Happiness is the destiny you need to make for yourself

The beginning of Fall is my true New Year. It’s around this time I’ve reflected on my career, finished degrees, and asked the hard questions.

This time, I tell you my Personal Vision 2014 and Beyond. Just kidding, these are simply things I’ve figured out for myself.

Be honest with yourself

When explaining what I do for a living, I kept following up with this corollary—One day, I’m going to retire and become an artist.

This was always the ten year plan, a far cry in the distant future, so shining.

I asked myself, have you looked at your own work? It’s heavily sketch, heavily art, my best design pieces were always the artiest ones. You don’t need to use a watercolor pencil for your wireframes people. In fact, that’s totally absurd.

People, first and foremost, think of me as a great sketcher, not a great designer.

Granted, I think I’m all right at design. Though, I think it’s the same as how Lady Gaga had a fantastically trained voice pre-Lady Gaga. That didn’t get her very far.

That’s how I feel about my designs these days. I’m not sure if I can get that far. I’m not sure if I want to get that far.

It’s a balancing act

Throughout this entire self reflection process, a smart fellow reminded me that identity is a constant struggle—No one figures it out all at once. There’s always some amount of back and forth.

Maybe this time next year, I’ll look back at this post and think “Boy, what kind of funk was I in?”

To declare what I aim to do today does not define what I’m bound to do for the rest of my life or even the year after.

I realized life itself is iteration, really.
It’s very okay to be in this state. This state of not liking what I used to like doing as much.

The impossible is totally possible

Previously, I’ve said all it took was an email. I’m going to say it once more—Having a hand in putting design event together is and was, in fact, a bunch of emails!

On the same note, when the possibility of putting together a friends-centric gallery showcase, that possibility lit up something in my conscience. It is possible.

I thought, maybe it’s not a world where all it takes is emails. Instead, it may be phone calls or charming some friends-of-friends.

When the dots connected, the idea of a gallery showcase was the turning point. Suddenly, what I thought would be ten years later could be ten weeks from now.

Suddenly, I felt empowered.

Happiness is a destiny you make for yourself

Everything may change, but you remain constant in your world. It’s really up to you to define your requirements of a happy existence. And then figure out how to make it a reality. 

No one else is going to be waiting to do this for you.

 

~

This post is inspired by brilliant blog posts written by my friends. Writing isn’t my core competency, but damn, it’s like they say:
Just do it.

Here’s to the 4th year in a row writing a post like this.

Sometimes, all it takes is an email.

Hello world, I haven’t written anything in quite a bit. So, to kick it off again, I’m going to address this—How do opportunities find you?

Easy, in an email.

Or, sometimes, because of an email I wrote.

Well, that’s not quite the whole story… However, you’ll be surprised that some of the greatest opportunities I seized were initiative on my part with a simple, sincere email. I previously wrote about Sincerity on the Job Hunt, so these things are very related in the case you are looking for a new gig.

This isn’t also to say I haven’t been turned down. I have, many times.

Writing a sincere email is like inception. Perhaps the opportunity isn’t there when you asked, but, suddenly you exist. Your eagerness exists. And you will show up in autocomplete.

An email is the perfect balance of professionalism and casualness. Not as scary as a cold call, but not as ignorable as a Twitter mention.

And, hey, you may cheat a little… You can reuse your emails, but always rewrite every word for each one that matters to you, even if you just retype the words again. This prevents embarrassing recruiter-esque templates.

So, write a sincere email. And press the send button.

All that apprehension you feel about firing it off is in your head.

~

Meta. Because I like writing meta notes. To my non-tech friends: This advice may mostly apply in tech… since we’re f*cking obsessed with our inboxes. Just Google ‘zero inbox’ and be amused perhaps.

The Veritable Time Machine
Us humans are weird machinesMachines of what ifs
We dream of alternative universes
If only I were more courageousIf only you noticed me insteadIf only he pushed me awayIf only she slapped some sense then
We want nothing more but to regain lost opportunitiesThus, we toy with the idea of time machine
A magical thing that reverses momentsSomehow tears go away with what if
Though struggles overcame would be trivialIf it could be reversed with time machine
But there is a time machine you are always inIt simply travels one second per second, forward
Life is the veritable time machineDon’t waste your one time use

The Veritable Time Machine

Us humans are weird machines
Machines of what ifs

We dream of alternative universes

If only I were more courageous
If only you noticed me instead
If only he pushed me away
If only she slapped some sense then

We want nothing more but to regain lost opportunities
Thus, we toy with the idea of time machine

A magical thing that reverses moments
Somehow tears go away with what if

Though struggles overcame would be trivial
If it could be reversed with time machine

But there is a time machine you are always in
It simply travels one second per second, forward

Life is the veritable time machine
Don’t waste your one time use

today would have been twoa nice tidy number
alas, life is never that neateven the choice of official date was a strange one
while most moments of that weekend was amazing, surreal, flutteringthe few moments of tension signified things to come
my lack of energymy dependencyhis draining energyhis yearning for freedom
like few significant dates, I’ve embedded it in the most literal way possibleby forcing myself to pen it over and overit becomes a constant momenta testament to growth
but most of allit embodies somethingthe beautiful memories to never forget
thank you for dancing with this flame

today would have been two
a nice tidy number

alas, life is never that neat
even the choice of official date was a strange one

while most moments of that weekend was amazing, surreal, fluttering
the few moments of tension signified things to come

my lack of energy
my dependency
his draining energy
his yearning for freedom

like few significant dates, I’ve embedded it in the most literal way possible
by forcing myself to pen it over and over
it becomes a constant moment
a testament to growth

but most of all
it embodies something
the beautiful memories to never forget

thank you for dancing with this flame

Between the hype & the truth

We have a flat hierarchy

True flat hierarchies do not exist. Think about your small group of close friends, don’t nights hanging out go smoother when there’s a leader? Someone who breaks the ice, who nudges the group.

In the more serious case of work, there always has to be someone responsible, someone making trade-offs, someone at the helm. Things fall apart when everyone or no one is responsible. Also, the same person doesn’t have to be the leader over and over again. 

Structure isn’t a bad thing just know flat doesn’t actually mean flat. Flat ideally means fair, flat ideally ends up being a very well executed democratic system. Discern for mutual respect from strong leadership.

Open seating makes a maker more productive

In short, no, no it doesn’t always. What about constant interruption via extreme accessibility makes things more productive?

Most spaces have embraced open seating, so look for a place that has carved out ample areas for those times you need to do heads down work, including flexible work from home arrangements.

That being said, open seating is phenonmenal for making communication more productive. Discern for a balance of the two.

"We are a start-up"

Most, if not all, organization are using start-up as a buzzword to try to attract you. There is nothing wrong with medium-sized or large-sized organizations. There is a bowl of porridge right for everyone, but for some reason, the valley currently believes otherwise. Know that when you are told with a straight-face that the 1,000 person company is a “start-up,” it’s likely a means to win the favours of your heart.

When another popular term gets coined, let’s say ‘beehives,’ both the 100 person and 1,000 person company will tell you they have a ‘beehive environment.’ You’d know it! Discern for buzzwords and do the due diligence of evaluating numbers.

For the record

I don’t forsake any of these things. I’m spelling out dreamlike expectations which my past self found to differ vastly from the reality.

Having structure

I’ve been thinking about daily regime and how that enhances mindfulness.

Most days, I aim to leave and come home in sync. Exceptions remain flexible, but feel special. Special in the sense of an appreciation which comes from “I am breaking routine to go to this event. This event is a good use of my time. I am making an exception to my routine to go.”

Because I make it the norm to do this, it also makes me conscious of time spent together. By having a regime and boxing time, minutes become more precious. Overall, less time is wasted. Days feel more productive. Time is spent more aptly with more gratitude.

Nice books, Mean books

Right now I’m hot for books which show me I’ve been doing things all wrong. It’s really the writing with a clear opinion, so even if I sometimes disagree, I know where the author is coming from.

Previously, I used to hate these books and gravitate towards the ones where it would rub me on the back: good creative, good job!

Though, to clarify, neither is better than the other, building confidence is a necessary first step to becoming proficient. Then it’s time to read about how you’re doing it all wrong. Finally, you then make a point to fix it.

~

This is a train post. Forgive me if I accidentally a word.

On being scared as hell

I was scared as hell. It was a trip to my first conference ever across the cost during a rainy week. Technically, I was accompanied by the people who were my classmates, but I barely knew anyone then. Essentially, I felt like I went alone, and as luck would have it, the hostel busted its water heater and wasn’t fixed until 3 nights later. Cold days, cold showers, tons of regret.

Still, I opted to go on my own free will.
That gut feeling changed the course of my immediate postgrad life dramatically.

But it’s not just these lofty trips that would scare me.

Sending a link I find interesting to a dlist or chat room scares me.
Asking people out for lunch scares me.
Linking a design for inspection scares me.
Posting this scares me.

These little and big things which are probably good for us, especially in hindsight, are actually things which scare the shits out of us in the present.

Maybe others are braver than I. But you know what’s interesting? Some have in return told me that they wish they were as brave as I. (My reaction? lolwat)

So here I am telling you that I’m fucking scared on the inside when I go about doing some minuscule things and definitely all the big things. Know that perhaps both the people you admire and are admiring you are quaking in their boots, thinking about something, a something which will likely be great for them.

In order to seriously grow, we need to do more things which scare us, but are good for us.

I guess you could say that’s my 2013 resolution.
Being less sedentary is a great runner-up though. 

if & else in design

I’ve been thinking about how we can leverage the principle of if & else in design.
101 programming classes always teach you about if else statements fairly early on.

In design, we ramble about responsiveness with regards to the browser size. But what about responsiveness due to content? And, no, I don’t mean hiding useful content.

I mean, IF information is missing, just don’t show it. IF that information needed additional chrome, don’t show the chrome either. Or how about when input is necessary, we kindly ask them for input and clearly demonstrate the benefits? IF input ELSE input prompt. How do our interfaces change depending on what cards we have to show? IF rich input then rich output, ELSE input prompt.

When we design in photoshop, these details are lost.
In photoshop, we always assume we have all the pieces.

We need to think about all the edge cases.
But it’s hard just to think about them.
We actually need to live and breathe them.

Force yourself to use what’s on production servers.
Use the product you are designing for and dig for the ugly stuff.
Be motivated by the fact that this ugliness is something you yourself can truly make better.

It’s a Thanksgiving post. Sketch of our set-up.

Two days ago 

My family is fucking inconsiderate, what else is new.

I won’t rescind this statement, because it’s very true.
Despite that, I still make it home several times a year. I still care if things are okay. I constantly wonder if one day I’ll regret not coming back more than I do.

Onwards
I’m thankful for how much better I’ve become in my craft, and especially for the people who are there everyday to shape my growth.
Related, I’m thankful that I was forced to carefully evaluate what was next. And of course, thankful that I was able to find something which blew those expectations away.
I remain thankful for the people who helped me get into what ended up being the college of my dreams.
And that I found the perfect niche there, populated with the people of beyond my dreams.
I’m thankful for my friends, old and new, who share my passions and philosophies. Life has been so much better since I’ve had you.
I’m most thankful that after a day of work, I have someone to go home to, someone to share what we believe is our lives’ work.
I’m thankful tomorrow won’t be the same. I’m thankful we, especially the we who can read this on an insanely advanced device, are positioned to make that tomorrow a better place.

It’s a Thanksgiving post. Sketch of our set-up.


Two days ago 

My family is fucking inconsiderate, what else is new.

I won’t rescind this statement, because it’s very true.

Despite that, I still make it home several times a year. I still care if things are okay. I constantly wonder if one day I’ll regret not coming back more than I do.


Onwards

I’m thankful for how much better I’ve become in my craft, and especially for the people who are there everyday to shape my growth.

Related, I’m thankful that I was forced to carefully evaluate what was next. And of course, thankful that I was able to find something which blew those expectations away.

I remain thankful for the people who helped me get into what ended up being the college of my dreams.

And that I found the perfect niche there, populated with the people of beyond my dreams.

I’m thankful for my friends, old and new, who share my passions and philosophies. Life has been so much better since I’ve had you.

I’m most thankful that after a day of work, I have someone to go home to, someone to share what we believe is our lives’ work.

I’m thankful tomorrow won’t be the same. I’m thankful we, especially the we who can read this on an insanely advanced device, are positioned to make that tomorrow a better place.

I realized what ‘experience is everything’ means

It occurred to me on the drive home today that experience is everything.
No really, let me try to explain.

While I enjoy the spaciousness of our sedan, I always fear scraping the passenger’s side when I drive the vehicle. In fact, this has happened and I still drive the thing with fear.

The obvious adjustment would be to ditch the machine and go for a skinnier model. However, there’s a huge cost of switching. It isn’t as easy to switch out a car as it is a computer, for example.

Yet, there were no way you could have known those few inches would be so impractical, from parking on the streets, down to your own garage. It wasn’t until you lived with it you’d figure all these things out. No amount of internet research, word of mouth, or obsessing could have brought these issues to light. It’s all the in the experience.

I’ve been thinking about growing up. How despite the fact I’m now 23, I still struggle with fundamental human things like mingling or, even, expressing gratitude.

But maybe that’s okay. Especially if, with every single interaction, you get a little better.

For my next year and more of existence, I plan to go out for many drives instead of leaving the car parked in the garage, to gain that experience. There will definitely be scratches, scrapes, and bumps, but if everything is in the experience, I can’t wait to see where I end up by the time I’m 30, 25, or even 24.

A funny thought I had today: if you wish for the same thing every year, does it compound?

For everyone I care about around me to be happy, alive, and well for many years to come.


Family, friends, acquaintances, mentors, humans: Thanks for sticking around.

A funny thought I had today: if you wish for the same thing every year, does it compound?

For everyone I care about around me to be happy, alive, and well for many years to come.

Family, friends, acquaintances, mentors, humans: Thanks for sticking around.

How cutting hair is quite like designing

One DIY lifehack I’ve found immensely useful has been the ability to cut hair. [1] I cut my own bangs between hair stylist trips. I also cut hair for a select few individuals. [2]

The key to do this well is not being afraid to remove.

In order to cut hair, you need to remove hair. If you were afraid to remove hair, then nothing will be done.

Likewise, in order to design, you need to reach the simplest set of features with the right touches to delight. As you iterate through designs, it’s almost always evident some things need to be removed. I’m sure everyone agrees feature creep is a bad thing and simplicity is ideal. The question is, are you afraid to remove?

As I continually cut more hair and design more things, I realize these processes are more alike than first impression.

~

  1. If you are interested: Buy yourself a pair of thinning shears. Safety scissors only work pretty well until you have to layer anything, which is most of the time. Feel free to ask me about cutting bangs (and design!) too.

  2. Namely folks who won’t sue me if the crazy happened. Like a supercuts ear.