Ep. 218: Work vs. Meaning In A Distracted World

Transcription for the video titled "Ep. 218: Work vs. Meaning In A Distracted World".

1970-01-01T02:43:55.000Z

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Introduction

Cal's intro (00:00)

So music supports a type of solitude of sorts and it's important. It shouldn't, however, be your only source of solitude because really the deep stuff that requires in many different meanings of this word silence. I'm Cal Newport, and this is Deep Questions, episode 218. If you're new to the show, it's where I take questions and calls from my audience about the theory and practice of living a deeper life. practice of living a deeper life. I'm here in my deep work HQ joined as usual by my producer, Jesse. Jesse, two new things are coming. I think we should preview for the audience. One, the long awaited live listener calls are on their way. What would you say, Jesse? In October. End of October, baby. Before October is done, there will be live calls in a deep questions episode. We'll have to get used to the tech. For now, we're thinking one live caller per show so we can go back and forth. Sharing case studies or doing live back and forth advice. We think that'll bring some interesting energy and nuance to this discussion. So keep your ears open for that. Some point in this month that will happen. Even more imminent is weekly update videos. This is something that I want to experiment with. I'm actually inspired in this effort by, uh, our good author friend, Brandon Sanderson. We talked about him last week. We talked about his underground supervillain layer. He wrote to do some writing in, which I think is really cool. Uh, as everyone knows, he wrote name of the wind. This is an inside joke for those who have been following the show for a while but he does a weekly update video for his specifically his book reading audience where he updates here's what's happening with the writing of whatever books he's working on at the moment here's how it's going here's where i am here's what's happening in my life as a professional writer right now he started doing this during the pandemic because pre-pandemic, like a lot of fantasy authors, he was traveling a lot. He was going to a lot of conferences, going to a lot of speaking events to try to connect to fans one-on-one in person. And he realized, wait a second, if I use digital tools like YouTube, I could connect to all of my readers every week without having to fly to Albuquerque on Tuesday and to be in Minneapolis on Thursday. So he began doing those update videos. It's not about views. These aren't going to be the videos on his channel that are going to have millions of views, but it's a way to stay connected with his readers about what's going on. So I thought I would try that. I'm a little bit private about my personal life. I don't really give a lot of glimpses into what's going on. So I figured this would be my chance to update you each week on here's what's happening with the book I'm writing and bring you into some of the efforts, adventures, and misadventures in my own life as a professional writer to try to find depth and escape shallowness. So keep an eye out for that on the YouTube channel. That's youtube.com slash calnewportmedia. If we like it, we'll keep doing it. If we don't, we won't, but there should be a video up by the time you hear this episode. All right. So speaking of this episode, let me go through what the plan is. We're going to start off with a deep dive. There's a topic I've been mulling recently, and I figured I should work it out in public. So we're going to deep dive into some issues involving work versus meaning. We're going to do the history of meeting and work. We'll do a little bit more talk about quiet quitting. Should be interesting. Then we've got our main question block. So segment two of the show is going to be a block of reader and listener questions and calls. We've got some good stuff in here. I'm looking at the list now. We have something about adult coloring books, music and solitude, some deeper questions such as how do you plan for a future deep life without becoming ingracious about what you like about your life right now. So we have some interesting questions coming up. Then after that question block, we're going to go back to a segment, which I enjoy, but haven't been doing recently, which is the mailbag segment, where I open up my interesting at Cal Newport inbox, where for well over a decade now, I've solicited my readers and listeners to send me interesting links or articles or pointers they thought I might enjoy.


Problem Solving And Personal Growth

DEEP DIVE Work vs. Meaning (04:53)

We're going to open up the interesting CalNewport.com mailbag and go over some of the cooler things that people have sent me from around the Internet all about the quest to live deeper. All right, that's our plan. Let's get started now with our deep dive, which I am calling work versus meaning. So this is something I've been thinking about a lot recently is the history of our, let's call it tumultuous maybe relationship between work and finding meaning in our lives. I've been thinking through this history, mainly in the American context, going back to about the post-war period, so starting in the 1950s. And so what I've done is I've put together a timeline of what I think are the major milestones in our culture's evolving thinking about work and meeting starting in the 1950s. So if you're watching this episode on YouTube, so at youtube.com slash calnewportmedia, you're gonna see this timeline on the screen right now. If you're just listening, don't worry, I'll walk you through what's on here. So the first element of this timeline is the 1950s. So in the 1950s, I call this the Organization man period, which I describe as the period in which work is a substitute for civic life. So if we look at this immediate post-war period, what you see is a move away post-war from urban living, as well as let's say rural countryside,-related living, much more of the rise of suburban living. So as that occurred, people began looking towards their employers, which at this point were typically very large. We had the rise of the very large corporation. The US had emerged as a superpower. Our country and economy had not been destroyed by war. So we had this 20-year period of just basically dominating every sector. So we have these giant companies rising, these giant headquarters, and people moving to the suburbs. And the meaning they might've found before being involved in, let's say, civic leadership of the small town where they had a farm got transferred over to my work as my family. I'm very loyal to the company that I work for. I will be there for my entire career. So I see this period as an expression of civic identity through work. So that's the way we were thinking about work then. Then we moved to the 1960s and we get the first backlash. So we did the 1950s. So now we get the 1960s. We get the first backlash, which I call the counterculture backlash. So this is what we see in the beat movement followed by the hippie movement. And the way I describe this is work is now conceived as an obstacle to meaning. So the younger generation, the children of the World War II, the children of the greatest generation, so what's known as the baby boom generation, sort of had enough of this idea of the man in the flannel suit or organization man concept of I go and work at IBM my whole life, and this is where I get a big sense of my civic meaning. So we get in the 1960s, a backlash in which work is seen as an obstacle to really figuring out meaningful lives. So we had a lot more individualistic, utopian lifestyle experimentation happening. This is where we had radical changes, let's say, in dress and attire, radical changes in living arrangements. We had communes, the back to nature movement, the voluntary simplicity movement. So everything we associate with that Woodstock generation, I'm conceiving now my sort of simplified trajectory here as a backlash to the 1950s organization man period. All right, so we're moving right along. Now we get to the 1990s. So this is when the older millennials like me or Jesse are in elementary school and junior high and high school. So sort of a formidable period for millennials. And here we get the rise of what I call passion culture. So I see this in some sense as the compromise that was created by our baby boomer parents. So our baby boomer parents had rejected the really straight-laced organization man model of their parents. I get my sense of civic duty through a lifelong connection. They went very counterculture. Counterculture sort of fell apart in the 70s as drugs and sexually transmitted diseases sort of ripped that apart. And so they found the compromise to teach to their children, which is this passion culture. Okay, you do have to work. Don't go live on a commune and just engage in free love and a lot of hardcore drug use, but your work can be your primary source of meaning. Follow your passion. This was the phrase that emerged in this period. As I document in my 2012 book, So Good They Can't Ignore You. Follow Your Passion emerges in this period. We see its first appearances in the late 1980s. And it's really in the 1990s that this idea that follow your passion is a good piece of career advice. This emerges in the 1990s. And so this is how I understand the passion culture period is basically the baby boomers trying to figure out how to balance between these two extremes of we don't want to be fully countercultural. We know a lot of people that just burnt them out and kind of destroyed their lives, but we don't want just everyone to put back on the flannel suits and commute out to the, you know, the headquarters and just have this soulless type corporate existence. So what if work is your passion? So we got that culture. I was raised on it. You probably, were you exposed to that a lot, Jesse, were the same age? Follow your passion, right? This was our childhood. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And the interesting, you go back 20 years, you're not seeing that. You go back even 10 years before us, you're not seeing a lot of that. So that rose in the 1990s. All right. So then we get a backlash. See the cyclical nature of this? Movement, backlash, new movement, backlash. So in the 2000s, and we see this emerging in the first decade of the 2000s into the second decade of the 2000s, we get a new backlash, which I'm calling the minimalist slash fire slash lifestyle design backlash. So I'm grouping together multiple movements that were all trying to do the same thing, which I describe as seeing work as a means to an end. So this backlash, I think, got some fuel from various financial crises throughout this period. You get the minimalist movement really comes out of that first dot-com boom and 9-11 recession in the early 2000s. And then you get the lifestyle design came at the tail end of that, Tim Ferriss, the fire movement built on both of those. That was sort of more 2008 financial collapse. So it sort of emerged out of there. So there's a series of financial issues in the economy and these movements came out of it. So a quick summary of each. I kind of have not quite in the right order here. I think the minimalist movement was probably first. We start in the early 2000s. And it's a move towards greatly simplifying your life. And there's the sense that if you greatly simplify your life, then you don't have to be working all the time. One of the best proponents of this movements are friends of the show, The Minimalist, Ryan and Joshua, who run the Minimalist website and the excellent Minimalist podcast. They were in this early. I've known them for a long time. I think they're probably one of the best exemplars of this movement, but they have this great backstory about how they were really overloading themselves with work. Joshua, I think it was Joshua, maybe it was Ryan, at some point had bought this massive house, even though they lived alone, and it was full of boxes of stuff that they had bought. And they simplified everything. There was a while there when I knew them where they lived in a cabin. They'd gone through different living arrangements. But minimalism was about simplifying your lifestyle. And that indirectly connected to simplifying what resources you needed from work. So simplifying your work life. Lifestyle design came in that same milieu. This is Tim Ferriss saying, let's be more systematic. What you really want to do. Why don't you go do these fun, like interesting experiences now in your life? Don't wait to retire when you're in your 60s. And you can do that if you're careful about remote work and geo-arbitrage, earning money in euros while living in a South American country with a depressed currency, etc. And then FIRE arose, Financial Independence, Retire Early. That movement arose in the second decade of the 2000s. It really started to pick up steam. And that was this idea, we've talked about it before on the show, where if you have a good salary and live very cheaply, you can save a lot of money. You're saving most of your salary. And the amount of money you need to save to be financially independent is also small because you're living so cheaply. So if you're willing to continue living so cheaply, it's possible in about 10 years. And if I remember the math right, if you have like $100,000, $150,000 a year tech job, and you're living on a quarter of it, something like this, in 10 years, you're financially independent as long as you're willing to keep living cheaply. So all of that was work as a means to an end. So it's a reaction to the passion, the passion culture, which was saying work is your source of meaning. And this backlash that happened in the 2000s was saying, no, I'm going to go create my own meaningful life. Work just services that. And so I'm going to figure out how work can service what I want in my life with a minimal footprint. Again, each of these is pretty different. Now we get more recently, we get to the 2020s, we get to the post-pandemic period. And here I described the current moment as the sort of quiet quitting, anti-capitalist Twitter moment. So we talked about quiet quitting in a recent episode. Anti-capitalism Twitter, this is really popular among the blue check sort of coastal crowd on Twitter. This is really popular among the blue check sort of coastal crowd on Twitter. Lots of tweets about, you know, we basically have to re-engineer capitalism or get rid of capitalism. All work is exploitative. And why do we even have to work in the first place? And there's this sort of classic sort of early 20th century sort of leftist tinge to that. classic sort of early 20th century sort of leftist tinge to that. So here I describe this final movement as work as a target for online activism. So it's work really being at the center of a conversation of the sort of online crowd based heavily in Twitter. All right. So that's been the trajectory, 1950s to today, movement backlash, movement backlash. trajectory 1950s today movement backlash movement backlash what do I think about our current situation well here is the the bold claim I'm going to make is number one I am gonna call this current movement with some trepidation this quiet quitting anti-capitalist Twitter movement a red herring now I could be wrong about this but this movement seems to be as much about the acquisition of social influence as it is a serious, I think, reform in the structure of work. It really is built around algorithmic reinforcement about what is getting views. I think this is a lot of what's driving quiet quitting. We talked about this before. There's some core frustrations, which are very important, but also these TikTok videos are doing well. So more and more people are going to do these TikTok videos. It's going to inflate then the influence of this idea. Same thing with anti-capitalist Twitter. There's all these people on Twitter who are, hey, all work is exploitative, at the same time, desperately trying to get you to sign up for their sub stack and make a living doing online work. I think a lot of this gets inflated when we throw in the reinforcement loops of algorithmic content curation. So I think that those particular movements might be a red herring. Again, more about what happens to be gaining social credibility online right now than it is maybe some sort of serious challenge to what work should be. There's not really a clear, pragmatic, optimistic proposal for where we need to be, which is what we've seen in the past backlash movement. So I'm going to put that aside for now, again, with trepidation, but I don't use Twitter. So to me, I don't run into this as much. And I'm going to go back to the 2000s movement, the minimalist fire lifestyle design backlash movement, because what I think should happen and might happen next is instead of a brand new movement emerging, we're going to see a reform of what was broken about this work as a means to an end approach. Because I think this is probably going to be the dominant approach for career thinking for the next 10 or 20 years. There's just some corrections that we have to make. So here was the issue with the existing work as a means to an end philosophy that emerged in the 2000s. It was too technical because it came out of tech circles, which makes sense because it was being spread in the early days of Web 2.0. Who was more comfortable with those technologies? Tech savvy people. So it came out of technical circles so that we get too much fiddly technical engineering detail. Minimalism suffered from this. I mean, I think the downfall, like why that movement deflated with the exception of a few exceptions like Josh and Ryan who are doing well, is that it got so fiddly about things like how many items you own, how many things can you fit into a backpack, you know, what color, do you have a white kitchen with just three appliances? It got too obsessive over these technical details. FIRE had this same issue. FIRE arose largely among engineering types because it was the engineering types who had the income in their 20s to actually put this type of plan into action. Because the key to FIRE is you have to survive on a relatively small fraction of your income, roughly 20 to 30%. For that to really be possible, that first income has to be pretty big. And so who's in the sweet spot of making a big income, but not yet burdened with mortgages and families and school expenses and everything else that comes later in life is basically was computer programmers. So the fireIRE movement arose among computer programmers, and it got super technical too. It got super fiddly about tax loss harvesting and the exact right way to move your money around. And it really focused like a laser on the spreadsheets and on the mathematics of how you achieve this particular goal. So it got lost in its own specificity. And I think that was alienating to a broader audience and probably rightly so. So I think that was the issue with FIRE. And then as we talked about last week, it's been destabilized by that. And now even its proponents are trying to back away from it because it's under attack from the online crowds. This, this is elitist. It's all just engineers. Everyone is just being privileged. And so now they're kind of retreating. And that's why that's losing steam. Lifestyle design sort of had the same issue. Tim Ferriss will talk about this. People got so fiddly in the details of lifestyle design. I had a friend who knew Tim well. And I remember back then, he was getting really into lifestyle design and it was all about the automation and the tech. And he had the setup. I remember this clearly. He was showing me, here's what's going to support me as I live. He was living in Brazil, I think at the time. You would click a button. There's no reason to automate this other than it was just a cool factor. You would click a button and There's no reason to automate this other than it was just a cool factor. You would click a button and it would somehow go through one of these Google AdSense tools to find keywords that were making a lot of money. Like people were a lot of money to sell ads with those keywords. It would then automatically send those keywords to copywriters in the Philippines, because I guess the Philippines, they have good English to write a ton of pages for like HubSpot or one of these online page hosters that was big, you know, 10, 15 years ago, that could then be a good receptacle for ads for those words. And he was showing me some example of, you know, homemade rocking chair. It was something like this. That is a word that people were bidding a lot of money on because I guess there was particular people that sell plans for homemade rocking chairs and are willing to pay for those clicks. So then his copywriters in the Philippines would then write 50 pages of content about homemade rocking chairs with all these links so that they could get those ads on there and try to maximize their money. And it was all this like minor arbitrage of $50 here, $100 there. That's what had that way down lifestyle design. Too fiddly, too narrow, too technical. Seemed too bro-y. And it alienated sort of everyone else. My argument, though, is that this general approach, work as a means to an end, this general approach is salvageable. And what I'm recommending, what I see salvaging this philosophy is introducing values into it. Now, what I mean by this is starting, before you get to the fiddliness, starting with a vision of a life well lives, you cultivate your own understanding of the different aspects of your life, what you want your life to be like, what's important to you, what's your code, what's your definition of the deep life buckets, however you want to do this. But you start with this image, this vision of the life well lived that you feel in your bones and resonates. And then you work backwards and say, great, work services, work services this vision. And then all of these ideas that arose in the early 2000s about if I live simpler, or if I live cheaper and save at an expansive rate, or if I use some like automation or really leverage remote working, like Ferris talked about, all of these tools are in a toolbox that you can start pulling out of, but you're not pulling out these tools just for the arbitrary exercise of building something to some specs that have become increasingly refined online. You're building towards a life well-lived, a vision of a life well-lived that is specific and bespoke to you. So this is what I think is going to happen. to you. So this is what I think is going to happen. Value-based, lifestyle-centric career planning. This is going to be, I think, the big corrective, not whatever this stuff is that's going on online. Not this, let's reform capitalism and do TikTok videos about quiet quitting, red herring. The next big movement, I think, is going to be that shift of what was the minimalist fire lifestyle design backlash that's going to evolve into look this long acronym i'm writing here values based lifestyle centric career planning vbl ccp if i'm anything i'm a very savvy marketer we're going to hear that phrase all the time what's he up to man hey i'm just vbl cing it. You know what's going on. Like, yeah, I hear you, man. Living that VBLCCP life. We need a better acronym. But I think that is what Gen Z, I think that is what is going to fuel Gen Z. I think this is what's compatible with Gen Z. I think this is going to be the next, I don't know how long it'll last. I think this is going to be the next big movement. It's also, of course, the philosophy that we're preaching all the time. So we'll get more into this. We have some questions in today's show that'll dive into some more technical details. So I just wanted to do this overview. Let's place our current discussions in this long trajectory. And what we see, we see movements, backlashes, movement, backlashes. And I think we're in this interesting time where we're taking a backlash that emerged over the last 20 years. And with perhaps the help of the pandemic and disruptions that that caused and the way that that mainstreamed the idea of lifestyle design and engineering, maybe we're going to see a refinement of a backlash and finally get one that might actually have some legs. So VBLCCP, values-based lifestyle-centric career planning. Take my word for it. That is going to hopefully be one of the dominant ideas in the ongoing debate between work and meaning in the years ahead. Was the organization man that go on the forties and thirties too? And it was a book. So I'm taking that from the book that came out in 1956. that from the book that came out in 1956. And I think it's post-war. I think really you don't get these large corporations and people subjugating their sense of civic worth to corporations. I think that's really like a mid-40s and on type of phenomenon. Though I could be wrong about that. So then the counterculture backlash lasted for a good 30 years? Let's say that picked up steam mid-60s. Not really 30 years. I'd say the counterculture backlash picked up steam in the mid-60s. I mean, you had the beat movement emerging in the late 50s. That doesn't really start to catch on wider until the 60s. Mid-60s, you get the bigger countercultural backlash. Vietnam, of course, explodes the whole thing because now you have this huge generational divide and protests going on. But I think by the disco era, that had kind of flamed out. I mean, a few things happened, right? I mean, sexually transmitted diseases, drugs, people started having LSD freak outs. Like the, the things were happening with the drugs that weren't happening before. So I think that was, that became a big part of it. Like people were burning out and frying out. And so by the disco era, by the late seventies, that was really dying out. And in the eighties, you got the sort of rise of let's all go make money. And that was going on. And then, but it was the. But it was the same generation. The yuppies were the same people who were part of the counterculture backlash. So they kind of ended up going and making money. And I think they were guilty about this. So for us, they taught us, well, don't be a hippie, but get a job you love. And so I really think that was just the compromise. And I wrote a whole book. So if you're new to the show or new to me, my book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, is a takedown of the passion culture idea, why it doesn't work, why just telling someone to follow your passion is not a sound bit of career advice. It sounded good, but it doesn't work in practice. else new, but I think there's a lot of power to this work as a means to an end model. And I haven't really seen a major alternative. A lot of the stuff I'm seeing that's gaining traction, people resonating with people is really still in this framework. I think people are just refining it, trying to understand how do we get away from, you know, computer engineers doing spreadsheets about their admiral shares and Vanguard and what their overhead fees are and get towards something that the rest of us might actually see as viable. All right, well, anyways, we've got a big block of questions coming up, including we're going to right off the bat have a question that's going to get technical about some of these issues we just talked about in the deep dive. First, I want to mention one of the sponsors, though, that makes this show possible. That's our longtime friends at Blinkist as I always tell you on this program in our current world ideas are power the best source of ideas is books this is where you have experts spend years of their life trying to get their thinking crystal clear and captured in this nuanced written form. So it was by far the best way to get ideas, not TikTok videos, not tweet threads, is books. The problem is books are long. It takes a long time to read and some of them you don't like. This is where Blinkist comes into the picture. It is like your sidekick for entering the world of book-based ideas. So Blinkist is a subscription-based service that gives you access to 15-minute summaries of over 5,000 popular nonfiction books divided over 27 categories. You can read these summaries, which they call Blinks, or you can listen to them, which is fantastic because now, while you're commuting or washing the dishes, you can be taken in this content as well. The summaries give you all the big ideas from the book. So now what this allows you to do is if you're interested in a book, listen or read the blink first. Get the lay of the land, figure out what this thing is about, what are the main ideas, and then you can make your decision. Oh, this is not what I thought it was, or it is what I thought it is. But honestly, in this 15 minute summary, I got what I need. Or you say, yes, I'm all in. And then you buy that book. And the book that arrives is one that you are actually going to get through. So this is really how I pitch Blinkist as a way to navigate yourself through the reading life. All right, so a couple of interesting things that have happened with Blinkist. They now have short cast. So summaries of long form podcasts. As podcasts get longer, this makes a lot of sense. Like what were the major ideas in this podcast? I think that is cool as well. I'm glad they're doing that. And as I mentioned, you now have the audio in addition to the written blinks. So if you're serious about ideas, if you're a serious reader, you need to be a Blinkist member. Good news. Blinkist has a special offer just for our audience. If you go to Blinkist.com slash deep to start your free seven day trial, you will get 25% off a Blinkist premium membership.


Cal talks about Blinkist and Rhone (30:16)

premium membership. That's Blinkist spelled B-L-I-N-K-I-S-T. Blinkist.com slash deep to get 25% off on a seven day free trial. Blinkist.com slash deep. I also want to talk about Roan. R-H-O-N-E. As I was talking about last week on the show, I had long been a fan of Roan. I would wear their short sleeve workout shirts, which were very high quality. They breathe, they're flexible, they are moisture wicking. It is my standard uniform during the summer here in Washington, D.C. This is why I was excited to discover that they now offer a dress shirt. The commuter shirt from Roan is a dress shirt that captures those features I loved about their short, their short sleeve shirts, the breathability, the flexibility, the fact that it's not going to wrinkle. It is the perfect shirt if you're going to be out and about doing something all day and you don't want to have on just a thick starched cotton shirt that's going to wrinkle up or start to get sweaty as things go on. It's an incredibly comfortable shirt. I have a white one, which looks great. I wear it with jeans, but I can also wear it with nicer pants as well. I can dress it up with a blazer or I can wear it more casually. It's perfect for when I'm teaching or for when I am giving talks because it is flexible, it breathes and it whisks away moisture. So if you're doing something all active, you need to look nice. This is exactly the type of shirt you'll want. It's very lightweight. I like that as well. So I'm not surprised that Roan, who makes my favorite athletic t-shirt, now is making one of my favorite dress shirts as well. That is the Roan commuter shirt. I'm probably going to wear it tonight, Jesse. I'm going to have a babysitter, Julie and I. I might go see a movie. I might go to dinner. I'm breaking out the commuter shirt. Sounds good. Yeah, a lot of high fives and fist bumps. A lot of guys, just a lot of like, hey, commuter shirt. A lot of head nods, a lot of daps. So the commuter shirt can get you through any workday and straight into whatever comes next. Head to roan.com slash cal and use the promo code cal to save 20% off your entire order. That's 20% off your entire order when you head to roan.com slash cal and use the promo code cal to save 20% off your entire order. That's 20% off your entire order when you head to rhone.com slash cal and use that code cal. It's time to find your corner office comfort. All right, let's do some questions. Hey, if you want to submit your own questions, there's a link right in the show notes for this episode for you to submit questions or case studies. If you want to call in, there's also going to be a link in the show notes for how you can straight from your browser record a live call for the show as well, where you record it. If you're interested in doing the interactive call, like we're going to start later in October, where we actually have you live on the show and go back and forth.


How do I design a life I love? (33:30)

Just when you go to the standard question survey, there's a spot at the bottom where you can just give us your email address and indicate that you'd be interested in doing it live. So just go to those surveys, give us your questions. We want to hear from you. All right. With that, let's get into it. Jesse, what is our first query of this week's episode? Okay. First question is from Rex. He's a director of career office at a New England university. I'm the director of a career office for an engineering students at an R1 university. Any suggestions on who we might structure a course about lifestyle-centric career planning for our students? Well, a well-timed question because our deep dive was all about values-based lifestyle-centric career planning emerging as potentially a dominant paradigm for how we think about meaning and work. So Rex, the short answer is yes, I have good tips for designing a course on this. Yes, I have good tips for designing a course on this. Jesse and I's consulting fee is $250,000, but we will be happy to spend, that gets you 45 minutes of our time. Now we do this in a group call, so we might be consulting for a few people at the same time, but we'll give you some advice, Jesse and I. So it's $250,000 and there we go. All right, next question. A TDL Roan shirt. And a TDL Roan shirt. Yes, and a Roan shirt. $250,000 and a Roan shirt. No, okay. I have some thoughts here. Thoughts is the right word. I was jotting down some notes before the episode about what I might put into a lesson plan for lifestyle-centric career planning. So I'm calling this thoughts because this is not worked through. I just thought it'd be fun to be concrete for the sake of being concrete. So let's just experiment here. Okay. So what might I do if I was teaching a bunch of college kids how to think about their career? I would start by saying, let's form a vision. This is classic lifestyle-centric career planning. Let's form a vision of your life, maybe at the age of 25, and again at the age of 35. We want a fully featured vision about all aspects of your life, not just your job, but all aspects of your life, five years from now, and maybe 10 or 15 years from now. To help structure this vision, you might want to use something like the deep life buckets, where we have craft, community, contemplation, constitution. Maybe sometimes, what am I missing here? Sometimes we do celebration. We talk about this a lot on the show, but you might want to use something like that to structure, well, what are all the different aspects of my life that I want to be included in this vision? It's okay if this vision evolves. It's not set in stone, just what's resonating with you right now when you imagine what your life would be like. All right, now we need to get from this vision. Here's where we get to my new arbitrary lesson plan. We have to get from this vision to you choosing a job. Maybe you're a senior. You have to start job hunting. How do you choose a job? Maybe you're farther along in your career, but want to make a change. How do you choose a job? How do we get brass tacks from something so broad? Well, I'm going to give you three, what should I call these? Three properties. Three properties of a job. Income, how much income it generates, location, so you're thinking about where you're living, and work type, which can include both the content, like the specifics of what you're doing, but also the parameters under which you're doing this work. So flexibility, number of hours you're actually working. So for each of these three properties, income, location, and work type, you want to answer, what would I need for each of these three properties in my job to support this big vision I had? So I have this big vision. How much money am I going to need? Where do I need to live? What type and how much work would I be doing? So you answered those three questions. Now you have the specificity you need to go search for a job because now you're thinking about, okay, now I need to find a job that is going to get me those three properties, or perhaps more realistically, if you're just coming out of school, will get me to those three properties if over the first five years or 10 years I get after it, become so good it can't be ignored, build up career capital. The answers to those three questions I'm going to propose is the bridge from a broad vision to a specific choice of job. So let me give an example. I was working on my slow productivity book this morning, as I do every morning, six days a week, I work on my book. But today I was working on a chapter and I was talking about in that chapter, the entrepreneur Paul Jarvis. So I went on a Paul Jarvis deep dive, a sort of rabbit hole this morning. So he's fresh on my mind. So if you don't know Paul Jarvis, he wrote a book in 2019 that I blurbed that was called Company of One, which I really enjoyed. It was about how if you're an entrepreneur or freelancer and you start to get good, don't scale your business. Instead, leverage that increased ability to gain more flexibility and freedom in your business. So if you're making $50 an hour as the web designer and you start to get really good and there's a lot of demand for your work, don't scale up a web design business where you hire four more designers to try to get your income to really go up even farther. Instead, double your rate and work half the hours. That's the idea of company of one. Keep it small, use your investor skill to get more flexibility. Anyways, because I happen to know a lot about this guy today, let's answer those three questions. The income I need, the location I want to be and the work type I need. Let's answer those questions for him and then talk about how he found the job that accomplished them. So based on the various interviews I read, he had a vision of his life that was going to be, he wanted to get out of the rat race, to get out of the city, to get away from stress, deadlines, stressed out clients. He was tired of all of that. Him and his wife wanted to be somewhere quiet. They wanted to spend a lot of time outdoors. This was the vision they had built. And he wanted a lot of autonomy in his time. His wife was really into surfing, so she wanted to be able to just go surf. He wanted to be able to go for long walks and tend a garden. And so they had this vision. So it's a vision of life where work wasn't at the center of it. At the same time, he's a creative. So he was a web designer and he liked creative work. He's a creative guy. He has tattoos on his arm, so that means you're creative, right? So he wanted some sort of creative, interesting work going on in his life, but he also wanted quiet, away from the rat race, away from deadlines, stressful client communication, having lots of time autonomy. They built this vision. They could see it. So how might he have answered those three questions? this vision. They could see it. So how might he have answered those three questions? Well, for income, it didn't need to be anything special. Average middle-class salary would be enough because they don't need to live somewhere expensive for them to live this vision. Because again, it's built on free time and nature, not on trips to Europe or living on the ocean. Location, they wanted somewhere quiet. They wanted nature, but they realized it couldn't be the extreme boondocks because again, he has tattoos on his arm. So he needs to be near, you know, a coffee shop and they can, so they can get organic groceries, like have internet, like be near civilization, but a quiet place and in nature. So they had to answer that question. In terms of work type, well, he wanted the work to be creative, but to be free of, and he is very specific about this in the interviews I found, deadlines and demanding clients. So he answered those three things and said, great, now how do I leave what I'm doing now as a freelancer living in what he called a glass cube in the sky in the downtown core of Vancouver and find a job that will support these three visions. What they ended up doing is they moved to, here's how they answered, found a specific job. They moved to Tolfino. It's on the Pacific coast of the large rural Vancouver Island, this big island off the west coast of British Columbia. Tolfino's about halfway up the island on the Pacific coast, has really good surf breaks. Best surfing in Canada. That's a phrase that shouldn't impress you that much. The best surfing in Canada is maybe not that good, but there's a good surf break here. So his wife likes to surf. But it's also so far off the beaten path, as he explained, you could buy some land without having to spend that much money so they bought some land in the woods outside of this town as he said it's cheap enough that i could afford it without having a lot of money but close enough to civilization that i could still have organic groceries delivered once a week so they sort of found that found that sweet spot so uh they moved there He continued to do freelance web design for a while, but he just reduced his number of clients at first. All right. So that was step one. That's creative work. It still had deadlines. It still had client demands, but he could do it from Tolfino. He could do it in the woods. His wife became a surf instructor at the surf school there. He built a greenhouse, began this long running war with the local raccoons who kept trying to destroy his garden. So he sort of had that going on. And so that was the first step. And then for the second step, once they were established, they're living cheaply. They didn't really need to make that much money. He eventually switched from web design contracts to he began doing online, some online courses for very niche audiences, very niche online courses, did some podcasts. And then also more recently has done various, like again, very bespoke software products that is relevant to like a small group of people and that he could just put together and sell that freedom from deadlines, that freedom from having to answer the clients. And it just, he just needs to make enough money to keep this lifestyle going. And so there they go. That vision led to those three answers, those three properties, which led to this particular choice of career, which is let me continue the freelance, but with a reduced client roster en route to doing online creative projects that I can support myself and I have to deal with clients. And so during those first few years of doing more client work in Tolfino, he built up a mailing list. He wrote this book. So he had sort of enough of an audience that he could then sell a course. But the point is, it's a very specific thing he ended up doing. And you don't get to that decision by saying, what's my passion? By saying, what do I want to do with my degree? You get there by starting with the vision, making it more concrete with answers to those three questions, income, location, and work type. And then saying, given what I know how to do, my opportunities, my skills, whatever's on the table right now, what do I have available to get towards those three answers? So I'll use that as a case study. There is my lesson plan. Rex, you can send a check for $250,000 in our own shirts right to the HQ. So a course could just be like a lot of analysis of case studies and they could develop one for themselves. Yeah. Like the court he was doing, like he did a course on. I'm talking about for the students. Oh, for the students. Yeah. Yeah. You could do this, right? I mean, you could just walk through. A bunch and then. Do the vision. Develop your own. Yeah. I mean, you could have like a vault of like, here's 20 examples. So you can prime the pump. And then, yeah, you do the vision, answer those questions, start working through particular jobs. Yeah, you could see this thing. You could structure this course. They should do this. The two things I'm so surprised about they don't do at colleges is one is don't just give every student who comes in a copy of How to Become a Straight A Student. So first of all, your job is to be a student. I'm just going to guess you're terrible at studying. It's not that hard to become good at studying. Like you should think about how to become good at studying. We just give everyone that book. And then the second thing is giving people some sort of framework for thinking through what I want to do with my life. And so then people, I don't know, people don't know. I mean, this was my, let's get too reflective here. I remember being really surprised about this at Dartmouth, when I went to Dartmouth. And I had come to Dartmouth sort of haphazardly, just out of public school in New Jersey, like the schools in the mountains. I don't know, that sounds cool. You know, I didn't know a lot about Ivy League schools and whatever. And so I just sort of assumed all of these people I know at Dartmouth are going to like go off and become professors and writers and journalists and start cool companies and just do really interesting stuff. Because these are all really interesting people starting in these schools. I just remember being so surprised by how many of my friends, I really think it was 50%. I don't have the exact numbers, but I really think 50% plus of my friends at Dartmouth went to Harvard Law School. 50% plus of my friends at Dartmouth went to Harvard Law School. Yeah. And what I didn't realize was they came from, their parents had professional jobs. The point of going to a school like this from their perspective is that it gets you in to the track to have these well-paying professional jobs. And it was just like the Manchurian candidate switch. At some point, I was like, okay, we have to start our LSAT studying group. I just remember being so surprised by that. But the schools don't give you any structure for this. At least Georgetown's good about it. It has that Jesuit background. There's a sense of improving the world. There's a thread of that because it's a Jesuit university, but most schools don't have that. And I think in the absence of any sort of systematic structure for thinking through your life, your work, your application, your skills, if you have a bunch of smart kids, they're going to go to wall street consulting or law firms because it's elite.


Is it okay that I use adult coloring books? (47:16)

It's hard to do. And all things being equal, they want to do things that are competitive because otherwise they feel like they're wasting their potential. So, so it turns out, all right right what do we got next jesse all right next question is from alexis 38 year old director of product strategy i find myself coloring adult coloring books with markers while listening to podcasts during work breaks. Is this a bad habit? Should I try to break it? Well, first of all, I find it amusing thinking about the other definition of adult coloring books. So if these were, if you're coloring in sort of pornographic pictures, you might want to rethink this habit. And I'm just coming at you from sort of an HR perspective. Like that's probably not a great thing to be doing in the break room. But if what you mean by adult coloring books is just that the trend of coloring books marketed at adults, so sort of intricate designs, you color them in with markers. It's absolutely fine. That is playing on the exact same effect as walking. You know, I talk a lot about on the show, I like to walk. I walk when I'm trying to think through big thoughts. I walk when I'm listening to podcasts or books on tape and trying to get into what's being said or understand it because there's some sort of neurological show at play here, some sort of neurological effect I don't completely understand that when you're doing a repetitive physical activity that does not pull from your prefrontal cortex, from the planning center of your brain, it quiets the neurons in such a way that that more conscious thinking, planning, that smarter part of your brain has an easier job concentrating or has an easier job coming up with things. So if walking does that, I can imagine coloring is just doing the same thing for you. It's a repetitive physical activity that's not heavily pulling apart on that sort of inner dialogue, planning, conscious human part of the brain. It's more very motor skill, more fine motor skill. So I see it as the exact same thing as walking, at least from the point of view of what it does to your brain.


Is listening to music a good source of solitude? (49:30)

So, yep, I think it's good. And I do this when I'm working at a desk. I get up, I wander, I'm big with fidgets, I'm often using fidgets, I'm moving all the time. There is something to it. And I don't know the neuroscience, but I understand intuitively why you enjoy the coloring. So keep doing that. Alright, what do we got next, Jesse? intuitively why you enjoy the coloring. So keep doing that. All right, what do we got next, Jesse? All right, next up, question from Michael, a 33-year-old utility locator. In digital minimalism, you talk a lot about the concept of solitude, its benefits, and how that has been removed from modern lives. If you were just listening to music while on a run or cleaning the house, is that considered a good practice of solitude? Well, in digital minimalism, I do make a big pitch for solitude. And the definition I give of solitude in that book is freedom from inputs from other minds. There's an important clarification because people often, I think, misunderstand solitude as having to do with your proximity to people. So they think, okay, solitude means you're far away from people. Actually, it's a cognitive property. It's a cognitive state. It's a state in which you're not processing input that was generated by another mind. That's the technical definition I give. So if you're in a crowded cafe, but alone with your own thoughts, you're in solitude. So if you're in a crowded cafe, but alone with your own thoughts, you're in solitude. If you're on a mountaintop alone somewhere, but you are checking Twitter on your phone, it's not solitude because you're seeing input that was generated from another mind. So in digital minimalism, I argue this is very important. Humans spend a lot of their time, historically speaking, in a state of solitude. lot of their time, historically speaking, in a state of solitude. It not only allows the high energy demanding social circuits of our brain to rest and recharge, it also allows us as humans to make sense of ourself, to integrate experiences into our understanding of the world, to better understand ourselves, that discussions with yourself, that inner dialogue requires solitude. And it's very important about growing as a human being. And I make the whole point in digital minimalism that smartphones makes it possible to banish solitude. And that's a problem. If you take all solitude out of your life because you glance at a phone every time you are at all bored or have any moment where you're just away from other people or activity, it's not good for our brains and it leads to anxiety. And we see a lot of that in our culture that as we get more locked in the smartphones, we get more uneasy, we get more anxious. All right, that's all the backdrop. Michael's question then is nuanced because he says, "'Well, music, that was generated by another mind.'" So you're encountering an artifact that was generated by another mind. Does that defy solitude or can you still be in a state of solitude when listening to music? And I think the answer there is you can. So when I say input from another mind, this is a linguistic definition of input. So processing linguistically input from other minds, you're reading something or hearing someone talking or seeing someone talking. That's really what fires up all those social circuits and gets you out of a state of solitude. So I think you can get lost in a song and we can count that as solitude. However, it should not be your only type of solitude, because if we're going to get fiddly about this, there's really two different types of solitude, or maybe we should say there's two different possible benefits from solitude. So we talked about both of them already, the recharging aspect. You can't have those social processing circuits fired up all the time. And two is that self-development aspect, trying to make sense of your world and yourself. Music-created or music-driven solitude is compatible with the recharging benefit of solitude. So if you just get lost in music while you're walking or just sitting there in your house in a comfortable chair, you're getting that first benefit. It's fantastic. Better to do that than to be on your phone all the time. However, unless it really is atmospheric or ambient music, it's probably going to be difficult for you to have an inner dialogue with music playing. So you're going to miss that second benefit. It's in the immense weight of silence, the crushing pressure of boredom that the inner voice emerges. And you have to stare into that personal existential void and figure out what's going on in your life. What's making you unhappy? What you're proud of? How you're really going to react to this hard thing that just happened or this new information just came in. This person insulted you. You had a setback in your career. Something's going better than you expected. That really requires a sort of metaphorical and literal silence for you to actually enter into that state. And so even music could get in the way there. So music supports a type of solitude of sorts and it's important. It shouldn't, however, be your only source of solitude because the really the deep stuff that requires in many different meanings of this word silence. All right, let's keep rolling. I forgot my watch today, Jesse. I keep trying to glance to see where we are. No watch. You could borrow my $15 Casio. I had that Casio. That Casio is fantastic. Yeah, it's my fourth iteration of the same watch. What breaks first, the band or the actual? Yeah, because the thing in there is never going to break. Yeah. It's like two chips. So then when the band breaks, I just get a new one.


How do I enjoy the present while planning for a deeper future? (54:45)

Yeah, it's like two timing chips and a little battery. Yeah, so's like two chips. So then when the band breaks, I just get a new one. Yeah. It's like two timing chips and, and a little battery. Um, yeah. So I forgot my watch. I have no, I have no idea how long we're going, but let's just roll. Okay. Next question. EJ, a 39 year old software engineer from Australia. How do you balance an ambitious plan for a future deep life while finding contentment in the life you have right now? Well, this is a complicated one. And I say complicated because I can speak from my own experience and my own struggles with this issue. I was reflecting on this and I realized there's been different periods of my adult life where I've had different relationships with this issue. There's been periods of my adult life where I am very focused on the now. What's going on in my life right now, finding gratitude in it, finding enjoyment in it. And those are actually pretty meaningful periods of my life. I do look back at those with nostalgia. And then there's other periods of my life where I'm very future focused. Things are happening. And it's harder for me to get to the now, which has its own issues with it. Let me be more specific. Thinking back on my life, my postdoc years at MIT, my postdoc years at MIT, I remember as a time where I was very focused on my life in the moment. So Julie and I lived on Beacon Hill during my postdoc years. I really liked it on Beacon Hill in Boston. I mean, it looks like a movie about colonial America. It's cobblestone streets. They have gas lamps and like fogs would come in off of the river. I mean, you really feel like you're living in a Dickensian novel. And I really enjoyed that. It was like, you're just this interesting, intellectually interesting place. I was that caught up in work. I was writing a book. I was writing So Good They Can't Ignore You and enjoying that. My first year of a postdoc, I was just postdoc and I was writing research papers. I wasn't even really doing academic job searching yet. For some reason, I wasn't very worried about academic job searching. I probably should have been more worried, but it wasn't a source of stress for me. I just had a lot of time where I would just focus on enjoyable things in the moment. Let's read the Transcendentalist by the Banks of the Charles. I did a lot of that. I ran every day year-round for lunch along the Charles. Snow, did a lot of that. I ran every day year round for lunch along to Charles, snow, heat throughout. I got really into monitoring the seasons on my walk to work. So the same walk over the Longfellow bridge. Okay. Now this tree has leaves. Now this doesn't, you can tell I was reading a lot of Thoreau at this time. So that was often coming in. I would get lost, read or listen to fantasy novels and just kind of get lost. Like, what a cool world. Wouldn't that be interesting? I had a dog at this point. I was just spending a lot of time training the dog and going for walks. fill doing whatever I thought might be interesting. And so that's just how I remember that time was really, really seeking out just things that were interesting or things I was enjoying about the moment. Now compare that to right now. I feel very different right now because there's a lot of interesting developments happening, not in a period of stasis. We have the sort of online media company. Jesse knows about this. Like a lot of interesting stuff is happening, right? I mean, a lot of things are on the horizon, things are moving. That's interesting. Interesting stuff's happening at Georgetown with the research I'm doing now, the research I'm shifting into, some of the public facing work I'm happening. Professionally speaking, there's just a lot of places where I'm hitting on all cylinders, interesting opportunities are coming and going away. And so it's very difficult not to be focused on all these things that are developing or potentially coming. And I've noted like, I kind of missed the just extended gracious enjoyment of the moment that I've had at other parts of my life. Now, this is all trade-offs so i would say during that period back on beacon hill yeah there was a lot more just hey i'm enjoying the spring sun you know by the charles and reading a copy of thoreau but i think also there's probably more anxiety in that period i mean everything felt a little bit uncertain There's this kind of background current of uncertainty, this little some nagging stuff in the background, whereas right now there's a lot of excitement and stuff that's happening. I'm proud of things that are happening. There's a lot of long efforts starting to pay off. So like that's a nice thing about now. And so they have their pluses, they have their pluses, they have their minuses. But these things kind of ebb and flow. they have their pluses, they have their minuses. But these things kind of ebb and flow. Anyways, here's my solution, and I'll offer this to you, is that when you're in those periods where you're just present, you're Paul Jarvis on the island, and you have some course you're working on, but mainly just spending time in your greenhouse, like working on your garden, have something that you're working on in the background to be excited about. Values driven would open up interesting opportunities in your life or have an impact on the world. Sticks within your vision of your lifestyle, but it's something new that you're heading towards. So that's how you offset the anxiety of unstable stasis. If you're instead in a period like me now, do hard work shutdowns every day, shutdown complete. I'm not planning, even if it's exciting, I'm not going to do any more planning thoughts about a new segment for the show or what's going to happen with this new book chapter, this new research paper, hard shutdowns and make them hard, trust them. do a source of gratitude every night i'm going to go on a walk or do something with the kids or go see this movie where i'm going to sort of force myself to just be gracious about the moment to try to generate that physical sensation of gratitude and it's like a muscle you're trying to get those grooves in your your brain engraved that's what i've been trying to do some periods i'm better than that and others but when i really get in that pattern it really does help so that's my advice you have these yin and yang periods, and whichever one you're in, you need to properly offset it so that you don't fall too far into that particular direction. Here's a quiz, Jesse. I don't know why anyone would know this, but what famous thriller writer has long lived on Beacon Hill? Brandon Sanderson. It is where Beacon Hill is where Brandon Sanderson wrote Name of the Wind. So little known fact, Robin Cook, Robin Cook, who writes the medical thrillers. Okay. Because Beacon Hill is right next to Charles MGH, so a really good hospital in Boston. And he was an ophthalmology, I think, resident or fellow. So he was living on Beacon Hill. So there's doctors, which is another cool thing about Beacon Hill. I mean, the houses are really narrow. They're kind of small, but they're awesome. And there's doctors from the hospital who live there. And when you get the big snowstorms in, they cross country ski to the hospital. So you would see them, not like tons of them, but there's at least one or two doctors we knew that would cross country ski down to the hospital. Anyways, he was living there and then he hit it big with his, whatever his first thriller was. And so he's just been there ever since. So he quit medicine because he was killing it on the books. But I went to see him speak when I lived there because of the Beacon Hill Civic Association. He would once a year come and give a talk. And it was actually fascinating. He gave a talk about how he became a thriller writer. And he basically took a bunch of existing thrillers and broke them all down and wrote on index cards all the different types of beats you would see in these thrillers. Like, I don't know, being chased through a whatever, the reversal, the whatever. And then just took out all these index cards and just tried to figure out how many of these can I get into my book. And he would just organize them and then write his book along that way. So I thought that was interesting. And the other thing we learned from him is he was involved in, he was in the Navy and was involved in submarines. It was like a ship's doctor on submarines and also was involved in scuba, early scuba experimentation with decompression chambers and everything. And so there's periods of times where he was on submarines and when he was in decompression chambers for a week after doing deep dives, he brought his typewriter with him. So ultimate deep worker right there is he said, I had nothing to do, but write basically when I was in the decompression chamber. Don't need the internet with a typewriter. Yeah.


CALL - Should I take over my dad’s business? (01:03:20)

It's kind of like the shiny that I'd be worried about it. Anyways, interesting guy. He wears like weird pants. That's what you need to know. He wears pants with patterns on them. All right, let's do a call. Okay. We got a call from Ronald, and he's torn whether he should take over his father's business. Dear Cal, my name is Ron, and I'm a 32-year-old self-employed tax preparer. I took over the tax prep business from my dad in 2020 when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. The lucrative business allowed me to earn good money for the first time in my life. It's also good because I am very independent, and I enjoy being my own boss. I have never been one to hold down a regular corporate job. However, my true desire is to become an expert in the field of airway-focused dentistry. In 2020, right before my dad got sick, I had completed a two-year post-bac pre-med program at Tufts and was admitted to the Tufts Dental School but did not go to the high cost, almost a half million dollars in principal before interest. The timing of my dad's illness was also a contributor to my decision not to go to dental school. My YouTube channel called Jaw Hacks, which focuses on airway dentistry, has amassed almost 10,000 subscribers since 2018. I wonder if I qualify for your definition of someone who is ready for grad school. I don't enjoy doing taxes as I find it mundane. The seasonality of it is also frustrating. During the off-season, I don't know quite what to do with myself other than to focus on my YouTube channel, which just ends up deepening my interest in dentistry. I would like to think about and work in airway dentistry full time as an influencer and or as an actual care provider. Without the white coat, I cannot truly be taken seriously. The two primary reasons I have not yet taken the dive into dental school are the debt as well as the reluctance to abandon my ill father as I feel like the tax business is helping to keep him alive through the illness, giving him a sense of purpose. Do you think I should go to dental school or hang back and keep running my dad's tax business? Thanks, Cal. So is he saying airway dentistry? Yeah, so can you google that what's that airway i'm now i'm just curious i wonder if there's a how lively that sector of influencers on youtube is the airway dentist influencers it's a new and growing field that focuses on the structure of the mouth and how it impacts your breathing oh oh interesting so it's maybe they're doing this might be like dental surgery or something like this if you if you train in this you're training on like reconstructing i don't know yeah mouths or Mouths or something. All right. It's an interesting question. Interesting question. Let me, you know where I'm going to end up, which is going to be lifestyle-centric career planning. But I will say a couple things. One, tax businesses are intriguing in what they can enable if you know what you're trying to enable. So you talked about, I hate this, or you dislike the seasonality. What are you supposed to do in your downtime? A lot of people leverage tax businesses actually as the foundation of pretty radical lifestyle visions because exactly of that downtime. I wrote an article about this or someone who did this for Outside Magazine. This probably would have been back in 2019. You're probably fine if you just Google Cal Newport outside. But I wrote an article about a guy who does this. He has a tax business. He left. He was working for a big accounting firm and hated the long hours because he's an outside sports guy. and hated the long hours because he's an outside sports guy. And he moved to Morro Bay, Morro Bay, California, to the beach track in Morro Bay, California, which is this little known tract on the beach. It's halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, so not really convenient to either. So it's not heavily trafficked. The California Coastal Commission has all these regulations on the beach trucks. You can't build big houses. They're all sort of three-bedroom, one-story bungalows. You can't rip them down and build massive houses. So I mean, it's a lot of retirees from the Central Valley or vacation home people from the Central Valley and a small number of people who live there full-time. And I've been there because my brother used to live there because he worked at the nuclear power plant as an inspector. So when he worked at that plant, I came out there. That's where I met this guy and wrote this outside magazine article about it. Anyways, he moved here because it is a Mecca for outside sports. They surf every day. They walk. And I remember this visiting my brother. The locals walk to dead ends on the street where you can see the surf break with their coffee each morning to figure out if this is a surfing day or not. And if it is, that's what they're doing. They mountain bike almost every week. There's a lot of rock climbing on the area as well. And so he built this life. He quit his accounting firm, did tax prep and had just enough clients to support their lifestyle, but not too much more kind of kills it, gets after it. It's real busy for two months and then really does very little work the rest of it. So I just want to say tax preparation can be very powerful if you have a clear vision of your life, what you want your life to be like. There's a lot of visions that people have for their lives for which that's a great background. That's a great means to an end, if we're going to use that terminology from earlier in the episode. So first of all, I want to throw that out there as an encouragement for step back and figure out a fully featured vision of your lifestyle. Now, it's possible what you come up with is going to be a lifestyle in which being a dental surgeon is a much better sense. Maybe you want to be, let's say, like in a city and like fast, I'm working on complicated surgeries and respected in my field and, you know, have a nice house. And like, you may have a vision that's quite different that really this sort of seasonal tax preparation is not going to get there. In which case, yeah, there may be dental school. I mean, I'm nervous about 500,000, but if you can walk through those numbers super clearly, here's the debt. Here's how long it will take it pay back. I can look to specific examples of other people coming out of this program. Here's how long they took it. They expected this type of income. Here's how long it took them to pay it back. If you have all those numbers concrete carved in the stone, it's not going to change. You're not guessing. You're not saying, let's just try this and see what works out. And that fits your vision of a life well lived. And you go for that. What you need in both these cases is that vision of the life well lived and a careful analysis that your career choice, whether it's sticking with the business or going to dental school, will support that vision. And so I'm just going to be technical about this in the end. Start with the vision. Be very careful with those questions we talked about earlier in the episode, those bridge questions, income, location, work type, which of these jobs is going to get you what you need, the right properties you need for those three things. Do you really trust that's going to work? And then you go for it. So I'm not going to be mad at you either way. I'm always very wary about just going to grad school if it's going to grad school. But again, this could be part of a clear plan. Again, if it fits the vision, you understand exactly how you're going to pay this back, exactly what it's going to lead to. Just don't do it blind. I mean, the thing I would be most worried about, and I'm not saying this is happening here, Ronald. I'm just saying this is the thing I would be most worried about, Fixating on a particular job and it becomes its own totem in your thinking of just this is the key. If I can just rescue this totem from the metaphorical career cave like Indiana Jones, fortune will be bestowed upon me. Just like I just have, I just can't shake this vision of whatever. I'm like, I wear the white coat and I have a lot of followers on YouTube and have a practice and just like, this is going to be it. If I could just do that, everything will be right. You got to take the next step. Why would that make everything right? What is the lifestyle that supports? What is all the other pieces to this? You got to take that next step. Do not let a particular career possibility become in itself an obsession work is a means to the end of a life well lived that was the key point from the beginning of the show this is a key case study i think of putting that idea in the practice all right so do those exercises ronald if you do become a tax prep guy maybe move to morro bay actually they got mad at me for writing about it they don't want the word to get out on the beach track in Morro Bay. So forget you heard that. There's no real estate available there. Don't move there. But you can move somewhere else. Cool. Tax prep. All right.


How do I stop bing-watching YouTube after work? (01:11:59)

All right. What do we got? We got a couple more questions? Yep. Next question is from Ferrari, a 27-year-old IT professional from Zimbabwe. The problem I have is that work takes up a lot of time. Between work and commuting, once I get home, it's so much easier to binge watch YouTube than it is to focus on self-improvement. Well, Ferrari, what you need is a 30-day digital declutter. The perfect case study for the idea I talk about in my book, Digital Minimalism, where I say the right way to reform your relationship with technology, especially when you feel like this relationship is malformed, is to take a 30-day break from these optional digital technologies. During that 30-day break, aggressively experiment through reflection and activity to find activities that fits with your life and are a real source of meaning and value. After the 30 days are over, then you can return to the technologies that you put aside and say, which of these do I need to bring back? If I am bringing them back, why am I bringing them back? And what are my rules? My rules for using them. That's how you declutter your digital life. So YouTube is just a crutch right now. You don't really know what else to do with your time. You're tired, you're bored, you're used to it. So you got to break that habit. So if you have 30 days where every night you're working on different ideas, trying to join different groups, pick up different hobbies, get involved in civic community life, whatever it is you're doing until you find the things that really resonate that have nothing to do with algorithmically recommended videos. Then at the end of those 30 days, I think it's going to be much easier to say, I don't really need YouTube except for like watching Cal's videos, which I do, you know, on Wednesdays or something like that. So I would actually just read that book, go through the digital declutter process. Another book I'll suggest for you is Arnold Bennett's 1908 classic, How to Live on 24 Hours a Day. Bennett was responding to the rise of basically middle-class office work, which didn't exist nearly as much in the 19th century. As we get to the 20th century, there was this whole class of commuter workers in London who get on trains in the morning and would come into London from the newly formed suburbs. And they would work in buildings, not with their hands, but with their minds. And then they would take the trains back at the end of the day. And he wrote this, one of the very original self-help manuals, where he was basically arguing, okay, yeah, you're spending eight hours a day doing your work, and you have eight hours a day you're sleeping. That leaves another eight hours. And his argument is you're free in those eight hours, as free as an aristocrat that's just living off of their incomes from all of their lands or what have you. This is the flip side of these jobs where you get a fixed salary for working a fixed number of hours is that you have this chunk of time free. And his whole argument is, be really intentional about that. Use that time to edify your mind. Use that time to get involved in the same type of leisure activities that a duke might do, the son of a duke might do as they're bored in their Downton Abbey estate. You read poetry and learn, I don't know, Latin. I mean, look, the whole book is pretty snobbish. It completely ignores domestic work. I don't think Arnold Bennett realizes women exist. So it's dated. But the idea there of the eight hours you have where you're not working and you're not sleeping is a gift that you want to make sure that you're doing the best you can with it. I think that's a really good idea. So you might check out that book. It's out of copyright, so you can find it for free online at Project Gutenberg. A couple years ago, a listener sent me a first edition. I have to bring, I should bring it to the HQ. Yeah. Yeah. So I have a first edition. Put it on the wall. It's really cool. 1908, first edition of Arnold Bennett's How to Live on 24 Hours a Day. I talk about that book, by the way, in Digital Minimalism. So if you end up reading Digital Minimalism, then you will also get some exposure to that book. Is that the first part of the organization, man? Or is that too early? Yeah. That's a good question. How was early 20th century, like salary man life in London, similar to mid 20th century American corporation organization, man life. I think it's a good question. Um, I don't know. And the UK has their own weird culture. It's basically what I'll leave it at. Uh, they it's, it's, they have to, I'm sure they have their own, their own weird culture. It's basically what I'll leave it at. I'm sure they have their own weird class-based system. I mean, all I know from reading Bennett is that no one knew what to do with this new mode of work. It used to be they care so much about class there. The upper middle class was like lawyers. There's this segment of the working world. They're lawyers. They had townhouses in London. And they might be in some of the same clubs as the upper class, which are people who are just living off of their inherited wealth. And then there wasn't much of a middle class. Then you had like the artisans and shopkeepers and then the lower class. And then in the late 19th century, you get this middle class where it's, you know, I work at a, I don't even know where they were working. You know, I did the accounting department of a newspaper or something like that. And I would come in on the trains. I don't know, Zimbabwe, I don't know if digital minimalism is available there. It's in a lot of markets. And some of the African markets are, it's complicated because there'll be one, there'll be like one market from a book rights perspective that covers a lot of countries. So I actually don't know, like a lot of French speaking Africa falls under one market. So like you sell your rights to that one market and it goes through multiple countries. So I don't know if Zimbabwe is, and then the UK market actually is available. And so it's, I don't really understand that. So I don't know if that book's available or not in Zimbabwe, but, uh, how to live on 24 hours a day is available anywhere. Just find it at project Gutenberg.


Does Cal process his WorkingMemory.txt file to empty every day? (01:18:02)

All right. Let's, uh, let's do two more. I'll go quick. Let's do two more quick questions. Sounds good. Next question is from Tom. He's a 57-year-old GIS analyst. You mentioned that at the end of the day, you work through your working memory.txt file as part of your shutdown routine. Does this mean that you start every day with a blank working memory.txt file? this mean that you start every day with a blank working memory.txt file? I do. I do empty that at the end of every day or at the beginning of the next. It's not meant to be stable storage. It literally is meant as a extension of my working memory. So for listeners who don't know the strategy, there's a file on my desktop of my computer called workingmemory.txt. It's a text file with no formatting. It's plain text. So there's no bolds, even no ASCII, just plain text, one font size. And as I go out the day, I dump stuff in there that I can't keep track of in my head, pull it back out of there. It expands, it contracts. So this morning, for example, I was working through, okay, here's a bunch of things I need to get done today. So I was just capturing things as I was going through my daily planning. And so I was looking through my weekly plan and my calendar and my task list, capturing things on there because I couldn't keep track of all those in my head. But then once I built my time block plan for the day, I could erase that. It was just temporary. When I was working on the script for today's show, I'm often taking the questions I'm interested in, I'm just dumping them in my working memory.txt. And then I pull out of there the ones I want into my script. And one of the things I like about plain text files is that you can pull things from the internet, from SurveyMonkey, from websites, and it strips it of all of the formatting. When you paste it in there, it's plain text. And then when you paste it into, let's say we just now use Google Docs for our scripts, it just pops in and like whatever basic font is right there. So it expanded for those things. And then I pulled it back in. So it just expands and contracts throughout the day, but it is just an extension of your working memory. It's not stable storage. And no, so there should be nothing on there when you're done with your day. Do you find yourself populating it when you're writing in your writing blocks? That's a good question. So not as much because when I'm writing, I'm using Scrivener. So in Scrivener, I'm going to have two panes. So I'm going to have what I'm actually writing and then I have a pain over here, which is pulling up research, like, okay, here's an article I'm quoting. Let me go back to my outline. Let me go back. So if I'm working on, okay, what do I want to do here? I'll have a pain over here. I can just jump straight to my outline and add notes and thoughts there that I can see while I'm writing and pull from and reference. And so Scrivener expands your working memory naturally with this double pane approach. So you can just endlessly create new documents, put whatever you want in them, organize them in folders over on the sidebar and just pull up whatever you need and edit whatever you need on one side of your screen while you write on the other. So if you think of something off topic while you're writing, you put it in there and then you bring it over to the working memory? Well, oh yeah. You're talking about like, if I think about something unrelated to what I'm writing. Yeah. Yeah. Throw it in working memory. Okay. Cause you always use the same computer or use multiple computers? I'm usually on, usually on my main laptop. If you ever use multiple, do you have two working memory dot files? Yeah. I think like our, most of my computers have one. So I don't, we could check. I think the studio computer probably has a working memory from when I was using it for things. Um, every computer I use will have a working memory. So the day that you use multiple computers, you erase both of them. Yeah. Got it. Yeah. When I'm done with the computer, I'm like, okay. Because again, it's not storage. It's not a task list. It's not a journal. It's not a note taking system. It's I need this here because I'm working on this. Yeah. But definitely when I'm writing, if things come up, I'll often jot them in there because I can type fast and I can write. So I'll often capture things in there and then transfer them. Sometimes they'll go from there into my planner or right into a task list, et cetera. Let's do one more.


Does Cal keep a journal? (01:22:15)

All right. Last question is from Lily. Do you keep a personal journal or do any kind of written reflection, morning pages, free writing separate from your values document? So I don't do any daily structured daily writing. So I don't do daily pages. I don't keep a diary or a regular journal. Maybe I should. It just seems like one more thing. So at the moment, it's not something I'm doing. As I mentioned before, I have a Moleskine I use for capturing ideas about my life in general, my values, structuring a deep life, big ideas. I also have typically a couple what I call projects, ongoing projects, sort of self, sometimes self-improvement or professional improvement, ongoing projects that I keep track of in Obsidian or I keep track of a bunch of notes on a lot of things. And so often thoughts I have about, let's say, you know, one of these self-improvement or professional improvement projects will make its way just straight into those Obsidian notes because I review those typically. If there's active projects, I'll review those when I'm doing my weekly plan each week. So that's another place I capture notes. And then my strategic plan. So sometimes I have some ideas I jot down and they're directly relevant to something in my strategic plan. I'll go in there and I'll update that. So I have places where big picture thinking goes, but I don't do anything regular. I don't have a regular writing or regular daily writing habit. I never have. I know a lot of people swear by it. I just never have tried it. All right. So that is it for our questions block today. We have one more segment in the show, which is the mailbag segment. It's going to be a segment where I open up my interesting at calnewport.com mailbag and go through a few things that have come in from you, my listeners recently that I think are interesting. Before we do, let me just briefly mention another one of the sponsors that makes this show possible. And that is Wren, W-R-E-N. Wren is a startup that's making it easy for everyone to make a meaningful difference in the climate crisis. There's a lot of different efforts required to try to understand and improve our relationship with the environment. There's big legal efforts and political efforts and systemic efforts and international treaties and all that's important. But there's also the question of what can I do right now while all of that is being fought out at above my pay grade in the halls of legislatures and international committees? Well, you can go to RIN. And what they help you do is monthly subscriptions where you calculate your carbon footprint and then offset your specific footprint with awesome climate projects that plant trees, protect rainforests, and remove CO2 from the sky. So at the very least, what you can do to be making a difference right now is making sure that whatever carbon you're producing, you are directly offsetting. This is exactly what Wren is going to help you do. The way they describe it is that their goal is to unlock the collective action of millions of individuals to drive the systemic change needed to end the climate crisis. So I think this is a smart idea. Again, you're getting people involved with their personal impact is the stepping stone to getting involved and staying involved for even larger changes. They're going to have to come down the line. So it's a good idea. And they do make it easy. Their website makes it easy to figure out how much you're actually generating. And then the options are right there. Here's how you can offset it. So they do that work for you. So signing up for RIN is an easy way to do something meaningful about the climate crisis.


Cal talks about Wren and My Body Tutor (01:25:44)

So I like it. I also like, let me just mention this about Wren. They do practice what they call hyper-transparency. I wanted to highlight this. So once you sign up to make a monthly contribution to offset your footprint, you will receive monthly updates about exactly what they are doing specifically to offset your footprint. This is what we did. This made trees were planted, et cetera. So you get that information. I like that about them. So it's going to take all of us to end the climate crisis. Do your part today by signing up for REN. Go to ren.co slash deep, sign up, and they will plant 10 extra trees in your name. That's w-r-e-n.co slash deep. The start making a difference. Also want to mention our good friends at My Body Tutor. I've known Adam Gilbert, the founder of My Body Tutor for many years. He used to be the fitness advice guy on my email newsletter and blog way back when that first got started. So I have watched him from the beginning start and build this company. It is now very successful. And I am 0% surprised about that because the idea makes a lot of sense. So here's how it works. What is the problem people have with being healthier, getting better shape? It's consistency. It's not hard to figure out what you should be doing. The hard part is actually doing it. Now, if you have endless money, you can solve this problem in the same way that the actors training to be Marvel superheroes do, where they bring in a chef and a trainer. And the chef says, I will just give you the food to eat. And the trainer will say, I am going to just take you into this gym for three hours a day and just do what I say. And they can look like Wolverine or whatever at the end of six months, the rest of us don't have a chef. The rest of us don't have a personal trainer. Mybodytutor.com can get you the same impact, that same consistency and accountability much cheaper because they use online coaching. When you sign up for My Body Tutor, you're matched up with a coach. That coach helps you devise your plan. We're talking about eating. We're talking about exercise. And then you check in with that coach daily. So there is a real human keeping track of what you're doing, answering your questions, giving you encouragement, helping you fix the stuff that's not quite working with your lifestyle. And because it's 100% online, it is much cheaper than having the live-in trainer, having the live-in chef. Adam and his coaches at MyBodyTutor are the best in the world at delivering this highly personal accountability and coaching. So if you're serious about getting fit, if you've tried this before and it hasn't worked, you've lost steam, you got some app and gave up on it after a while, this will be the final thing you need to try. MyBodyTutor. So here's the good news. Adam is giving Deep Questions listeners $50 off their first month. All you have to do is mention my podcast, mention Deep Questions and Cal Newport when you join, and they will give you $50 off at mybodytutor.com. If you have questions, Adam wants you to call or text. You can find his personal cell phone number at the top of every page at my body tutor.com so go check that out today and mention deep questions to get 50 off just see that'd be my worst fear is if we put my name my phone number and email address at the top of every page if i was running a business like that we would be out of business in like a month. Because I'd be like, don't bother me. Don't bother me with your problems. Hey, I've got my own problems here. You want to get in better shape? Sign up. I've got my own issues here and we'd be out of business soon. Stop bothering me. You're just trying to crush the rower. I need to do more rowing. I do need to get back to the row or more. All right. Let's do mailbag. So again, the way this works, everyone, is I have a longstanding email address called interesting at calnewport.com where for well over a decade, I've told people if you have interesting links or pointers, the stuff you think I might be interested in, send it there.


Cal's Mailbag (01:29:35)

I can't answer everyone who sends it, but I do read all the messages and so much cool stuff has come through here. So many book chapters and blog posts and email newsletters and segments have come out of this inbox, but there's so much stuff that comes in that's so cool. Most of it only comes to me and no one ever sees it. So I'm trying to highlight some of the cool stuff that comes in here on the show.


Personal Topics And Influences

Holly Black’s enchanted home https://enchantedlivingmagazine.com/a-writers-cozy-lair/ (01:30:00)

All right, so let's start with our first item switch over to a web browser this i thought was cool all right the first item from the interesting mailbag is sent to me from someone in response to last week's deep dive on brandon sanderson's underground super villain lair uh hat tip to reader sarah who said okay if you want to see a cool writing setup you need to look at the the fantasy novelist holly black's secret office and house all right so holly black she focuses on uh youth fantasy novel so she has written some adult novels the one you've probably heard of is Spiderwick Chronicles. Like that was made into a movie. Those are pretty popular sort of middle grades or young adult fantasy novels, but she's also written the novels of Elfhame, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Book of Night, Little Known Fact, Jesse, Holly Black wrote The Name of the Wind. So I don't know if you knew that about her. In Beacon Hill. In Beacon Hill, wearing weird pants. She wrote The Name of the wind. So I don't know if you knew that about her. In Beacon Hill. In Beacon Hill, wearing weird pants. She wrote the name of the wind. Married to Brandon Sanderson. They wrote it together. But anyways, so she writes fantasy. And this article that a reader sent to my interesting address is about how she figured out at some point, I should surround myself with the aesthetic in which I do my creative work. And so she revamped her house to be more fantastic. So if you're watching on YouTube at youtube.com slash Cal Newport Media, if you're watching the episode, what are we, Jesse, 218? Yep. The 218 video, you'll actually see this on the screen right now. What I'm showing right now on the screen is a picture of her writing office and it is beautiful. All right. So there's a large stone castle style fireplace, all wood paneling, a cool like dragon skin green leather couch in front of the fire, uh, and a whole wall full of books. So here's a picture I'm scrolling now. All right. So there's that picture I just showed from before. All right. Now here's a picture of inside her house. So that's her writing. That's her writing space, but she's transformed all of her house to have a fantastical feel. Her dining room that I'm showing now has chairs that look like they're out of a medieval great hall. There's a fantastical light fixture with black sticks, a lot of wood paneling. Another picture like that. Okay, here's the entrance to her secret writing room. It's a bookcase that opens like a door. So you sort of go through a secret passage to get back to the writing room. You can see on the screen right now, these details, carved dragons, these little detail wood details that are carved into the furniture. Here's another picture. She has a staircase. This is so cool. Really should check out the YouTube. It's a staircase. It's like in Hogwarts. It's a staircase. It's like in Hogwarts. It's wood. You have like castle type details and the whole walls are filled with oil paintings to the top. There's a bat hanging from the light fixture. Here's a bathroom with like an awesome steampunk light fixture where you have runes on copper around a big glowing orb and a cool icon type picture anyways i just thought this was cool well done holly black saying if i am going to write fantasy and steampunk why not have a fantastical steampunk house with a secret writing layer that i get through through a secret door i just really applaud these type of efforts i know there is some feedback on the sanderson piece where people were saying, well, it feels like a waste of money. I think you got to understand their whole livelihood is based off of creative construction that comes out of nowhere. It alchemizes out of thought stuff. These type of investments might really matter. I think Holly Black having an awesome steambunk house, if that puts her in the mood of fantasy, she's going to have more ideas and she's going to be able to write better work and she's going to have a deeper connection to the work. So I thought that was a cool example. All right. Interesting item number two.


Bram Stoker’s “method writing” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/oct/09/cutting-his-teeth-how-bram-stoker-found-his-inner-dracula-in-scotland (01:34:19)

Another reader sent this in to the interesting at kelnyper.com address. So this is perhaps an example of someone going too far with this idea of let's live the world of our writing. And this is a piece about Bram Stoker, who, of course, wrote Dracula. So supposedly, Bram Stoker, and I have the article here from the Observer on my screen, if you're watching this, he was a method actor. And he decided when he was going to write Dracula, that the right thing to do was to retreat to this windswept hotel resort in this windswept hotel resort in Aberdeenshire in Scotland on the Scottish coast and actually do what he called method riding to be in a Transylvania type environment and act like Dracula himself. I thought this was fascinating. Here's a picture of a castle nearby. I just want to show you there's a picture here of Cruden Bay, which is like where he was when he was writing Dracula. Supposedly, according to this article, he would perch on a rock for hours pretending to be a bat and that it really upset the other guests at the hotel. So maybe you can go a little bit too far, but I just love the idea of method writing, of him pretending to be Dracula while he was writing the book. So it can go too far, but a cool thing. I'm glad someone sent that in. All right. Third item from the interesting mailbag.


A new deep life bucket (01:36:00)

This is a message sent from Alice with an idea. I have it on the screen here. I'll read it. So Alice said, I was working on my values plan today and thought of another C bucket, one that works for me anyway, contribution. This is the bucket for giving to others, but also making a positive impact and leaving a legacy. Could be related to craft, but to me, it is distinct on facing out, getting good at guitarist craft, playing for others, ensuring that craft could be contribution. Cheers. Cool idea, Alice. So when we talk about the deep life on the show, we break up the elements of your life into various what we call buckets. We like to be alliterative and use C. So we had craft, community, constitution, contemplation, sometimes celebration. And Alice is saying, let's add contribution. So I typically think about contribution. For me, that shows up in other buckets. So under craft, for example, your work making an impact would show up under there. Under community, serving those around you might show up under there. But I sort of like this notion of let's pull it out. Like I want to contribute to those around me in the world. Let me have a separate bucket for that, to make sure that I'm really prioritizing. If I'm not doing that, who cares about the rest? I like that idea, Alice. That's a good additional C for the deep life buckets. All right, one last thing. I thought this was just wild and cool. By the way, the URLs for these sites are in the show notes if you want to go check out what you're hearing on your own. All right, so here is a website. I'm loading it up now for those who are watching. It's an article from Outside Magazine from recently, from September.


Careers And Individual Interests

The deep life of a professional stone skipper (01:37:45)

And it's titled, Stone Skipping is a Lost Art. Kurt Steiner Wants the World to Find It. The main picture here is of a man with a long white beard, a skinny man with a long white beard, holding a huge number of skipping rocks. It is all about this guy, Kurt Steiner, who has dedicated his life to rock skipping. And there's some beautiful photos. So he gets into this in the article. The author of this article, Sean Williams, talks about how hard it was to track this guy down. That it took him, I don't know, like a year. He doesn't have a cell phone. He barely is on the internet. He was just sort of hiding out in a cabin somewhere. So he has a really, I don't know, isolated life. His deep life is very specific, but it just caught my attention. If you're watching on the YouTube, you'll see there's a video here of the stone skimming official world record set at the stone skimming world championships. That's a thing. the stone skimming world championships that's a thing court steiner the subject of this article has set world records for longest stone uh stone skips and he basically has just dedicated his life to this one thing so i have some photos here of his rock some photo here of him throwing it and so it seems kind of arbitrary beautiful photos i have another one on the screen now really check out this article if you appreciate sort of beautiful photos of people living deeply. But if you go into this article, the interesting core that emerges is it's not just about someone who's oddly obsessed with stone skipping. By building a life around the simple pursuit of a particular skill he's trying to master. We find out in this article that he has a lot of mental health issues that this has helped with and that the simplicity and the focus and the craft has given a stability to his mental life that he was otherwise lacking outside of it. So there's a deeper core to this. There's a humanist core to this beyond just, isn't that crazy? Someone skipped the stone, whatever it was like 128 meters or something crazy like that. So it's a long form article and I recommend it. I mean, I think there's really a humanistic core to it. And if we're going to extract a general lesson from that, because that's what we do here is that when we're thinking about developing a deep life, this is an extreme example, I think, of a principle that is much more broadly applicable, which is having something that you're pursuing, that you can orient a lot of your efforts around, that you're seeking mastery on, is in itself often calming and focusing and meaningful to humans, regardless of the specific social recognition of that act, the specific monetary rewards of that act, the specific existing paths to which this matches. There could be nothing more arbitrary and unusual and eccentric than skipping stones as something to focus on. And yet it still was the focal point of a meaningful life. It was still the focal point of someone escaping the fog of mental health issues and finding some peace. So I think there is a general point there. You don't have to retreat into rural Pennsylvania and become a professional stone skipper, but don't sleep on the importance of having an organizing target for your energies. And I think this article, which is beautifully written and beautifully photographed. So well done, Sean Williams is a great case study of that. So again, thank you listeners for sending that in. And if you have things you think I should look at interesting that calnewport.com is how to do that. And maybe we'll feature it on a future episode. All right. Well, that's all the time we have for today. Thank you for listening. If you like what you heard, you'll like what you see at youtube.com slash Cal Newport media. You'll also like what you read. Sign up for my weekly newsletter at calnewport.com. We'll be back next week with another episode of the deep questions podcast. And until then then as always stay deep


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