Saturday, December 15, 2012

Asking the Right Question

First, apologies for the lengthy wait between posts.

As you may realize from reading my many posts, I have spent years trying to figure out what to do with my life.  I have pondered (weak and weary) and thought (quite loudly at times) and written (most of it privately) and discussed (with the voices in my head) and changed my mind (who's mind do I have now?) so very many times.  At this time, I plan to carry on my current plans and not change anything.  But I also also don't rule out changing my mind again.  The reason for this is that I realized I have been asking the wrong question all of this time.

Old question:  What do I want to do with my life?

Proper question:  How do I want the world to change and what can I do about it?

There are many things I care deeply about: children, education, becoming a multi-planetary species, finding and creating beauty, nurturing a positive philosophy, among many others.  Based on this and all of the other discussions I've had with myself, I need to answer: how do I want the world to change?  What do I want the world to be like?

Right now, I don't have an answer.  I don't know when I'll have that answer.  But I'll share it here when I do.

4 comments:

  1. So, how did you get to that realization? What was it about your previous "discussions" with yourself that drove you to that conclusion?

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    Replies
    1. I finally asked myself why I was repeating the same discussions over and over again without coming to any real conclusion. "What do I want to do with my life?" This. No, that. Or maybe that other thing. I stepped back and directed my attention to the question itself. Yes, it's a useful question, but it's not a good place to start for someone who has enough interests to fill several lifetimes. The school shooting last week also helped me take a step back.

      Would I like to be a teacher? Yes. Would I like to be a writer? Yes. Would I like to play and compose music for the piano? Would I like to create rovers used on other worlds? Yes. Would I like to work on artificial intelligence? Yes. Would I like to teach English in Japan? Yes.

      I keep going back and forth on these and more. I make a little progress here or there before changing my mind. It's an endless cycle of dead ends, and I'm tired of it. I'm tired of asking "What". I feel I need to look for the "Why" first.

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    2. Are you sure that these interests are "dead ends," or is it that you find these interests are long, difficult roads to follow that require commitment, work, and even the sacrifice of other interests? Maybe you like the idea of these interests, but you don't have the overarching passion to fully pursue them?

      Maybe a better question to ask is "What, currently, holds your attention on a day-to-day basis?" That might give you a better clue as to what really interests you. Your "proper question" is reflective of a desire for the motivation to pursue a meaningful interest.

      Unfortunately, we don't have several lifetimes, so we have to make decisions that force us down certain paths that make changing paths difficult or even impossible. But even if they turn out to be wrong, the experience gained will remain valuable even when compared to the time and energy lost in implementing those poor decisions. Moreover, fully pursuing an interest can help highlight what you really want to do and what you really like doing. It may not be something you end up choosing as a career or field of expertise, but it will give you the confidence to pursue what you really want because you'll have exercised the commitment, patience and effort needed to truly explore something.

      It sounds like you're just paralyzed by indecision and analysis. There is no reason to be. I compare it to Arnold Schwarzenegger's experience outlined in this short film from ESPN: http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/trending/post/_/id/8637/30-for-30-short-film-arnolds-blueprint

      Arnold just committed to this "blueprint" of becoming Mr. Universe and through that, becoming a big movie star. It was a lot of work, almost everyone around him discouraged him, but he always found a way to train and later even compete as a bodybuilder. When people finally saw his talent, they opened doors for him to train and compete more. He took that experience later to come to the US, become a movie star, and later Governor of California.

      You don't need to have that level of success, but any satisfying career will involve focus and commitment well beyond amateur participation. So just choose something, good things can happen with focused, serious effort.

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    3. As far as passion goes, I subscribe to the philosophy found here:
      http://calnewport.com/blog/2010/10/16/the-passion-trap-how-the-search-for-your-lifes-work-is-making-your-working-life-miserable/

      or here:
      http://calnewport.com/blog/2011/08/11/the-career-craftsman-manifesto/

      Right now, I'm in a position to try out many different things in my free time, and that's what I'm doing. I'm making progress on my Japanese, learning to program in Python, will pick up a piano when I get a house next year...

      I'm looking at using Python (programming!) to create a computer game (requiring some art, music, and writing skills) that teaches Japanese hiragana (education and Japanese related). This utilizes a wide variety of my interests. It allows me to 'specialize' in indie game development while being a generalist is the wide variety of skills I need to use. If people like the game, I have ideas for follow up for katakana and kanji as well.

      So I am moving forward on something while feeding many of my interests. And the point isn't to become rich on creating these games; any money I make is a bonus. It's the feeding of the interests in and of itself.

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