My values (updated)

shaved ice

As I start settling into my career and life a bit after college, some values and perspectives popped up

  1. I’d like to solve simple problems that are manageable to solve within my control while maintaining my work life balance, based on what you are good at. 
  2. I’d like to live a life where I am constantly learning about different cultures through art, music, food, and design.
  3. I’d eventually want to have a location-independent career where I have flexible hours (i.e. have my own small business). The profession matters less than whether I can choose a career/path that gives me this option.
  4. Relationships and being close to friends and family, with experiences, matter a lot to me more than competing in a rat race. 

Point 1:

I studied urban planning in school, and loved what I’ve studied. However, changing the way cities work and making them more sustainable is a very challenging task.

Note the way I communicated impact. “Making a city more sustainable” is a very abstract phrase and problem that I would only save for mission statements or introducing your major purpose in life.

However, the actual problems I want to solve have to be manageable based on my given skill level. I don’t want to be overambitious and create an extremely high expectation that I cannot reach at that moment in time (granted, skill improves over time and the types of problems you can solve get more interesting as you get older).

For example, instead of “trying to make a city more sustainable,” a more simpler task would be to “plant a vegetable garden in your backyard.”

Point 2:

Learning about different cultures is a big part of my life and would like to integrate more heavily in my life.  Away from focusing on making a living, I’d say cultural bridges represent at least 65% of who I am.

I’ve previously studied Chinese on my free time, and Korean for a little bit  (한국어  잘  못해요) . I’m challenging myself by learning Portuguese, because I’d like to be able to communicate and meet new friends in Brazil someday 🙂

I believe the simple act of learning a language allows you to be able to aspire for more interesting experiences in life. 

Point 3:

Given the unpredictably of the economy, I’d like to reach some level of financial independence that isn’t dependent on a particular company, but rather my own ability to be able to create something of value other people can use.

Point 4:

I think the rat race and the fight to get the highest salary and promotion, after a while, can become unhealthy. Measurable and tangible impact matters more than what job title you have.

Turning 22

Solvang, California

I’ll be turning twenty-two in about a few hours. Some thoughts that popped up now that I’m older.

  • Relationships, and people that you hang out with are connect with well are much more important than career building. Your career will influence your quality of life, so prioritize quality of life and experience over what career you end up trying to do.
  • Being young is an awesome time to make mistakes, so don’t be too worried about awkward situations.
  • Soft skills are much more important than hard skills. Without the soft skills, the hard skills will not go anywhere.

 

To our youth

Thought about this song from the hit Mainland Chinese movie, To Our Youth (致我们终将逝去的青春) when I was spending time with friends. Life is quite short. At the same time, being young is quite an empowering feeling before responsibilities come.

Transition from college to real world.

Now that I’m finally in the real world, here are some things I’ve learned and still practicing in the real world:

  • Have a thick skin.
  • Embrace uncomfortable situations, and get used to them.
  • Lots and lots of deadlines are normal. Know how to manage your time and resources.
  • Be comfortable pitching yourself and your biography:
  • Nobody really knows what they’re doing. We’re all making decisions by risk:
  • You cannot stay up past 12am like you used to do in college:
  • No point in comparing somebody with you. Everybody has their weaknesses and strengths, and what you are seeing are their strengths.
  • You really can’t choose to do everything in life. You have to pick and choose what matters to you, meaning doing everything will burn out in one day. However, you do have a right to experiment and see what fits for you and does not.

 

Facebook vs other forms of social media

quora

I’m still an active user of social media: I use YouTube, Quora, LinkedIn, as well as this blog; using these avenues allows me to explore and produce key content that is both meaningful and has a great level of depth.

Note: I’ve been extremely addicted to quora as I’ve found some amazing answers about life, ranging from life advice, traveling, higher education, to questions about technology, working for companies, and even China!

I’ve still have a hard time accepting the interface and a lot of the habits associated with it, meaning:

  • Add a lot of friends, as easily as possible
  • Liking a post / picture, but not really interacting with the person
  • Status updates that are so short that it makes socializing lazy (we only know people really from a surface level)

You see, real relationships take work from both ends. I feel that the technology age has only added on to our instincts as human beings: “More is good! We need more friends to feel connected! We need to know and be connected 24/7, and know as much about our friends in the most easy, efficient manner as possible.”

But, at the crux of true relationships is that it takes effort from both sides in order to sustain it and to create a quality relationship. It might seem scary, stressful  and time consuming, but its worth the effort and you will be able to maintain quality friends.

The question I really want to raise is:

Are we merely justifying FaceBook because it helps us socialize in our busy lives, but in reality, we are avoiding the bigger issue: our lives are getting busier and busier because we have been putting ambitions, money, career, over other things such as health, family, and true relationships? 

For me, social media: YouTube, LinkedIn, WordPress, Tumblr, etc. is a great way to get our name across, connect to other people across the world, start conversations, and create strong relationships.

The amount of work, however, compared to Facebook, to put your name out there, takes time and effort. For me, YouTube requires the creation of video content, which takes time, video editing, story writing, etc. Writing a blog post takes an hour or two for me.

I don’t want to say social media is bad; it isn’t because I’ve learned so much . However, my argument is that we should be aware of our actions in social media: are we merely taking shortcuts to maintaining a relationship? Are we actively trying to maintain or make a relationship among our friends, family, and peers better, and making the time and effort to do so?

While there is a wide spectrum of answers for this, I’m trying to push for more awareness. For some people, Facebook is a way to maintain relationships . But for me, it was a time sucker and didn’t allow me (or had proper avenues for me to express my thoughts, like WordPress or YouTube). I’m a big supporter of good content and depth, but Facebook doesn’t offer that for me.

Having a strong sense of trust among your peers is more important than how well you do

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been milling over organizational behavior, professional development and it surprised me is that it matters more that you are able to establish trust among your peers/co-workers rather than how well you do.

Let’s break this down into further detail; note, having some basic competency in an area/specialty will help, but if you are just starting out in an organization, you will definitely feel new.

People generally want to work with people or feel comfortable with people they can relate to. How do you establish this comfort? For example, common interests, easy-to-relate personality types, level of openness and confidence, experiences that friends can relate to, stories, etc.

As simple as this may sound, in a world where you have to work in interdisciplinary settings, meeting new people from different professions and backgrounds, the ability to establish trust makes me realize: 

You don’t have to be perfect at what you do.  You’re going to always going to make mistakes as you go along, but as along as you have your friends and co-workers network by your side, you guys can work together and learn from those mistakes, because they feel comfortable working with you.

As an Asian-American, I grew up studying a lot and my family focused a lot of my experiences on studying. For some reason, they felt like socializing a lot was bad for my academic career. Thus, this sense of establishing rapport, socializing, using your peers together to establish a vision, seemed to be forgotten.

Now that I look back at my youth, I think I’m embracing that sense of imperfection now (to the point I have major senioritis in college, lol!). You really can’t do things on your own, learn to trust the power of your own team. Look for your own team members for inspiration rather than yourself.

On Taking Initiative in Socializing

Note: I’ve attempted to make 粥 (jook) before when I was sick during finals week!

Video of the day: Learning how to make jook (rice porridge, congee), chicken with wantanmien. Great source of inspiration for those who want to learn how to make Cantonese food.

When I was in elementary, and partially in middle school, I did not have any friends. If anything, I was afraid of meeting new people. I had no idea how to say anything to somebody, and I avoided working in groups. I was afraid of people thinking I was crazy.

I was really fortunate in the later part of my middle school years, and my high school years, I met friends that I eventually got along with, and through hanging out with them, we became pretty close (side note: I still talk to them from time to time today). I think definitely, if it wasn’t for them, I would still be afraid of socializing today.

However, something I’m still bad at (and I think sometimes a lot of people are) is making a lot of initiative to initiate social events, or initiate social interactions. I think it’s because after I started making friends, I grew up and was surrounded by people already are naturally good (or have practice at) doing that; because of that, I’m quite lazy at this, especially around my closest friends (although we don’t really mind since we’re so close that we don’t really judge each other for that).

Because of this, even if I meet new people, I still struggle that this portion. In other words, I expect others to start a conversation; this is my introverted flaw of me, despite the extroverted facade I carry, I still struggle with people who are pretty different from me.

Continue reading “On Taking Initiative in Socializing”