Given how much of our lives are spent in the workplace, you want to be sure that your work is going to improve your happiness levels. Everyone is looking for work that they find fulfilling; the all-too common advice being that job seekers should follow their passion, which is rather unhelpful to those who aren’t entirely sure how their passions can earn them a paycheque.
Cal Newport, Assistant Professor of computer science at Georgetown University, doesn’t just find this “follow your passion” advice unhelpful, he believes it is much more dangerous than that. In his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Newport suggests that there are four rules that must be followed to ensure that you find work that you find fulfilling and increases your chances of happiness. Continue reading
It’s no secret that job seekers with a strong professional network are much likely to get hired than those without. Various studies have shown that a remarkably high number of individuals are hired through networking. That network is a hidden job market – one where the best jobs go unadvertised, and the hiring manager relies on connections to help her find the right applicant.
Despite its importance, many people – like me, for example, find networking difficult at best, and disingenuous at worst. Schmoozing one’s way through meet ‘n’ greets and swapping business cards with equally desperate job seekers leaves little to be desired. Continue reading
I performed standup comedy for two years. I performed in front of all kinds of audiences – some big, some (most) small. I performed in storytelling shows, I produced standup shows, and I got to share the stage with some of my heroes.
I didn’t have it in me to be a professional standup. Still don’t.
However, I believe that spending two years performing has helped me become a better writer. I would never recommend that you drop everything and try standup comedy (stage time is hard enough to get as it is), but I do believe there are some hard lessons that are useful to every creative professional.
Yes, even you.
“I love writing, but hate starting. The page is awfully white and it says, ‘You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, Giftless. I’m not your agent and I’m not your mommy: I’m a white piece of paper. You wanna dance with me?’ and I really, really don’t. I’ll go peaceable-like.” – Aaron Sorkin
Every writer knows the tyranny of a white piece of paper. We’ve all been through periods where it’s impossible to sit down and type.
Here’s the truth – every creative project I’ve ever embarked on has started the same way: I stare at the white screen, I hate everything, take a deep breath, and then I start typing. Then, once I’ve started, I do everything in my power to keep going, at least for a little while. It is the only way I know to get things done.
This method is something I’ve honed over the years, and it works for me because I understand my enemy. I know what I’m staring down when that white screen is blinking at me. It is called Resistance, and it hates me, and everything I stand for.
I know this because Steven Pressfield told me. I’ve read the War of Art, and you should, too.
I look for creative inspiration wherever I can find it, and love hearing stories of great artists. The Netflix-produced series Chef’s Table is full of lessons on how to create great art, and devoured it in a day of binge-watching. It’s beautifully shot, and each episode provides a deep-dive into the life of one of the best chefs in the world. Here are three insights I got from watching Chef’s Table:
My daily commute means (at least) 45 minutes of sitting on public transit. For years, this time was spent with my face in a book, but I’ve found it harder and harder to focus on reading – particularly when I’m reading non-fiction and like to take notes.
Instead, I now listen to podcasts. For those of you who are unfamiliar with podcasts, they are essentially on-demand radio shows. You can download them to your mobile device (such as your iphone) and listen to them whenever you like. They range in length and subject matter, but you can rest assured that no matter your area of interest, there will be at least a couple of podcasts discussing that topic.
Personally, I like podcasts that inspire and educate. I want to feel energized when I get to work (or, at the very least, feel a little smarter than I was when I woke up). Something with a sense of humour doesn’t hurt, either. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of podcasts, here are three that I recommend to get you started. Each will stimulate and provoke you, and will hopefully help you do great work.