Reconfiguring Your Life To Amplify Sources Of Value
Transcription for the video titled "Reconfiguring Your Life To Amplify Sources Of Value".
Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.
Cals intro (00:00)
So that's our plan. So let's get started with the deep dive. So the topic of the deep dive today is the deep reset. Now the deep reset is a term I introduced in my email newsletter and talked about briefly on this podcast back in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. I want to revisit it today and make it more structured, make it more pragmatic. So to understand the deep reset, I want to talk about three different forces that exist in the world today that I think are going to converge together to create this new phenomenon. So if you're watching instead of listening, so if you're watching the video of this segment at youtube.com slash calnewportmedia, you'll see I have the tablet up here where I've listed three different forces. And I'm going to write right in the middle here, deep reset, because these all, hand blade is beautiful. These all are feeding into the deep reset. All right. So what are the forces that I think are going to feed into this thing? I'm going to call the deep reset first, the fact that millennials are approaching middle age. So let's be precise about demographics here. People use these generation descriptions, I believe, uh, too vaguely like we're in the bad habit, for example, of using the word millennial to mean young person, But let's be very demographically specific here. The millennials, by most accounts, are more or less people born between 1981 and 1996. So that puts Jesse and I at the older end of the millennials. So we're 40. The youngest millennials are in their late 20s. The bulk of this generation is in their 30s right now. So these are more or less the children of the baby boomers. All right, so the millennials are approaching middle age. Jesse and I are older, but the rest of them are going through their 30s. This is a very important cultural shift because the millennials is a very large population boom. The baby boomers was a very large population boom. So their children is itself going to be a very large boom. That's why our demographic was originally called the echo boom because it was an echo of the baby boom. So we have this very large group population demographic that are now approaching middle age, which means those that are going to end up, let's say getting married or starting a family, they're doing that are now approaching middle age, which means those that are going to end up, let's say, getting married or starting a family, they're doing that right now. All right, number two, second of three forces relevant in the world right now, is the philosophy of work as a means to an end that the millennials have developed over the past, let's say, 20 years. So we got into this briefly in my deep dive from episode 218. So just to give you the short summary here, when the millennials were growing up, so this was the 1990s into the early 2000s, when the first millennials were growing up, their parents, the baby boomers, 2000s, when the first millennials were growing up, their parents, the baby boomers, wanted to offer them advice about what to do with their career.
Discussion On Deep Resets
Sources of deep reset (03:00)
Now, the baby boomers had these two extreme experiences. When they were little, they had seen their parents had had this sort of corporate conformist experience. This was the era of the organization man. This was the 1950s in which you moved to the suburbs and you dedicated your life to IBM and they would give you lifetime employment in return as people left this urban cores of cities and small villages. These corporate loyalties became a substitute for civic engagement. So it was a time of conformity, but it also sort of made sense. These are the same people who had subordinated themselves to the larger cause of fighting fascism during World War II. So they were used to this idea, subordinate yourself to the larger cause as a source of meaning. The baby boomers didn't buy that because by the time you get to the 60s, you have all these social disruptions happening. You have the civil rights movement, you have Vietnam, you have the women's liberation movement, all of these social forces, these social disruptions are happening. And suddenly their parents' ethos seemed stiflingly conformist. And so the baby boomers created the counter-cultural movement, which went hard the other way. So now we had, let's get rid of work altogether. It's an obstacle to self-actualization. Let's go back to land. Let's move to communes. You know, you're going to find yourself outside of work. That fell apart too. So by the time the baby boomers were having kids, like how do we balance these two forces? And they came up with, I think at the time, a clever innovation. We'll tell our kids to follow their passion. See, this is a tightrope act right here. The idea, the counterculture idea of forget work, you know, just go move to a commune and self-actualize, that didn't work. But they also still distrusted pure corporate conformity so that they had this compromise. All right, you still need to get a job and pay your mortgage payments and make a living, but make it a job you love. So now the job itself can be a source of meaning and fulfillment. So this is what we saw as millennials. We were taught this idea, follow your passion. That then fell apart. Again, I talked about this last week, but that then fell apart in the early 2000s. We had 9-11, the financial crash after 9-11. We barely got back on our feet before the 2008 financial crash happened. This was the period when the bulk of the millennial generation was leaving college and entering the workforce. This idea that you should just follow your passion, that idea began to lose steam. Employment seemed much more precarious. The instrumental value of money to stave off hardship and support things that are meaningful became much more clear when people were going through hard times and so the millennials in general moved past the follow your passion notion and begin to work on an alternative philosophy of work as a means to an end this is the hack work culture this is what's captured in the minimalism movement this is what's captured in tim ferris's culture. This is what's captured in the minimalism movement. This is what's captured in Tim Ferriss' lifestyle design. This is what's captured in the fire movement. This is what's captured in early influencer videos on Instagram and YouTube, where you see millennials focusing on lifestyle. It's the moms in the white linen dresses walking through the fields with their kids. It's the sort of impossibly ripped dads doing feats of endurance and YouTube videos. The lifestyle is being pushed to the millennials by millennials. It was not about work. It was meaning in life. Work was a funding source for running endurance races and having only white dishes on white shelves in your walls at your house. So that's this big shift. The millennials are very attuned to this idea that follow your passion, forget that. Work supports other things that are important. It's a source of money. We can take it. Maybe you'll get some out of it. Maybe you don't like your job, but it's a financial backing for the systematic construction of a life that's meaningful. So we've adopted that. And this is very generational. Gen Z, for example, the generation born after 1996, who's just now entering the workforce, as we talked about last week, they have their own ideas. Right now, they're stuck on this notion of quiet quitting. They're just taking the first basic steps of saying, what is work going to mean to us? But for the millennials, we've been through this. Work is a means to an end. All right, so millennials approaching middle age, millennials adopting a work as a means to the end philosophy. And then we add the third element, the catalyst to this particular metaphorical biochemical mixture, and that is pandemic disruptions. So the pandemic comes along, disrupts work. Everything goes remote. The pain points that people feel with their jobs are amplified. At the same time, the idea that you have more freedom and flexibility in configuring your work and your life was also amplified. People were moving. They were doing different schooling configurations with their kids. They were pushing back on things. People were leaving jobs. There's this spirit of, hey, anything can go. Things are so bad that there's really nothing off the table now. And it inculcated this idea of change is possible. So I think those three things are going to come together for this particular generation to lead to a lot of people to engage in what I call a deep reset. So I have a definition for this. I'm scrolling up if you're watching this online. Here's the definition of a deep reset. It's an intentional reconfiguration of your life to amplify the small number of things you've learned through experience that you value and minimize those things that get in their way. So a deep reset is saying, wait a second, let's step back and reconfigure our whole life.
Deep Reset definition (09:00)
And I think at this moment, the millennials in particular, because of those three forces coming together, have begun doing these deep resets. And this is going to be a very important work trend in the next handful of years that are coming up ahead. Now, I want to point out, this is different than a midlife crisis, which is a phenomenon that afflicted our parents. The midlife crisis came at a similar point in people's lives. So as their 30s went into their 40s, but it was much more haphazard, self-focused, and less intentional. The midlife crisis was famously characterized by people realizing, oh my God, my life is halfway done. What am I doing? Let me respond haphazardly. I'll buy a sports car. I'll get divorced and married a 25 year old. I'll do a dramatic sort of visible narcissistic lifestyle changes to try to distract or stave off or avoid the inevitable conclusion that I'm getting older. That's very different than the deep reset, which is much more intentional, much more focused on your whole life, your whole family, much more focused on amplifying meaning, not avoiding things that are distressing. So what might go into a deep reset? Well, here are some things I've seen. Work simplification is a big part of that. So people really rethinking the role of work. So we get a lot of, for example, ledge stepping. That's a term for where you've been going up the ladder at your organization and you say, you know what? I'm fine where I am right now for a while. Let me step off the ladder onto a ledge where I can just hang out. So without the need to strive to get to the next level, it reduces the pressure and the amount of work on your plate. So as you approach middle age as a millennial, you may already have a lot of career capital, have a job that's at that right balance.
Examples of Deep Resets (11:00)
You have a lot of leverage, a lot of autonomy. It's probably a reasonable place where you could ledge step for a while without it being boring or as it would be if you tried when you're 22 and you're still in an entry-level position. So we definitely see work simplification. People also going all remote could be a work simplification move. Reduced hours is a work simplification move. Freelancers or people running small businesses, eliminating streams of income, the focus on just a smaller number of things is work simplification. So it's all about reducing that work volume that's coming at you from your job. That's common in deep resets. A term that I just made up, but I'm trying to popularize, Candlefire, capital F-I-R-E, goes along with this. So FIRE is this millennial movement, financial independence, retire early, that we've talked about on the show before. And it was a movement that came out of the tech world about super aggressively saving while living aggressively cheaply so that you could achieve financial independence at a relatively young age. What I think we're seeing a lot more of now is what I call candle fire, the candle being referenced to a small flame in which the idea is not, oh, I need to be financially independent. That is, I can live entirely off of my saved assets, but instead let's bring down our cost of living substantially so that with a simplified work portfolio, we can still support ourselves. So it's not leaving work and living entirely off your investments. It's moving to the cheaper location. Getting rid of one of the cars, moving to the cheaper location. We're homeschooling instead of private school. Our expenses are lower, so now I don't have to work as much, but I'm going to leverage the fact that I have a lot of career capital. I'm 35. I know what I'm doing. I'm in demand. It's not that hard for me to negotiate a part-time contractor position. It's half the money. We live on half the expenses and there we go. We have a nice life with a lot less work. So candle fire, we're going to see a lot of that. That's going to go alongside work simplification. Relocation is big. We saw a lot of this during the pandemic. I call it intentional relocation because it's moving for intentional value-based reasons. Two examples from my own life. We have friends who were kind of overwhelmed by the crowdedness and the stress of the Washington DC suburbs. Both their jobs were remote for the most part. They really like outdoor activities. They really like skiing. You know, God help them. They were trying to get their skiing in each year in West Virginia. And there's, there's only so many mountains around here. They're not that great. And so they moved to Colorado, right outside Boulder, half hour from a great ski slope, mount the bike all the time, intentional relocation. Another friend of mine worked for the government, was a lawyer for the government. They were enjoying life here, but his family was from Santa Fe and they're like a long running Santa Fe family, sort of like his family runs the town. They've been there since you were fighting off an Indian raid type things. And they were all there. So he negotiated like, hey, in the height of the pandemic, when anything went, he negotiated a permanent remote work and they moved to Santa Fe. He sends me photos. He has a cool Adobe style house with a hill in the backyard. There's a gazebo at the top of it. He goes up there to watch the sunset. All of his family's there. It's all thickly connected connections, intentional relocation. You're going to see a lot more of that. We will also see deep community involvement. This is something else that happens in deep resets where people get deeply involved in communities that are meaningful for them. This could be family communities. Like my friend who moved back to Santa Fe is now deeply connected to all sorts of different relatives. They're in each other's lives. There's pluses and minuses, but generally we're a familial tribal species. So that's usually positive. Sometimes it'll be, let's say like a faith-based community. I'm going to get really seriously involved in my temple, right? In my whatever, my mosque. Maybe it's more like an activist community. This is a cause that's important to me and I'm going to get deeply involved in it. So we're seeing more of investment of amplifying time spent in things like that that are useful. And then finally, deep play and self-development. People dedicating serious time to, it might be leisure activities. I mean, I think my brother is an example of this. Outdoor activities, in particular mountain-based activities, are really important to him. And they've really built a lifestyle that involves lots of trips to the mountains, hiking, alpine skiing, mountain biking, trail running. And he's built the way his life works, his schedule to do a lot of that. But you might see this with other types of self-development as well. Someone, you know, I'm really going to invest in philosophy. I want to become an expert on this type of philosophy, health and fitness. I'm going to spend a lot of time outside. I'll give you one more example. There's a writer who wrote the book. His name's Christopher McDougall. He wrote the book Born to Run, which was a surprise bestseller that started the barefoot or vibram shoe running craze. And it's a cool book about a New York based reporter who runs a lot and just was trashing his knees. And he goes and spends time with this native tribe in Mexico that do these long endurance runs as a tradition. And they do it barefoot. And he goes down this rabbit hole and finds out that, okay, actually barefoot movements, what we're meant to do. And you put in these big cushioned shoes, you get hurt, et cetera. Anyways, he writes this book, New York based reporter, ends up really getting into this type of stuff, relocates to a farm. I believe he's in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. So an Amish country. And it's this farm with this barn. And there's these videos of him that Outside Magazine did, you can find where he's out there now, barefoot, doing these Rocky IV style physical training activities, climbing ropes in his barn and throwing hay bales around. Then he built this life that has a huge amount of physical activity in it, outside, interesting physical activity. All these are examples of the same point. Investment, almost radical investment, in this case case in deep play or self-development. These are the type of things that you're going to see when people conduct a deep reset. Simplification, amplification, usually with a couple of these changes made more radical. You can have some radical moves in here, typically as part of a deep reset. Now, how does this connect to our discussion of the deep life and the systematic pursuit of the deep life? The pursuit of a deep life will probably lead you to something like a deep reset. A lot of people are coming to this more haphazardly. It's Christopher McDougall moving to that bar and my friends moving to Colorado. People are coming at this a little bit more haphazardly. We try to be more systematic about it here on the show. But my point is, regardless of what we talk about here, I think deep resets are something we're going to see as a defining characteristic of the millennials in their 30s and early 40s. And I, for one, think it's a positive trend. I think it's a nuanced and sophisticated approach to thinking about life, the relationship between work and other elements of life. I think our parents' nuanced and sophisticated approach to thinking about life, the relationship between work and other elements of life. I think our parents' generation struggled more with this. We got more of this, oh my God, what happened to the first half of my life? Let's buy a Corvette type reaction. Because this new generation had this long period of developing a work as a means to an end ethic, they were ready for the disruptions of the pandemic. They were ready for the distress and wake up call of middle age. So we have a bit of perfect storm of forces coming together to create a phenomenon that I think is going to be quite positive, actually, when we look back at it for my particular cohort.
Cal and Jesse talk about Deep Resets (19:00)
There you go, Jesse. I wrote an essay on the deep reset in my newsletter. You can find it at calnewport.com real early on in the pandemic, but it was way more sort of poetic and emotional. So it was just feeling, it's an interesting document to go back and read because it was projecting this feeling that was in the air of, I think changes are coming. People are going to make big changes, but it was clearly not really worked out yet. And I think two years or whatever it's been now since then, two and a half years, starting to see this shake out into something that's a little bit more clear, a little bit more systematic. So yeah, I'm a big fan of the deep reset. I think a lot of people want to do this. So hopefully having some terminology helps. This will probably be a chapter in the next book, right? Yeah. I mean, the Deep Life book is all kind of about this. Yeah. Yeah. In fact, the Deep Reset was one of the early titles for the book. So it was going to be more prescriptive. Like, here's how to do a Deep Reset. And then we changed the Deep Life. I'm not quite sure exactly how I'm going to tackle that book. And I like that. Like, I'm not, I'm just letting ideas flow as I work on slow productivity. And then as slow productivity finishes, I'm going to laser lock and see like, what do I really want to do here? So with the definition and intentional reconfiguration of one's life to amplify the small number of things that you've learned. Is that to benefit your work? So when I say, okay, I have it up here. Amplify the small number of things you've learned through experience that you value. So what I'm trying to emphasize there is that the millennials are old enough now to have a experience-based answer to the question of what's important to me. Outside of work. Outside of work, in work, in life in general. Whereas I think if you're 23 and you're trying to say what's important to me, you're basically making some guesses you don't really know. You haven't gone through the ups and downs. You haven't gone through the various challenges. So really by the time you get to, let's say, 35, the various challenges. So really by the time you get to, let's say 35, you're, you're probably pretty well equipped to make a good deep reset because you have a pretty stable understanding at this point. You're far enough along in your career that you know what works and what doesn't, what you like about work, what you don't, you have leverage, you have career capital. So it's, it's a, it is kind of a critical age. You'll have to get, um, your friend, Mr. Money Mustache and tell him about your new term candle fire. Yes. We should have Pete on. I like him. Yeah. Um, let's do that. I'll talk to him. Yeah. Yeah. It'd be cool to see what he's. So from what I understand, I was just talking to someone yesterday who's friends with him and some of the other fire characters. A lot of them live in Longmont, Colorado. It's probably building. They're building. Yeah. Uh, they have that coworking space there. We should, yeah, we should get an update on what's going on. And then tell them about your new term. Candle fire. Yep. I don't know if that's going to stick. There's a lot of fire terms, by the way, fat fire, light fire, thin fire.