Here is your weekly dose of clarity in the confusing world of career and professional growth.
1 RECENT ARTICLE
I have a confession to make: When I first started working in tech, I had an unhealthy relationship with stress. Although my work had (fair) expectations, it’s so funny to me now that I responded then by putting even MORE pressure on myself to do a good job.
Recently I published an article about the science-backed strategies and tools I used to develop a healthier relationship with my stress, so that it helps me thrive (yes stress can be positive!). If you’re dealing with stress right now or know someone who is feeling underwater, then this article is for you.
2 INSIGHTS FROM MY OBSERVATIONS
I. The best remedy to our self-imposed limiting beliefs is often to ask for help.
New research shows the lack of social mobility at top colleges like Dartmouth, my alma mater, where 69% of students came from families that earn $110K+/year. I was not part of this group.
During my college years, I struggled — but not academically. My biggest challenge was the dissonance created by my own self-conception. Coming from a middle-class immigrant background, I was frequently reminded of being cut from a different cloth than my prep-school clasmmates.
For most things, I viewed myself as having a “get my hand dirty” approach. Networking and shmoozing didn’t feel “like me”.
This self-view slowed me down for years. In my first half of college, I remember not asking for nearly enough help. Instead, I learned skills for navigating internships and jobs — which many of my peers had started learning in high school — through much trial and error.
Even still, the biggest influences on my trajectory resulted from the times I asked for help.
II. To get more insight and clarity when journaling, imagine you’re writing a memoir about yourself.
As I’ve learned more and more about how memoir authors approach the craft of writing, I’ve discovered that the tools they use can also help produce clarity in our personal reflections.
- Memoir Algorithm: “The story is about X as illustrated by Y.” (credit: Marion Roach) For example, this story is about unrequited romance, as illustrated by my high school prom date. Once you nail the raison d’être for a story, then it’s easy to unpack and structure your “chapters” more insightfully — it’s like magic.
- Three Acts: Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. What is each Act about, in one line? You could easily apply this structure to your own annual reflections.
Open free-writing is still valuable to me. With that said, I’ve enjoyed the exercise of identifying a universal idea that my experience ties into — plumbing them for deeper meaning (also acknowledging that there may be none). Give these tools a try!
3 RESOURCES WORTH VISITING
I. On Digital Minimalism, Loneliness and the Joys of True Connection (Study Hacks)
When I discovered Cal Newport’s writings on career advice & performance during college, I wished I had discovered them in high school. His most recent post is a collection of quotes and reflections on the experience of disconnecting from our devices — only to arrive at a feeling of loneliness.
This topic resonates with me. If I’m being honest, I find myself pulling up my Insta and Messenger instinctively just to feel the hint of connection. Newport argues that by doing this we’re wasting our limited energy on a low-level form connection, instead of a high-level one like talking face-to-face. This post got me thinking about how I can focus my energy on the right ways of reaching out to friends.
II. Microsoft experimented with a 4-day workweek, and productivity jumped by 40% (Business Insider)
Self-explanatory headline. It’s not a 4-hour workweek, but the next best thing. While this experiment took place within Microsoft’s Japan division, there’s been similar experiments taking place in the US, UK, Romania, and New Zealand.
Most outcomes have appeared positive, citing increased productivity, less stress, and higher satisfaction amongst employees and customers. The negative impacts that have been shared are 1) some employees feel more pressured to complete their work within the new schedule, particularly if they have deadlines and 2) others say they get bored and just take the days off.
III. Should you quit drinking diet soda? (Precision Nutrition)
Ending today’s newsletter with a fun piece about a (non-career) question that’s been on my mind a lot. Leave it up to the folks at Precision Nutrition to plumb the depths of science journal articles for relevant studies on diet soda and debunk a bunch of myths.
The skinny is that the research is surprisingly shallow on this topic. There’s not enough evidence to prove that diet soda increases your risk of health issues (what!?). Instead, the author argues to focus on the “big rocks”, such as eating less-processed foods and reducing stress, which already have a wealth of evidence linking them to better health. With that said, I’ve personally taken the precautionary move of reducing my intake (mostly because a health researcher friend shared reports of sugar still being found in diet soft drinks produced in Mexico).
As always, thanks for reading and walking this journey with me.
Have a good weekend,
Career Coach and Writer