Potential for Passion

Passion – Why Following it is Bad Advice

Following Your Passion

That seems to be great advice until you think about it.  What if I don’t have a passion? What if my passion is basketball and I’m horrible.  No matter how much training, it’ll never happen.  This happens more often than not.  I’ve been searching for my passion after failing out of Pharmacy School.  I’m not sure what it is yet but I know what it’s not.

What is Passion?

How do we know if we have a passion for something? Is it a sense of excitement when performing an action? Is it a sense for an idea of something?  I think excitement for an action or idea is short lived and empty.  The true passion is with persistent and consistent work.

I think true passion come after the action.  It is when we’re dedicated to an action or idea.  The hours or work involved to seeing this action or idea realized is the passion.

What does it Mean for Me?

It’s what keeps us going towards that goal when you feel like giving up. It keeps us motivated and inspired. Yet, I may fail and gain little from following this.  If you’re lucky, and your passion is basketball and you’re good at the sport then you might have a shot.

People say to follow your passion, but I think we should follow what we’re good at doing.  What happens when you try to follow is as a career? You get a long resume with a lot of different jobs as you’re trying to figure it out.  Time goes quickly and we can never get it back.

If you’re one of the lucky ones that knows your passion, keep it as a hobby.  If you’re like the rest of us, you have that focus and dedication inside you already; use it towards what you’re good at doing.

Instead, cultivate a mindset of purpose. Find what you’re good at doing, find what you like doing, see if there is a need for your skill, and see if you can get paid for it.  When you can answer these questions, you’ll find a direction for your vision.

Steve Jobs is a popular example of this.  His passion wasn’t computers, it was eastern philosophy and mysticism.  Computers was just something to make money.  Yet, he was good at finding talent to execute his plans.  If he followed his passion, he may have ended up owning and operating yoga studios.

Final Thoughts

Here’s the hard truth, there is no special passion waiting for us.

It has to be created and maintained, like a garden, if you want true results.  The good news is that we have the opportunity to create and maintain a passion starting now.

Priorities

A Brief Thought on Priorities

Think not so much of what you lack as what you have: but of the things that you have, select the best, and then reflect how eagerly you would have sought them if you did not have them.

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

A Mental Stretch from the Daily Grind

Sometimes it’s good to take a moment out of our busy lives to see how things are going. To do a mental stretch to see what’s happening.  During this time, we should be taking time to look at our daily lives and see what we are spending time on: cleaning email inbox, daily mindless actions, “autopilot” through the day (I’m guilty of this sometimes), spending time on social media, or watching television (I’m looking at you Netflix). 

Those who choose to have no real purpose in life are ever rootless and dissatisfied

– Seneca, Shortness of Life

Evaluating your Actions and Setting Priorities

When listing at our actions and what time we’re devoting to them, we we end up looking at are the things we are prioritizing. 

We often think of priorities as the really important things we need to do.  When looking at our daily lives, they tend to really be the actions we devote most of our time and attention. 

So instead, I challenge you to take a look your actions on a weekly basis (using an electronic calendar helps).  See how much time you give them. 

Do you consider the actions with the most time as your priorities? If so, then you’re on the right track.  If you don’t, then what you’re looking at your real priorities.  This would be the time we look to see how we can shift our actions around.  This is so we can give the most time to the most important things.

Final Thought

Your priorities should be the things you need to do each day, the little steps you’ve designed in helping you achieve your vision. 

Pharmacy

How to Deal with Failure: Life After Failing Pharmacy School

All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
― Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

Right but for the Wrong Reasons

Looking at the envelope addressed from the School of Pharmacy, I knew in that moment my life would never be the same.  I was right but for the wrong reasons.  Thing’s in my life aren’t fundamentally different, but my perspective on things are different, in a good way.

Establishing New Goals

Exploring how I use my time and what actions should get my time, I’m working on getting my life organized again. I am also looking at things I think I should have learned but haven’t, reading the classics to astrophysics.

I am trying to be more open to new and different ideas while trying to figure out new goals.  Before I can have new goals, I need to have a vision of where I want to go.  Creating a vision statement is another topic but it’s something I need to work on before I can create goals to achieve that vision.

For now, I see a few options; one option is to go back to school.  A huge red flag on any application is failing Pharmacy School.  It shows an institution took a chance on you and it didn’t work out, so what’s to prevent that from happening again?

I think taking on a masters program part-time may ease my transition back to this lifestyle.  This could also help me build academic credibility.  I reached out to a few schools regarding their masters programs and they recommended applying as a part-time student to build an academic foundation for future work.  One you can show you can do the work, going full-time or working towards completing the MS or applying for a Ph.D. is a real possibility.

I’ve been thinking about getting a mentor, someone to help me refine my vision (if I can remember what that was).  Having someone that can provide unbiased advice based on their personal and professional experience is a valuable resource.  My issue right now is, I don’t know what I want to do.  Sometimes having too many options can show you down.

Outlet for Growth

Outside of working on my goals, or actually creating new goals, I created this site.  This site is designed as an outlet for helping me explore new ideas, express and share frustration and disappointment.  You can see that failing professional school isn’t the end.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to see how people not involved in professional school don’t understand the impact of failing.  There’s a lot of mental and emotional investment just getting into the school (applications, interviews, school selection, moving, paying). That investment only grows once you’re there.  The program becomes an intense lifestyle, failing that feels like failing yourself, others, it really can be a crushing experience

 

Fear Scrabble Blocks

Thoughts on Fear in the Face of Failure

Shapes of Fear

Fear takes many forms: loss of things, loss of acceptance, and loss of feelings.  My focus for this post is the fear of action.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
― Mark Twain

Fear can be a trap if I let it. Consequently, I fell into this trap after failing Pharmacy School.  I didn’t want to put myself out there because I was afraid of failing again. It can prevent me from growing or trying new things.  Fear can hold me back from contributing to other people and opportunities. As a result, it could prevent me from a living happy, satisfied, and fulfilled life.

Fear is the opposite of freedom: it is not liberating; it is constrictive.

Overcoming Fear

When trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, I have to ask myself: where do I want to be? And, what am I afraid of? These questions seem easy to answer and I might get something superficial. But they are some of the hardest questions I had to ask myself. It makes me look at what I think is important, what my priorities should be based on what I think is important, and potential obstacles (fears) on my path towards my vision.

In effect, fear of failure creates a manufactured fear of starting or completing a task. What can hold me back are these manufactured fears that keep me from doing what I want to do or not do.

This sounds like something we know is true but it’s hard to face when looking at fear: fear is a choice. When faced with a decision and knowing my personal vision and my goals, the fear goes away. I am more confident when I have a roadmap for how I want my life to be.

Final Thoughts

Learn from my mistakes. Now, not tomorrow is the time to figure out what you want from your life. Because it’s up to you, no one can figure this out but you. Once you have an idea of what direction you want to go, it’ll be time to stop being afraid of whatever is preventing you from reaching your goals. Start with the small goals, start with the excess things in your life. See some improvement, even if it’s small. In the end, you’re the master of your fear.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
― William Ernest Henley, Echoes of Life and Death

 

James Madison

Founders Lessons for Today’s Age

I like to read about the Founders and came across this from the New Yorker:

James Madison, who wrote the first drafts of the U.S. Constitution, sponsored the Bill of Rights, and served as the fifth Secretary of State and the fourth President, was America’s least fun Founding Father. He was also the shortest, standing roughly eye-to-eye with George Washington’s collarbone, and his unadorned black suits were forgettable next to the great general’s tailored uniforms. Madison went to the College of New Jersey, now Princeton, rather than to William and Mary—Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater—because his health was too poor to withstand the heat and humidity of lowland Virginia. There, his most daring shenanigan was writing jejune poetry in the school’s “paper wars” between rival clubs. (“[She] took me to her private room / And straight an Eunuch out I come.”) Apart from a brief flirtation with a teen-ager named Kitty—a flirtation guided, if not induced, by Jefferson, Madison had an uneventful love life. Alexander Hamilton had already married and strayed from Elizabeth Schuyler, in what would become America’s earliest scandal, by the time that a forty-three-year-old Madison, with the help of Aaron Burr, Martha Washington, and a cousin willing to ghostwrite love letters, wooed Dolley Payne Todd, a widow in her early twenties. Dolley, who was fond of turbans and rescued George Washington’s portrait before the British burned down the White House, was definitely the most fun thing about Madison.

The rest continues on their site: New Yorker

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman on Beethoven and Music

An interesting piece on Walt Whitman and music.

“Feeling, life, motion and emotion constitute its import,” philosopher Susanne Langer wrote of music, which she defined as “a highly articulated sensuous object.”

Although many great writers have contemplated the power of music, few have articulated it more perfectly or more sensuously than Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) does in Specimen Days (public library) — the sublime collection of prose fragments and journal entries, which gave us Whitman on the wisdom of trees and which the poet himself described as “a melange of loafing, looking, hobbling, sitting, traveling — a little thinking thrown in for salt, but very little — …mostly the scenes everybody sees, but some of my own caprices, meditations, egotism.” And what a beautiful, generous egotism it is….

Read the rest here Walt Whitman

Managing Actions

How to Manage Actions and Gain Time

For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose something he does not already possess

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Managing Self

Now that I’m attempting to limit my smartphone usage. The next thing I want to focus on is time management.  During my year in Pharmacy school, I realized my time management skills were not adapted to that environment.  I could have done things differently.  This has me thinking about how I manage time and what I want to do about it.

There’s a lot of advice on time management, yet I find myself looking at time management not from a time perspective but an actions perspective. (See ted talk shifting time)

Every Action has a Starting Point

There seems to be as many productivity strategies as there are stars in the sky. They offer advice based on personal experience and studies researching concentration.

There’s an irony from all this information, taking the time to sift through all this information is probably the least effective use of your time. Do you need to search the internet for hours? No. What you’ll find are hundreds of ways other people organize their lives only to find out it’s not for you. I made this mistake.  Now I’m back at the beginning trying to figure out what’s the best time management strategy.

The problem is not that we have a short life, but that we waste time. Thus the time we are given is not brief, but we make it so.

– Seneca, Shortness of Life

So where do I start?  I inventory my actions.  To figure out how to manage my actions I’ll need to inventory all the time-consuming things I do. I need to know appropriately how I’m spending my minutes and hours of the day.

I don’t want to spend more time organizing my actions than I am trying to complete them. It’s a trap someone can easily fall into.

Perception is a remarkable experience, I always feel as if I need to get more done or that I don’t have enough time for everything.  I can track my time and realize I’m spending 1 hour on twitter and 1 hour looking online with no purpose but only out of boredom. Only after looking at these numbers I can see an obvious path.

Managing What’s Important

My goal is to track my actions, assign them a level of importance (1,2, or 3 with 1 being most important). I’m hoping to see if managing my actions is a better alternative than looking at time.

I’m hoping to make better use of my time although I can see a point of difficulty when actions become very scheduled. Sometimes this can’t be avoided when there are meetings and appointments but I think this method can work around it as long as I have flexibility with other action goals.

This should also give me a realistic expectation on how much time i need for redundant actions. Maybe I’m giving myself too much or too little time.

This will also include downtime. If I want to watch a movie or read a book, I should be able to manage these actions by planning how long the movie should be or how many pages I want to read.

I’ll use my google calendar to track actions. I like to color code things so I can see what actions are taking most of my time. This isn’t going to be highly scheduled where my google calendar is going to be completely blocked but it will let me see how I use time. I’ll be using my smartphone for some calendar entries so I’ll have to track my usage and balance it out.

Time as a Necessary Resource, Like Food

One advice I heard about and was a line of thinking I found interesting was treating time the same way you treat food.

There’s food that’s good for you, this can be my necessary actions. Then there’s junk food, this can be Netflix or surfing the internet.

When I wanted to work out and lose weight, I found apps to help me monitor my food intake and workouts. This worked. I lost the weight and was healthier.

Self-Monitoring

This is consistent with a review of self-monitoring during weight loss showing people who tracked food intake lost more weight than those who didn’t. So why should treating actions and time be any different?  It shouldn’t be. I’ll be aware and accountable for what I need to do thereby giving me the time to do it.

Keeping track of my actions and their durations will let me see if I’m over inflating or underestimating time needed for a task.

Logging my time allows can allow me to track my progress whether its adjusting time scales for actions or finding what actions are really not helping (I’m looking at you Netflix). This can help me focus on creating a custom productivity method that’s based on real life instead of how I think things should be.

But each year, short lived, is unlike the last and rarely resolves in the style it arrives

– Armitage, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

There’s one thing I try not to do and that’s multitasking important projects. It’s been shown that multitasking can have negative effects on productivity.  Multitasking creates a high cycle of activities between different actions.  This doesn’t allow us to focus and create a meaningful impact on the action. Avoiding multitasking important actions will allow me to better track and organize my actions to evaluate my time.

So I’ll see what happens and readjust my plan as I get feedback from this personal experiment.

Breaking Smartphone Use

Smartphones Changed how we see the World

Smartphones significantly changed the way we look and acquire information.  They also present new challenges in how we use them.

Devices that are small enough to fit in your pocket or wrapped around your arm, now allow near instant communicate with people around the world (social media, etc), take and share photos, and access collected knowledge and thoughts of key opinion leaders from around the world is in real time.

With all the positive aspects smartphones possess there’s are negative outcomes. The smartphone’s power can be so consuming that all you want to do is stare into its little screen awaiting the little “high” of receiving a “like” or favorable comment.

No single worthwhile goal can be successfully pursued by a man who is occupied with many tasks because the mind, when its focused is split, absorbs little in depth

Seneca, Shortness of Life

Productivity and Smartphone Use

I’ve been noticing an increase in unproductive smartphone usage.  Typically I would scroll through news or social media to see what fresh craziness is going on, upon viewing my phone stats, my assumption was correct; I was using the smartphone unproductively. I response, I’ve decided to start an internet fasting routine.  My hope is that this will help me take a healthy approach in smartphone usage.

I’ve put together an action plan to better control my smartphone usage before it becomes habit forming. Luckily, I haven’t gotten to the point where my smartphone is the first and last thing I see during my day.

Thoughts on why I want to Start Limiting Smartphone Usage

The Negative Effects of Chronic Smartphone Use

Battling boredom: for me, checking news feeds or social media was a way for me to pass the time while I was waiting for something to happen. Anecdotally, I’ve seen the same action from others while waiting for an appointment and while waiting for meals at home or dinning out.

I get it, people get bored, I get bored, it happens. What does this really mean? I think it’s a shift in attention. It changes our focus from the here and now to some distant, nebulous object that can be a source of instant gratification.

Loss of Empathy and Connection with Others

Social media has both expanded our reach and limited our interactions. Interactions have become more numerous but shallower in depth versus face to face interactions.

We call these mini computers smartphones but think about how many times you’ve used it as a phone. I’ll use it as a phone once in a while but most of my communications are through text message or email. Texting is convenient if you want to send short messages or instructions but when using it for discussions we lose our ability to read the other person. We don’t hear the inflections, tone; we don’t see facial expressions. It’s to the point where people use emojis as a way to show intent.

With the increase usage of smartphones we are also seeing an increase in loneliness.

Smartphones and Sleep Effects

How many of us have fallen asleep while holding a smartphone? I know I have. Newer smartphones have changed their lighting effects in response to implications blue lights effect on sleep quality. I set my phone for night mode between sunset and sunrise in hopes of improving sleep quality.

Losing Focus at Work

I’ve changed my work email habits to check my email on 2 hr intervals. This allows me to focus specific tasks and get into a productive work flow. Using my email interval usage as an example, I plan on using my smartphone in the same way.

I heard this podcast about deep work, Cal Newport makes the case for digital devices, marketed as ways of increasing productivity, actually divide our attention which then leads to decreases in productivity and decreased quality in results.  This is main reason why I changed my work email habits and I hope to see the same results for smartphone usage.  Surveys shows the negative effects of habitual technology use and work quality.

Picking my Head up Once in a While

One of my goals for internet fasting and decreasing my smartphone usage is to be more involved with what’s around me. I always think it’s a sad sight when I see people out at dinner and everyone’s on their phones or people have their phones on the table. My opinion, if you have a specific reason such as waiting on message regarding an active family emergency or issue then there’s no reason to have your phone out. The message that sends is: I’ll listen to you until something happens on my screen.

Breaking the Bonds of Smartphones

Just like most habits that aren’t chemical based, it should be easy to break this habit using discipline.

Smartphones have data tracking so you can see what you’re using and how often. My first goal is to take a screenshot of my current usage and compare it to usage 30 days from now. I can reset those stats and see usage 30 days from then.  I’m might also track the number of times per day I check my phone when not responding to messages.

People Expect Immediate Responses

If you’re smartphone is never more than arms length away, then we share the same concern with turning off notifications: responding right away.  What did we do before smartphones or phones that could text? We left our messages and waited. I think we’ve been conditioned to react as if all communications were equally urgent and needed immediate attention.  Most aren’t and they get in the way of achieving your daily goals by distraction and loss of focus.

Final Thoughts

I hope this experiment will help me focus on the goals I’ve set for myself (daily or short-term) so I can be more productive in personal and professional pursuits.

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