Tag Archives: how to do what you love

Places to Think about Life in Downtown San Francisco

Bay Bridge from the Embarcadero in San FranciscoYou are responsible for managing your career/life. No one will do this for you, and it certainly doesn’t just happen. If you don’t wake up excited about your job or what you’re about to do all day, feeling like a lovely flower blooming in the sunlight of opportunity, it’s your job to fix something. Read this Onion article for a little more clarity on why doing anything else is pretty dumb.

At the same time, it’s not easy to switch careers or even understand where to begin, and time goes by so fast, all the sudden the weekened’s here but then it’s gone and all those things you wanted to think about are pushed to next week, again. So, where do you get the time to think about life? How do you find the correct patch of time-space fabric in which to plot your career, or any other kinds of goals you may have.

First off, make this a priority. Take your lunch break, and get out of the office, the hospital, the restaurant, or the mine. Removal is key, otherwise someone will probably ask you to do something. If your mine shaft, office building, or restaurant happens to be close to or in downtown San Francisco, I have some ideas for places you can escape to.

1. The Embarcadero

This is the street/boardwalk that borders the bay. Take some time to walk here and look out over the water and watch the sailboats doing their thing or look at the bridge, which is pretty cool. Stare at the people that stroll, business walk, or jog by you, some of them tourists trying to suck the marrow out of the city, others of them citizens getting their heart rates up or eating. The transience in the midst of such a broad landscape will help you as you try to decipher, “Where am I going in this wide world, and what do I need to do to get there?”

2. The Marriott on 2nd and Folsom

This Marriott has a huge lobby with ample seating and is a popular place for biz types to gather and discuss things they care about business-wise. Your first reaction might be, “How the heck am I supposed to think when I’m surrounded by people who are talking about business and holding meetings.” You’re right, there are people doing those things here, but look closer, and you’ll find people just checking in to their rooms and passing through the city. Think about them and their experience compared to yours. Boom. Your world just got bigger. Imagine the web of their relationships and watch it stretch over the entire globe. Boom. Your world just got bigger again. Then think about the person you want to be in 5 years and how to get there. It’s as simple as that.

3. The picnic area on 2nd and Folsom, south side

Come, sit in the sun, watch other people eat, and maybe enjoy something yourself. Look at the water in the fountain, the substance most critical to our very existence. Look at the trees, doing their all-important and only work of transforming sunlight into food, then think about what you’re doing that’s critical for well-being, either for others or for yourself. Are you contributing to the essential activities of the earth or adding to them in a positive way?

4. Find a tree and look at it for a long time

If you’re not in downtown San Francisco and have no idea what the places I just named are, go back and reconnect with nature, then extrapolate out and see the bigger picture. How can you be like that tree, fulfiling your purpose every day, during the day, and not relegating it to the nights and weekeneds. When you figure that out, please please please let me know how you’re doing it.

For more on finding your purpose and doing what you love, see “How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love” from brainpickings.org, Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, and Stop Everything and Think about This by yours truly. 

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Stop everything and think about this

cool picture(Skip to the quote if you’re short on time)

So I’ve been using the thinking part of my brain and the talking part of my mouth recently, having those kinds of conversations with older people that make me wonder why I ever thought I knew anything in the first place.

One of those was with my former professor, who I now call by her first name and that’s a little weird. I don’t remember the exact words of the conversation, but I remember coming away from it, shocked to learn that there are many stages in life, and the fact that she is a professor right now doesn’t mean she will always be a professor and in fact she hadn’t even imagined she would ever become a professor.

To me, this was mind-blowing. For some reason, probably because I’m too intelligent, I imagined popping out of college and entering “career” or “dream job,” neither of which turned out to be true, and in fact I don’t even know what my dream job looks like. Understanding this stage in my life as part of something greater is extremely relieving, because that means I still have the chance to revive 30 Rock and write for it in 10-15 years.

On the note of life stages and the illusion of permanence, I read an incredible quote today, courtesy of Literary Jukebox. The quote is from someone I’d never heard of with an equally unknown book, which gives me hope that one day my words might inspire someone even if they’ve never heard of me. Debbie Millman in Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design writes

“I discovered these common, self imposed restrictions are rather insidious, though they start out simple enough. We begin by worrying we aren’t good enough, smart enough or talented enough to get what we want, then we voluntarily live in this paralyzing mental framework, rather than confront our own role in this paralysis […]

Every once in a while — often when we least expect it — we encounter someone more courageous, someone who choose to strive for that which (to us) seemed unrealistically unattainable, even elusive. And we marvel. We swoon. We gape. Often, we are in awe. I think we look at these people as lucky, when in fact, luck has nothing to do with it […]

If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”

When I read this, I find it extremely challenging and convicting, and it reminds me of something that Stephen Elliott of The Daily Rumpus (and other) fame said once in one of his letters.

He said that people will never be surprised at your failure if you try to do something “impossible,” like make a movie, or publish a book, or travel around the world. In fact, they expect it. They’ll say “of course you couldn’t publish your book, of course you couldn’t make your movie, of course you couldn’t change jobs” etc. etc.

But the reality is that people are doing those things every day, and the only difference between them and me is the fact they’ve been pursuing their passion with a relentless fever, making the impossible happen for themselves and not listening to the consolation of others.

What does it take to be extraordinary? I’m not completely sure, but I know that part of it is steely tenacity. Today I resolve to be more tenacious.

(By the way, if you don’t read the site Brain Pickings, you should. A side-burn of Brain Pickings is the tumblr Literary Jukebox, which is also fantastic.)

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