Life Design

I’m currently at Boundless Mezcal Cafe in Cartagena (cold brew plus their empty upstairs area is a great working combo), on the last day of my trip in Colombia.  I started out in Barranquilla, Colombia, which sadly I would not recommend, and abandoned a hotel room that still had 4 more days paid for.  It was like visiting Beverly Hills (Medellin) and then thinking that visiting Detroit pre-hipster revolution plus Louisiana summer-weather (Barranquilla) would be the same.  It’s my own fault as I had unrealistic expectations that it would be comparable to one of my favorite cities in South America.


I wrote half of a blog while in the air last week, but I find that if I don’t finish and post quickly, I often delete it as I dislike it the next day.  That still happens after I post my blogs normally of course, but I just ignore it and let it be. I’ve lowered my standards to just hoping that the general theme of my blog conveys something useful/interesting, instead of posting once in a long while something that I think is great.   


Something I’ve been thinking about the past week is atmosphere, mood, and theme in art and life.  Some movies, books, and television shows I enjoyed the most haven’t necessarily had a great plot, (usually at least one good character though), but the mood they convey is something that I love.


Some of the Netflix shows like “13 Reasons Why”, “The OA”, and a recent one “Maniac” have a sad but beautiful mood that I like to indulge.  The same with one my favorite writers, Charles Bukowski, who always had a humorous outlook towards his dark and alcohol fueled life.


I’ve been trial running movies, shows, and books more often.  If I don’t like the first episode/two chapters I’m on to the next.  If I’m not loving it right away I’d rather take the chance on something else.  I noticed the entertainment that I end up really enjoying is rarely something that I am bored to start out with.  I might not end up liking it later, but the chances are a lot better if it suits me from the beginning.


Also on the topic of theme a lot of (unrelated) things I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about have a common theme lately: however you want your life to be, you can have that.  I usually take notice when I get the same book/movie/life recommendation from several people.  This culminated in me buying a book, “Designing Your Life” by Burnett and Evans, which I only put down to do the exercises in the book (which is something I rarely do), and it immediately became my top priority for the week.  I haven’t read any “self-help” books in a long time now as so much of it is repetitive, and was reluctant to buy this, but it was just what I needed.


It seems like lifestyle design is something I’ve really optimized and focused on, but I feel like a lot of it is accidental.  It’s probably only in the past few years that I even have a clue as to what I enjoy in life, let alone why.  I’ve read many books answering the big question about what to do with my time and why, and I tried to copy other people’s paths, but I’m just now accepting that I’m weird and likely to continue an unconventional life for the rest of my years.


I like the idea of an unambiguous career or identity, like the person who just puts their head down and is a “programmer”, “poker player”, “writer”, etc. until the end of their days, but it’s just not me.  Some of the things I like are statistical based games like poker and trading, doing creative work like writing fiction and this blog, being contemplative/healthy, and being social.  These are often very opposed to each other in mood/energy, and I go through phases where one area is more interesting to me.


In regards to lifestyle design I’m trying to be a little more forward thinking.  I wrote out different scenarios that I could take my life, and lived them in my head like a movie.  One of the things that stuck with me from “Designing Your Life” was the idea of energizing work.  After I’ve written, or after modifying my code/trading algorithms successfully I feel great.  These things take a lot mental focus and energy, but they return it back as well.  Other things like watching the price of bitcoin requires little focus, but drains my energy with nothing in return (even when it’s going in the direction I want).


Another important aspect of the book for me was letting go of the other possibilities.  You can really have/do whatever (one thing) you want, but you can’t have four careers at once.  I think the more careers/hobbies/relationships you start and stop during your life, the more you realize that the next one isn’t likely to be “forever”.  Second guessing though, and having immediate other options in mind all the time only hurts. I’m working on being present and treating my quant-finance as an open-ended career with it being my work until it’s not.  I’ve also re-slotted daily time for writing as well, and I’m not sure to classify it as “work” or not, but it’s something challenging that brings me energy/purpose in life.


With that I’m going to grab some lunch, and enjoy my last night in Cartagena.  I’ll be in Michigan for Christmas, and blogging could get sporadic (like it always is) until after New Year’s, but looking forward to updating you as always!  Leaving you with a pic from Cartagena that is beautifully lit at night.




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