Bullish: Screw New Year’s Resolutions – Try Designing Your Career

Here’s my lifestyle design wishlist:
· NO SCREENS two days a week. By which I mean I do not want to even see a computer or iPhone. I watch TV or movies less than three hours per month, so I didn’t think to include those until just now. But I really do not want to look at screens seven days a week. I want to look at our nation’s waterways and architecture, and at cappuccinos and books and naked men

NO SUBWAY two days a week. I once dated a guy who literally never took the subway. He wasn’t rich, but he was French, which maybe had something to do with it. He lived near his job (in Manhattan), took cabs to the East Village a lot, and simply refused to go to Brooklyn. A little extreme, but I am of the opinion that a day off isn’t a day off if you have to go underground with the rats and see more ABORTION ALTERNATIVES and DR. ZIZMOR ads. (My apologies to our many non-NYC readers for that brief outburst; I once drove a car and also understand your commuting pain.)

  • Exercise three days per week. I can do this in my building, so you wouldn’t think it would be that big a deal, but, seriously, ladyhood is a big performance, and once you get disheveled, it takes forever to re-sheveled.
  • Batch a 12-hour-a-week gig I have into two six-hour shifts on two days per week, instead of letting piddly little stuff creep into every damn day. This should allow me to complete longer projects during that time, providing more value to the company as well as more satisfaction to me as a result of having completed large, standalone projects. (More here about the value of getting your name on something.)
  • Maintain a schedule that allows me to date men with normal jobs. (To wildly overgeneralize, people do all kinds of crazy shit in their twenties, but by the time you are 33 and the men you date are roundabout 40, the ones who have normal jobs generally make better partners than the ones who are still hoping their bands take off. Obviously, there are exceptions, so no need to defend your lovely guy/Gene Simmons in the comments.)
  • Dedicate serious times to learning things and reading books. I have more ability to afford books than time to read them. I’m a fast reader, but if a book costs like $14 and takes 12 hours to read, surely, the time dwarfs the cost, and the cost is insignificant if you get but one good idea. For instance, the thing above about batching tasks? 4-Hour Workweek. Tim Ferriss is a bit of a douche, but I am more than happy to have paid $14 for the book that also convinced me to decamp to Buenos Aires for a month in 2008. I currently own over fifty new books I have purchased as a way of putting them on my to-do list; this to-do list is currently making an artful Jenga tower on my coffee table. Some of these books are related to things I should teach myself to improve my job skills (since I work in education), some will make their way into these columns, and some are related to future entrepreneurial pursuits, which brings me to…
  • Dedicate serious time to starting companies.

Next, I took out a calendar. I actually printed a calendar page from iCal, so I could scribble on it and then throw it away and do a new one if I want, but again, I’m old-school, and since I hate looking at screens, it would be counterintuitive to use one to plan not to use one.

I quickly discovered that weeks have only seven days, and that while “no screens,” “no subways,” “exercise,” and “read all those books and teach yourself game theory” are imminently compatible, I’m not sure that they leave enough time left for making more money or starting companies.

I’m also aware, though, that most people take two days per week during which they do very little, or only pleasurable things, and that this is called a “weekend.” So, a weekend during which I do math and exercise is, by any normal standard, completely acceptable, although still quite a luxury for an entrepreneur.

You can play god(dess) with your future if you think about it now! Or, at least make these kinds of choices deliberately. Maybe I’ll only get one day a week with no screens. Maybe I’ll institute a “no screens after 9pm” rule. What do I want more – more machine-free elegance, or more money? (See Bullish: Maybe Work-Life Balance Means You Should Work MORE.)

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