How to Take Yourself on a Work Retreat

Pollock Autumn Rhythm

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.”

— Confucius

In February 2012, plagued by the feeling of life moving past me, of not achieving the things I set out to do, and generally feeling unsettled in my career, I decided to plan time to reflect and make sure I was working towards the things wanted in my life. For my excursion I planned a day-long solo retreat (“emphasis on TREAT” say my notes from the day) which I spent walking along Ocean Beach and through Land’s End, taking myself out to lunch at a favorite pizza place, and writing out some reflections and feelings as I sipped coffee at a cafe. I came to no new conclusions per se, but it felt great to organize the feelings of discomfort and discontent that had been circling around in my head and to expel them onto a page.

Since then, I’ve kept up a regular habit where I take some time alone (a day or overnight trip) every three months or so to think through the current issues in my career and life. I started calling them “quarterly retreats,” but my friend insisted this was too corporate (like I should report back on profits and earnings), and suggested renaming them “seasonal reflections.”

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Invisible Scripts: Do You Know What You Think You Know?

Buy our invisible script popper!

An invisible script is an assumption that is so baked in to how you view the world and your choices that you don’t even question it. It often involves an inner voice telling you what you should do, need to do, or can’t do.

Here are some common invisible scripts we can think of off the top of our heads:

  • I need to go to grad school to be successful
  • Traveling is the best way to spend free time/money
  • If I follow my passion, I’ll find a job I love (or, I need to follow my passion in my career)
  • I can’t raise kids while living in a city
  • I’ll be happy once I make more money
  • Spending a lot of money on gifts demonstrates much I care
  • After getting married, I need to buy a house
  • Couples who are truly compatible never have bad fights
  • It’s important to be liked
  • The harder something is to attain, the more important it is
  • My job has to be completely sustaining to me
  • Being busy all the time means you are important and valued

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I’m Sorry, Tim Ferriss

Moral dubiousness of the 4-hr Work Week

I owe Tim Ferriss an apology.

When “The 4 Hour Work Week” came out in 2007, I hated it without reading it. A high school friend (we’ll call him Don) read it and was inspired to follow Ferriss’ advice to the letter. Don slowly built up a business selling weight loss pills online– he was simply the middleman, automating the manufacturing and delivery. It took him a couple years to get the business to a profitable point, at which point he quit his job to run this business with minimal effort from a laptop while traveling the world. (Exactly what the book suggests.)

I was horrified. I watched Don set up a scam-y business (who thinks these diet pills work?) and assumed that “The 4-hour Work Week” had nothing good to recommend it. Recently though, I’ve been thinking about how it would be nice to have more free time, and the idea of a 4-hour work week (or even just a shorter work week) sounded more and more appealing. So I pulled the book out of the library to if there were any nuggets of wisdom there.

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Career Advice from a Tarot Card Reader

tarot cards

Stepping into the shop was like entering the wand store in Harry Potter. The store was small, dark and filled with crystals, swords, and rows of books on mysticism, goddesses and sacred texts. Velvet chairs faced a fireplace and the proprietor immediately launched into a rant about how much he hates the term “new age” (the mysticism he practices is ancient).

I was there to have my tarot cards read. A friend of mine had seen a card reader in this mysticism shop and recommended him as a particularly intuitive guy. I was immediately curious. At 30, with several years of work experience under my belt (and many, many more ahead), I’m trying to figure out what I want in my career. I’ve started taking time to reflect on this a few times a year, and decided that a tarot card reading would be a good start for my springtime reflection. I don’t personally believe that there is magic in the cards, and certainly wasn’t expecting him to predict my future or anything, but I figured it was guaranteed to be something to reflect on. (read more…)

How to Be Bad at Something

I'm not bad, just bad at singing.

 Bad: [adj.] not good in any manner or degree.

 

I’m a terrible singer, but at this time last year, I signed up for singing lessons—mostly because as poorly as I sing, I really like doing it. Belting out pop songs and show tunes makes me happy, and I thought taking a few lessons might build a bit of confidence (not to mention help me with my pitch) and make it even more fun. I did this despite knowing that I would never be good at it fundamentally, and in the process, I learned some important rules of thumb for how to be bad at something.

The basics of how to enjoy being bad are simple: Pick an activity you enjoy doing for fun but are pretty bad at, and laugh when you mess up. These instructions are, of course, deceptively simple. The tricky part is maintaining the attitude of actually enjoying that you’re bad at something. Here’s how to do that successfully: (read more…)