A personal journey of lifelong learning, sharing resources, creating things, and trying to be better.

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The Duality of Purpose and Work

Person Making Clay PotSource

How to effectively go about doing what’s truly important.

Understanding the why of the work is the most important thing that’s needed when starting out. It’s so easy to become discouraged when you’re in the the thick of the weeds, when you need to do difficult or tedious. Motivation and discipline to do such work comes from having a bigger picture — a purpose.

This purpose comes from a place of realistic optimism and idealism. It’s a messy and bold goal. A tangible, yet implausible objective without conventional measure or perspective. There’s a lot wrong with the world — and a lot of people that will complain about it — but how can you improve it? What troubles are you willing to tackle head-on for the good of humanity?

It’s a lot to ask, to a point where most people don’t even push themselves to even attempt it. And those that do attempt to achieve something grand usually stop after failing only once or twice.

The reason so few people succeed in capturing the essence of a heartfelt purpose is a lack of faith. Having the faith in yourself that you’re truly capable of accomplishing that goal, no matter the obstacles, or opinions, or failures that you will inevitably face. It takes a fair amount of foolishness to ever succeed in accomplishing audacious.

Don’t back out of a goal as soon as it looks like it’s going to fail — have more trust than doubt. Many people discuss the learning opportunities that reside in failure, but the truth of the matter is that gritting your teeth and persevering and eventually finding success is a far more enriching learning experience.

It is important to understand the context of where you currently stand in history. Research your contemporaries that have similar goals — especially if they’re currently doing far better than you are. Research the great thinkers and creators of the past, as well. Having this contextual model will not lead you to achievement, but will guide you in the right direction, like a compass.

At the same time, you must not be rigid with your objectives, either. Do not let pride get in your way — redirect your efforts if you need too. Being agile is far more intelligent than abandoning your efforts altogether and starting from square one.

Simply understanding what you want to accomplish will not allow you to actually get it done. The what of work is doing the technical and nitty-gritty, which is the contrary of the initial motivating and lofty goals.

They both outstandingly require one another. Being only an idealist thinker won’t get anything done. While being only a busy-bee worker won’t get anything meaningful done.

It doesn’t matter if you are clueless when you’re first beginning — that’s normal. Mastery of any knowledge or skill requires only deliberate practice and enough time. Be humble enough to absorb the knowledge of everybody around you. Learn to constantly ask critical questions. Be resourceful with the amount of information you can find both locally and online.

Figure out priorities, examine what work needs to be done as opposed to what’s just easy and non-essential filler. The next part is vital: look at your schedule and block out large chunks of time (four to seven hours) where you just work on what’s most important.

You cannot allow yourself to be interrupted by others, or distract yourself with the plethora of attention-grabbing media that’s currently at our disposal. This can be extremely difficult at first, but don’t be afraid to communicate with others that you’re busy with something and that you’ll talk to them later.

Similarly, push yourself to sticking to one tab or application open at a time. Stop yourself from constantly jump from one inquiry to another. Be mindful of how you’re using technology — take a break every once in awhile.

A lot of people say they simply don’t have the time in their schedules to devote themselves so deeply to something. But the truth of the matter is that even if you have other responsibilities, you can fit this work into your calendar by understanding and eliminating the time you’re currently wasting — because we all waste time.

I believe we’re all given the opportunity to achieve goodness in the world that’s beyond ourselves — whether it’s in small ways or big ways. We’re all born being good at something — technical or creative — and with an intense curiosity of the world we live in.

It is far too easy to veer off the path of pioneering, to instead be comfortable with letting life pass us by. I believe that we can make the conscious decision to change that — at any point in our lives — and instead aspire to greatness. All it takes is a little courage, and a lot of reckless abandon.



— And Getting There

Often, I find myself wondering about the secret to happiness. Plato asserted that only those that live morally virtuous lives were ones that were happy. Aristotle wrote that happiness — human progression — was the only thing that could be valued in isolation. Aquinas believed that God, in His essence, was happiness. Sonja Lyubomirsky found in her studies that, while 40% of our happiness was genetic and 10% was circumstantial, 40% was entirely in our own self-control.

I also think questioning the inverse is just as important: Why are so many people unhappy? There is an abundance of resources in civilization right now that has never been seen before in human history — and yet even with that, pessimism seems easier than optimism.

It’s too easy to get wound up in what-ifs, the mind wandering to scenarios where one could possibly be happier. As though there is an emptiness in the heart or mind that — if filled — could become elated with joy. Material possessions, job promotions, the approval of others, ad nauseum. These things can be chased, and then obtained, but what then?

When happiness is seen as something external — something outside of ourselves that we need to obtain by some sort of means — it remains temporary. The environment you’re surrounded in suddenly becomes the decider of your emotions. It can take great strength — particularly in the most difficult and terrible of situation — to no longer allow what occurs around you to dictate your feelings, but it is not an impossible task.

One needs to distance themselves from the complicated and distracting life that seems to engulf the mind entirely. To reflect on who we are, our spirit and ability.

To reflect on what is good, and what can be made better. To reflect on how there’s often more worry and doubt than needed, that outlooks don’t turn out as badly in reality as they do in our head (also known as impact bias). To reflect and choose to focus on the good, in ourselves and in the world we live in.

We live, we choose to live. We move on through pain and suffering. Our hardships only making us more durable and wise.

Have a happier new year.

Being a Better Lifehacker

Helping Hands // Source

While I definitely think it’s healthy for people to have dialogues and get into disagreements — sometimes passionately — I also think those who constantly and solely bicker about the current state of affairs aren’t actually providing anything meaningful themselves.

View at Medium.com

However, this article tells that the amount of criticism of the genre of lifehacking — or self-improvement, or however else you’d like to label it — has reached over a tipping point.

Instead of nitpicking the current most popular writers on Medium, I thought it would be a better idea to share my ideas on what I think can improve.

I’d like to note that I’m a beginner myself and that I definitely don’t think I’m a better writer than most people in this community. I might even be hypocritical in some parts of this post. This is honestly just my attempt to contribute positively to an ongoing discussion.

First off, if you’re in the business of writing for the sake of gaining notoriety, be it for yourself or a brand, or just plain money — then no amount of writing advice can help you.

  1. Writing has never been known to be a get-rich-quick scheme without being completely unethical or incredibly lucky. Even then, it’s tremendously hard work.
  2. If you want to simply market yourself, angry viral videos are the way to go.

Writer’s Block // Source

Sincere Advice

However, if you’re someone who genuinely wants to help other people — which I think is the entire point of this particular genre, then I do have some advice of my own.

Practice what you preach.

I think this is the most important thing to consider.

Don’t tell people to do things like wake up daily at 5 AM, or exercise every morning as an alternative to caffeine, unless you actually do it yourself.

Not in an experimental sort of way either — wherein you try it for a couple weeks then quit. That demonstrates that it doesn’t actually work long-term and renders it rather useless.

I feel as though there’s almost an ethical obligation for a writer to do this. If not for the fact that there’s almost a sense of fraudulence from abstaining from your own advice, but also how much more quality the work would be if had your own experience to pry from.

Quality is better than quantity.

Splitting up an article into separate sections is a good idea, don’t get me wrong. But just listing things off by number essentially eliminates the ability good storytelling — unless the act is being deconstructed, through satire for example.

The truth of the matter is readers are more likely to gloss over parts if you demonstrate that some of what you write is more important than others.

But try to integrate each point into one another. Mesh a cohesive narrative as opposed to a robotic list of completely isolated points. This is more challenging, but what’s the point of writing if we don’t push ourselves?

Don’t write about something that’s been written about in plenty of other articles — unless you can bring something completely new to the table.

Of course, there’s nothing new under the Sun. But that doesn’t mean you should just find the five most trending articles and rewrite whatever their best ideas were.

What usually happens is a best seller sociology book comes out with a novel concept which is then compressed and flattened by internet article writers that exploit the new information or simply are following the latest trends.

A good example of this is the 3 R’s of Habit written about in Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habit.

Simply put, there’s no reason for you to write about the benefits of cold showers. You’re not wasting your audience’s time, per se, but you’re wasting your own. Of course, if you’re crafty in the psychological game of hooking readers, then yes — you will gain readership from borrowing the most popular ideas. But you aren’t actually expanding your writing or who you are as a person. It does nothing except allow you to stay in a comfort zone.

Try your best to come up with original ideas.

The best way to create quality articles that will make you stand out is to write about things that happen in your own personal life. Be more observant towards your surroundings and how you think. Try to remember the advice you’ve been given yourself by loved ones, telling an original and true narrative is a powerful way of conveying a lesson.

The Results?

By following these tips, you might find it more difficult to gain readership. Instead of relying on what are really just a handful of shallow tricks, you actually have to hone in on your craft.

It will probably take a lot longer to churn out each article, which is always known to be bad for an online writer’s momentum. It will probably frustrate you to see your stats not go up — or even diminish over time.

But in exchange for this, you’ll have a body of personal essays you can sincerely be proud of. You might call me naïve — or even stupid — for holding that as superior, but I honestly think it is.

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