Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

Would you rather: career vs. family

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

I just watched the feature on Barbara Walters now that she’s retiring and something she said struck me – how people don’t look back and regret spending too much time at the office, but they do regret not spending enough time with their families. However, I don’t think it’s as simple as that. That’s coming from a career woman’s perspective, but what about the flip side? What about someone who spent their whole lives dedicated to their families? Do they have no regrets? My greatest fear of potentially deciding to stay at home and being a homemaker is that I’ll regret not living up to my potential in a career. So what’s worse – feeling like you wasted too much of your life working away and not being a good family member or feeling like you wasted too much of your time focusing on family and not contributing your skill sets to the labor force?

As it is, it’s tough enough staying home to take care of the family. But then people often think that the home life is just full of daytime strolls and shopping sprees and other fun things. They don’t seem to respect homemakers they way they probably would if they truly understood the challenges (not that I do, but I certainly have seen a glimpse of it and it’s not something I’m confident I can pull off). How would you feel if you worked your butt off for days on end only to have people think you’re lazy? Even worse than that for me is the thought of people thinking you’re somehow less intelligent because you’re not working on some career path. Just because you choose not to be employed doesn’t mean you’re unemployable and neither does it give any indication of your capabilities. Yet inevitably, it comes into question… Did you stay home because you’re not good enough? After all those years away from the workforce, are you somehow less intelligent or hardworking?

So I’ve got to say, at this stage, much as I want to not focus on work so much, I do because I’d rather look back and wish I had taken more time away than wish I had accomplished more in my life. I still grapple with the decision to stay in the workforce and how long I plan on being here. It feels wonderful to be good at a job, be productive, and contribute towards some greater goal. I don’t know if I’d feel as rewarded in terms of my self-esteem when it comes to family life. I can certainly see myself feeling great about raising good kids, helping Panda advance his own career with less stress because of my presence at home, and other less tangible results that have a less direct connection to my contributions. Ultimately, I think I’d want to settle on a part-time opportunity that would give me even greater flexibility in my schedule. For now, since home life is pretty simple without any kids, I’ll stay concentrated on my work.

Would you rather focus on your family if you could give up your job? Have you chosen that path? Or are you determined to pursue a long career?

Why I no longer want to be an entrepreneur

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

Every now and then, it seems like the world is beating me up. These are the best times for growth, but boy are they challenging. I’d been feeling rather downtrodden for the past week or two – a combination of illness and challenges with work were making me feel less than adequate. I was weak, always exhausted, and not nearly as productive as I wanted to be (and thought I could be). A looming sense of failure followed me around and made me question myself. It reminded me a lot of why I decided that being an entrepreneur might not be for me after all.

Back in early 2012, I had reached a point professionally and personally that gave me the courage to quit my job and start my own ventures. A year later, I had learned a lot and decided that the lifestyle wasn’t what I was looking for. I found that I couldn’t shut off from work and the stress of it followed me at all times of the day. I like more balance in my life, but it was hard to justify not taking care of work whenever it came up. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t handle things right away. It began to take over my life, even as I was seeking more control over it.

Today I came across an article on that rang so true to me. It’s about the psychological price of entrepreneurship and talks about how taxing it is to manage your own business. When you pour your heart and soul into working on something, it can really drain you. If it doesn’t work out the way you had hoped, it’s easy to take that as a personal failure. That certainly does a number on your confidence. When you decide to pursue entrepreneurship, you better be ready for a crazy rollercoaster. And for me, it’s just not worth the stress. I don’t crave the recognition or attention at that scale, nor do I want to pursue that sort of money. So why would I put my health, my relationships, and my mental state at jeopardy to chase after that dream?

two kittens cuddling and sleeping together

If I could, I’d play with cats all day. So cute!!

And going back to my recent low, the article explained that some people experience strong emotions on both ends of the spectrum. You get really excited about things, but you also get really depressed about others. I may not be as bad as some people who are extreme to the point of manic, but I do think I feel emotions more strongly than many. It’s a double-edged sword, where I find myself easily joyful, but at the same time I can fall to deep sadness quickly. It may prevent me from taking greater risks for immense rewards, but those “rewards” are something I didn’t want anyway. Instead of money or power, I want to enjoy my life with Panda. I want time to hang out with him, to go to yoga classes, to have peaceful moments with my cats, to cook together, to enjoy trips… so really something more stable is suitable for my goals.

Once I’m done with my 365great series, I’ll start up a weekly series related to that, sharing ideas and tips for how to enjoy life more and stress less. Our culture is so caught up in accomplishments that we often forget the value of the richer experiences in life that may not produce an award or a higher paycheck or other recognition.

Journey of happiness

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

Would you rather be accomplished or happy?

I’m not saying these are mutually exclusive, but if you had to choose, which one is more important to you? I’ve found that in the quest for happiness, people often get caught up in accomplishments that don’t make them happy. Again and again you hear to do what you love – the success will follow. Yet, time after time, you see people putting job titles and salaries ahead of their personal fulfillment. Rather than choosing the roles that would bring them the most satisfaction, they choose the ones with higher prestige, larger paychecks. It’s quite the phenomenon.

girl at outdoor piano smiling with gleeful expression of joy

Some things bring me pure joy.

I’ve got to say, I don’t quite subscribe to this “follow your dreams” advice. I mean, the general concept makes sense, but when it comes to the nuances of real life, it’s a lot more complicated. It’s easy for people to take this idea and go wild, thinking that whatever they do they must love all of it. It’s too easy to say, “Oh I enjoy this but not that so maybe it’s not the right thing for me.” To me, it’s important to enjoy what you do more often than not, but you’ll never find a career that you love every aspect of. Maybe you’re loquacious and you get to talk a lot, but also need to handle paperwork to get deals closed. Maybe you’re extremely introverted and love doing research, but need to then present your findings at meetings. Doing only what you love can be a bit of a cop-out… it can encourage you to throw in the towel too soon, giving up on something because certain elements are challenging.

It’s something I struggle with all the time – how much do I enjoy my career path, my role? When I get to do what I’m best at and like doing, I’m in the zone. It feels fantastic and rewarding. When I have to do what I’m not strong in and struggle with, I’m at a loss. I try and I try but boy is it hard! My only solace is that when it’s finally over, that rush of relief can wash over me and provide some comfort. On my journey of happiness, I am constantly learning, growing, and evolving. Similarly, I’ve found that in my personal life I travel a parallel path. I’ve learned that finding happiness is not about getting to a destination – after all, what makes us happy is changing too. Rather, it’s about adapting along the way and enjoying the experiences. I’m trying to make the most of each experience and find something to smile about.

It’s funny how all this time I’ve been trying to “find myself” there’s been no “self” to find, really. I am who I am; I am how I am. As I tried to figure out what would make me happy I failed to realize that I was thinking too much about a future self that doesn’t exist yet (and may never exist, depending on what choices I make now). Am I brave enough to let go of all that worry and just live in the present? I crave a certain amount of stability and I feel like I have more control over the future if I make decisions based on how I think it will go. But really, you never know. So maybe I can explore this stage of my journey of happiness a bit more thoroughly while I’m here. I’m just afraid that acting without regard to that fuzzy future will make it become something far worse than I’d want.

Happiness now doesn’t guarantee happiness in the future. Oh, dilemmas… I still can’t quite let go of wanting to feel accomplished AND happy. I’ll try to tip the scales a bit more towards happy though. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

Consumerism’s path

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

Businesses should always be looking forward, spending time innovating and working to stay ahead of the curve (or create it!).  So it naturally follows that they should know what their customers, aka consumers, will want (this is more focused towards actual people rather than organizations).  And where are things headed?  Well, wouldn’t you like to know?  😛

tedSeriously though, I was actually inspired to write this by a TED video I watched where Joseph Pine that explains just that, so let me share its message (or you can just go watch it).  What companies should realize is that the newest frontier in what is valued economically is authentic experiences. Not sure what I mean?  Here, let me break it down for you:

  1. First there were commodities.  They were extracted from the planet and traded.  The key was to supply availability.
  2. Second there were goods.  They took commodities and made something from them.  The key was to control cost.
  3. Third there were services.  They concentrated on how they delivered the goods (and included plenty of customization).  The key was to improve quality.
  4. Now there are experiences.  They take services and stage them in such a way that you go for the entire package (customization of the service).  The key is to render authenticity.
photo credit:

photo credit:

Sprinkles has been a great example of a company that provides an experience.  Sure, people love the cupcakes for their novelty and such, but so many of them go to the store and line up for the entire experience, from the line itself to the door that must be kept shut to keep freshness in to the way they display the cupcakes.  I believe Kogi Korean BBQ operates similarly.  People love the entire experience of tracking down the trucks and standing in lines to order from this little mobile restaurant.

Let’s not forget other classics as well, like Disneyland, where it’s the fantasyland that has been created for you that is such a big draw.  People like to go there and experience other worlds, go on the rides, walk down Main Street, and meet the characters.  Similarly, Vegas is THE experience city of the world.  You go there to get immersed in everything it has to offer, from the gambling to the shows to the endless buffets.  Oh, and let’s not forget those shady people flicking cards of naked women at you (though I’m sure that’s not what you go for).

An interesting point brought up in this video is that all experiences are authentic.  Because to anyone experiencing it, it is real and it affects them.  So really, “authentic experience” is a bit redundant.  Yet on the other side of the coin, since businesses are man made, they are not “authentic” and thereby can’t supply “authentic” experiences.  So what it really comes down to is making the consumer perceive it as authentic.

Now authenticity comes in two forms: being true to yourself and being true to what you represent yourself to be.  Pine provides a nice little matrix here showing the four possibilities:

  1. Real Real: is what it says it is and is true to itself.
  2. Fake Fake: is not what it says it is and is not true to itself.
  3. Real Fake: is what it says it is but is not true to itself.
  4. Fake Real: is not what it says it is but is true to itself.
At night, you can immerse yourself in the stories they tell with the fireworks show.

At night, you can immerse yourself in the stories they tell with the fireworks show.

Disneyland, for example, is a Fake Real because it is not what it says it is (a magic kingdom), but it is true to itself (sticks to company values).  One important thing that businesses can lose track of is its identity, which then makes it impossible to stay true to themselves if they don’t even know what they are.  So on this end, I think it’s important to have values, missions, and goals that everyone knows about so the staff know what is expected and the consumers know what to expect.  Once that is identified, it really shapes the culture of the company, so then it’s just about staying in touch with what that means for all future endeavors.

So, the newest thing is to not only provide a good or service, but to package up the entire process of getting it into a desirable entity.  This could be anything from the ambiance created from decorations and uniforms/costumes to the unique experience itself (like studying at Starbucks or the do-it-yourself style of Build-A-Bear).  It’s the difference between a nail salon and a spa, where the former is more focused on providing the service (though some places add to the experience with massage chairs and drink services) and the latter is about the entire experience, where everything is designed to make you feel more relaxed and pampered.

I hope I’m not the only one who finds this interesting!


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday afternoon, unbeknownst to us, Typea became an uncle when his sister Chuckles gave birth to a little baby girl!  We found out much later that night and now I will just refer to him as Uncle, haha.  I’ve gotten a chance to chat with Chuckles a few times and she showed me some of the stuff they got for the baby, including a small bathtub, soft wrap thing, camera, and video camera.  I’ve always had this sort of fear and aversion of pregnant women, but somehow I felt nothing of the sort with her.  Perhaps it is because she held herself so well and dressed in ways that did not look awkward.  I saw a pregnant woman at the mall just recently and I definitely did not like her ‘belly half peeking out’ look.

A few months ago I also came across some pictures of an old high school classmate who had given birth to a boy and looked at some of her pictures.  Just yesterday I came across more shots and the boy has grown quite a bit!  It also struck me how strange it was to tell Panda that the baby was not even 24 hours old yet when I informed him.  That made me think of how quickly babies change in the first days, weeks, months, and years of their lives.  After a certain point, noticeable change occurs much less frequently and days become a little less meaningful and sometimes lost among the hubbub of activities.  So it’s quite cool to have the prospect of seeing a baby only days old soon.

photo credit:

photo credit:

It also makes me wonder about a lot of things that you normally wouldn’t think of (or at least that I’ve never really thought of), like what contractions feel like and how newborn feels and how the body looks immediately after birth – do you just deflate, in a way?  A few weeks ago we got a visit from a couple who brought their newborn and I remember the mother saying that the baby was too young to be fussy yet, since she was taking in so much of the environment.  Then last night Chatty was telling me how you’ve gotta understand that the baby went from a warm environment so safe and cushy to a completely new one, with light and sounds and probably air conditioning too.  I never really thought of the transition for the baby, from everything provided by the mother to fending for itself (in a sense).  But it totally makes sense that they cry and sleep a lot, since there’s so much to adapt to and so much to learn and process.

When it’s my turn, I don’t think I want to rely on books and advice from strangers.  As Chatty said, it’s from their own experience, but you must spend the time to get to know your own baby.  Why is she crying?  Is she cold?  Is she hungry?  What does she like?  These are all things that you learn with experience and I want to do it the old-fashioned way, without guidelines that I fall upon, but instead using some common sense and trial and error.  Maybe that sounds terrible to some (why ignore all the resources?), but other than practicing how to hold an infant and learning about some basic skills, I don’t plan on seeking tips from outside sources.

After all, I don’t want to raise a kid like everyone else, especially with the way I see the younger generation turning out.  I’ve got my own values and philosophy in terms of how to raise a kid and I’m sure much of it will be adjusted to fit with how we want our family to be.  So really, it’s a discovery journey for us to embark on and not a beaten path for us to follow.  I also don’t want to become dependent on a manual, flipping through each time the baby cries to figure out what might be wrong.  I just don’t want there to be a tradeoff in effort to learn on my part because there are piles of books available to do the dirty work for me.  Babies aren’t plug and play toys and shouldn’t be treated as such.


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , ,

Instead of looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, I will be getting up even earlier than I do for work to go to a facilitation seminar of sorts.  I’m not exactly sure what it is about, but that’s why I’m going!  (To learn about what facilitation is and how I can add it to my list of skills.)  It’s a part of this whole idea of "relentless self-improvement" and learning.  I feel like I should take advantage of all the resources available to me, as long as I’m even remotely interested in them.  If it doesn’t get in the way of work or something else that really matters to me, why not?  I can sacrifice a little sleep to gain some extra knowledge.

In addition to this, there are a variety of new things to be learned that hopefully HR will be setting up for us soon, like lessons in ASL!  I am looking forward to these chances to enhance my personal repertoire.  After all, you shouldn’t ever stop learning and growing.  There are just too many interesting things out there to know and do to settle for one thing.  I have always been a sampler platter type of person; I love to try out all kinds of things.  Most I will probably never be completely proficient at or an expert in, but at least I have a basic understanding of what it is and how it works.

So, in the spirit of being good to myself, I am going to keep this short so I can get to sleep soon!  We’ll see what interesting things tomorrow will unveil.

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