The Double-Edged Sword of Tourism

A few weeks ago, I returned from an incredible journey around Iceland’s Ring Road, an 800+ mile circumnavigation of one of the world’s smallest countries by population. And because of that, much of my trip consisted of driving through towns so small–if you blink, you’d miss ’em. On the order of hundreds of inhabitants, these sleepy seaside fishing villages have been exactly that for centuries. … Continue reading The Double-Edged Sword of Tourism

The Largest Cause of Financial Distress

I’ve long thought and written about simplicity, minimalism, and essentialism–specifically their ability to challenge my perceptions of wants, needs, and life satisfaction. From material possessions to free time, I resolved to spend the limited resources I have (time, money, energy) in a way that connects my visions with reality. These concepts have forever altered the lens through which I evaluate the world. Remaining disciplined is … Continue reading The Largest Cause of Financial Distress

Back on the Map

Greetings from Savannah, Georgia! My last correspondence came from 35,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. That was last October and I was in the midst of transitioning between jobs, learning things about myself, and satisfying a thirst for exploration. Since then, I’ve moved across the country, co-authored a New York Times best-selling book, and … Continue reading Back on the Map

Novelty vs Routine

​​Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, my feet are clad in thin, mass-produced, green tea-colored slippers courtesy of EVA Air. And I love them. I never wear slippers back in the States and couldn’t even tell you the last time I owned a pair. But on my flight to Taiwan, nothing seemed more alluring than partaking in this delightful custom. For far too many flights, my feet have been held hostage to the routine familiarity of American footwear. They shall be swelled and stifled no longer. On this trip, I think I’ll try something a little more novel.

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Create Your List of Core Values

Feeling directionless is a common occurrence these days. Luckily I’m not absent of directions per se; I’m simply unsure of which direction to run. Perhaps direction-confused is a better way of phrasing it. Whether bred from intentionality or sudden necessity, facing these existential questions is never easy. In these moments of uncertainty, I return to my list of values–or the principles in which I’ve decided to orchestrate my life–for guidance. Crafted from a space of clarity, I recorded my values to help direct all decisions: accepting a job, starting a relationship, or purchasing a product. The goal is not rigidity, but authenticity. Continue reading “Create Your List of Core Values”

The Challenging Questions of Public Transit

I love when small events create profound change–or the potential for it. In a short instance, previous notions are erased and rewritten with a whole new narrative. I recently experienced one of these moments while reading Jarrett Walker‘s book Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives. For the first time in my professional life, I sensed a great amount of compatibility with an occupation. My engineering background, design skills, and profound passion for developing community overlap so beautifully with transit planning that I couldn’t help but gobble up each page with fervor and inspiration. Backed by decades of transportation consulting, Walker gives life to the basic principles of designing and evaluating public transportation systems. Written for the layman, Human Transit provides the reader with four fundamental considerations in which every transportation agency should ask themselves. For my own learning and with the hope of spreading his teachings, I detail Walker’s conclusions in my own words. Furthermore, I relate these four major concepts to events you may experience while using public transit. Continue reading “The Challenging Questions of Public Transit”

Don’t Forget Your Strengths

Wrapped up in the daily grind, we can forget what value we bring to our relationships, workplace, and even ourselves. Life becomes routine. We closely tie our identity to “what we do” for a living. It becomes challenging to make changes: switch careers, move cities, or leave a relationship. Yet despite that predictability, we are dynamic beings–constantly learning new skills and forgetting others. One unfortunate side effect of this lifestyle is simply forgetting what we’re good at. To say it another way, sometimes we need others to remind us of our strengths. Continue reading “Don’t Forget Your Strengths”

Essentialism

I recently explored the differences between simplicity and minimalism, but I want to take the conversation a step further. I argued they are indeed mutually exclusive and both existing in their own domain–the physical and the emotional. I think your life can feel simple without necessarily pursuing minimal possessions. On the other hand, you can be a minimalist but maintain a complex mentality. One is a mindset, while the other is an extension of your physical space. Moreover, depending on the person, they can both hold their own unique definition. Continue reading “Essentialism”

Surprising Results From My One Week Time Study

After a few months of downsizing, streamlining, and organizing my physical possessions, I shifted my focus. I had lived in Seattle for a little over a year and my typical routine had me in a bit of a funk. In an effort to resolve this, I decided to look at another one of my limited resources: time. I hoped a quantitative study of how I was spending would provide some much needed insight into my otherwise automatic grind. I conducted a week-long time study documenting everything I did, rounded to the nearest half hour.

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