"It doesn't matter if you believe in fate if fate believes in you" - Unknown.
I was talking to a former co-worker this week who is feeling stuck in their current situation, and I got to thinking after we chatted about how wacky life can be. I mean, we all have plans and goals. No one starts out thinking, "I am going to fail" or "I really want to be unhappy," but somehow, we all end up there at some point. Maybe it’s in a job you don't like, a relationship that doesn't complete you, or you're just stuck on the hedonic treadmill.
It's all part of the road of life - no matter how well you plan, you're often dealt unexpected cards: you get laid off, you hit money problems, you have a severe medical condition develop out of nowhere, etc.
The question is: what are you going to do about it?
"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us" - Joseph Campbell
One of the foundational books that inspired me early on is "What Should I Do With My Life?". In Po Bronson’s book, he asked that question by interviewing almost 1000 people from corporate execs to lawyers, to workers in fast food chains.
His research revealed:
Most attempt to answer it with one eye open, one eye closed. We let our fears govern our decisions; rather than challenging the validity of those fears, we accept the boundaries set by those fears and end up confining our search to a narrow range of possibilities, like the guy looking for his car keys under the streetlight because he's afraid of the dark.
I was inspired by people who had overcome these fears to look beyond the obvious choices. It wasn't easy for them, but in a way, that hard journey made the result even sweeter. It wasn't just a matter of finding the right puzzle piece to match their skills.
It's a great read; I re-visit it almost every year and highly recommend adding it to your reading list.
I often get asked what to do when feeling trapped, so here's some unsolicited advice that I try to ask myself that may be useful if you find yourself feeling that way.
- Accept that the past is fixed and the future isn't set in stone.
- Ask yourself: If you had to stop doing 10% of what you're doing, what would you abandon
- Try to visualize what you want your life to be, where you want to live, and what you want to spend your day doing in 5 years. Make slow micro-adjustments to get yourself there. This helps define a path to “Life 2.0”.
But most importantly, remember shit happens. You can't control that. You can only control how you respond to it.
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I've always been fascinated by concepts like game theory and the metagame. No, not the metaverse - the metagame. Wikipedia also refers to it as the 'hypergame.'
The metagame 'is an approach to a game that transcends or operates outside of the prescribed rules of the game, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game.'
Or put: there is a 'higher-level game' - the game about the game.
When I saw the article To Get Good, Go After The Metagame" which applies the using the metagame to 'the game of life,' it intrigued me.
Like simpler games, real-world metas come in roughly two flavors: ones that are defined by external changes to the rules of a game and ones that are shaped by a dynamic equilibrium of competition within a stable system of play. Unlike games, however, real-world domains have no set rules: they are vastly more complicated and exciting because the rules change only when someone notices they have changed.
Come to find out, many people out there find "viewing life as a game is a fantastic mental map on how to live your best life."
Great stuff - I need to think more about this forward-thinking. Viewing life as a game not only makes life a lot more fun, but it gives you tremendous insight into the human condition.
Thought of the week
I'm unsure what path I followed that allowed me to stumble upon this brilliant video on "a metaphor that the journey is never complete."
And - yes, even better - you can now order the "incomplete white puzzle."
This weeks "Deep Links"
Here are a few of the articles and videos that resonated with me over the last week:
- "This leadership style is powerful and effective" dives into 'four distinct characteristics that allow these leaders to make a lasting impact on the lives of others.' I enjoyed the perspective of shifting from an "if/then" mindset to one of "because/therefore" and the power of transcendence - More
- A simple one when struggling with pushback (or perhaps, pure anger) when working on important things. In "If you're not pissing someone off, you probably aren't doing anything important," and that 'the only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important at all' - More
- As one of those folks who dove too far and too deep into workflow and task optimization, I found "How to organize your day on a napkin" remarkably refreshing. There's a simple joy to simplification of your day (I moved off of OmniFocus to Things 3 years ago) - you may enjoy this simple test of your tasks and see if they fall into 'low value' - More
- When you are in charge of running a team, providing actionable feedback is one of the most important responsibilities. I'm sure many have been in this situation, though - "What to do when your feedback doesn't land." Some good ideas in this one on how to handle that situation. - More
- "What Is More Important?" is a quick one but also a great reminder of the choices we make and decide what's truly urgent - More
- "Learning from Dead People" is a fun one from James Victore; he posits that 'reading is the path to freedom, power and knowledge' and that 'reading is a comfort as it lets me know that others suffer and struggle, that others believe in my own romantic notions that love and art and creativity will save us.' As always, great stuff in here to think about - More
- This read is an interesting view of being "Against Work-Life Balance." Instead, the author pushes for 'more imbalance' and why 'work-life harmony' or 'life' are better terms. - More
- "The Value of Meetings Explained with 4 Illustrations" is a simple yet effective visual of the investment cost and value of different forms of meetings - More
- I'll never forget waiting in line as a seven-year-old to see Star Wars, and I probably don't understand how much that film has shaped things in my life. However, I'm not going to shell out the money for the Galactic Starcruiser, an immersive, 2-night adventure that hasn't been as successful as they probably hoped. Read more in "LARPing Goes to Disney World" - More
- Wow, I loved this read - "The Riddle of the Well-Paying, Pointless Job." Almost daily, I get notes from friends and former colleagues who are not only dissatisfied with their job but regret falling down the 'money-drives-motivation' path. Powerful words to chew on in here. - More
If you haven't been keeping tabs on the simply crazy images that the DALL·E 2 OpenAI has been generating, you need to read up some more about this 'AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language.'
And of course, in typical fashion, the internet has continued to amuse with this thread of AI-generated images when the natural language processor is fired up with the phrase "A still of Kermit The Frog in ... (insert movie)."
Be well. ✌🏻