Focus on Five – a system for practicing a more balanced, contented life

You’ve probably seen at least one version of this advice floating around the internet:

3hobbies

“Three Hobbies” has always bothered me, for two reasons.

The first is that for those of us running our own businesses, the distinction between a hobby and a business is super important. If you want to write off your business expenses on your tax return, for instance, you’d better make sure the tax authorities don’t deem your business a hobby! (I’m not going to cover this in any more detail here, but do check out the link above for more details on the critical difference between a hobby and a business.)

The second issue is that “Three Hobbies” is INCOMPLETE, almost to the point of irresponsibility, when it comes to business owners. We know how common burnout, anxiety, and depression are among entrepreneurs. While running businesses, we might also be exercising and creating obsessively… all while totally disconnected from other human beings, or a sense of connection to what is driving all this activity in the first place.

And so I’m trying on a slightly different system for cultivating — as in, actually practicing — a balanced life. Continue reading “Focus on Five – a system for practicing a more balanced, contented life”

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4 questions that will lead you to work you’ll love (or: How I ended up at Xero)

Don’t want to read my whole TL;DR story? No worries, here are my four critical questions I recommend to anyone looking for work you’ll love:

  1. What’s the ultimate impact you want to have?
  2. What industry do you want to be a part of?
  3. What type of work you want to do?
  4. What kind of people you want to work with, in what kind of environment?

Read on if you want to hear how I worked through these before landing my job at Xero. Better yet, get your own dream job (or freelance work that you’ll love) by answering these questions for yourself!

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After happily working for myself for over four years, some nagging voices started bugging me. “You’re not using all your gifts,” they said. And, “where is your team? Why do you insist on working alone?” And there was a lot of, “there’s something much bigger waiting for you, but you have to look for it.”

I knew I was ready for something different. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted a full-time job where someone else would be responsible for hustling my paycheck, and I could focus on doing My Work. But other voices tried to justify the status quo: “The way things are now, you can go hiking or surfing whenever you want!” Or, “what about your weird sleeping patterns? You’ll never be able to work regular hours.” Or the worst, “do you really want to commute over an hour a day EACH WAY from gorgeous Bolinas to an office in San Francisco?!” Continue reading “4 questions that will lead you to work you’ll love (or: How I ended up at Xero)”

Designing a career: an adventure with Mair Dundon

(c) Mair Dundon http://www.quietaction.com

Creating a work life that makes sense and pays well is a task that most of us spend a majority of our lives focused on… Instead of having a single path, we design a WorkLife that can change and grow right along with us – a constantly renewing resource that is fueled by our life experience and the insights we’ve taken the time to gather and share. I picture us as a community of practice – supporting each other in designing our WorkLife with focus and creativity.

Being particularly susceptible to such things (and in a moment of having forgotten my New Year’s resolution, Do Less), I signed up to do this “Career Hackathon” workshop with my friend Brenda. Which meant that I spent the entirety of a gorgeous afternoon yesterday in a windowless, brightly-lit room, a design firm’s office on Market between Powell and Montgomery Stations.

Five of us made a valiant effort to keep up with our facilitator Mair’s instructions, frantically filling out a series of worksheets, marking them up, talking to one another, and doing it all over again. I was the only one in the room without a UX/UI design background, and I enjoyed going with the flow and imagining that the words “agile” and “lean” (as in “lean business,” not “lean in”) and “iterate” and “builds (as a plural noun)” were part of my everyday parlance. I was expecting this; I had signed up for a Career Hackathon, after all!

Even if you DO know what those words mean, here’s my translation of the workshop title: How To Design Your Perfect Career by Forcing Yourself to Consider All the Possibilities That Normally Freak You Out and Learning That Most of Your Assumptions are Untrue Once You Actually Start Talking To People Around You… While Also Getting Called Out On Your Shit And Frequently Being Told You’re Awesome By Very Interesting People Who Are Also Awesome. Continue reading “Designing a career: an adventure with Mair Dundon”