Saturday, December 28, 2019

Purpose Brainstorming

I hadn't researched Dan Buettner's Ted Talk to figure out whether he was appropriating or appropriately celebrating the Japanese concept of "ikigai" - basically a reason to get up in the morning - an overlapping of where your interests and talents intersect with the world's needs. Until today, when I searched and saw some evidence that it was an oversimplification of a complex concept...of course.

But I'll link to it anyway, since I found it to be a useful construct to inspire thinking.

Time has flown.  Y2K seems very recent and it was freaking 20 years ago. I was a sophomore in college.  Taking interesting courses in public policy, economics, psychology.  Serving in Student Congress.  Working in a psychology lab.  It was a busy time, but also one filled with hope and possibility.

But soon, I would become more realistic/pessimistic/jaded....or maybe it was lazy.

I was so burned out on school, that I didn't want to go to grad school until I felt called to do a specific something.  My interests were and have continually been so varied that focusing on anything in particular seemed like a waste.

I worked in DC for a summer - I enjoyed the experience but learned how much governing was a team sport - you picked your Republican or Democrat side and modified your thinking and behavior accordingly.

City planning/economic development/government seemed the same in many ways - you compete with other cities for limited resources, luring companies into your town, where it may or may not be the best thing for the residents.

If I were in college today, what would my plans be?  Hard to say that I would have done anything different, besides adding computer science and more math into the mix.

As I reflect toward the end of the year, because it takes a certain amount of calm and rest to think about the higher rungs of the hierarchy of needs, I have been thinking about purpose.

What I Like

  • Mostly listed above - social sciences, ethics, philosophy 
  • Technology and math, not for its own sake but for advancing something else that I care about 
  • Watching something work that I made
  • Standing up for others who aren't being listened to 
  • Writing 

What I'm Good At

  • Problem solving/isolation - experimental design 
  • Thinking of things that can go wrong 
  • Moving things forward
  • Chaos minimization
  • Googling and trial and error 
  • Learning from the past 
  • Writing

What I Can Get Paid For

  • It's irritating that the best-paid jobs are largely BS and that the jobs that have the greatest positive impact on people are lower-paid.

What the World Needs

  • Critical thinking
  • Recognition of patterns
  • Civic engagement
  • Willingness to take a stand for principles 
  • Connection 
  • Engaging education 
  • Hope 

No real common themes here, but perhaps I am blind. 

  • Writing about unintended consequences for public policies? 
  • Work on technology that makes education more engaging or otherwise promotes a healthy democracy? 
  • Run for office for the sole purpose of saying the things that need to be said, drawing from history? 
  • Organize some small groups for people who need connection?
  • Work on technology and the underlying organization that helps people get resources they need to make their lives better - mental health services, in-home care, etc - any process that's difficult to navigate?