Back on the Map

Greetings from Savannah, Georgia! My last correspondence came from 35,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. That was last October and I was in the midst of transitioning between jobs, learning things about myself, and satisfying a thirst for exploration. Since then, I’ve moved across the country, co-authored a New York Times best-selling book, and … Continue reading Back on the Map

Novelty vs Routine

​​Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, my feet are clad in thin, mass-produced, green tea-colored slippers courtesy of EVA Air. And I love them. I never wear slippers back in the States and couldn’t even tell you the last time I owned a pair. But on my flight to Taiwan, nothing seemed more alluring than partaking in this delightful custom. For far too many flights, my feet have been held hostage to the routine familiarity of American footwear. They shall be swelled and stifled no longer. On this trip, I think I’ll try something a little more novel.

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Create Your List of Core Values

Feeling directionless is a common occurrence these days. Luckily I’m not absent of directions per se; I’m simply unsure of which direction to run. Perhaps direction-confused is a better way of phrasing it. Whether bred from intentionality or sudden necessity, facing these existential questions is never easy. In these moments of uncertainty, I return to my list of values–or the principles in which I’ve decided to orchestrate my life–for guidance. Crafted from a space of clarity, I recorded my values to help direct all decisions: accepting a job, starting a relationship, or purchasing a product. The goal is not rigidity, but authenticity. Continue reading “Create Your List of Core Values”

The Challenging Questions of Public Transit

I love when small events create profound change–or the potential for it. In a short instance, previous notions are erased and rewritten with a whole new narrative. I recently experienced one of these moments while reading Jarrett Walker‘s book Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives. For the first time in my professional life, I sensed a great amount of compatibility with an occupation. My engineering background, design skills, and profound passion for developing community overlap so beautifully with transit planning that I couldn’t help but gobble up each page with fervor and inspiration. Backed by decades of transportation consulting, Walker gives life to the basic principles of designing and evaluating public transportation systems. Written for the layman, Human Transit provides the reader with four fundamental considerations in which every transportation agency should ask themselves. For my own learning and with the hope of spreading his teachings, I detail Walker’s conclusions in my own words. Furthermore, I relate these four major concepts to events you may experience while using public transit. Continue reading “The Challenging Questions of Public Transit”

Don’t Forget Your Strengths

Wrapped up in the daily grind, we can forget what value we bring to our relationships, workplace, and even ourselves. Life becomes routine. We closely tie our identity to “what we do” for a living. It becomes challenging to make changes: switch careers, move cities, or leave a relationship. Yet despite that predictability, we are dynamic beings–constantly learning new skills and forgetting others. One unfortunate side effect of this lifestyle is simply forgetting what we’re good at. To say it another way, sometimes we need others to remind us of our strengths. Continue reading “Don’t Forget Your Strengths”

Essentialism

I recently explored the differences between simplicity and minimalism, but I want to take the conversation a step further. I argued they are indeed mutually exclusive and both existing in their own domain–the physical and the emotional. I think your life can feel simple without necessarily pursuing minimal possessions. On the other hand, you can be a minimalist but maintain a complex mentality. One is a mindset, while the other is an extension of your physical space. Moreover, depending on the person, they can both hold their own unique definition. Continue reading “Essentialism”

Surprising Results From My One Week Time Study

After a few months of downsizing, streamlining, and organizing my physical possessions, I shifted my focus. I had lived in Seattle for a little over a year and my typical routine had me in a bit of a funk. In an effort to resolve this, I decided to look at another one of my limited resources: time. I hoped a quantitative study of how I was spending would provide some much needed insight into my otherwise automatic grind. I conducted a week-long time study documenting everything I did, rounded to the nearest half hour.

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Minimalism vs Simplicity

I was recently taken aback when a friend asked me to provide a distinction between simplicity and minimalism. While I tend to use them interchangeably, I have yet to sit down and craft my own definitions of these lifestyle elements. And while there are deep similarities, I do view minimalism and simplicity as mutually exclusive ideas.

Born from a sense of the aesthetic, I see minimalism as an approach to my physical world, namely possessions. I desire minimizing what’s in my space, whether tangible or digital, to my favorite essentials. Simplicity on the other hand serves a different function in my life. It is when I develop a more intentional approach with my belongings that I then experience a simpler lifestyle. I feel as if simplicity is rooted in my emotional state and outlook. Hence, I want my life to look minimal and feel simple. Continue reading “Minimalism vs Simplicity”

Goals & 3-1-4 Planning

One of my favorite paradoxes about envisioning goals relates to their time-dependent nature. I’ve read many times (and experienced myself) our human tendency to overestimate our short-term capabilities and underestimate our long-term potential. Let’s take an example we can all relate to in some capacity: writing papers.

Despite my frequent blogging now, this was not one of my favorite collegiate activities–after all, I was an engineer. And to my great disappointment, the department didn’t have a lot of sympathy. And because of that I compiled tens of pages of technical writing every so often for labs and other organizations. I often envisioned finishing the paper in a dedicated 10-hour work block with reasonably frequent breaks. Yet as the hours ticked by, I found myself ebbing between spurts of inspirations and impassible frustration.  Continue reading “Goals & 3-1-4 Planning”