Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Feeling Stressed?

There's nothing too new in this article, but it's interesting to think about how our choices affect our stress levels. I wonder if we wrongly equate all stress with negative results and health problems -- of course those are valid concerns -- but when you set up your life to minimize all stress, you reduce opportunities for growth and challenge. Difficult, risky and uncomfortable experiences cause stress, but life would be pretty dull if you avoided anything that took you out of your comfort zone. Anyway, here's the article from CBC: Feeling stressed? You're not alone, new poll says.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Five Things You Didn't Know About Me

Doug at Proactive Living tagged me with the challenge to list five things you wouldn't know about me:
  1. I've seen Metallica in concert...twice.
  2. Instead of renting a car or cabbing it in Los Angeles this weekend, I bought a bicycle and put 50 miles on it...also took some photos along the way.
  3. I raced competitive motocross (off-road motorcycles) for years, including events in arenas with 10,000 spectators watching...and won.
  4. I've never really liked pets -- and sadly, I've noticed that this makes it difficult for pet owners to like me.
  5. I have four active blogs (and several other lapsed ones): this one, my personal blog, my work/learning blog, and a song blog...all of which are in danger of lapsing. More if you count my Flickr photos or 43Things as other types of blogs.
Thanks for the tag, Doug -- I'm sometimes too serious over here, and this is a good reminder to be a real person behind the links and writing.

And now for my five tags, selected not because I necessarily think they will take the challenge, but because they have consistently challenged me to think. The common thread -- great writers tackling difficult material and really living it...then sharing what they're learning:

Note: I didn't tag my Vancouverite blog-friend Brian, but I loved his response to the tag as well. As if we've both seen Metallica twice! I'm just glad I didn't get shot at either time.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kelowna Real Estate

Some national recognition of the stupidity of the housing market where we live: Kelowna house prices move ahead of Calgary, Toronto. In Canada, only Vancouver remains more ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Take Back Your Time Day

Bet you didn't know that today is Take Back Your Time Day:
"Overworked and time-starved Canadians and Americans need to take time Tuesday to cancel an appointment, play with their children, go for a walk or plant a tree, says a group promoting Take Back Your Time Day."
Update: I missed the CBC's In-Depth feature on the topic -- By the numbers: time poverty. Lots of fascinating stats about work and overwork, particularly in comparing the U.S., Canadian and European situations.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Work and Depression

CBC reports that 1 million Canadians are dissatisfied with their jobs, many depressed. Although that does sound like a bummer, does that mean that the other 90% of workers are pretty happy with their jobs?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Decision-Making Biases

I was fascinated by this Wikipedia list of decision-making and behavioral biases, with links to each one (including references!) like the
Planning Fallacy.

Update: Mutual Improvement deconstructed a suspect study connecting alcohol consumption and higher incomes with another list of cognitive biases taken from Wikipedia.

Update 2: I was looking through a list of del.ici.ous links on decision making and found this article: 10 reasons people make stupid decisions -- it's funny and references some solid background material.

Monday, October 02, 2006

More Happiness Research

A Jolly, Socratic Science takes a look at the best of happiness research and digs up this excellent presentation from Daniel Gilbert: How to Do Precisely the Right Thing at All Possible Times. The other item in the post was a link to How Not to Buy Happiness (pdf) by Robert Frank, which covers some very interesting territory:
"Considerable evidence suggests that if we use an increase in our incomes, as many of us do, simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not end up any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods–such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job–then the evidence paints a very different picture."

Aerons and Air Hockey

In Aerons and Air Hockey Kathy Sierra explains why cool workplaces matter, reminisces about the workspaces she's had that really worked, and gives everyone a peek at her new office -- a beautiful vintage Airstream trailer. Love it!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Consumer Life

I'm not a big fan of the title of CBC's Consumer Life section, but it's proven to be a great source of news about the choices people are making. The focus is particularly in how we spend our money, but covers safety, work issues, personal finance, housing market, and topics in those areas -- definitely worth following, and they even have an RSS feed to keep readers up to date.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Balancing Work and Aging Parents

Baby Boomers are having challenges balancing work with caring for their aging parents -- I'm seeing this coming up more lately as an issue for people I know in their 50s. The ones who have their own businesses seem to be in a much better position to make the adjustments they want/need to make.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Welcome Beckett-to-Be

Christian from think:lab is a prolific blogger, inspirational thinker, school designer, lifestylist and new dad. Congratulations to Christian and his family as they create a new life together.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

More Income and Happiness Research

From Princeton this time: Link between income and happiness is mainly an illusion. I thought this quote really captured the compromises we make without really thinking about how it will affect our well-being:
"In some cases, this focusing illusion may lead to a misallocation of time, from accepting lengthy commutes (which are among the worst moments of the day) to sacrificing time spent socializing (which are among the best moments of the day)."
Via Mutual Improvement, which looks to be warming up nicely.


Last year, I linked to some stuff about a cool design shop in PEI. This week, Robert Paterson interviewed the guys from silverorange about their unique approach to business. Self-actualization appears to be woven into their DNA, with recognition of how work might be better integrated into life. It's worth reading the whole thing, but here's a taste:
"Rob: So what then is your organizational goal?

I think that it is to foster an organization that supports our 'Whole Lives'. To create and maintain a platform that enables each of us to do the things that we want to be able to do. To set in motion an organization that would be self-sustaining and that we can rely on to support all of us for a long long time."
Who wouldn't want to work there?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Nests Not Empty

There's lots of talk about Twixters, Yeppies, Boomerang Kids, Grups, and other labels that are supposed to describe people who are extending their adolescence for various reasons, but you rarely hear from the parents of these grown-up kids. In this column from CBC, the author takes a quick look and her findings might surprise you:
"When surveyed, parents with adult children living at home expressed no frustration over their living arrangements. In fact, they were more likely to be very satisfied with the time they spent with their children than parents whose children were out on their own."
Update: CBC followed this up a couple of weeks later with For Generation Xers, there's no place like parents' home, referencing a recent StatsCan study.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

C'mon, Get Happy

This excellent article from In These Times looks at the common strands and differences in several of the more popular recent books on happiness. In reviewing Daniel Gilbert's work, the author summarizes with this gem:
"The vision we have of what will make us happy in the future is a mere reflection of our present. But our imagination is as unreliable as our memory; we can’t correctly foresee what will make us happy in the future."
Via Mutual Improvement.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mutual Improvement Blog

Mutual Improvement is a new blog from the creators of 43 Things, which I'll be studying for my thesis (and I've written about it here before). The blog is ambitious, covering "ideas about personal development, happiness, statistics, emotions, neurobiology, cognitive science and all the things that make life worth living." Sound familiar? Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why Best Buy's Employee Parking Lot is Empty

Nine Shift answers the question in greater depth, but I'll give away the punchline: Best Buy is encouraging employees to work from home.
"They have discovered (yes, it's true) that telecommuters are more productive than office workers."
An indicator of a larger trend? We can only hope. Driving around L.A. last week (and everyone apparently drives everywhere there) for the first time made me wonder if you could possibly conceive of a system that was any more dysfunctional than suburban sprawl combined with centralized offices.

Moms, Dads, Kids and Work

Penelope the Brazen Careerist should be queen of the work blogs. Maybe she is already. Anyway, I so often read her posts and nod along, thinking "wow, she really nailed it here." Then I save the post in Bloglines or Blogger and a month later it's still sitting there. In these two, she digs into the tensions, challenges and opportunities of how to divide up work and childcare in a family with two parents. It all rings so true to me, having spent the last five years attempting to find the magic formula that combines family and work bliss.

The new stay-at-home dad paves new paths for moms:
"In fact, most men do not set out to be stay-at-home dads. They just want to make sure they get to spend time with their kids. A survey by American Demographics revealed that eighty percent of men ages 18 to 39 said that a flexible job to accommodate kids takes a higher priority than doing challenging work or earning a high salary. The new stay-at-home version of dad is how they reach this goal."
The advice that jumps out at me in that post is to make sure the primary caregiver also has some work (or non-kid projects, at least) on the go. If I put all of my friends with young kids on a spectrum from happiest to most frustrated, the ones in the happy zone have kept working at least a few hours a week...not so much for the money, but for the sanity. At the other end are the ones who work full time or not at all.

Your family would be better off with a housewife. (So would mine.)
"The point is that marriage and family work best when one person is taking care of them full time. Duh. Everything in the world is best off when it is cared for very carefully. I wish everyone would stop trying to deny this."
I don't think many men would attempt to publish an article like this...but it's a shame, because the tone is spot on and honest to the core. The conversation should be happening, with a healthy questioning of values and what we're really trying to accomplish in our families, marriages and jobs. Lots of good thoughts in the comments to that one, too.

One of these articles pointed to stay-at-home-dad site Slowlane, and I followed a link to a very personal and enlightening article from a mom working full-time: Anatomy of a Working Mom's Brain. A quote, to give you the flavour:
"I was very overwhelmed, one of my experiences and I still experience this: I’m extremely overwhelmed being married to a work-at-home-dad. Are any of you work-at-home-dads and not stay-at-home-dads? It really makes a big difference. I don’t have a Mr. Mom at home. When I come home the laundry’s waiting for me, the dirty dishes are waiting for me, all of the housework is waiting for me. And that makes a big difference because not only do I work full time but that house is entirely my responsibility."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Try Bolivia

Think you're having a hard time balancing your work with your family and lifestyle desires? Bolivians head abroad looking for work, torn over families left back home:
"Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrants look to better their lives outside Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. With nearly 1.5 million Bolivians - a fifth of the population - living abroad, few families are untouched by the exodus.

Bolivia's story is like that of many other poor countries that ship off their only viable export product: their people. The migration often eases unemployment at home, but increases social pressures at their destinations."
Once in a while I need a reality check like this.

What a Printing Company in Montana Can Tell Us...

think:lab finds out What a Printing Company in Montana Can Tell Us About School Design and Leadership, but I think it's as fascinating from the perspective of envisioning effective workplaces. I especially loved his description of the company's approach to childcare:
"Day Care and 'family' is built in; there are no other options! The first thing you see when you come walk the parking lot to the front door are little kiddos playing under the Montana sky. All employees pay a pitance to have their young kids on site with them. It's a fundamental. Andrew made it a key design driver. And the # of Baby Bjorns in the office was an indicator that for many of the employees, a family 'quality of life' decision was made without compromising their careers. And its a spectacular daycare. Small adult/kid ratio. Healthy environment. Kids loved. And obviously very happy teachers and parents on site. It wins all visitors over the second they come into the building."
The company in question is Printing for Less, and they're really playing on lifestyle factors to attract skilled people -- check out the graphic comparison on their employment page.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Money Matters

Work from Within talks about how to get to the point where following your passion also pays the bills. Her advice? Be thankful for what you've got, and be patient:
"I regularly hear from people who are following their own authentic career path, 'So, I'm doing the work I love, but where's the money?' You know, Marcia Sinetar's classic book, Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow should add the word 'EVENTUALLY' at the end."
Harold also echoes what I've heard from many free agents in the time between contracts: "This year I don’t have any major projects scheduled for the Fall; which is not good from a financial perspective but it does mean that I can be open to any possibility." It seems like the work arrives eventually, too, but that uncertainty can be very hard on some people.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Career Planning Guideway

That last post reminded me of a feature we built last year in Choices Planner that lets a student integrate all kinds of personal assessment results into a career planning process. They start by completing the Interest Profiler (Holland codes) and Work Values Sorter (both career assessments), then combining those results with any other characteristics they want (earnings, job growth, working conditions, etc.). From there they choose a career from the resulting list and build a potential plan around it, including high school courses, post-secondary programs/paths, colleges, careers and lifestyle goals. The final step is to do a journal entry about the process. The student's final report might look something like this (pdf), and they can make as many different plans as they want to, or tweak existing ones.

It's a pretty cool way to "try on" possible selves, and I keep wondering why we aren't hearing more feedback about the feature. In less than an hour, anyone could create a pretty solid career plan matching their unique personality and needs.

Do What You Are

There are lots of these online, but I thought this Personality Type Quiz was simple and smart, letting you find your Myers-Briggs type with four quick choices and then exploring the implications of your type. I'm solid INTP, meaning that I tend to be (quite accurately):
"quiet, independent, and private; logical and unemotional; creative, ingenious, and innovative, global thinkers; curious and driven to increase their competence; casual, and adaptive; nonconforming and unpredictable."
My list of suggested careers and the advice on how to love me seem pretty close, overall.

A lot of people make fun of these quizzes, but I think they're good tools to get you reflecting about who you are and to trigger ideas for how to align various parts of your life (work, especially) with your identity. Bridges Transitions (my current employer) also offers a subscription-based version for schools that has a similar flow, but with more in-depth questions, richer reports and professional resources.

Thanks to Penelope for reminding me to dig around in this stuff some more.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Soul Owner

7 Rules For Going Solo is a quickie article from the founder of Clif Bar on the benefits of entirely owning your own company (as opposed to partnerships, venture capital or IPO), but the part I'd like to hear more about is this:
"Nearly five years ago, I came within hours of selling Clif Bar Inc., the energy and nutrition foods company I had co-founded, for $120 million. Instead, I chose to buy out a 50 percent partner and go it alone."
So he left $60 million sitting on the table (I'm assuming half of the sale proceeds) and decided to go into huge debt to take full control of the company instead? Dude must really love his job. I did some googling and found this more detailed account of his decision:
He told his parents, his friends, his wife. They all supported him. They all knew he wasn't being honest with himself. As he waited to sign the contract that would make him rich, Erickson started to shake. He couldn't breathe. He took a walk around the block and began to weep.

"I felt in my gut, 'I'm not done,' " he writes in his book, and then, "I don't have to do this." He felt free "instantly." Back at the office, he told his partner, "Send them home. I can't sell the company."

It was a bet-the-company move. He needed $80 million to buy out his partner and service the debt. Clif Bar had to grow fast to handle it. He took back the CEO reins from his partner and ran Clif Bar for four years.

Another Life Planner

GoalsUnlimited is a for-fee online life planner (but you can play with some of it in the free trial). It's got some very smart, slick features that help you focus on the important characteristics of goals you want to achieve, complete with reminders and other tools to help you make future decisions.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Choose Your High School Archetype

So, which character from the the John Hughes filmography did you relate to best: Criminal, Basket Case, Jock, Princess or Brain? This article is a few years old, and I post it mostly for fun...but I've always been fascinated by how we perceive ourselves in high school and how those perceptions change as we grow up. A quote:
"Life is like high school, according to two researchers who tracked a sample of high schoolers through their early 20s to see if the teenagers' perceptions of themselves accurately predicted what they would be like as young adults."
For a more official account, check out the associated academic paper (pdf) with some conclusions about the impact of engagement in extracurricular activities (sports, clubs, bands) for teens:
"We have found that our measure of activity participation at grade 10 is related to identity, peer group composition, and to achievement-related values. It is also an important predictor of alcohol use, GPA, educational and occupational attainment, civic engagement, and psychological adjustment."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Road Trip Nation

I can't remember how I arrived back at the Road Trip Nation site, three years after reading the book and loving their project, but it's worth a visit for pure inspiration. The initial road trip was five years ago, with a few college students touring around the U.S. in a green RV interviewing interesting people about their life paths. Apparently there have been follow-up trips as well, and the collection of video interviews is extensive. Looks like they released a new book last year as well.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Moving With the Brazen Careerist

Brazen Careerist says, "I'm moving out of New York City", which by itself wouldn't interest me much, but the post is a rich mine of lifestye values and choices, all with happiness as the goal. She wisely leans on Daniel Gilbert's genius to try to apply what he's learning about happiness to her decision on where to move.

This reminded me of my enthusiasm last year about about Find Your Spot. I wonder if Penelope would have arrived at Madison, WI if she had done their quiz? Probably would have been somewhere on the list. My obsession with mountains seems to plant me firmly in Oregon when I do the quiz.

It's cool to have the freedom to choose from anywhere in the country (or the world!) to live, based on school quality, crime rates, real estate prices, or whatever...but I have two main reservations about this approach.

The first also comes from research that shows that meaningful relationships are probably the greatest predictors of happiness. Moving away from friends and family might satisfy other lifestyle values (leisure, work, climate, culture), and I guess most people are better at making new friends than I am...but it would seriously compromise my happiness to start new somewhere, for relationships alone. It's probably true that "People are happy if they earn what their friends earn", but I don't think it follows that having no friends in your new location is going to make you feel rich (financially or otherwise).

The second reservation is more of an observation triggered by The Clustered World, which basically translates into the idea that we tend to have more in common with people in our lifestyle cluster no matter which city they live in. There are a few neighborhoods in nearly every city on the continent that would fit my preferences and values. I wonder if we'd be better off finding the best (for us) neighborhoods close to our families and friends, rather than looking at the averages for entire cities far away from our networks and resources.

All of this said, I love Penelope's approach to this adventure. I also strongly agree with the belief that people are terrible at predicting what will make them happy. Even if you had the perfect tool for simulating your life in a new place, it would be very, very difficult to figure out how you'd really feel about it in the real world, in real time. At some point, you just have to try it and see.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

An Introduction to the Commons

Harold Jarche explaining the background and purpose of his excellent third-space project: An Introduction to the Commons.
"Take a look in any city and you will see people working with wireless enabled computers in what has become the default third-space – the coffee shop. Now, a new third-space, the work commons, is being created where workers pay a monthly membership to have access to shared work areas and business services. No one owns an office, because no one needs a full-time space. It would be a waste."
I love this concept -- it seems to be one more piece in the puzzle in helping people find better integration of their work, learning, community and family lives. You can see how the availability and use of these spaces could cascade through individuals' lifestyle choices.

Perhaps easy access to offices, equipment and interesting colleagues makes it that much easier to envision and facilitate self-employment. And maybe more self-employed people could live in smaller homes, closer to city centers if they didn't require home offices contained inside, saving energy and other costs. Maybe these commons will all integrate short-term drop-in childcare so Mom or Dad can finish a project or have a meeting when the need arises. It seems like these things could emerge as a sort of dynamic community center.

Reminds me that I SO need to visit the Queen Street Commons.

Update: Rob points to a new organization in Vancouver called Workspace, which looks more business- oriented (as opposed to community/social-oriented, I guess) and posher than some of the others, and the higher prices reflect that. Lots to love about this model, and you'd think that there will be the critical mass within Vancouver to make it work.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Global Happiness

Garth has been finding some goodies lately on global comparisons of happiness: The World's Happiest Country and Another Study of Well-Being, both linking to some fascinating articles and resources like this world map of subjective well being (PDF). Of course these overviews of national mood don't tend to tell you much about how individuals are faring in these countries; only that their averages are higher or lower...but still interesting to think about.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Other Side of Self-Employment

Brazen Careerist also linked to David G. Blanchflower, another economist looking at happiness. From Self-employment: more may not be better (PDF):
"It does seem likely that people have an unrealistically rosy view of what it is like to be running their own business rather than staying with the comparative security of being an employee. A surprisingly high proportion of employees say they would prefer to be self-employed. Despite the fact that very high proportions of employees say they would like to set up their own business the reality is something else."

Theory of Well-Being

Brazen Careerist linked to Richard Easterlin, an economist doing some interesting cross-discipline work researching happiness and economics. His article Building a Better Theory of Well-Being (PDF) is powerful stuff, slicing and dicing existing research on happiness and blazing a new path. A lengthy quote, to help me remember later why this matters:
"More income may contribute to a more comfortable family life, and may facilitate health through exercise machines and recreational expenditures. But time spent in the pursuit of income takes away from the time available for family, exercise, and recreation. Moreover, the net balance of
effects tends to be negative. This is because of the inability of people to foresee the differential change in aspirations by domain. This failure to anticipate the change in aspirations assures that the allocation of time to the pecuniary domain will be excessive and that the more rewarding domains of family and health will consequently receive insufficient attention. In family life, the result is a substitution of goods for time spent with one’s spouse and children.

One may ask if social learning occurs – don’t people eventually realize how their material aspirations escalate with economic achievement, and become aware of the self-defeating nature of the pursuit of pecuniary goals? Perhaps, but the evidence on material aspirations that I have given fails to show evidence of such social learning. Moreover, the change in material aspirations itself works against social learning. When asked how happy they were five years ago, people, on average, systematically underestimate their well-being at that time, because they evaluate their past situation in terms, not of the lower material aspirations they actually had at that time, but on the basis of the new higher level of aspirations they have now acquired (Easterlin 2001a, 2002). As a result, they tend to think they are better off than they were in the past, rather than realizing that there has been no net improvement."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Freedom vs Your Job

Rob pulls together some great resources and personal experiences in More on Freedom vs Your Job, providing a much needed kick in the ass.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Navigating the Quarterlife Crisis

You've already heard of the "quarterlife crisis", but check out this great overview from Brazen Careerist, including links to books and interviews on the topic. I followed one link to The Lost Girls, an account of three young career women quitting their jobs and taking off on a world tour to find themselves -- great, great stuff.

Prepare for Uselessness

A fairly gloomy article about coming changes in work, focusing on skill obsolescence and aging: Out with the old. A quote:
"The education system turns out large numbers of graduates who will not find work in the jobs for which they trained; more people will lose work to those in other countries who work for less; still others will find that as they age, their experience matters ever less. These are the spectres of uselessness today - images not of people confronting a broken economic machine, but of their own irrelevance in a system that works efficiently, and profitably."
Via Mark Lloyd.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Really Real Estate

Do you rent or own your home? We rented for years and loved the freedom of it, but when rents way outstripped the costs of buying a few years ago, we bought a place. Paying the bank didn't feel much different than paying the old landlord, but our housings costs did go up; requiring more work and other kinds of belt-tightening decisions that sit right in the middle of this lifestylism exploration.

It feels like we're experimenting with a bit of lifestylism ourselves this week, putting our townhouse in Summerland, BC up for sale. I suppose by Vancouver (or other big-city) standards, the price would probably seem very affordable, but real estate has boomed here the last two years (without wages going up) and we're "getting out" of the market with only minor trepidation. We can't afford to buy anything else (since this is just about as cheap a home as anyone could buy in our area), so we're planning to rent for a while and figure out our options.

Since housing costs make up such a high proportion (and rising) of our incomes, these kinds of decisions weigh heavily, and they're part of the complex stew of options surrounding how we really want to live. We're opting for the relative security of paying off debts, upgrading our dying car, and the potential freedom to travel or live somewhere new for a while: perhaps this heavenly spot in PEI or something more adventurous like helping out at an orphanage in Ecuador for a few months (run by family friends we've supported for years and would love to see in person).

We feel like we're running counter to the American Dream right now, and it's quite liberating. Anyway, if you or someone you know is looking for a move to (or investment property in) British Columbia's sunny Okanagan, in a quiet lakeside town surrounded by mountains, head on over to and we'll get things hooked up.

Brazen Careerist

Via Proactive Living (which I caught up on this morning -- Doug's been blogging up an excellent storm over there) comes a link to Brazen Careerist. I hadn't ever seen this one before, but at first skim, it's fantastic -- great tone and interesting career advice. I'll be following it from now on.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Work and Chores

CBC says that Gender gaps remain over work time, chore time, bouncing off a new report from a new StatsCan report on work:
"Dual-earner couples who worked long days doing their job plus housework and who had dependent children at home were less satisfied with their work-life balance. They also felt more time-stressed, particularly women.

However, despite these stage-of-life pressures, the majority of dual-earner husbands and wives felt satisfied with their life as a whole, the study found.

Women generally tend to feel more time-stressed than men, regardless of length of workday or presence of children. For example, among couples with the longest workday and children at home, two-thirds of the women felt time-stressed compared with one-half of men."


Dandelife is a neat tool for creating personal histories, complete with a really nice timeline view and connections to other people's stories. Check out a profile for a taste.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Purpose Gift Passion

How to Save the World had a great post about choosing your entrepreneurial path earlier in the month -- the graphic alone is worth the trip over to check it out.

Positive Futurist

The Roaring Zeros must have seemed bizarrely optimistic when it was published in 1999, at the height of the Y2K scare. Optimistic futurism seems almost out of style, but super-lifestylist Kevin Kelly's predictions of a hyper-prosperous North America for decades makes for a great read:
"Fast-forward to 2020. After two decades of ultraprosperity, the average American household's income is $150,000, but milk still costs only about $2.50 a gallon. Web-enabled TVs are free if you commit to watching them, but camping permits for Yellowstone cost $1,000. Almost everyone working has signed up for a job that does not exist (at the moment); most workers have more than one business card, more than one source of income. Hard-hat workers are paid as much as Web designers, and plumbers charge more for house calls than doctors. For the educated, the income gap narrows. Indeed, labor is in such short supply that corporations 'hire' high school grads, and then pay for their four-year college educations before they begin work."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Paradox of Choice

I linked to some stuff about the Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz last year, but didn't really follow it up. Now I'm studying it for my thesis and finding all kinds of fascinating ideas around the concept. The New Yorker review and an interview with the author are a good place to start, and his earlier paper introduces many of the main ideas in the book -- Self-Determination: The Tyranny of Freedom (pdf). One of the main studies supporting his ideas is outlined here -- When Choice is Demotivating, by Sheena S. Iyengar, who has done amazing research in this area.

Why does this matter? At the root of this lifestylism project is my belief that we don't tend to make lifestyle decisions that reflect our core values. Anything that helps us understand that process is a step toward developing better ways to make those choices.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Commuters spending more time in transit

Canadians spend an average of 63 minutes a day commuting, and that number has increased since 1992. Increased, during a time of rising gas prices, improving environmental awareness and continued urbanization. Ugh.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Market Segmentation Research

The smart folks at Claritas let me know that they've updated their lifestyle segments (clusters) site. It's just way too much fun to see which segment you might fit into and see how it connects you to similar people elsewhere. If you live in the U.S., you can punch in your zip code to see how your neighborhood is classified.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Does Fatherhood Make You Happy?

Although this article by Daniel Gilbert coincided with Father's Day, the insights can certainly be applied to moms as well. It's short and oh-so-smart. Are parents lying when they say their kids are their greatest source of happiness?
"Psychologists have measured how people feel as they go about their daily activities, and have found that people are less happy when they are interacting with their children than when they are eating, exercising, shopping or watching television. Indeed, an act of parenting makes most people about as happy as an act of housework. Economists have modeled the impact of many variables on people's overall happiness and have consistently found that children have only a small impact. A small negative impact."
He offers some fascinating reasons why we love our kids so much despite the lack of evidence that they make us happy -- read it to find out what they are.

I liked this article so much that I went into a web of stuff by the author. I was most interested in his talk on Affective Forecasting, which is basically studying how people predict they will react to future events (both negative and positive). A flavour:
"What's interesting to me is that while money is weakly and complexly correlated with happiness, and social relationships are strongly and simply correlated with happiness, most of us spend most of our time trying to be happy by pursuing wealth. Why?"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Kunstler Blogs

I didn't know that James Howard Kunstler had a blog. It's got his usual cantankerous tone (and a language warning), covering all kinds of big issues. His books about urban planning rocked my world -- it's a huge area of concern when you're thinking about aligning your lifestyle with your values and finding that the housing options available (and semi-affordable) tend to be mostly so undesireable:
"A substantial amount of total house sales are made up of new suburban McHouses built in places at the furthest extreme distance from employment centers -- because that's where the remaining cheap land is after sixty-odd years of suburban development. How many prospective house-buyers will close on those things with gasoline over $3 a gallon? Probably fewer than are required to sell them all."
Thanks to Tom Hoffman for the pointer.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thank Goodness

Those of you who have enjoyed the links on happiness here will happy to know that today is the happiest day of 2006.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Comments summarizing Maslow's take on self-actualization, from a book on Self-Direction in Learning:
"Maslow has also identified a number of characteristics shared by self-actualizing people. According to Maslow, self-actualizers tend to, among other things: possess a more efficient view of reality and a corresponding tolerance of ambiguity; be accepting of themselves and others; demonstrate spontaneous behavior that is in tune with their own values and not necessarily tied to the common beliefs and practices of the culture; focus on problems that lie outside of themselves, thus demonstrating a highly ethical concern; maintain a few extremely close interpersonal relationships rather than seek out a large number of less intense friendships; and possess high levels of creativity."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Monday, June 05, 2006

There is No Try

Doug invokes a classic Yoda quote and offers some simple advice in Choose Your DO:
"This quote has come to mind lately whenever I hear individuals say what they were 'going to do' or 'wishing they could do'. These people always have lots of reasons why they don't live the life they say they would prefer. In the end, they're just talking (the easier thing to do).

It's not my position to be somebody else's personal Yoda. But in my mind, when I hear these people yearning for their theoretical lives, I'm thinking, 'Do or do not. There is no try.'

Either you're pursuing the life you wish for, or you are not. Either you have a project or two that means something to you or you don't. Our world would be a whole lot more fulfilled if we each agreed to let our actions do our talking for us."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Happiness Formula

The BBC has a fantastic section on their site called The Happiness Formula. It has articles, videos, and happiness tests, all covering the pursuit of happiness and what it means to be happy.

On a related note from the UK, Pat Kane talks about how happiness and well-being are sneaking into politics: Well beings or ethical beings? Lots of lifestylism in there, particularly in reintroducing the question of whether happy people are necessarily great citizens.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What to do With Your Dots

Dan Russell had an interesting post this week on the Creating Passionate Users blog: What a graphic can tell you. Take a look at the graphics and ponder how well you're using your dots.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Up With Grups

Up With Grups

Regular readers already know that I'm a sucker for new labels to describe groups with shared lifestyle characteristics -- Gen X/Y/Next, Twixters, Yeppies, Grunge Parents, you name it -- so this is another one I got a kick out of, probably because much of it describes my current lifestyle (minus the $300 jeans and obviously high income), especially the stuff about music, work and kids. The entire article is fun and worth a read but here are the topic headings to give you the flavour:
  • The Grup Music, or the Brand-new Sound of Twenty Years Ago
  • The Grup Look, or I Swear These Jeans Were Here a Minute Ago
  • The Grup Children, or Daddy, Please Turn That Music Down
  • The Grup Career, or Take This Job and Allow Me to Do It From Home, With Occasional Snowboarding Trips
Via Half an Hour.

Update: Additional commentary from Semantic Compositions

Monday, May 22, 2006

More than One Life

Shamash says, quite reasonably, that she wants to be More than One Person. I keep coming back to this post since she put it up a while back, pondering the wisdom and learning in her searching. A quote:
"I am a pie, parceling out my life into slices, never completely satisfying any dream. In giving a little here, a little there, every portion is half-assed. I am exhausted with it all."
As I commented on her site, when I started collecting things for this project, I had this vague idea that if only we could align our lifestyle choices with our values, integrating the most important parts of our lives into one optimized, meaningful superlife...then everything would be all good. And it might be all good if you could pull it off, but it may be impossible.

So many of our values (and dreams and goals) -- even core values -- are mutually exclusive. They can't be integrated into one life. Instead, we're stuck deciding which ones we want to compromise on, which ones go on the backburner, and which ones get current attention. And life often intervenes to pull us in different directions, spreading us too thin even when we think we've got things set up pretty well.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dreams and Goals and Plans

I was poking around in this list of business and career blogs and found a few gems around the concept of setting goals and following dreams. I wasn't really looking for them, but that's what seemed to stick...a quote from each:

Life 2.0: How big dare you dream?
"As we achieve our goals we push back the boundaries of what we think ourselves capable of - almost like blowing up a balloon one breath at a time. Yet for many of us there's a deep nagging suspicion that we don't need to keep pushing back those boundaries - that we are capable of far more than think, that we could in fact simply prick the balloon and be done with boundaries and limitation for good."

Making A Difference: Envisioning your dreams
"Blast off into the future - take a quick ride in a time machine out 5, 10, 20, 30 years - where your dream is realized. You've done it. It's happened. Take a look around at what's going on around you in this future place and time. In this future, what's different - in yourself, in the world? Where are you? What are you doing? Who else is there? What's accessible to you that seems out of reach today?"

Escape from Cubicle Nation: Before you create your business plan, create your life plan
"I cannot tell you how many miserable multi-millionaire entrepreneurs I met in my years in Silicon Valley. I believe they were miserable because they got too enamored with business growth at all costs and didn't see creating a great business as a means to create a great life."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Career Plans by Age 12?

Career plans by age 12? Maybe in Florida:
"Do children barely out of elementary school have the knowledge and experience to declare a career path? Brianna's feelings on the subject are shared by some adults, who also worry that a career curriculum would come at the expense of other activities such as music, art, and sports.

But supporters of the proposal say it gives kids a taste of the real world and encourages them to widen, not narrow, their sense of career options."
The arguments against this type of learning seem a bit weak to me. Career exploration and learning about how different career pathways require different kinds of educational planning don't at all imply that anyone is forcing a kid to choose a career in Grade 7.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Artist as Lifestylist

From Meghan Hildebrand's artist's statement accompanying a new show of her paintings:
"This blaring cacophony of data is driving me to accept it; to reject originality and true richness, to shop constantly and to accept decisions made on my behalf. Instead of joining it, my decision is to gently mock it, by combining with it an element that is inherently splendid, and can not be commercialized or streamlined. Colour, pure colour that remains genuine whether it's nostalgic mint green auto paint, the green-gold tips of moss or the steaming mustard-yellow of a sulphur sludge pool."
Maybe it's a stretch for lifestylism, but there's something beautiful about the idea of pure colour as an authentic response to the overloaded expectations of society. There's an inherent activism in her art, I think, and even the act of painting itself must reflect an alignment of her values with how she chooses to spend her time and resources. Inspiring!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Skip College

In Go Ahead; Skip Classes...and Why College Might Not Matter, Christian points to an interesting Forbes article on why to skip college:
"1. You'll be losing four working years.
2. You won't necessarily earn less money.
3. In fact, you could probably make more money if you invested your tuition.
4. You don't need to be in a classroom in order to learn something.
5. Plenty of other people did fine."

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Happiness Hypothesis

The Happiness Hypothesis is a site accompanying a book, but by itself it offers some interesting tidbits about the pursuit of happiness. It's broken down into five steps (easy!) with an explanation of each:
Step 1: Diagnose Yourself
Step 2: Improve Your Mental Hygiene
Step 3: Improve Your Relatedness
Step 4: Improve Your Work
Step 5: Improve Your Connection to Something Beyond Yourself

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Feeling Your Financial Age

Jory is Feeling My Financial Age, and like usual, I'm glad she's sharing those feelings:
"I'd like to see a magazine that addresses how to use financial tools when money dries up for months at a time, when someone has to get out of a job and doesn't have six months of savings, when someone decides that financial risk is worth greater potential happiness, when we have to shoulder the entire burden of our health insurance, when we realize we can't plan the swerves and curves of opportunity."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In Defense of French Dirigisme

In Defense of French Dirigisme opens with a question -- "They live longer. They eat better. They work less. So why do Americans want to beat up on the French?" -- and closes with some potential answers -- "This might be mildly funny but for a 2005 French government study that found that the 35-hour week created about 350,000 jobs, from its application in 1998 through 2002, and that the affected businesses enjoyed productivity gains of 4 to 5 percent during the same period."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Theory

Seb sent me a link to an old Gaping Void post about how we often try to balance different kinds of work in our lives -- his theory on creative work:
"The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended."
As I wrote in my response to Seb, one of the things I like about this representation is that he doesn't lapse into the old stereotype of the artist having to wait tables or dig ditches to pay the most of the examples he's using, the artist is doing related (but not likely passionate) work to pay the bills, which is probably more accurate for more people. Many of us try to at least find work in in the right field for us, if not the ideal job description within the field that will pay us to do what we love.

I suppose the holy grail is passionate work that also pays well and leaves time for other important areas of our lives, but I don't see many people pulling that off. Seems to make most sense to try to keep living expenses low so that the day job doesn't have to consume as much time, freeing up more resources to pursue the creative work that could at some point pay for itself.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Life as a Free Agent

I like Harold's list of what it means to have a Life as a Free Agent. It seems to be chock full of lifestylism, that elusive integration of work, life, values and sustainability:
"10. Doing my own tech support
9. Only working seven days a week
8. Paying cash & avoiding monthly payments
7. Time for exercise and reading
6. Lots of short breaks, but no long holidays
5. Getting asked to volunteer more
4. Seeing more of my banker
3. Seeing more of my family
2. Looking forward to Mondays
1. Creating my own opportunities"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Christian Long is another lifestylist. In his ongoing thinking about the future of learning and the design of schools, he's also digging into big questions about what constitutes a meaningful life and how learning prepares us to do good work. His writing has been so intense and prolific lately that's it's hard to keep up. From Will That "What I'm Gonna Be After Graduation" Job Even Exist When You Graduate?:
"All well and good to ramp up on math classes and get the kids to 'pass the test.' But, and maybe I'm 'off' a bit on this, if we don't spend a fair amount of time helping the same kids/students with some visioning exercises as to what they might 'do' with their lives once they graduate, it will seem to be a lot of skills without an arrow attached. Or even a rubber band to at least help them adapt and rebound as the future changes much of the game of work."
He's not off at all. I consider this a major failing of the school system right now. Envisioning, finding and creating a meaningful life path is a skill (or set of skills) that does not get taught in schools, and most parents are clueless about it except to scare their kids into college as if that was the automatic guarantee for great jobs and passionate work. So if schools and parents aren't going to do it, who is? From Vocation Vacations for Test-Driving a New Career:
"Okay, if I didn't already have my dream job, I'd be giving serious thought to this opportunity created by a corporate dropout named Brian Kurth who figured out that there may be a way to help a few other good souls wrestling with a career change try on their fantasy career for size."
And one more that digs into some of the skills kids will need:
Forget College. But Can You Interview? --
"Because at the end of the day, the future belongs to those who can tell a great story, demonstrate passionate interest combined with the ability to problem solve and 'figure it out' on the fly, and who have the audacious ability to care enough to 'go after it.' Teachers and parents: what have you done lately to help your 'little one' be in this position?"

Sunday, March 19, 2006

New Moms Exhausted

From the Business of Life, bouncing off a new study -- New Moms Exhausted:
"Or to learn that 76 percent of working mothers return to work within a year after the birth of their child. Forty-one percent of working mothers are back within three months, and nearly one in six is back within the first month after delivery."
It boggles the mind to imagine the societal (and lifestyle/family) implications of half of the kids in an entire generation being raised by institutions from the time they're three months old. She also had an interesting recent post about contempt for parenthood:
"The painful paradox is that while women have liberated themselves from being defined by their biology - the fate of the girl in many African and Asian societies who is not truly a woman until she has given birth - mothers have ended up relegated to the status of constant abject failure in a culture driven by consumerism and workaholism."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What's Next for Vocational Education?

What's next for voc ed? covers the marginalization of vocational education programs in Michigan in favour of college-prep academic programs. Meanwhile, we're seeing demand (and wages) rising in the skilled trades. It just doesn't make sense.

Thanks to think:lab, where Christian posts:
"Just when 'vocational' programs have finally come out of the dark ages and gained a little bit of respect in the new guise of CATE (Career and Technology Education) Centers, the following article comes out and makes you wonder if the support will remain. Not because they don't work...sadly."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Authentic Happiness

I can't remember now how I came across
Authentic Happiness: Using the new Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, but it's really fascinating stuff. They've got a bunch of questionnaires to measure your happiness, including overall happiness, optimism, gratitude, grit, close relationships, meaning, strengths, and many others. Once you register, you can see all of your results in one place, along with analysis of your approach to life.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Built-in Altruism?

Phatgnat linked to this BBC article: Altruism 'in-built' in humans. It seems pretty light on facts, but I find this train of thought fascinating. One of the problems I've found with the lifestylism concept is that values are so relative. If you're aligning your lifestyle with ugly values, the resulting lifestyle will be ugly. But what if we're inherently good?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Working the Network for Web Work

I've never met Will Pate, but I've been checking in on his blog since he was out in the Maritimes. This morning I swung by there and found a fascinating post: Web Marketing Prodigy and Sales Rainmaker Seeks Awesome Job.

I guess I've seen people use their blogs to find work and initiate transitions before, but it just hit me again how the web changes turns these things upside down. Instead of the solitary job-seeker firing out resumes to oblivious HR departments, or even working the phones to see if anyone in their network can help hook them up, they can put the word out online with posts, resumes, profiles, work samples or whatever (and still work the traditional back channels). Will wants to stay in Vancouver, but lists some other places he'd move to for the right opportunity -- the potential web of connections and interested groups could be pretty big.

Then the strength of weak ties can really work some magic, when the distributed network starts stumbling across (and sending links around about) someone looking for work and seeing their interests, skills, voice and network displayed in one place with a great deal of depth. A powerful model, especially when an employer can use the medium to find and communicate with others in the job seeker's network. Within a few clicks, I could find the blogs (and contact information) of pretty much everyone Will has worked with in the past year -- if I'm looking to hire a web marketing and sales specialist, that information is invaluable.

The other thing I find interesting about this phenomenon is seeing these young, smart webheads leaving great jobs in web companies on the rise -- it seems to be happening all the time. Will pointed to another one using his blog in the same way. Job turnover isn't surprising, and the whole free-agent ethos isn't new, but something feels right about working at a place long enough (18 months? Two years?) to learn some new skills and help an organization with a specific goal, and then move on to new challenges before the old ones get stale.

Update: Just in case anyone wonders whether Will's job-hunting approach worked, he got interest from 30 companies and picked one.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Flow and Happiness

Csikszentmihalyi's secrets of happiness:
"Over the years, I came up with the expression 'flow': a term to describe the common denominator among those people who deemed themselves happy. The most obvious component of happiness, I found out, is intense concentration, which is the main reason that activities such as music, art, literature, sports and other forms of leisure have survived. The essential ingredient for concentration — whether it happens when reading a poem or building a sand castle — is that it involves a challenge that matches one’s ability. The only solution to achieve enduring happiness, therefore, is to keep finding new opportunities to refine one’s skills: do one’s job better or faster, or expand the tasks that comprise it; find a new set of challenges more appropriate to your stage of life."
Thanks to Chris Corrigan for the pointer to this article. I've been a fan of flow for years -- it's one of those ideas that pops up over and over in unexpected contexts.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


The Business of Life blog pointed to this Life Events & Financial Decisions Planner. It's basically just a way of browsing their articles, but the life-wide structure is interesting.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dilbert Wisdom

Today's Dilbert just nails the lifestylism concept. How should I take this when my boss sends it to me in an e-mail?

Detroit's Wild Kingdom

Apparently there are inner-city areas in Detroit that are being reclaimed by nature, because homes and entire neighbourhoods have been abandoned for years. As they get torn down or gutted (but not replaced), trees take over. Neglected and empty skyscrapers and buildings downtown have trees growing on roofs and pigeons taking over inside. The images are truly striking:Meanwhile, the suburbs and exurbs keep growing and sprawling out away from the city -- and all the people moving/living out there have to drive to get anywhere. There's something so Mad Max about this story, but the apocalypse seems to be happening so slowly.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Man on a Mission

I'd say that Aiden Enns sounds like a lifestylist (in a good way). The founder of the Buy Nothing Christmas and past managing editor of Adbusters writes about his efforts to align his values with his lifestyle:
"To address a chronic self-dissatisfaction with my lack of radicalness, I've tried to adjust a few things. Like expectations for retirement, for example. At this rate we'll have a nice house and a long resume filled with non-profit entries. My retirement plan includes basic gardening skills, geothermal heat, solar electricity, cylcle-powered clothes washer, manual coffee grinder and, if we're lucky, rental income from housemates. And I promise never to get sick, and I'll be healthy and able-bodied till the day I die. Uh, I guess there's a couple holes in my dream package.

But this, according to my gut, is still better than getting a day job, fueling the big-bank business and supporting the free trade, crazy-market game. Why, even the very category of life called 'retirement' is problematic - it's like we work most of our life (i.e., slave away at jobs that keeps us from family, home and personal passions) and then finally get to rest. I'd rather live most of my life (i.e., pursue my passions and 'hunt and gather' food along the way) and then when I'm old, I'll live some more (yes, my inner rationalist is nervous at the thought)."
I love the wonderful honesty and sense of searching here, and the strong undercurrent of activism that brings me back to the anarchist roots of the term I used to dub this whole experiment.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mapping Personality Visibility

A fascinating and simple way to figure out (and represent) how you're perceived by others: Interactive Johari Window.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Are We Happy Yet?

The Business of Life linked to this fantastic study on happiness. It looks like in the U.S., your best chance to be very happy is to be married, religious, Republican, rich, white, and living somewhere warm. The analysis of the study results is breezy and fun, with lots of interesting observations:
"Keep in mind, however, that even taking into account all these factors, we don't actually improve by very much our ability to predict which specific individual is likely to be very happy. If we knew who'd been fired last week, or who's a glass-is-always-half-full kind of person, we'd probably do a lot better."
Shamash was also thinking happy thoughts this week:
"Though I can appreciate his sort of "ethical happiness", I simply love those few times during the week where I just have to smile at how big and beautiful this world is. What lovely creatures walk this earth, and how honored I am to have been able to meet and learn to know a few of them."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Following Your Gut

The Business of Life has a great post about the differences between how people make difficult life decisions and simpler decisions. She quotes from a study summary (the report itself is behind a subscription wall):
"However, as the decisions become complex (more expensive items with many characteristics, such as cars), better decisions and happier ones come from not attending to the choices but allowing one's unconscious to sift through the many permutations for the optimal combination."
This Boston Globe article fleshes out some of the ideas in the paper:
"The results, Dijksterhuis said, underscored flaws in conscious decision-making. A person can pay attention to only a limited amount of information at once, which can lead people to focus on just a few factors and lose the bigger picture. The unconscious is better, he said, at integrating large amounts of information.

Another flaw, he said, is what he called a 'weighing problem.' The conscious mind can weigh some factors too heavily, and discount others that are important.

For example, when people buy a house, they tend to put too much emphasis on its size, and not enough on their commute every day, he said. When working through a decision consciously, the mind has a tendency to focus on factors that are easy to articulate -- like the number of square feet -- at the expense of other factors that are hard to put into words."
This is fascinating lifestylism stuff. I might add my own theory to the discussion: most of us just don't have good skills or tools to help us make these more complex, holistic lifestyle decisions. I don't think it has much to do with how our brains are wired -- with better tools, I think complex decision-making that takes the big-picture (aligning with values, cascading effects throughout your life) view can be learned.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Considering Third Spaces

think:lab bounces off this report on the rise of nonprofit and commercial ventures that provide space for freelancers and others who need a place to work (or even just hang out) that isn't at home.
"How about combining work, child care and BEING SPACES? Yes, there's a business opportunity in that as well: look no further than TwoRooms ('You Work, They Play'), another (surprise!) New York based facility designed to provide office space, childcare and community, all in one setting, for freelance and/or home-based workers who don't have the need for, or can't afford the expense of full-time childcare."
Having worked at home for three days a week over the past two years, I've been fascinated by these new spaces. Business Community Centers provides some interesting analysis on the concept, and the Queen Street Commons in Charlottetown shows the concept in action. The note about childcare in the quote also rings true for me.

Many of our friends are in the same life stage as we are with young kids at home, and we're all feeling the absurdity of all-or-nothing choices when it comes to work and childcare. Most daycares apparently won't even consider flexible, part-time care options, and of course employers tend to want more than 40 hours a week out of employees (in the office) rather than finding ways to accommodate working parents. No easy answers, but some of these third-place developments make me think that the solo/freelance/free-agent life may become even more attractive for people feeling this squeeze.

Christian also connects the dots on this trend and thinks it might be the model for schools of the future -- comfortable places with great resources for self-directed learners to do their thing. I love this vision:
"Imagine if the next school design in your home town or community included a community "Being Space" such as any of the above, in addition to the Media Learning Center and the Distance Learning Lab. Imagine when community and school really become one and the same!"

Monday, February 06, 2006

More Extended Adolescence

From The Children Who Won't Grow Up:
"Society has come to accept the idea that people do not become adults until they are in their late thirties. As a result, adolescence has been extended well into the twenties. It is interesting to note that the Society for Adolescent Medicine, an American doctors' organisation, now states on its website that it cares for persons '10 to 26 years of age'. Recently the MacArthur Foundation has funded a major research project called 'Transitions to Adulthood', which situates the end of that transition at 34."
Phew, I've still got one year left to be a kid! Perhaps it's time to blow a few hundred dollars on nostalgia purchases.

Let the Good Times Roll

I think I'm a sucker for graduation speeches. I thought Guy Kawasaki's was pretty good big-picture advice overall. It's worth reading his explanation of each point, but here's the list for reference:
"#10: Live off your parents as long as possible.
#9: Pursue joy, not happiness.
#8: Challenge the known and embrace the unknown.
#7: Learn to speak a foreign language, play a musical instrument, and play non-contact sports.
#6: Continue to learn.
#5: Learn to like yourself or change yourself until you can like yourself. #4: Don't get married too soon.
#3: Play to win and win to play.
#2: Obey the absolutes.
#1: Enjoy your family and friends before they are gone."

Via The Business of Life.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Living a Balanced Life

Shamash Says has a wonderful personal reflection on life balance this week. It's a record of her journey through work and life and she appears to be approaching the crossroads:
"Maybe it’s time for me to switch careers: pursue my Ph.D. and teach at the university level or go to art school.

Maybe it’s time to take a year off and finish my novel.

Maybe it’s time to find a job that’s a better match with my values of living a balanced life."
In an earlier post, she used 43 Things as the inspiration for a writing assignment she gave to her students. The richness and variety of the results had her feeling hopeful and refreshed:
"Because, with a list like this, you have to think: If these kids are in charge of the world, it might not end up being such a bad place, afterall."
Even her own reflective post has the feel of a 43 Things list -- big-picture to-dos full of learning, creativity and engagement. There's something powerful about this kind of reflection. Shamash also kindly linked over here and included a pointer to Careerdaze, which had a great post on Values and Career Choices:
"I have found through the years that when someone is unhappy in their job, most of the time it is because there is a value that is not being met."

Monday, January 30, 2006

are we refusing to grow up? what does this mean?

In perpetually liminal, Danah Boyd ponders delayed adolescence, rites of passage, and changing expectations for young people:
"When the idea of teenagers was created during the depression, schooling became mandatory. In some senses, this was ideal because it meant that a larger portion of the population was prepared for the future. But over time, a high school diploma no longer served as a ticket to a better life. And then it was college. And then it was graduate school. What next? And what about the fact that we no longer have a construct of "success" for working class kids? By removing unions and life-long well-paying factory gigs and government jobs with pensions, we've turned "success" into a game that can only be acquired through pre-existing privilege or a lottery (becoming a 'star'). This really marginalizes a huge chunk of today's youth culture. What if you aren't really meant to be college bound? What then?"
Very solid comments on the post as well -- worth reading.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Why I Quit Entrepreneurship and Got a Real Job

BusinessPundit: Why I Quit Entrepreneurship and Got a Real Job is mostly focused on what the author learned from his entrepreneurial experience -- solid stuff. Via Without Prejudice.

Radical Humility

Jory's been on a full-on writing binge lately. I keep saving her posts in Bloglines and then feeling like I can't even do them justice with a link, a quote and a throwaway comment...but since that's all I seem to have time for, here it is: More on Flow and "Radical Humility":
"Let's be clear: I want to make A LOT OF MONEY. But I don't need more than I want to live a life of meaning and enjoyment. I want enough to do the work I love, not just work that pays; to afford a comfortable home for my family and friends, to wear clothes that fit my sense of style and character. To travel and learn about new cultures and experience how others live. To cultivate the person I am."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Quality of Life Indicators

I haven't dug into it yet, but this list of Quality of Life Indicators looks to contain lots of good food for thought. What constitutes a life of quality?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Work vs. Life Balance in the Extreme

Work vs. Life Balance in the Extreme (by Jeremy Zawodny):
"With all the "work vs. life balance" talk one hears from the executives and HR folks in large Silicon Valley corporations these days (thou shalt not burn out), it should (on the surface, at least) be surprising when folks leave with the intent of not working again for quite a while. I have three recent cases in mind."

How to Do What You Love

There's something so simple and wise and accessible about Paul Graham's writing. I don't really know why he writes about this stuff, but I'm glad he does. How to Do What You Love:
"Although doing great work takes less discipline than people think-- because the way to do great work is to find something you like so much that you don't have to force yourself to do it-- finding work you love does usually require discipline. Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to do when they're twelve, and just glide along as if they were on railroad tracks. But this seems the exception. More often people who do great things have careers with the trajectory of a ping-pong ball. They go to school to study A, drop out and get a job doing B, and then become famous for C after taking it up on the side."
Update: Interesting analysis from Life 2.0: "Alas, although the piece is well thought out and researched, the advice is complex and discouraging."

Monday, January 16, 2006

If Your First Life Isn't Very Interesting

Second Life is an immersive online role-playing environment. Although I've never got into these games (like The Sims franchise, I presume), I do find them fascinating as a way to try on different lives in a safe place.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Business of Life

The Business of Life blog has been cranking out fascinating stuff again after the holiday break. A few highlights I wanted to keep handy:
  • The Power of Making Choices, where Jill quotes from Gruntled Center about old married guys like me: "Married men are the most productive economic group in society because they have given up the life of many options, and are living the life of their one great choice."
  • Bathtub, bed and bus -- bouncing off of an article in Time about creativity and hard work: "Most of all, forget those romantic myths that creativity is all about being artsy and gifted and not about hard work. They discourage us because we're waiting for that one full-blown moment of inspiration. And while we're waiting, we may never start working on what we might someday create."
  • In Overcome Frazzing, Jill's thinking about another Time article called How to Tune Up Your Brain and writing about how we set priorities: "Millions of people don't prioritize and do what is most important, and so feel distracted, guilty and inadequate because they'll never get it all done."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Shared Values and Homes

Crazed by House Prices? Try Co-Housing
My wife Tannis has been looking into alternative housing options over the past year or so, and she's been interested in co-housing options. We have friends here who are willing to go for it and they've identified a potential property near the lake. But I'm posting this here as a personal account.

The way our economic system is set up makes these kinds of purchases very difficult. If your values include building personal communities and sharing resources, you're running counter to most societal trends toward privacy, property rights and competitive individuality...but people still do it. Seems to me this is a great example of lifestylism -- aligning values with lifestyle choices -- and better yet, it's shared actions to act on shared values.

Update: Frequent Lifestylism commentor and old classmate (from 1979-1991!) Garth has been musing along similar lines this week as he explores ideas of community.

Monday, January 09, 2006


This is a classic Robert Paterson post; the kind that got me reading blogs three years ago: Indulgences - The Reformation - Our Time.
Rob often sees big-picture issues in terms of history, and finds ways to weave many of them together into trends with common causes. Here he's exploring our dependence on institutions instead of taking personal responsibility for our lives:
"Health is seen to be the issue of more money and better access and not about self esteem, skills, family and community. Education is all about a credential and not about knowledge and experience. Work is a paycheck and not about creating value. The environment is a thing to be exploited and is not what supports us."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Informal Learning Blog

Jay Cross's Informal Learning Blog looks promising. In treat me like a human being, Jay looks at engagement at work:
The statistics on workforce engagement are shocking. According to the Gallup Management Journal’s semi-annual Employee Engagement Index [in 2001]:
  • 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs
  • 54% are not-engaged
  • 17% are actively disengaged

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Goal-Free Living

Is "goal" really a four-letter word? Goal-Free Living is a new book that seems to think so:
"We are taught from a young age that in order to achieve great success we must set and achieve our goals. However in doing so, we become focused on where we are going rather than enjoying where we are right now. We sacrifice today in the hope that a better future will emerge, only to discover that achievement rarely leads to true joy."
The premise of the book seems really muddled to me -- so having a direction and pursuing experiences you're passionate about is a better recipe for happiness, but goals will lead you astray? The different types of goals are nearly infinite, with some of them being very focused and measurable and others quite nebulous or general. I haven't read the book yet, so I won't quibble, but Tom Peters seemed a bit confused too when he interviewed the author.