I’ve heard that, in the minutes before a natural disaster, farm animals often exhibit a general and uneasy restlessness – long before any detectable indicator appears on the horizon, they mill about and complain noisily, not exactly able to identify the impetus for their discontent – but fearing the impending storm nonetheless. Continue reading
Careers and relationships are curiously similar, I think, and as a pair are quite unique in how we approach them. We dive headfirst into these commitments with only partial information – information which, more often than not, turns out to be inaccurate.
I don’t mean to imply that job openings and potential romantic partners are intentionally misrepresented (though, I’ll admit, they sometimes are). I mean to say that they are simply two aspects of life that must be understood experientially – initial descriptions and appearances suffice only to lure you in, and you’ll only truly understand them by experiencing them over the course of time. Continue reading
The brain is a wondrous instrument – it builds detailed mental models of how our world functions, storing a dizzying array of information based on historical observations that we’ve made. The purpose of these models, or schemas, is to provide us with a framework for decision making prior to committing to a given course of action.
It allows us to play out a scenario within the comfort of our own minds – it’s a sort of forecasting system, a Dopplar radar for social functions, that is designed to add a degree of predictability to our world. When you’re invited to a party, you quickly analyze the person who invited you, the other known guests, the venue, and any other information to make a quick run-through of the night.
Will it be fun? Will it be my scene? What time will I get home?
Your mind runs a explores simulations and then you make a judgement call whether or not to attend – and, if you do, what you should expect. The problem is, it often ends up being very wrong.
Flick, flick. Nothing.
The power was out in my apartment. In the middle of June. Awesome.
I walked out the door and down the hall, finally coming across a neighbor on the floor below me.
“Hey man, is your power out too?” I asked.
The neighbor shook his head no and that’s when my mind began to put the pieces together. The piled up mail on the counter. The voicemails on my phone that I hadn’t checked in days. I walked back into the apartment, took a deep breath, and fanned out the mail like a deck of cards. I saw it immediately and my heart plummeted.
It was the shut-off notice from the power company. Continue reading
My forearms are burning. I open and close my hands a few times, observing the frustrating sensation of having them respond at about half the speed that I’m requesting of them. Over my left shoulder is a spectacular view of Pike’s Peak, far below me a group of climbers – some onlookers, some stealing a moment of shelter in the shade – but the view that’s really capturing my attention is the rock formation six inches in front of my face.
My right hand – and by hand, I mean some portion of a few of my fingers – is gripping onto a rock just barely within my reach. My feet are resting on a natural shelf cut into the mountain, the route above me jutting out towards my torso, pushing me into a backwards-leaning posture that feels, well, about as unnatural as leaning backwards off the edge of a cliff.
It’s my first time sport climbing.
I’m a great worker. I haven’t always been that way, but a combination of better-defined goals and a genuine love for my job has made it relatively easy for me to sit down and crank out a solid six hours of productive work per day. But six weeks ago, I examined my day-to-day life and I realized that this was the only constant that I could point out – the only action that was reliably repeated day in and day out.
I believe that most highly successful people have routines. Moreover, I think that routines are a way of defining yourself – of prioritizing your life, of improving certain areas, and of maintaining others. A routine consists of a series of habits, and habits are the building blocks of a personality. Continue reading
The remarkable thing about life is that you are the master of your mind, the undisputed main character in an epic journey through this world. Command your mind or your body and it will obey. You can use this power to shape your future as you see fit; your legs will walk to the gym even if you’re lethargic, your vocal chords will produce sound even if you’re nervous to speak up.
But, for all of the incredible features that come standard on the Human Body, autopilot is not one of them. In the absence of instructions, your mind and body will remain in the default state of Doing Nothing. It will not make friends for you if you don’t socialize, it will not find you a new job if you don’t seek out opportunities. Continue reading
Despite a decent night’s sleep and an IV bag of iced coffee, I found myself feeling awful today as I sat down to try to get some work done. My mind was foggy and I simply had no energy to get myself going.
For the past day or so, I’d been craving particularly bad food and at the moment, a cheesesteak, sour cream and onion chips, and a gallon of Arizona iced tea was sounding pretty good. Against my better judgement, I left the office in search of some food.
As I stomped through the streets of downtown Chicago in search of satiation (I know…I’m supposed to be in Buenos Aires, but more on that later), some road construction forced me to take a detour past the river. I walked out from the shadow of the buildings and the sun hit me – and the feeling was almost indescribable. As my body began to drink up the rays, it hit me that I had barely seen the sunlight in nearly three weeks. Continue reading
I see a constant stream of Facebook status updates about people hating work and desperately craving the short vacation that the weekend brings. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about trust and how it affects your personal and professional lives – two things that often beg escaping.
A few months ago, I decided to outsource some administrative tasks for my business – tasks that I’ve been doing for years. It was an enormous relief at first – the cost was low and the contractor was highly rated and highly recommended. But over the past few months, I’ve noticed a series of mistakes that have eroded my confidence in the quality of the work.
I realized today that I have a near-constant feeling of anxiety nagging at me. See, your brain is enormously active and attentive even when you’re on autopilot – despite the fact that I may be deeply engaged in another important activity, like the latest episode of Mad Men, my subconscious is vigilantly aware of the fact that I’ve entrusted an important task to an unqualified individual. Continue reading
If you find yourself staring at a wall or otherwise fending off boredom, it helps to have a list of activities to reference. I’ve given you a head start below with 50 random activities and challenges to expand your mind, meet new people, and possibly alienate your friends.
Some are easy, like go karaoking (#25). Others are a bit harder and more time intensive, like buying and operating a hot dog cart (#18). All are fun.
Report back on your progress (with photos, please).
My List of 50 Potential Things To Do If I’m Bored