Archives for March 2016

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Where to Live – Choosing and Planning

In a previous post including some initial thoughts on where to live, I talked about planning where to live. I wonder what % of people really do this. I expect it’s quite low. I imagine a lot of people or actually the majority of people simply use the default.

  1. Grow Up
  2. Get a job nearby – with friends/family
  3. Stay there. Settled.

I don’t want to diminish this path. I think it’s completely fine and had I not stumbled into staying in the US longer than originally planned, I likely would have done similar and settled in Adelaide. I am sure I would have been fine and would have enjoyed it. I definitely love Adelaide and have (or had) a lot of friends there. Most importantly, family also.

Venturing outside of ”home” for a longer period of time though has allowed me to learn, see and experience things that I otherwise might not have:

  • Met my future wife
  • Learned how to fit into different culture/towns
  • Learned  (albeit) slowly to make new friends
  • Found greater career opportunities
  • Travelled extensively, mainly through work but also vacations. I have been to some of the best museums in the world such as the Field Museum in Chicago and seen such wonders as the Great Wall of China.
    • Germany
    • China
    •  England
    • Spain
    • Japan
    • US
    • France

So, in general, there can be lots of interesting and fun and challenging life adventures awaiting you if you decided to live somewhere other than where you grew up. Even just for a brief time, 1 to 3 to 5 years or so.

  • Travel
  • New friends
  • Different or better career
  • Broader appreciation for the world, cultures etc – broader horizons
  • Lifestyle fitting your interests

Travel is quite obvious. Making new friends also -> Although this seems to get harder the older you get for some reason. Broader horizons and appreciation for the world is relatively obvious. Career choices and options and opportunities also. If you’re in the technology field and you live or grew up in an area not rich with companies in that field, you might have no choice but to move. For me, moving from a relatively small town with quite a small tech industry, Adelaide to Chicago has enabled me to take on roles and opportunities I doubt I would have seen in Adelaide. Additionally, I feel a lot more job security and wide range of opportunities.

Lifestyle could also be a big point for you. Do you love the beach? Then why not try to pick a city or state near the beach. Likewise, mountains or snow skiing or warm/tropical weather all year round? Whatever it is, the world has it!

Nothing is stopping you but probably yourself! Whether you think about where you want to live once say early adult or you regularly re-visit it and maybe change every 5 to 10 to 20 years, it’s completely up to you! While staying and living near where you grew up obviously has a lot of advantages with friends, family etc, I encourage you to at least consider where you might want to live and if there are any advantages for you to be had outside of just the default life.

Some interesting links to get you started:

Hope this is useful for you and you learned something. The world is a big place. We often don’t consider how big or what other lives or opportunities or fun is awaiting us out there. So, maybe go and check some of it out by choosing and planning where you want to live.

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What I Would Have Done – Part 2

In the last post, I started this series talking about planning where to live and then thinking about what work to do. I want to expand on these further today and in particular get into whole life planning.

In that first post, I think I did not start out enough about whole life planning so let’s go back to that. When you’re old enough and in a mature enough mental state to be analyzing such matters (for most people, _after_ teenage years!), it would be great if you could really give some solid thought to whole life planning.

Here’s a rough outline of what some consider a normal life. At least a lot of people (not all) follow this roughly…I did:

  • 0 to 10 – fun for most – you’re just a kid
  • 10 to 20 – mixtures of fun and difficulty for most – teenage years, relationships etc
  • 20 to 30 – fun mixed with working a lot – start career potentially working a lot, first decent $$, get married or get into major/long term relationship
  • 30 to 40 – stresses with career and family – career expectations perhaps, working a lot, making and spending more $$, maybe kids
  • 40 to 50 – trying to balance – career, maybe kids, spouse/partner, some fun, making and spending more $$, debts, commitments, responsibilities
  • 50 to 60 – ?? Don’t Know! Haven’t done it yet. I expect much of the same of 40 to 50 – balance, career, $$, debts, kids, family, spouse/partner, planning retirement. Update: Starting to or fully involved in looking after older parents.
  • 60 to 70 – ?? – I expect similar to 50 to 60 – transition into retirement, $$ stresses, family, kids, some fun, spouse/partner. Update: Fully involved in looking after older parents.
  • 70 to 80/90? – ?? No Idea:). A balance I guess of some fun, some $$ stresses, some family/friends/kids and health issues

Summarizing above:

  • Early Life – High Fun – Just growing and learning
  • Mid Life – Low Fun – Trying to balance – time, $$, career, family, friends, partner/spouse, parents and still find some fun
  • Late Life – Medium Fun – Relax. Fun – $$ issues, health issues.

I write this obviously with mostly my experiences so I am sure the above does not apply to everyone. It could be a bit similar or maybe not so similar at all. It’s clear to me for my life that what I would have done is to plan much more actively to ensure a lot more fun and a lot less stress and juggling of all life’s variables. At minimum, lift up mid-life to more a higher fun level! The good news is, I am not done with mid-life yet, so I have a chance to change:).

Before getting into it further, I want to clarify my use of the word ‘fun’. I don’t mean it in the most simple terms. Having fun playing a game, swinging on the monkey bars etc. I really mean enjoyment and I guess I’ll use that word from now on. In whole life planning, your task is to maximize life enjoyment and minimize the stresses that can get in the way – typically career and money etc.

At the start of this series, I talked about where to live and career choices as decision points which could improve your life enjoyment. Let’s look at some of the major factors that may influence life enjoyment and that should be considered during whole life planning. In no specific order.

  1. Where to live
  2. Career/Work
  3. Friends
  4. Spouse/Partner/Relationship(s)
  5. Money
  6. Lifestyle

Next post we’ll get into the remaining items…

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It is What it is – Life That Is

I really like some of the buddhist concepts of life. I have not yet tried to understand the various different forms of buddhism and how for example, Zen is different from other broad categories and followings. Generally though, the concept of simply trying to ‘be’. To learn to sit and to accept and to simply let things be as they are. This is quite appealing. How long do we spend in our lives trying to control things? Or having society or family or friends or businesses or employers try to control you? We all spend a lot of time and suffer a lot due to our want to control. We want to control our life, bring order to it. We want to control our careers, our kids, our house, our friends, where we live, our partners or spouses, our belongings and money. Move it all in ways we want. We then suffer when “it doesn’t work out” and circumstances that you thought you could control were in fact outside of your control. Stuff happened. And it wasn’t what you planned.

I have unfortunately spent a very large portion of my life and time thinking there must be something better. That life was pretty boring, quite average and that surely there is much more exciting, prosperous and fun times that for some reason I don’t have or know about or not involved in. As such, I often was annoyed. Pissed off. Depressed that my life wasn’t that way. That the fun, good times, extreme happiness and success that other people had were somehow evading me. I still am prone to this way of thinking. Most infamously during the recent past has been my wish to move back to Australia. Because it would be so much better over there. Much more relaxed. Much better food. Less violence. More friends, family etc etc. The truth is, it is all a massive lie.

That voice inside your head is most often a liar. Fred simply doesn’t want you to deal with any pain or discomfort. Fred is often comparing how you perceive yourself to others. To see how obviously has a better life. Has more money. Bigger cars, houses, better possessions, friends, spouses, careers etc. There are many problems to this. The first of which is simply how you perceive yourself and others. It is all perceptions and it is very difficult to really pull out truth from fiction within your thoughts and perceptions. What you think of yourself. Is that really you? Maybe or most probably not. Likewise, how you see and perceive others is very unlikely the truth. Do they have a massive house but are secretly near bankruptcy? Travel everywhere but no real friends. Great looking wife or husband but will be divorced soon? Or maybe they truly have a great life and aspects surrounding it and you could learn from them:).

Sooner or later and hopefully sooner, you will have to figure out that your life is what it is. It isn’t worse than it is. It isn’t better than it is. It just is. It is the sum of all the decisions and circumstances and strange and wonderful and not so wonderful things that have happened up until this point. No one else has this life. Only you. Just like you are unique. There is no better life. There is certainly no deservedly betterIt is simply your life. The life you have to live.

I have recently moved house here in the US. Something with quite a bit more room than we had previously. With two growing kids, it will definitely be nice having the room. I am grateful for the move and the great house we found and am sure we will enjoy it. However, it is tinged with regret at not moving back to Australia now. I know now I will probably be in the US for another 10 years. Maybe more, depending on circumstances. I still know I want to end up in Australia at some point! This is just though another example of your inner voice comparing situations, having me believe that Australia would clearly be better. It is better by my perception but I don’t really know the truth. I only would know if Australia way of life is better for me and us once we moved there permanently. The truth is only visible in the present. 

My only words of wisdom (or not) is to try to learn to simply enjoy your current life. The present moment. What you have and don’t have. This doesn’t mean you have to settle. You can still have goals and want to improve things about your life. But life will be way easier on you and more enjoyable if you try to enjoy what is rather than lament about what isn’t.

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What I Would Have Done

They say not to look back. Not to wonder how life would have been different, better or worse. It’s probably good advice. That little bastard inside your head is generally notorious for looking back and filling you with regrets, wondering why life turned out how it did. How it could have been so much better if you had only done this and that and so forth. That little bastard. Let’s call him Fred. He’s your little voice.

Fred is never really happy. He’s generally pretty pissed off actually. Pissed about whatever you did in your teens, twenties and beyond. The missed jobs. The screwed up career. All the mistakes you’ve made. The millions of $$ you could have made had you only done it right…The better girlfriends you could have got. The friends you could have found. If only this. If only that. Again, he’s not happy.

I’m pretty bad at feeding Fred. Letting him tell me what could have been, thinking about it and so the cycle goes. Feeding that bastard Fred. For the moment, let’s just indulge Fred a bit…Give him some food for thought. If I had some things I’d do differently and could give some advice:

Plan Where You Want to Live

Early. That is, in your early 20’s or late teens. Where you live I think has a pretty big influence on not just your life but your happiness levels. They say most people regress to a certain happiness (or not) level. But surely living in Hawaii vs Detroit does something for you. The interesting thing is that most people (myself included) don’t think about this at all. Most people live near where they grew up or near their family or something similar. There is nothing at all wrong with that and family particularly is a big draw. But you should realize, depending on your career or business choice, there could possibly be MANY options open to you. Including overseas, in Europe, in the US or Australia, Asia etc. Do you like the beach, like European history, like high tech, Silicon Valley type stuff? Whatever it is, had I known now what I know, I would have given a lot more thought on where to live. And probably would have picked Europe.

Career

Give a LOT of thought of who you want to work for and the culture you want to be in. Rather than just trying to get a job. In my early career, particularly straight out of university, I was flat broke. I chased any job. Very little regard for who or where or why. Having now worked for the man for nearly 20 years I realize my folly. The man can  generally be a prick. Whether it’s because he managed to hire a company full of arseholes or he makes you work too hard. He doesn’t train you. Develop you. Reward you. Or the work you do is pointless, no value or low passion for you. That latest app you are developing to allow more people to ”connect” online and ”chat”.? Who gives a fuck. If you really must work for someone –

  • What type of industry are you really passionate about and want to work in? What do you care about?
  • What culture are you looking for?
  • What travel, advancement, training and other development opportunities are there?
  • What size company?
    • Realize -> the bigger the size, the more politics, and the more arseholes. There is no getting around this. I don’t care if it’s Apple or Facebook or Google or whatever. People are all human. Everyone everywhere has the same ambitions, fears, pettiness, stress, arrogance, lies, postulating, politics. People also have friendliness, caring and kindness. It’s all mix. You will see it everywhere.
    • Had I had my time again, I likely would have chosen smaller to medium size companies. I have only worked for large corporations. That said, the grass always looks greener on the other side:).

Or Work for Yourself

Don’t even work for anyone!  Back in the 90’s, technology was a lot different than it is now. Now and beyond, it is incredible how low cost and possible it is for anyone to start a business. Money is not everything. But it can trade a lifestyle for you that is quite fun. Want to travel? Want to only work < 1/2 time? Want nice toys? A nice house? Nice clothes? A Porsche? All possible with a successful business. Now successful is the trick and in my one main attempt at this so far, I spectacularly failed. So, I have no advice at all. Other than, I do know you will likely never get rich working for the man.

  • In general, for the vast majority of cases I know of or have seen, stress, pressure and time commitments massively increase as you rise within the ranks, working for the man.
  • That rise in stress, pressure, time will give ‘rank’ and ‘position’ but may not reward you comparatively. At least compared to the time and stress. I have seen colleagues promoted to levels seemingly quite interesting. Only to be swamped with additional pressure and stress and the actual ‘rewards’ they received are in actual fact almost never worth it.
  • Although very hard. And fraught also with stress and challenges. Starting a business is incredibly difficult, particularly to be successful, to stand out amongst competition etc etc. But if you do manage to do it right, there is a chance of finding a far greater degree of financial and time freedom than you will working for the man.
    • Oh and btw, if you want to try starting a business. Do it early in life in your 20s with minimal responsibilities or $$ commitments.
  • Taken a lot more risks earlier in life, teens and 20’s rather than later when perhaps responsibilities and the impact of risks can become more of an issue. I have taken some risks and in some cases been massively burnt. Would have been easier having failed back in my 20’s.

That will do for now..Till the next part.