All Posts Tagged “Life”

Long-term vs. Short-term

My dream life three years ago was traveling and working remotely. Now it’s only a few days away.

I’ve followed my interests and been lucky enough to find cool opportunities to do very cool work that can be done anywhere with a wifi connection. But as it approaches, I still experience conflict in my mind about the decision to pursue this life I’d been dreaming about.

Traveling is the thing that makes me feel the most alive. So traveling is something that I want to do more of, but there is still a voice in my head, let’s call it the career voice, that is telling me it would be better to find an apartment in a city, network, and grow my career.

Experiencing this makes me think back to deciding to quit my job three years ago.

In the fall of 2013, I decided to quit my job and go travel. I didn’t have any grand plan. I simply wanted out of a bunch of stuff I wasn’t enjoying in my day to day life.

In the lead up to quitting and leaving, I experienced quite a bit of career anxiety. The thought kept running through my head that this would make it hard to find a good job, that taking such a long career break would mean making less money in the future, or that I could be investing the time in some certification that would help my career in the future.

Six months later, after traveling, I was glad I didn’t listen to that anxiety. My outlook on my career and my life had changed completely. Taking time to travel helped me see the things that I was missing in my day to day life.

As I think about the anxiety I’m experiencing today, I remember those moments three years ago and don’t give the career voice much respect.

I know that in the long-term it theoretically may be better to move to a city, to go to networking events, to learn a practical skill and to try and make a bunch of money. But, if there is anything that I have learned about decision making over the past five years it is that choosing excitement in the short-term is usually good for me in the long term. Choosing the thing that makes me feel most excited and alive in the short/medium term is the best guide mark for the long-term. 

This doesn’t mean avoiding hard work and only doing what is easiest at any given moment. Don’t sacrifice the long-term completely. But remember that your whole life you’ve been taught to sacrifice the short-term for the long-term.

My whole life up to age twenty-three was about making common sense and solid long-term choices. I chose the safe route and took hardly any risks. It left be numb, bored, and apathetic.

Choosing the things that make me feel the most alive in the short term make me more likely to invest in myself in for the long-term. Trying to think only about the long-term leaves me bored, disengaged, and less likely to invest in myself.

Tourist Traps

Today we took an adventure to Vulcan, Alberta. Vulcan is about two hours south of Calgary. It’s a small rural town. Known for producing wheat, for having nine grain elevators at one point in the past. But what Vulcan is known for is a naming coincidence with a planet from Star Trek.

To capitalize on the coincidence, Vulcan has gone all out star trek.

The town is a typical small Alberta town. The type of town that has combines filling up at one of the gas stations. The kind of place where it is hard to find someone under the age of 60 walking around during the day.

But as you turn onto the main street in Vulcan you are struck by a sight that is anything but normal. A large statue of the Enterprise spaceship from Star Trek, and a big alien spaceship looking building.

The building that looks like a spaceship is Vulcan’s tourist center. It’s a cool funky building that seems like it’s hay day was about twenty years ago.

Inside you can look at cool Star Trek memorabilia, and in one section dress up for photos in Trek costumes.

It was a fun experience. A cool and unique place not far from our back yard. More than that though it was a great reason to go out for a drive, explore a new part of the province and have some quality time with my girlfriend.

Tourist traps get a lot of hate. But if you can put your cynicism aside, and just enjoy the break from routine and normalcy that they provide those traps can be a great reason to have a memorable day and a fun adventure.

Just Get Started

I’ve had the idea of starting a new project for a least a year. Over that year I’ve been busy at points and had lots of free time at other points. But each time the thought came up I held off. I would think about the alluring ideas and say, “maybe next month.”

Sometime in the future would always be better than the present moment.

And so, a year later, nothing has happened.

Today, I felt inspired once more; the idea came up, and a thought crossed my mind that I should take some time to flush out the idea. That is the same thought that’s been slowing me down for a year. The one that puts off getting started, and waits.

I put off projects because I’m afraid of investing my time in something that I don’t enjoy.

It’s a habit I developed at some point in my life, and it is a habit that is going counter to my education and growth as a person.

People like to judge others for starting things and not finishing them. You and your friends have probably talked about your one friend who started a blog and then quit that, and then started a youtube channel and then quit, and then started something else and quit. But while you’re sitting around snickering that friend has learned a lot about what they liked and didn’t like. They’ve learned skills and probably made connections from their adventures into new areas.

So today when the thought crossed my mind, I just started. Instead of debating the pro’s and con’s I just took the first step towards making it happen.

There is no risk to starting something and then after a while deciding that I don’t want to do it anymore.

The only real risk is that I keep procrastinating the project and never find out that it was something that I would deeply enjoy.

Existence vs. Consciousness

Does reality exist? Or is it just a delusion? A long-term dream that others appear to be sharing.

This is an important question, and the answer seems pretty obvious, but many people have thought themselves out of the obvious answer.

Primacy of existence is a crucial concept in the metaphysics of Objectivism. Peikoff puts it like this,

“Things are what they are independent of consciousness – of anyone’s perceptions, images, ideas, feelings.”

We are conscious of the world around us and able to decipher stimuli around us using our senses, but the things that we are sensing do exist, and they would continue to exist even if we could not sense them.

We can change the world around us, but we can only change it by acting. Sitting on a couch will not make your problems go away.

A common example used to bring doubt on our perception of reality is a colorblind person.

Someone who is colorblind is unable to see the difference between some colors. If we can perceive the same thing as being different, doesn’t that mean that reality is dependent on our perceptions?

Our ability, or inability to perceive stimuli does affect us, but it doesn’t affect the entity that we are observing. If one person sees a tree as green, and another as gray, it doesn’t change the fact that they are both perceiving the same entity reflecting the same spectrum of light.

Contrast primacy of existence against primacy of consciousness. Peikoff describes primacy of consciousness like this,

“In this view, the function of consciousness is not perception, but creation of what is. Existance, accordingly is dependent; the world is regarded as in some way derivate of consciousness.”

This is an idea that many people interpret as coming from many eastern religions. I don’t know anything about the metaphysics of Buddhism, but many people come away from eastern philosophies with the idea that since the only way we know the world around us is through our senses that it seems possible that if we were not sensing it might as well not exist.

Another common train of thought is about reality being drastically different than how we perceive it. That we may be in a simulation, that there may be invisible aliens, or that we may be emitting aura’s that only the spiritually enlightened can see.

None of this changes that there is existence separate from our consciousness.

Just because reality may be different than how we perceive, it does not mean that it does not exist.

We can use tools to expand our senses, and when we do we are able to identify things that exist that we were not aware of before. Like atoms, radio waves, or electricity.

The idea’s of pop-eastern philosophy can be very useful and productive. Recognizing the way you can control your perception of an event that was out of your control is a valuable skill, so long as it opens possibilities for action.

These are useful thought experiments, so long as they motivate you to take action. But the change you experience is not from your thoughts changing existence, but from you taking action and making change happen.

“A simple example of the primacy of existence orientation would be a man running for his life from an erupting volcano” – Leonard Peikoff

Many people claim supernatural abilities to influence reality, but put any of them in front of a lava flow, and they will all recognize that lava exists and that it is dangerous, and they will run.

So, how can you know for sure that what you are experiencing actually exists?

You know implicitly. From the actions that we all take. Anyone who denies reality will still act to avoid the lava. That should tell you all you need to know about their view of reality, regardless of what they say.

“We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” – Ayn Rand

 

Go a Little Further

Two days ago I took friends to see Lake Louise. It is a spectacular glacial lake and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada.

When you arrive at the lake, you get the feeling you are walking into a concert. A large crowd surrounds the parking lot end of the lake, posing for selfies and other photos with the beautiful mountains and lake behind them.

You could be forgiven for feeling a little frustrated with the crowd. It would be great to have more space to appreciate the amazing view.

Luckily there is a trail that leads around the lake. If you start walking on it, within a few minutes, the crowd is completely gone. There are still people, but 80% of the crowd sits at the parking lot end. Fighting with each other for space to get a good shot.

Twenty minutes of walking leads you to points with amazing unobstructed views where you don’t have to compete with anyone.

It takes a lot less effort than you think to separate yourself from the crowd.

The same applies to work.

Most people just do enough to get by. They learn the skills required to do their job and avoid being fired and then stay at that level. They stop progressing; they stop looking for opportunities to separate themselves from the sea of other people just doing enough.

They rationalize not doing more.

They’re not paid enough. They don’t get enough respect from their boss. It would take to much effort.

They don’t realize how easy it is. Most people just do enough to get by. When you do 10% more, you stand out.

How can you do 10% more today?

Can you share your knowledge with a coworker? Can you automate something? Can you finish a project before you leave the office that has been lingering for a while? Can you just clean you coffee mug instead of leaving it in the sink.

It’s easier than you can imagine to separate yourself.

Instead of complaining how crowded and hard it is to stand out, walk a little further, you can’t imagine the views you’ll see.

Travel University: Psychology 101

Psychology 101 | Travel Psychology

Psychology can be your owner’s manual. A practical understanding of the big ideas and concepts in psychology allows you to live better. You learn about the reasons people are happy or unhappy, what motivates people, how to overcome trauma, and how to live a more serene and joyful life. This is practical psychology, but it is not what you would find in a college course.

If you go to college, Psychology would probably be an option you never take. The students that do take Psych 101 learn about a pyramid of needs, the history of psychology, diseases and other abstract theories. You learn about schizophrenia, but not about meditation, you learn about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but don’t take any time to explore your emotions.

Travel gives you lessons in practical psychology.

Travel University: Practical Philosophy 101

Practical Philosophy 101 

What is your purpose?

What is the point of your life? And while we’re at it, who are you? Who are you really?

You may not have answers on the top of your head. These are deep, philosophical questions.

You may not have taken the time to sit down and answer them, but as an acting human being you are communicating your answers. And if you haven’t answered them for yourself you are probably living with someone else’s answers.

How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia | Book Review

How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

“The virus affecting you is called hepatitis E. Its typical mode of transmission is fecal-oral. Yum.”

It doesn’t take long before you are acquainted with the plight of a child in a rural village in the developing world. I think it’s Pakistan, based on where the author is from, but the location and names of characters are never mentioned. The story “..find(s) you, huddled, shivering on the packed earth under your mother’s cot one cold, dewy, morning” From this point all the way through to your death some 80 years and 200 pages later, you experience the ups, downs, struggles, success’, and human experiences of someone who is trying to get filthy rich in rising Asia.

I picked this book up because of the title. Getting rich in rising Asia sounds like something that I would like to do. I didn’t know anything about it other than the title.The idea of being an entrepreneur in a developing country seemed exotic, exciting, and adventurous.

The sense of adventure, the impact I could have, and the money I could make all drew me in. I picked up the book thinking that I would be reading about someone’s experience making it big in Asia. I thought it would be a fun read about the upside of succeeding in business in a developing country. This book is so much more than that.

Travel University Chapter 3 – Communication 101

COMM 101: How to Not Suck at Conversation

There is no area of education that travel has taught me more about than communication. I have gone from shy and quiet, to occasionally being called extroverted and assertive. I can link all of this change back to traveling. Before I dive into the changes that happen while traveling, let’s rewind all the way back to the start.

I grew up in a very small town in British Columbia, Canada. A town with a population of about 2000 people, most of which were old retirees. There was only elementary school so kids bus into Penticton, a city 15km away with about 35,000 people. I took a bus to school every morning for the final five years of my schooling.

Since I was going to school in Penticton, all of my friends lived at least 10 miles away. I was out in Naramata, dependent on the bus to get to and from school, so whenever would be friends asked me to do something I had to say no. I was already shy, but while the other kids my age were starting to go to party’s and become more social, I was sitting in a basement playing video games by myself.

When I got to university, I was living on campus surrounded by people of the same age and with similar backgrounds. Through the anxiety-reducing effects of alcohol, I was able to bond with a few people who would remain my core group of friends throughout my time at university.

New Book! Travel University

Later this summer I am releasing a book about education. It tells the story of how 12 months traveling was a better education than four years of college. And a lot more fun at the same time. The book will go through 10 subjects and point out the differences between the real world education you create traveling and the academic education you receive in college.

Instead of keeping this book hidden until it comes out as a finished product. I will be publishing it here chapter by chapter over the next two weeks.

Without a hard deadline writing a book can take ages. I first came up with the idea for this book in March of 2015. I created a map of the story I wanted to tell, and wrote the majority of a first draft in April 2015. Then…. I stopped. It got pushed to the side as some other responsibilities flared up in my life.

Half a year later, in January 2016, I returned to the book. I edited the chapters that I had, and later in the spring I finished off the first draft with a conclusion. There I was, with a full first draft done, and once again I stopped.

The book felt disjointed. I had a lot of resistance to editing, and I let the resistance stop me. I kept putting off editing until one day I forgot about it for a month.

And now here we are, more than a year after I started, and I’m finally going to finish this thing.

Each day for the next two weeks a new part of the book will come out. They’ll be adapted to be readable on their own, as a blog post, and they will be in a different order than when they come out in a book.

The most important part of writing a book in the open is the chance to get feedback from you, the reader. Please write your thoughts into the comments, or send me an email.

Let’s start today with your introduction to a travel education.