Find a Focused Direction or Fail

Stop pretending to be Superman or your kryptonite will kill you. By lying to ourselves by believing we can do everything, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Do yourself a favor and stop screwing yourself over.

We all think we can do everything. We lie to ourselves thinking we have more time than we do. We believe we can multitask and overbook. But we are wrong. By doing so, we are left with dozens of projects half-assed, half-done feeling burnt out.

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Hong Kong: the Asian version of a New York minute on speed

In my early 20’s I lived in Hong Kong and worked in project management. I accepted my job just after ending a long relationship to a Hong Konger I met in college. At the time the only people I knew there were three loose acquaintances from California and Turkey.

To compensate for my lack of network and social support in this new country, I made a great effort to go out of my way to meet new people and make friends. I went to every expat meetup that existed and went out almost every night “networking” with little direction or purpose. I ended up making a lot of friends and partying my butt off, but one day six months later I began wondering what I was doing with my life.

I was bored with my job, and so I found myself regularly doing side economics projects and freelance writing. I began looking into starting my own wine import company, and started taking steps to make it a reality. I also got into event planning and community management because I had established good relationships with most of the HK venues and event planners through partying. And I was still partying a lot too.

Add a few more dozen things, and I think the only thing I wasn’t doing was sleeping.

My calendar was constantly booked, and I never had enough time to do anything. Something needed to change. And fast.

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Finding Perspective and Reevaluating Your Life

I needed to get perspective and clarity. I needed to get out of Hong Kong for a bit. An Egyptian economist invited me to a UN conference in Beirut, and stuffing my face with Lebanese food sounded great.

As soon as I left Hong Kong, it felt like time slowed down. On the ten hour flight from HK to Duabi, I slept more than I had in six months.

Seeing the laidback lifestyle of Lebanon was refreshing. It reminded me that the HK ratrace was not a global norm. After attending the UN conference, I realized how much I had loved and missed economic research.

I realized something: Only I had the power to decide how I would live. It was up to me to be happy and do the things I loved. No one was going to hand me the lifestyle I wanted. I needed to make some big changes from the way I was living if I wanted to stop being stressed and exhausted.

By the time I left Beirut, I was finally ready for a complete transformation.

Forging the Change

My calendar had gotten out of control. I had let too many people take over my schedule, and many of them were draining my energy without adding value to my life.

I was sick and tired of pointless parties and meaningless conversations with people I had superficial relationships with. What was the point?

I made a decision to stop doing things I didn’t completely enjoy unless they were valuable and “good” for me. It was shocking to discover how much time I had been wasting on obligations.

I began plucking the excess people and things out of my life, but I still needed to weed my activities so I could devote enough time to the things I cared about most. No more wine business, no more event-planning, etc.

It wasn’t an easy task, but in the end I felt better. I had more time to do the things I loved with the people I cared about most, and I was much more happy and relaxed. I would have never been able to co-author an economics book and do the necessary research on Arab Spring if I hadn’t made the change.

Action Steps

 
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