It’s doodling. It’s doodling with purpose. Apparently I’ve been “sketchnoting” for years and didn’t even know it. This is something I used to get in trouble for in school on a regular basis. Now it’s called Sketchnoting since that sounds more productive.
I’m a visual thinker. Drawing helps me to process what I’m hearing and to retain the information. I doodle in meetings, when taking courses, basically anything that requires some kind of information retention.
I’m one week into the Indigenous Canada course being offered by the University of Alberta. This is what my notes look like for that first week.
I find the process meditative. It really does help me retain the information.
I do all of it on my iPad Pro using an app called GoodNotes.
I don’t think scheduled coffee breaks are the key to the Swedes being happy. I do think little things like this help illustrate the differences in how many Scandinavian and European countries view work/life balance compared to North America.
When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness. I’m indebted to the Jungian therapist James Hollis for the insight that major personal decisions should be made not by asking, “Will this make me happy?”, but “Will this choice enlarge me or diminish me?” We’re terrible at predicting what will make us happy: the question swiftly gets bogged down in our narrow preferences for security and control. But the enlargement question elicits a deeper, intuitive response. You tend to just know whether, say, leaving or remaining in a relationship or a job, though it might bring short-term comfort, would mean cheating yourself of growth. (Relatedly, don’t worry about burning bridges: irreversible decisions tend to be more satisfying, because now there’s only one direction to travel — forward into whatever choice you made.)
As someone who struggles with anxiety, this hit hard. File this under “things I wish I would have learned 20 years ago”.
The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need. I spent a long time fixated on becoming hyper-productive before I finally started wondering why I was staking so much of my self-worth on my productivity levels. What I needed wasn’t another exciting productivity book, since those just functioned as enablers, but to ask more uncomfortable questions instead.
The broader point here is that it isn’t fun to confront whatever emotional experiences you’re avoiding — if it were, you wouldn’t avoid them — so the advice that could really help is likely to make you uncomfortable. (You may need to introspect with care here since bad advice from manipulative friends or partners is also likely to make you uncomfortable.)
One good question to ask is what kind of practices strike you as intolerably cheesy or self-indulgent: gratitude journals, mindfulness meditation, seeing a therapist? That might mean they are worth pursuing. (I can say from personal experience that all three are worth it.) Oh, and be especially wary of celebrities offering advice in public forums: they probably pursued fame in an effort to fill an inner void, which tends not to work — so they are likely to be more troubled than you are.
It’s really easy to get stuck in the trap of reading about all the things you should be doing rather than just doing them. I should know. I’m an expert over-thinker.
I can personally vouch for journaling and seeing a therapist as things with pursuing. I’m seeing a new therapist now and it’s been…terrifying. In a good way.
I need more creative outlets. I think a lot of us wait for someone to give us permission to pursue our interests and passions. There’s never been a time when it’s easier to just do it yourself.
When I was in elementary school it was mostly drawing and sketching comic book characters. As a teenager, I developed a love for dance music and taught myself how to DJ. In University I discovered swing dancing and I was hooked! As a young adult, I was in love with the early internet. I learned HTML so I could build my own website. It felt like magic.
I’ve always liked trying new things. I should clarify that last sentence. I’ve always liked trying new things. However, I’ve seen my hobbies, or passions, as completely separate from my day job or what made me money. I haven’t had a lot of focus on getting what I truly want in my career.
I’ve definitely fallen to roles that I loved. Working as a Technical Trainer and Development Specialist comes to mind. Or most of my time working at Apple. You need to try a lot of things before you’ll find something that just clicks. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m ready to start trying new things again.
At the beginning of this year, I sat down and answered some questions courtesy of Mel Robbins. I found this to be extremely helpful in getting my thoughts on 2021 out of my head as well as clarifying what I want in 2022.