’s that we’re passionate about too many things and we don’t have the tenacity to stay on track.  For me, the pursuit knowledge was the purpose of my life.  I enjoy learning about everything and everything interests me.  This world is so beautiful and so complex.  Yet it is starting to become a hindrance because I am not an expert in any field.  I can’t use passion to motivate me because I get side tracked too easily.  When people ask me what I am passionate about, my usual answer is: “everything.”

A solution needs to be found so that I may rein in my interests and focus only on things that currently matter.  I do believe that passion and work can coexists.  I do not like the alternative nor do I think it is inevitable.  There is a middle ground which we should all strive for.  Hence, it is imperative that I find for work and passion to live together in harmony.

The first thing to do is to probably identify what needs to stay and what can be removed.  Work should be the first to be examined, under the reasoning that money makes all things easier.  Choose the right work, then remove or delegate all other work that can be done so.  By this I mean identify what is absolutely necessary to be done in your work and focus your attention on those.  For me, there are classes that I absolutely must take, and classes that are interesting but not necessary.  Second, to try and tie preexisting passions into the work that must be done.  Chances are that because you chose your career, there must be something about that job that interested you in the first place.  Since now your understand what needs to be done in you work, it is time to rediscover those passions and apply them to what you are doing.  All other passions, temporarily set them aside until your analysis is done.  Your understanding of what you are working on at the moment can clarify how your time should be spent both in work and outside of work.  Once there, once you have figured out where you should be spending your attention on, you will notice you have additional time to spare and those can go to your other passions.

I should do a quick analysis of my own work-passion balance, but that will have to come later until after my final exams and when I’ve had a chance to sit down and actually figure out my schedule for next semester.  This is going to have to go on my to-do list and I will be back for it sometime next week.

an argument for arguments

I’ve been involved in a lot of arguments these past few days.  Let’s see if we can make a list of them:

  1. An argument on the lack of communication at the fraternity.
  2. An argument with my mother on the future of my brother.
  3. An argument with Kyle.
  4. An argument with Ben on my views against a philanthropy project for the fraternity.
  5. An argument with Ben against his idea of having a list to hold officers accountable for their goals.
  6. An argument towards someone who made a decision without consulting me.

There must be more, but these are the ones that are most recent.  After listing them out, the list is not as bad as I thought it would be.  Granted I still feel horrible for getting into arguments, but I see that some of these were inevitable.  I do feel that they are topics that they should be discussed.  Except for #3.  #3 is just me losing my temper over a trivial matter.

What worries me was the increase in the amount of arguing I’ve been doing.  Let me rephrase that.  An increase in the amount of destructive arguing I’ve been doing.  Now that I look at this list a little closer, these are all arguments that have made me feel bad afterwards.  I’ve been unhappy with all of these arguments.  I’m sure I’ve also been arguing a lot at other times, but those went well and so I don’t feel as bad.  The arguments on the list are the ones that make me feel worthless inside.

I don’t think I would have wanted to avoid these arguments.  Except for #3, they were all arguments that needed to happen.  They helped clarify what was important.  I should work on communicating my views better, with more clarity and with more respect, but I am still glad I had the arguments.  I cannot say the same for those on the other side of the table.  I fear I might have harmed my relationship with one or two people.  Although what I wanted to say needed to be said, I could have worked better on the delivery.  At this stage, I wonder if it was better if I had said nothing.  The sense of duty would have gnawed at me for the rest of the day, but maybe there would be less conflict.

I had recently come to the conclusion that it was better to nod and smile in the beginning.  Ramit Sethi had a post once where he described how he would go along with the person’s will in the beginning in order to encourage rapport and set up so that future advice will be heeded.  I understand the idea behind that.  It is slow and it requires a mask, aspects which are difficult to maintain for me, but I understand how such a method works better in the long run.  

The key, I feel, is to strike a balance between playing along and giving honest advice.  Advice too honest and too brutal is usually ineffective and does not reach the intended audience.  Responses that are too agreeable lack transparency and avoid the root of the problem.  It’s a fine dance that is required to jump and skirt around the defenses of your target in order to deliver the medicine straight to the heart.  Who am I to give advice?  Certainly a nobody, but maybe through the dance we can discover if the medicine was ever needed in the first place.

Here’s a tentative procedure to approach an argument.  A dance move if you wish.

  1. Always nod and say yes first, unless its a bait.
  2. Clarify the question.
  3. Bring up discrepancies in the argument.
  4. Nod and be agreeable when target puts up defenses.
  5. Constantly reevaluate your stand.  If opinion still holds, carry on.
  6. Close in and deliver conclusion.

This procedure is oversimplified and I doubt it works, but at least it’s a start.

On Loyalty at Work and at the Fraternity

Here is a blog post that I believe is worth reading: http://heartmindcode.com/2013/08/16/loyalty-and-layoffs/

You’re probably too busy or too uninterested, so let me give you the TL;DR: Forget company loyalty, and be loyal only to yourself.  I’d say more, but this guy is a wizard at writing and he’ll do a better explanation.  Read his post.

This should be common sense, but it really isn’t.  Although I can’t say I’ve had a lot of experience with the matter, I have actually seen it first hand and what I saw wasn’t pleasant.  I won’t go too deep into the matter, but let’s just say that I agree with everything this writer has to say.  Company loyalty is stupid.  In fact, loyalty to any entity without proper cause is stupid.  All human interactions are based on social contract.  While loyalty definitely has its place, why would you ever be loyal to an entity that doesn’t honor its end of the bargain?  You wouldn’t sign a deal with the devil, and just because your company has a smile on its face doesn’t mean that it has the best intentions.

There are many ways to play the game of life but you have to be sure that you’re playing it right.  With every action, your goal should fulfill some end that would better your personal life.  That sounds a little harsh…  Personally, I do believe in Rousseau’s social contract and do categorize all personal relationships under that banner.  But I understand not everyone is of the same camp.  Most people have a little more heart than I do, which is something that I personally might need to work on.

Regardless, business should be treated as cold and heartless.  If there is no profit involved, why are we conducting business at all.  When I sign up for a job, it is because I have something to offer and I expect something in return.  It is a trade, where the employee gives up skill and labor in exchange for wealth and security.  Wealth and security should be the only currency that your bosses should be allowed to deal in.  Loyalty, is a construct that does not bring bread to the table.  It is a promise, but it is not legally binding, and what use is that?  It would be different if me and the company knew each other on a first name basis, but for the bigger companies, unless you knew enough people who held enough of the company’s shares, (51% is the obvious minimum, but lets be skeptical and call it 80%), you don’t really know the company on a first name basis.  In their eyes, there is only one reason why you should be allowed to keep your job, if you help the company make more money that what they are spending on you, ie. you are a net positive investment.  

This isn’t the company’s fault.  It’s just how business is and should be done.

This isn’t to say that I approve of giant corporations not rewarding loyalty.  The stories from the blog post and the accompanying reddit discussion where I found it both indicate that this is about short-term profit.  Work experience is a difficult skill to cultivate and it’s pretty dumb to expect fresh graduates to know how to wield a wrench on their first day (another sad affair, by the way).  I believe in the value of employees who love their job and know what they are doing.

Actually, I have no idea what I’m talking about.  I’m not the boss yet.

Reading this blog post made me think about my philosophy towards the fraternity.  I’ve always been a hard ass on members who don’t pull their weight.  The strategy for me is clear: we are a group of individuals who got together so that we can help each other be better people, both individually as well as in our careers.  Clearly, if a potential member has nothing to offer us, it sort of defeats the purpose seeing as there is no trade potential.  We shouldn’t work for free, and this isn’t a philanthropy.  It’s especially worse when picking up a new member potentially harms the fraternity.

But, this is where my philosophy differs from the rest of the chapter.  True brothers, love their fellow brothers unconditionally and will do whatever it takes to watch their backs.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  Is unconditional love smart, or is it something I’m lacking?

To be investigated at a later date.

A method

A strategy for making the best use of your time. I have come to the conclusion that a worthwhile life is a productive one, where one uses his life to create for others instead of consume the fruits of others. More on that philosophical discussion in a future post.

Be productive and stop consuming. Two agendas, but both solved by just working because when you work, you don’t have time to consume. The problem is that consuming, ie entertainment, is just too attractive.

We have already tried the method of switching off all devices. It worked quite well and I think the strategy should be explored more. Part of the technique is to deny opportunities for consuming.

Here then is the general strategy to be tested. Switch off all devices. Deny self from consumption. Wait until inspiration or motivation and the work.

Trigger hesitance

Met someone pretty at the bank today. I should have asked her out for dinner. It’s not that I did anything wrong, it was perfect actually. It was just that the thought came into my mind way too slow and I couldn’t really process it in time. Next time you see someone pretty, remember to go start into courtship mode and activate right away. Considering that I’ve had relatively decent success so far, I’m confident that I have what it takes and it really will work. Just got to be a little more confident on the trigger next time.