Nov 30, 2008
I'm a kind of person who cannot just do a "good-enough" job - especially when someone is paying me. And I since I want to be learning something new all the time, I tend to seek challenges by proposing something new or volunteering to fix something. So if I start an official paid job, I won't be able to help myself but to give 120% even if the job doesn't give all the fulfillment that I need. Well, it would be just fine if I can find a job that matches my life mission to give me all the fulfillment. But I'm starting to think that I may not be able to find a job that matches exactly what I want to do. I may end up wanting to do additional things on the side to really fulfill my life mission. But knowing myself, I won't have time to do anything on the side once I'm committed to do a full-time job elsewhere.
I started to think about this when I saw a book called: Should I Do What I Love? (or do what I do - so I can do what I love on the side). And I thought, "Yeah, like I'm capable doing what I want on the side". The book itself was more for younger audience, so I skipped through most of the pages. But then I came across an interview with Todd Woloson, the CEO of IZZE Beverage Company, and read the following paragraph:
...the biggest lesson that I've learned personally is that you have to have unwavering optimism, an absolute belief beyond reason that this is worth pursuing. What else are you going to do? Try to be safe? It never occurred to me not to do it...
Yeah, right? What am I going to do? Pretend that I never really wanted to promote eco lifestyle?
The only problem is that I'm not 100% sure how I'd earn my living by doing this. And anyway, it'll take time to build it. So I thought about how I could support myself without committing to become a full-time employee - doing freelance works.
So that's what I'm adding to my market option list - doing freelance work in the area that I'm already skilled.
Like I said, the possibilities are endless...
Nov 29, 2008
I went there in 2006. I was impressed, encouraged, moved, and inspired. This was the event that changed my perspective about being eco-friendly from "I want to be eco-friendly" to "I want to promote being eco-friendly". When I came back to the States, I searched to see if there was anything like this in the States, but I couldn't find anything close to this size and scope. Not knowing quick-and-easy way to get involved and do something, and to more extent being consumed by my day-time job, I didn't take any action.
But this was something that I always had on back of my mind. So this year I had decided that I was going back and see the Exhibition again. To be able to attend the event and stay for Christmas and New Year's, I even arranged to work from Japan. Not that it matters now - but I'm so glad that I went extra step to make sure that I could attend this event then. It almost seems that I meant to have this opportunity to give more attention to my life mission.
Things happen for reasons. I've said this once earlier, but I really feel that being laid off happened for reasons and it's giving me an opportunity.
I can't wait to go to the Eco Products 2008. I'll be sure to report on it.
Nov 28, 2008
- Work for a non-profit organization that advocate environment/economic sustainability - I'm finding that the organizations that's specializing the area that I want to be involved in tend to be smaller and they are often not hiring paid full-time employees. Larger organizations do have positions available here and there, but their scope tend to be broader, like environment protection, and they are mostly located in Washington, D.C. I was hoping to be able to move to west coast (and smaller city), so that's kind of disappointing.
- Work for a socially responsible company with own sustainability initiative - I'm finding this to be even more difficult. First of all, besides the major ones that anyone can identify as "socially responsible", like Ben & Jerry or Body Shop, it's hard to identify companies to further investigate. Even if I identify them, their initiatives may not be what I want to focus on.
So it's hasn't been very encouraging. But researching these options got me ideas for other options, too, and my market option list is now looking like this:
- Work for a media/publishing company specializing promoting green lifestyle or products
- Work for a company specializing in manufacturing or retaining eco products or services
- Work for a non-profit
- Go solo
So far, my impression is that I might have a much better chance finding an organization that specialize in what I want to do with for-profit companies than non-profit. So we'll see.
Nov 26, 2008
Anyway, so I've read several blog-related books, and Clear Blogging is the best reference book that I've encountered so far. If anyone thinking about starting own blog or even if you already have one, I recommend that you read this book.
Besides learning techniques and tips for running a blog, it also helped me by it making me realize how much of my prior experience in doing web analytics and marketing analytics can be applied for blogging. Blogging to me was more or less a journal to sort out my thinking, and although I knew how others used it for much larger purpose, I never really gave much more thoughts. This was one of the reasons why I set up a separate blog for my life mission.
So I guess you can say that by trying to learn from others who have already done what you are about to do, it can not only help you be more efficient and effective, but it also expands your thinking and widen your vision as to what you thought you were about to do.
Nov 25, 2008
Umeda has been studying about open source collaboration and his insights about successful open source collaboration are:
- Individuals starting to program something do it because they just want to make things easier for them or fix/create something
- The starter communicates the vision and keeps his/her progress open to the world
- When problems or challenges surface, others become compelled to help - not because they want to help him per se, but because it makes them feel that they can solve the problem
- The community will stay involved as long as these challenges are being generated by this initiative
He points out the interesting phenomena that the neigher starter nor his community are thinking about doing something for others - they do what they do because it's interesting and it seems challenging enough for them for solve. And Iwata, who is the CEO of Nintendo, describes how similar the environment was when they developed Wii. They further discuss how this may be a form of new leadership in this era.
I was fascinated. If you have an issue you want to tackle, you could potentially get a very large crowd involved via the Internet to solve it. And even if that was just for yourself, it could benefit many others in the end. You have to have a clear direction and vision as to what you want to accomplish and perhaps present it in a way that interests others, but people don't always need to be compensated or be wanting to help you - there are people who solve the problem because there's a problem (Umeda says it's like solving crossword puzzle on the newspaper - people do it for fun).
Maybe this is how I need to work on my life mission.
Nov 24, 2008
The first a-ha has to do with how the Internet is making possibilities endless by eliminating a lot of physical barriers, except for our time.
Distance and space are the physical barriers that the Internet has eliminated (or perhaps I should say made them irrelevant): We can connect with someone on another continent, or we can store and share massive amount of information real time without being in the same place.
This made our possibilities endless: Internet allowed us to become aware of all the choices that we didn't know existed. It made aware us how the Internet could possibly be leveraged to accomplish something large or complicated that we didn't think we could do before. It made us aware of issues and challenges that we didn't know we could help resolving.
But what it hasn't changed is our personal limitations. While we may be able to do things quicker with the Internet, the fact we only have 24 hours a day or we need to sleep and eat hasn't changed. Consequently, how much one can physically do hasn't changed.
So my a-ha here was how I needed to be conscious about this gap between possibilities and what I can actually do. And the discussion also went into how focusing something specific and going deeper could often in turn generate additional values that you didn't foresee.
Nov 23, 2008
It would be ideal if I can get a job at an organization, whether a non-profit or a socially responsible for-profit company, where I can work for a cause that has to do with promoting and advancing ecofriendly lifestyle. I've outlined that in my market option, and I'm still investigating that.
But meanwhile, I'm also reading up more general stuff related ecofriendly lifestyle and sustainability to get a better feel as to what's happening and who's doing what. And I decided to have another blog dedicated to that topic. Writing helps me sort out my thoughts, and I'm hoping, in addition to share my learning and thoughts, to solidify what I really want to do to help promote the ecofriendly lifestyle.
The eco blog is called Ecolistic Life (http://ecolisticlife.blogspot.com). I name it eco + holistic +life because I've always thought that we all needed to approach ecofriendly lifestyle in holistic ways - not just by saying "you should recycle your water bottle" or "you shouldn't let the water running while you blush your teeth", but by saying "how can we reduce the resources that we use?" or "how can we ensure that we can reuse/recycle things?". I think people need fundamental understanding as to what kinds of actions are needed and why, not just getting a bits and pieces of what tactics can be used.
Anyway, so that's what I worked on today. We'll see how it'll work out.
Nov 22, 2008
There are so many organizations out there, but sorting them out is a difficult and time-consuming task.
- While there are some clearing house-type websites that list non-profit organizations, it's usually self-service listing (i.e. organizations list themselves, rather than a web host or a third party creating a list) which means that searching and sorting such lists are often limited by simple categories like location and alphabetical order. Some offers sorting by areas of interest, but the categories tend to be broad that you end up manually going through the list. I was limiting my search to the west coast location and environment protection/conservation/eco life categories, but still getting so many results.
- Also, these lists tend not be consistent - for example, some large organizations list all local locations (therefore shows up everywhere), while others only list their headquarters office.
- Description of focused areas are usually in text field, therefore, you'd need to go through and read each one of them. Often, it's not enough that you have to go to their website to do.
It seems the choice is either go with a very large organization or a grass-root one -no middle ground. It seems the sector is highly fragmented.
- Organizations seem to be broken down into two major categories: Very large, established national organizations with very broad missions, like fight the global warming; and small/local organizations with very specific tactical missions, like improve food distribution in the XXX county. Very large ones may have the same type of divisions of labor as a large for-profit companies - which concerns me that I won't be able to see the big picture or get really involved in initiatives. Grass-roots ones, on the other hand, may be limiting as to what initiatives can be done.
- It also makes me wonder whether there's any over-arching network or organization where smaller organizations can share the best practices and learning.
Not many are hiring paid employees.
- A half of those organizations that I reviewed so far had no opening posted on their website. And most of the other half that did have a job posted were for volunteering or internship positions. Not that I wouldn't want to volunteer at those organizations, but I'd need a paying job.
Maybe I need to look at other geographical areas...
Nov 21, 2008
So I reference reflexology maps often. It's pretty interesting and I'd recommend it. I like Complete Reflexology for Life because it includes maps of soles, tops, inside and outside of foots, as well as palms and tops of hands. I've looked at many reflexology books, but they usually only show soles and palms.
Learning pressure points and using them has been useful to me because:
- It relieves pain or help speed up the healing process, reducing the need for medication or doctor
- It helps to identify what's really wrong - for example, when your back hurts, you can tell if it's your back or you may have a problem with your kidney
- It helps to identify areas needing some attention even when you don't feel any symptoms
- It also prompts me to learn more about certain organ or how body works
Complete Reflexology for Life doesn't really tell you what each organ does or how endocrine system works, or how respiratory system works, etc. For that, I'd recommend Complete Idiot's Guide to Reflexology.
You should try it out.
Nov 20, 2008
I've decided that I'd like to work for a cause rather than just a company. I'm interested in the areas of sustainability environment and economy, and I'd like to be able to promote the awareness and advance public education. To do that, I see a couple of options:
- Work in a non-profit organization in the environment/wildlife category, preferably providing some services in sustainability advancement
- Work in a non-profit organization in the community service category that has initiatives related to community environment and/or economy sustainability
- Work in a socially responsible for-profit company that has dedicated resources for own sustainability initiatives
- Go solo and start my own initiatives
I've done some research about non-profits enough to know there are some disadvantages and challenges in moving into the non-profit sector, such as lower pay, bureaucratic processes, limited resources to do all, etc. But I also see some advantages. Besides being able to work for a cause, I think it may put me in a work environment where I can better see the whole picture - how my effort and contribution fit in a larger scheme of things - and have a better control over each initiative that I work on. And the fact that marketing-related jobs in non-profits tend to be more generic ones that combine multiple functions (as oppose to having a position just for market research or marketing analysis) may allow me to be more creative and go beyond boundaries.
And as for going solo - This is something that I immediately thought about doing. I've had visions and opinions as to how sustainability needs to be packaged and promoted for quite some time, and I always want to see if I can realize them. So this is an option that I cannot eliminate. But that being said, I've come to realize, at least for now, that I need more experience and knowledge in this environment/economic sustainability to do it right. And I also came to a conclusion that I should look into possibilities to leverage the existing infrastructures and networks that non-profits already possess. I mean, I might be able to realize my vision much easier and much at grander scale if I used existing non-profits as my vehicle, right? If that might be the case, why try to do it alone?
So this is my direction now. I can always go and look for a marketing/web analyst position in a regular corporations if none of my market options works.
By the way, Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector was the book that helped me pull out of informational sea and organize my thoughts. It gives a good overview of the non-profit sector, how transitioning from for-profit to non-profit works, and what to consider.
Nov 19, 2008
And ironically, not feeling that urge to go sweat all the frustrations out has kept me from actually doing any workout. I'd think about how good it'd make me feel and how well I'd sleep at night if I exercise, but then I'd think: "What exercise would I do?" or "Do I want to quit doing what I'm doing now to go exercise?", and end up not exercising. Ugh.
This afternoon, I'm taking a break. I'm not going to do any thinking or reading or researching: instead, I'm going to drive down to the park and take a long walk. ...Wait a minute, as I write this, it just hit me: maybe scheduling is what I need to do to ensure that I get my daily exercise! I mean, if waiting for that urge to exercise doesn't work, then what I need is to change what prompts me to exercise.
I knew writing a blog was going to help me organize my thoughts and get more "aha"s out of my life.
Nov 18, 2008
For me, it's not that straight forward. I did like what I was doing (market research, marketing analytics, web analytics, etc.) and I didn't dislike the the inustry (utility), but I cannot say that it was the best possible combination for my interests and skills. While I wouldn't automatically eliminate this from my market options, I need to look at other possibilities that might incorporate other interests and skills. Afterall, this is my rethinking opportunity.
But so far, I'm still deep in the woods:
- I know I want to see if there are any viable options that can incorporate my life-long mission of supporting eco-friendly lifestyle. But what does that mean, exactly? I'm still trying to figure out just what kind of jobs that I could do to support eco-friendly lifesyle. And where do I look for such jobs?
- I also want to give some thoughts to other interests that I have. But I found out that I get lost quite easily in this exercise - my interests seem to be so scattered around and numerous that possible market options start to multiply like crazy (and some of them being completely rediculous..)
- Finally, I would like to think about how I can best incorporate the findings from the Birkman assessment, like how I work best. But does that mean I should discount big corporations? Maybe, maybe not. Or maybe I need to be working for myself.
Well, I guess getting stucked is a part of the process.
Nov 17, 2008
The book lists foods alphabetically and describes benefits and drawbacks for each item. It also explains how elements within food, like vitamins and minerals, impact the body. Plus it lists common health issues and corresponding beneficial foods.
I thought I had some basic understanding of foods and nutrition, but there were a lot more to learn. And you know what? There are so many simple things that you can do to prevent certain health conditions or promote good health.
We all talk about increasing cost of health insurance or how we need a better health care system, and we tend to go for a quick fix (taking medication). But if more people cared about what they were eating, I bet we have a less need for doctors or prescriptions. My doctor wanted to prescribe a medication when he saw my triglyceride level without even discussing what kind of lifestyle that I was having or what I was eating. Maybe I end up needing the prescription, but shouldn't changing lifestyle be the first thing to discuss when it's not an emergency situation?? I mean, if I just took the quick fix and didn't do anything to prevent it, the condition could (and probably would) come back again.
I'm going to do my best to lower my triglyceride by changing my lifestyle.
Nov 16, 2008
But now that I have time to think about this, I've been doing a lot of reading around this topic. Right now, it's all random - I'm reading anything and everything that catches my attention, with no logical order whatsoever - mostly because I still don't have any clue how I want to approach this or what possible direction that I can take. Honestly, I couldn't have done this if I had a day-time job (well, maybe I could, but it'd take very long time...). Reading anything and everything in a particular area is a quite interesting exercise. Because I have no presumption, I'm just picking up things that I didn't even think about.
Hopefully, my thoughts will be a bit more organized sometime soon, and I'll have some kind of visions or directions about having my life time mission. I'll keep you updated.
P.S. If you cared to support the organizations that help protect environment/wildlife, here are some links:
World Wildlife Fund
Environmental Defense Fund
The Nature Conservancy
National Wildlife Federation
Nov 15, 2008
I guess there are numbers of behavioral assessment tools out there, but the one this program had me take was called The Birkman Method. The results basically show you the following:
- Areas of interest - what types of activities that you like to do
- Usual behavior - what work style that you normal employ
- Work environment needs - what you need from people in your work environment to be most effective
- Stress behavior - how you behave under stress
- Job families - List of job categories along with scores indicating how closely it matches with your interest and strength
It was very interesting and useful. If you ever get a chance to take this type of tests, whether you are considering new career or not, I'd highly recommend it. These are what it did for me:
Areas of interest - I knew what they were, but the report summarized it nicely that I now know how to better express them to others
Usual behavior and Stress behavior - Boy, was this telling! My stress behavior characteristics were almost identical to how I was behaving at work for the past several years. So I WAS really under stress. To me this was strengly reassuring.
Job families - Out of 10 job family categories that they had, the job category that I was previously in was ranked #6 based on how closely it matched with my interest and strength. 6 out of 10! So I had been doing something that I wasn't best suited to do. This makes me feel that I'm doing the right thing to take my time to rethink my life. And what's encouraging about this is that I did fairly well in the field that I had been in despite the fact that it wasn't the most suited job for me. So how much better would I be able to do if I chose to do something that I can REALLY leverage my interest and strength???
I'm not saying that there was no meaning or learning from my previous jobs - they were all good and I learned tremenously. I don't think I could have been where I am today without going through those experiences. But understanding yourself can take you to the next level, I think.
Initially, I was completely overwhelmed with all the possibilities that I was now free to pursue. It included anything and everything, with no order whatsoever. But I'm now slowly starting to them in some kind of order. This is a progress, no?
Nov 14, 2008
You might think a month is a long time just to be thinking about life, but I've been actually keeping myself busy by researching different opportunities and also by physically organizing my life, like putting up my second property for rent (It had been sitting empty for a very long time..I just didn't have the time or energy to deal with it.) and cleaning around the house, etc.
I've also started to take an advantage of the outplacement service that was offered to me from my previous employer. Honestly, I can't really think about getting back to the corporate world right now (maybe because this was the second time I got laid off..), but after learning that their program started with personal assessment like how you most effectively work, what environment best suits your personality, etc., I decided I should give it a try. I think this is going to help me prioritize what I want to do. I'll report more on this as I go through the program.
Nov 13, 2008
It wasn't like I had never thought about my life before this book: I used to think about it whenever I dealt with my health and wondered how long more I could go on. But it always gave me rather depressing perspective. I mean, if I get sick or whatever so easily when I'm trying to eat right and exercise, what's the point? It made me focus on the immediate future - like, "I can't lose my health insurance", or "I can't plan that far out".
So "If you were to live to 100 (and the chances are that you might - the average life expectancy is getting longer and longer), what do you want to change now?" was an interesting question for me. Here are four main thoughts that came to my mind:
- Network of friends and family - I was so consumed with my work that I often neglected my friends and family(and mind you, it's not like I have a big circle of friends or large extended family. I'm very picky when it comes to friends). But if I were to live to 100, I want to make sure that I have a solid network of people that includes more variety of age groups and interests.
- Health - I also would want to make sure that I'm going to be a healthy 100 year old, physically and mentally. I don't want to be hanging around with my body and mind not functioning right. Do you?
- Life-long passion/mission - I want to have life-long missions, the purpose and meaning of life, that I can work towards to, instead of only focusing things right in front of me at a given moment.
- Finance - Well, I hate to think about it, but no, I don't want to live to 100 with no means to support myself.
I'm going to have to think about how I'll be earning my living, but having this type of long term vision in determining what you'll do next is completely different from thinking only about career advancement. In fact, right now, it seems to me that thinking only about the career advancement completely conflicts with thinking about my life.
Anyway, the book further explains what areas to change, how to change, etc. It points out that change is easy if you recognize that it's a process (not perfection that happens instantly), and it's much easier and less consuming than resisting change.
I think that's true. It's just difficult to remember that all the time. I need to start reminding myself of that.
Nov 12, 2008
I did enjoy the role and responsibility that I had at my job. I learned a lot and it was interesting. But it wasn't giving me a sense of purpose or mission - No, that's not it, I did have a sense of purpose and mission based on my own vision as to what I could contribute and how I could grow the functional area that I was responsible of. It was more of not having a fair chance of being successful in doing so that burned me out. I guess there was a gap between my vision and the company's vision concerning my functional area. Meanwhile, I was having a lot of issues with my health. My body was crying out for help. I knew I needed to change something. But what? And how? I had no time or energy to think of anything or look for another job - a day, a week, or even a month just flew by so fast I couldn't keep up with it. And I was afraid of losing my health insurance by then to just get up and leave.
Then my boss left the company. She knew what her real priorities were, and she wasn't afraid to let go of the job and security. She's now planning to take her three adopted children back to China to do volunteer work at the orphanage where those children are from. And was she happy with her life now!
I was inspired. I started to think that maybe it wouldn't be that bad just to get up and leave, and then worry about next job once I have time and energy to do so. But I still couldn't make up my mind.
That was when I heard the rumor about lay off. And my first thought was "That might actually be perfect. I'm never going to be able to leave myself. "
And to make a long story short, that's exactly what had happened. I was overwhelmed and shocked for a couple of days, but once I accepted, I felt happy and free. I'm free to rethink my life and start over.
So this is how tying out for life started. Life is looking interesting again to me, and I'm so excited (and still somewhat overwhelmed for all kinds of possibilities). We'll see what comes...