San Francisco, CA: November 14 – November 24, 2013
Phoenix, AZ: November 24, 2013
Tucson, AZ: November 24 – November 28, 2013
New York, NY
Zurich, Switzerland: January 20th – January 30th, 2014
I hope that all of your new years are off to an incredible beginning filled with minor triumphs and major enthusiasm. Mine could not be going better.
Today is the twelfth day of Christmas, also known as The Epiphany. I thought today was a fitting day to write. This also happens to be my 100th update, since I began writing publicly in 2007. [Insert party favor sound here]
This will be an uncharacteristically long email to compensate in part for my reduction in updates over the last year and so that not too many things are left without context. I will split it into two parts. In Part I, for those who care to know what I have been up to, I review the year. In Part II, for those who like philosophy, or want motivational things to ponder, I break down two important recent epiphanies for the new year and ask you to share your own 2014 resolutions with me.
I am deeming 2013 the year of the epiphany. Though, I could also title it the year of the fearless so as to avoid confusion with epiphanic years of the past and future. The last 12 months have been marked by an incredible clarity of thought and a resurgence of identity after a three year battle with death, heartbreak, illness, and law school.
It's like that part in the action movie where there is blood flying and stuff exploding and you stop caring for a second about why the protagonist is there in the first place and focus solely on how she is going to make it through this scene.
And then she does, and you sit back relieved for a second and think, "what a badass." You are also reminded that protagonists do generally tend to be invincible. There was never really any reason to fear that she was going to fail.
That is the feeling that has most characterized 2013--fearlessness.
Once you lose the fear of failure, you become liberated to do exactly what you want to do. So, I moved to New York. Without a job. I actually turned down a job in Jersey City. Why? Because it wasn't what I wanted to do.
I auditioned to model for a hair show, on a whim. And because I wanted to have red hair. My client turned out to be one of the biggest color companies in the world--they booked me for their entire US tour and paid me to travel around the country. So I moved to Chelsea.
I rejected the idea of applying to legal jobs online. I only want to work for someone I like and respect. So, I asked the career center for a list of their top 20 lawyers in New York doing corporate work. I contacted all of them and met with most of them for coffee. I asked them about their day-to-day and about what they love and don't love about their life. After a few months of interviews, I decided that life is too short to spend any of it as a lawyer.*
I did the same thing for finance. I even went so far as to take temporary employment at Goldman Sachs so that I would have first hand access to people in investment banking, sales, trading, equity research, and private wealth management. Finance is, for me, a much better fit than law. And Goldman Sachs is a stellar work environment. But I realized that it just isn't what I want to spend 70+ hours of my week doing.
So I sent my thank you notes and moved on. In the meantime, I met one of the most important people I had come to New York to meet--my business partner. She is a treadmill desk enthusiast and wanted to make that concept available to anyone with a gym membership. We sketched up a design for WorkIt, a desk that would attach easily to most treadmills and fold up into about the size of a thick iPad. In November, I flew out to Tucson to test the MVP (minimum viable product) that my dad had constructed for us out of wood. It was pretty awesome. However, it was at this point that we realized we would need to hire a product specialist with plastics experience to ensure structural integrity and efficient design. Wanting to keep things simple, we tabled (ba-dum-chh!) that idea and revisited our approach.
Actually, we just settled on a new approach yesterday. Not an idea, but a procedural strategy for generating ideas that make sense. Read The 4 Hour Work Week if you haven't already.
My resolution for 2014 is to do. That is it. Just to do. I am convinced that, if I am strategic about it (and I am), that there is more than enough time in a lifetime to do everything I care to accomplish.
*It is worth noting, because I notice a feeling of regret creeping up on people when I explain that I am not practicing law. As if thinking, "wow, all those years, all that debt, just to throw it all away." That, I never planned to practice law for more than the amount of time it would have taken me to pay off the debt (three years.) After that, I had a sophisticated risk-adverse plan for transitioning into finance, working there for 10 years or until I had saved $2 million. I would invest that money at a conservative interest rate and live of that interest while I focused on starting my own company.
So the decision not to practice law has saved me three years, and the decision not to practice finance has saved me ten. All decisions are efficiency-maximizing and permit no concept of "waste." The law degree has already served me well in New York and will continue to serve me throughout my life. I will more than recoup my financial investment on it, and the time spent--it is obvious to me that those were some of the most incredible years of my life.
Everything is going, as it tends to go, just a bit better than according to plan.
Epiphany 1: The major theme carrying the year has revolved around the power of projection. Reality isn't something to be taken for granted as an observable fact. What we come to understand as reality, or identity, or self, or expectation, etc, is actually an interplay or exchange of projections between one's self and one's external world. You can radically alter your universe by only projecting positivity and by only surrounding yourself with others who do the same. You can also, as my experience shows, manifest many incredible things into existence by strategically believing in and investing in their existence. In 2013 I stepped up the positivity and cut a few persistent sources of negativity.* In 2014 I want to manifest more, more efficiently.
*NOTE: If you think you may have been cut as a source of negativity, and want to reverse that state of affairs, correct the negativity and write me a note briefly (or not so briefly) explaining your process and why it is no longer in your nature to be negative. Be prepared to demonstrate your newfound positive state in all future interactions. It is okay if it takes months or years.
Epiphany 2: Is the deconstruction of difficult. I no longer believe things can be categorized as easy or difficult. This follows from the deconstruction of action and inaction paired with a realization that autonomous pain is indistinguishable from pleasure.
We know that action and inaction are indistinguishable. Any action can be reframed as inaction, and vice versa. For example, "I am going to go on a diet." Can be reframed as, "I am not going to eat as much." "I am not going to clean the kitchen" is the same as saying, "I am going to troll Facebook instead." There is no such thing as inaction. As long as you are living, you are doing.
So this liberates you from the question of whether you should, in any given instance, act, and presents you more accurately with a choice between doing the right thing, the wrong thing, and some neutral thing. A good life is one in which you make the right choice as frequently as possible. If you can learn to make the right choice in every moment, I believe that life has the potential to be near-infinitely euphoric. To achieve this, you have to create your own functional rubric to discover what types of activities and right, which are wrong, and which are neutral. I test my own rubric by asking myself, "if this were a scene unfolding in a great story, how would I want it to unfold?" The right choice for me is usually the one that is going to keep me on the seat of my pants--because I tend to like stories that shy away from the expected. And the one that maximizes pleasure and minimizes suffering--because I am a utilitarian.
You have to deconstruct pain and pleasure for yourself through experimentation. An easy example is going to the gym--we tend to think of it initially as unpleasant, but physical exertion is actually a core pleasure provider tied to endorphin-generation.
My goal in 2014 is to reduce moments spent being passively active and to increase moments spent immersed in my passions and ambitions.
Please share your new years resolutions with me! They need not be philosophical in nature.
P.S. An archive of all 100 Random Updates can be found at: randomtravelupdates.blogspot.com. If you want to stop receiving emails at any time, please let me know! If you really like receiving emails, also, make sure to say something as I occasionally make cuts on my own.