Monday, May 18, 2009

Winds of Change

I'm getting this feeling today. I have no scientific evidence to prove that it means anything. All I know is that I feel like a wave is building on the horizon, gaining strength and speed as it moves closer. A wave of change.

I posted previously about looking to find a new job. I've poked and prodded here and there with little result so far. I don't know if that will be the change or something else. I feel almost like a restlessness, like a tired patron watching the end of an act of a play before the curtain followed by the start of a new scene.

Tomorrow I embark on a trip to the Midwest. I'm capitalizing on the opportunity by stopping in Las Vegas for a few days on the way back. I feel like it's the intermission during the scene change and when I get back, the shift will occur.

Again, I don't know what this really means. Maybe nothing will come of it. But at the same time I trust my gut.

Monday, May 11, 2009

How to find the right Career for you

There are a lot of how to guides for finding the right career for you. Many people have written long books explaining detailed processes for narrowing it down and figuring it all out. Usually this involves some kind of paper and pen list. You write down everything you like in the world, and as you do it you slowly get a better idea for what you like more than than other things. Then eventually your favorite activity is suppose to bubble up to the surface of your brain and you're happy and know exactly what you want.

In my experience, this has never worked. I have a lot of interests and they are often changing or are unrelated to each other. Also, part of what would make a great job for me would be that it changes frequently since I get bored with doing the same thing and often go through periods where I feel more or less inclined to work independently.

Another large factor in determining what I want to do is the pay. No, life is not all about money. I do have financial goals as well as bills to pay though, so as much as I'd like to pretend I don't need to think about money at all, that would be a lie.

So taking all of this into account, I present you with a new strategy. It's as simple as possible and involves no pencil and paper. Here goes...

Envision all of your hobbies that you are an active participant in doing the work beyond just being a member. For example, if you write on a forum all day, this does not count. If you have signed up to be an administer for that forum, then that would count. If you just attend meetings, that does not count. If you are on an executive committee or are helping out on projects, that counts.

Now that you know what you care enough about to actually put extra work into, merge those activities with your current job. Think about what position would use all of those skills or would combine those interests. It doesn't have to be exact, but should be related.

In order to offer more clarity, I will use myself as a demonstration.

Right now I volunteer as a coach for a basketball team, I am the Treasurer of the Toastmasters club that I belong to, I am a Lector at my church and I organize my own group for the MS walk. Since I play active roles in coaching, Toastmasters and the MS walk but am just a participant as a Lector, I will remove that from consideration. My day job is doing software development work.

So taking all this together, I should do a job involving coaching/teaching how to use or develop software and includes gathering and coordinating a group of people for a good cause.

Now, that's not a final result but without needing paper and a pen, I have a solid idea that I can use as a starting point and continue to refine. With the right direction in mind, I can either work to shape my current job into something that fits that, or try to jump to another position that is inline with my idea.

Friday, May 8, 2009


"Nostalgia has an expiration date."

That was a quote from my brother. He was cleaning up his room before moving out to college and had been piling a lot of old mementos into the trash. He was moving on and cleaning out the old to make room for the new.

In some ways I really agree with him. I've noticed recently that I have no memory of most days. They fit the pattern like most of the others with small differences, but on the whole it all just blurs together. Life has become more about the routine and the long term effect of habits over individual unique experiences.

But there are some times when that's not true. I'll eat a certain food, drive by a certain location or hear a certain song and it'll trigger a memory. Only those truly happy times really stick that well, and when I remember them is when I get that feeling of nostalgia.

This morning I heard 'Ants Marching' by the Dave Matthews Band and it triggered a memory of my brothers and I all hanging out in the basement of my parent's house. It seems so long ago at this point, but it was some of the happiest times in my life. Just like now, there are problems you are dealing with or things you are struggling to accomplish, but something about that camaraderie just resonates deeply inside.

At this point we are all much older. Our lives are further developed, our interests and social networks expanded further away from each other. Our situations and responsibilities much different. Those times have long past.

The thought makes me sad. In life there is always going to be change. You can only hold onto people, places or things for so long before the expiration date comes.

It is comforting though to know that even when everything else starts to be forgotten, some memories will always remain.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How to Deal with Uncertainty

A little background information first. Recently I've been feeling good and thinking a lot clearer. I'm not sure the exact cause of this, my current theory is that by switching to sleeping on my stomach instead of my back is preventing me from rolling around in my sleep, so I actually get more REM sleep and my body is actually healing and recovering.

So, having this new found energy, I've been putting a lot of thought into my life and how to improve my current situation. For the past year or so, I've been thrashing around between ideas, not really knowing what direction I want to take or what I really want to do. This is partially because even though I have an idea of where I want to go, I have no idea what steps to take to actually get there. I keep trying things, but not with any consistency or effort to actually get anywhere.

Along this line, a recent post on Steve Pavlina's blog talks about the 'Abuse of Power' and how a person can end up in a self-defeating cycle that imprisons them rather than enabling them ( This is precisely what I had been doing by constantly answering the question, "What do I want to do with my life?" with "I don't know". The reality is that I do know. I want to work in a situation like Toastmasters, where there is a structured program for growth with clear steps and milestones of achievement. I want to take what I learn and then mentor others who want to learn those skills. I want to become a leader and take on larger challenges.

At my current job, I have begun to do this in some ways. I'm doing business analysis work on a health care system in CNMI. I'm running the QA and Testing effort for the DJS. I created a new structure for how documentation should be stored and used internally so that it can be shared and used as an asset. Unfortunately, I have no interest in electronic health records or Mental Health and Substance Abuse treatment. Therefore, I'm currently focusing my efforts on finding quality companies that work in sectors that I am interested in, such as Green Technology and Military Defense.

What this all comes back to is goals. It is easy to start drifting through life when you have too much uncertainty about what you want. The problem with this is that no one is going to come into your life and tell you what you want. The only way to figure it out is to cut down the options to a manageable number and then make the effort to start trying them. Pick one thing, put your best effort out to making it happen. If you don't like it, you cross it off the list and move onto the next thing.

Trust me, I know I make it sound easy but is actually really hard to do. No one likes failing, no one likes rejection. As much as they hurt, they are less painful than the feeling of regret of seeing time go by and having nothing to show for it. Nothing is as disheartening as the feeling of drifting, uncertain what to do.

One of the member of my Toastmasters club just won the International Speech Competition at the District level. His speech centered around one key point that is important for everyone. To be a leader, to accomplish your goals, to be respected and create value, you need to start with three words.

I am responsible.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I've finally made this realization. Interestingly enough, I've been told this many times in the past but for some reason it never really clicked until now. Life demands specialists.

What am I talking about?

Well, think of your own experiences. When you do searches online. When you talk to your friends. Whenever you do anything. What are you looking for? An expert.

Say you're hungry and you want Chinese food. What is the thought process? I imagine it goes something like this:
- What Chinese places do I know?
- Am I happy with my recent experience at favorite of places that I know?
- Do I want to try something new?
- Who do I know that likes Chinese?
- Where do they think I should eat?

Let's say you're going to cook dinner. Do you ask someone who doesn't know how to cook what you should do? No, you ask someone with relative experience greater than yours. If you do a search online, you are looking for a specific piece of knowledge or a detailed guide, not information about the theory behind cooking or a story someone wrote about an experience they had cooking.

The world demands specialists. That's where keywords comes in. That's where clients come from. People's nature to seek out someone who knows better than them in one specific topic.

So the question is, what to specialize in? What to be an expert on?

Normally, I have a tendency to learn something quickly and then move on to something new. Instead of doing that, I need to pick a specific process, do it, get to an expert level at it and then write up descriptions for how to do it that others will want to benefit from.

I do this naturally in a lot of scenarios. I analyze situations and anything that I repeatedly do, I create algorithms for how to do it in an optimal fashion. Now I need to start transcribing them and then publishing them.

Laughing By Myself

So after a few days of watching reactions, I'm getting the impression that I'm the only one who laughs at my jokes.

I'm not exactly sure why this is. Personally, I think my jokes are witty and well timed. Apparently from empirical evidence, I may be the only one who thinks this. It's strange though because the stupid, obvious jokes that other people make seem to get a lot of laughs. I usually like things that make you think a little or reference previously discussed items. Maybe I'm too deep with it, or people just don't find that style funny.

In an effort to try different things, I've made some stupid puns recently just to see what reaction I get. I think the people that are use to me just ignore them or find them bland. I'm not sure about other people since I haven't been launching into a lot of conversations with random people.

I guess I should start considering the audience more when making jokes. Either that or just stop making jokes. It's hard to find the right line between just being yourself and fitting in or being who people want you to be.

Sometimes I feel like there is this whole code of social behavior that I just never learned growing up. I was always kinda the outsider, never really belonging to one group or another. I guess it could be more about the relationship you have with people and their relative comfort with you also. I imagine my jokes are almost like inside jokes that only I get or jokes that people aren't comfortable enough with me to know that I'm kidding and it's ok to laugh at.

I'll have to observe more and try to make better conclusions.