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The $1 Negativity Experiment

One of my favorite financial authors, Ramit Sethi, sent one of his free e-books to me 15 Little “Life Hacks” That Can Change Your Life, and it has inspired me to come back and reinvigorate BreakingNorms with a journalistic feel to document my pursuit of BreakingNorms.

As November is coming to a close, his e-book could not have come at a more perfect time for me to kickoff December with an experiment taken from his e-book. For the sake of giving it a more catchy name, I have decided to call it The $1 Negativity Experiment.

one-dollar-bill-large

To paraphrase Ramit’s description of the experiment, here’s an outline of the experiment:

Goal: Improve the quality of life for myself and the people around me by eliminating negative comments (about myself or anyone else) from my daily conversation.

Procedure:

#1. I will go to the bank tomorrow and take out $50 in single dollar bills.

#2. Every time I make a negative comment, I have to give a dollar to the person I’m speaking to. If I am speaking to the person over the phone or online, then I will ask that person who they would like me to give it to (whether it’s a stranger or whomever).

#3. If I run out of single dollar bills, I will go to the bank and withdraw another $50 in single dollar bills.

#4. At the end of the month, I will record how much money I have remaining.

#5. I will continue this experiment until my monetary ratio of money withdrawn to money given out is 1% or less.

This may sound crazy to many of you, but I’m with Ramit on this one when I think that this will have a dramatic impact on my life if I’m successful. So here’s to the first of many crazy experiments to not only breaking the norm, but living a fuller and richer life.

My New Hero Named Jiro

Today’s post is inspired from Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

It was regular weekday night when I was perusing through Netflix and happened to see this documentary show-up. Documentary? On sushi? Yes please! (Did I mention I was getting ready to eat dinner?)

From Jiro Dreams of Sushi

For those who haven’t watched this, it was a phenomenal insight into the workings and thoughts of a man and restaurant that I will probably never have a chance to visit or experience. And even though there are some people out there who think documentaries are boring. Well, that’s the thing about documentaries, they let you see a perspective of the world that you would never have seen otherwise.

Aside from the fact that it was a documentary about sushi and made my mouth water for the delectable sushi on the screen, it was quite an inspiration for me as an individual who is also looking to devote my time and energy to the right things in life. Throughout the documentary, the touch upon this term, shokunin, but never quite explained it fully.

Shokunin is translated to essentially be “artisan” or “craftsman.” While seemingly ordinary, the documentary portrayed the term to be more of an honorary title that is simply not given to any random person who happens to be an artisan or craftsman. Instead, it is more of a demonstration of extreme dedication to an art that has allowed you to transcend the ordinary and begin to step into the world of masters.

This whole notion of becoming a shokunin really struck me. After all, how many of us can say that we’ve committed even 10% of our energy and devotion to mastering a craft. Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that most of us know what it’s like to work hard. It’s just I can only really think of a few moments in my life where I may have pursued something the way that Jiro pursues his craft of making the best sushi in the world.

After watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I have decided to find aspects of my life that I would aspire to become a “shokunin” as much as I possibly can. As of right now, I have decided that I will focus on: user experience, go, and cultivation.

If you were to be a shokunin, what area of expertise would you choose?

The Path to My Dream Job – Chapter 2

Let me backtrack a bit, because I forgot something that many can empathize with…

After moving back home, you would think that an unemployed undergrad graduate with a generic Psychology degree and no inkling of what he was going to do with his life would get his ass in gear and try to figure it out. Yeah… I’m sad to say that I was very much the norm in this case…

I did what most people would do when they suddenly have vast amounts of free time: I did everything except trying to figure out what I was doing with my life. I poured myself into all sorts of hobbies: Go/Weiqi, World of Warcraft (Yes, I had a level 80 Blood Elf Shadow Priest and I’m not ashamed to show my true nerd colors), Photography, CrossFit Training, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, but let’s be honest, I needed to actually spend some time job hunting. I mean, sure, I occasionally looked at those job newsletters that the university sent out; but I never really tried to look for a job. Looking back, I’m wonder whether it was due to a lack of direction, or perhaps a subconscious fear of being unable to actually get a job. Either way, I failed to take any significant action towards gaining employment.

During my first semester of graduate school, through a bit of luck, a friend helped me get into an internship at a non-profit. I was feeling elated because I felt that I had gotten one step closer to employment. In reality however, it was just a part-time volunteer position that really didn’t provide much solid job experience. My friend and I got some great stories and got a chance to hangout a lot, but otherwise, it didn’t contribute much resume wise.

In the end, neither of our efforts to help the organization become less liable to legal scrutiny or avoid the usage of invalid data came to fruition. Our supervisor thought he knew what was best and paid little heed to the fact that he had brought on two graduate students as interns. I really think that he was looking for undergraduate research assistants who would do his every whim. It’s safe to say that we didn’t get along in the end.

After a month or so, we were tired of how we were being treated. Instead of just complaining about our situation however, we tried to figure out what our next move would be. And coincidentally around this time, I was informed of an opportunity with a Federal government agency that hiring for about twenty to thirty student interns. Although I’d heard of how competitive getting Federal internships can be, but I figured that I’d take a shot anyhow. Lucky I did, because this internship was about to set the stage for my journey to my dream job.

The Path to My Dream Job – Introduction

So I know that everyone is probably itching for how I managed to get my dream job and how they can do the same, but before my methods and rationale would really make a lot of sense to you, I think it’s really important to explain my background so that people don’t assume incorrect things about why I managed to get where I am now.

Education wise. I’m nothing really special. In high school, I was never anything stellar like some of my classmates. I spent a large portion of my undergrad teetering between dental school and the vast unknown. As a result, my attempts at preparing for dental school yielded a mediocre GPA.

On the flip side of the coin, I’ve had a number of random jobs over the course of my life. In high school, I did some work as a salesperson for a windows company for like a month. In undergrad, I worked in various seasonal/internships including: student clerk with the university transit department, executive assistant with a small business, dental assistant with an endodontic office, and a program assistant at a NICU facility (e.g., an intensive care unit for babies). All of them were pretty much part time, and very scattered in regards to job experience.

After figuring out that dental school wasn’t for me, I considered getting an MBA; but all the programs that I looked into would’ve cost me like $50,000+. In addition, I knew that the market was over saturated with MBA’s and that the odds of me getting a job to pay off the debt were going to be slim at best. So luckily for me, my mom had done her own research and discovered that my alma mater had a graduate program in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. At the time, I/O Psychology sounded like an MBA with a psychology spin. It was a very niche group of psychologist, and could possibly increase my job marketability. With that in mind, I applied, got into the program, and graduated with my BS in Psychology.

At this point, I’ll be honest with you; I still had no idea what I would be doing. The only substantial decision I had really made at this point in my life was to drop my aspirations for becoming a dentist. Unfortunately, this left me like a lot of other undergrad graduates: jobless, headed for some debt (although not nearly as much as most people go into for grad school), little direction, and completely unaware of how I was going to survive the already grim economy…

Next Week: The Beginning of My Graduate School Chronicles!

Emerging from the Trenches…

It’s been nearly two months, but I’m back and will be here to stay for quite a while! (And for those who are skeptical, don’t worry, I have a whole system designed now to prevent me from disappearing again.) A lot has happened over the last two months, but I’m sure the one thing that everyone wants to know is whether I managed to achieve anything.

Ladies and gentlemen… I am happy to inform you that after a bunch of crazy tactics and pursuit of my dream job, I am now officially an “Associate User Experience Consultant!” In the big picture of things, it’s just one small step; but nonetheless, it is a step forward in the right direction! More on this to come!

I know that posts have come on and off before, but I wanted to start by letting you know what you can be expecting from this point on.

  1. There will be a new post every Monday at 9:00am.
  2. Unless there’s a special reason why, all posts will have a 500 word count limit for the sake of your time.
  3. The lineup over the next few weeks will recount my experiences with my own job hunt over these last few years.
  4. Ideas and methods that you can apply to your own job hunt and life to help you achieve a more fulfilling and enjoyable life.
  5. If anyone has any requests for topics or things to talk about, let me know and I’ll work it into the schedule!

See you next week!