#29: Why Strategy Matters

On finite energies and living

In the face of uncertainties, and adversities, it often pays to have a strategy as a reliable coping mechanism. It not only develops resilience, it also encourages a stoic approach against an ever chaotic environment. What’s especially great about this is that it is flexible in its application. You can, in theory, develop a strategy for almost any part of your life that matters: Relationships, Work, Health and Fitness, Finance, Mental Health and so on. 

I want to share one for two of mine: For work and for personal life

Work/Personal Life: Learning as a strategy

User Experience Design is a multidisciplinary field that attracts an enormous amount of people, with diversified backgrounds. From psychology to journalism to traditional design, there is no such thing as a single, ideal path to UX. In fact, exploration is highly encouraged. The more things you expose yourself to things, the better it will be for your work, for your thinking. This, of course, on top of mastering the foundations and principles of design itself.

It is true that one should do more work that feels a lot like a calling, a passion, a form of play and source of natural enjoyment. There is no question that the greater you enjoy doing things, the better you will be at investing precious time with it for the rewards it potentially offers.

Venture Capitalist and Angellist Founder, Naval asked this thought-provoking question on his twitter account:

But life itself is complicated, we don’t always have that luxury. We don’t always have the privilege to fail following our passions, or whatever it is that’s fashionable these days. This is true for a vast majority of people especially during this tumultuous covid-19 era.

For some of us who still have some bit of freedom, I really think that a lot of what we invest our time on is based on choice. Now we may not like those choices but they are controlled by us, nonetheless. The worst way to deal with that is to continuously embrace self-pity and the feelings of being trapped to a specific life we didn’t choose. Work is, almost always, a huge factor in this. Which is why, I have created this diagram for how I personally deal with situations like this one:  

It is far from perfect like most frameworks I’ve carved for my life. My thinking was that I needed to account for, not just my time, but also my energy into the buckets I’m investing it the most. The more I scrutinize it, gut it, analyze it, the better I can get at getting to the bottom of the problems surrounding it such as:

  • Lack of motivations to do stuff

  • Frequently depleting energies

  • Occasional feelings of despair over a problem

  • Other feelings: overwhelm, confused, troubled

  • The temptations of short-thinking

  • Small failures

If you are going to do something similar, I would suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • How am I spending my time on a daily basis?

  • Are there any patterns that frequently arises that I should be more aware of?

  • Are there any prevailing concerns that are bothering me?

  • External factors aside, why am I unproductive with X?

  • Do I want to change a given situation to which I have some form of control over?

  • What is my mission in life?

  • What am I doing every day to fulfill that mission?

  • What are the things that are blocking me?

  • How can I put myself in a position where I can aim for smaller wins?

With work, contrary to what most people will say, it’s always personal. Whatever you pour a ton of time into is always worth thinking and pondering about. I don’t subscribe to the idea that your identity is directly tied to your occupation. I do, however, believe that you are very much what you do (not what you say).

And if there is anything I know by now, it is that ‘work’ is not limited to what sustains your finances, or where you clock your 8 hours every day into, or what you build on your resumé.

Work is anything that makes you want to look forward to getting up in the morning, and doing what you feel matters the most for something bigger than yourself. Work is a service to the individual and to a small (or large!) segment of the society where it is being served. Work is a form of living. Arguably, when done right, it is the best way to live.

For me anyway.

How I develop a strategical mind:

  1. Question everything

  2. Write to learn/learn to write

  3. Diversify your sources of learnings

  4. Growth mindset is real. Embrace it (even when it is impossible to do so)

  5. Strengthen your emotional intelligence. It is supremely challenging to function if one is constantly angry, sad, impatient about everything.

  6. Adapt a principles-first thinking

  7. Commit to your mission-focused goals

  8. Get rid of mental garbage (or whatever it is that is keeping you from having a clear mind)

  9. Do all of this for yourself (and for others)

  10. Repeat step #1

Living by with these quotes on the subject

“Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is.” - Seth Godin

“Even today, what to study and how to study it are more important than where to study it and for how long. The best teachers are on the Internet. The best books are on the Internet. The best peers are on the Internet. The tools for learning are abundant. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.”¹ - Naval Ravikant

“Experimentation is the essence of living a satisfying, productive, fulfilling life. The more you Experiment, the more you learn, and the more you’ll achieve.” - Josh Kaufman of My Personal MBA

Thank you for reading. Thank you for indulging me and my thoughts. I’d love your feedback. They always make my work better. Email me at: nikkiespartinez@gmail.com

I want to also open up my inbox to Q&A’s if you guys have any questions for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the future of work, user experience, philosophy and everything else I talk about on this platform. Thank you for subscribing!

If you liked this topic, you might like these previous pieces, #20: Design + Courage + Uncertainties and #19: Create, not escape. All future-focused. All present-oriented. Thank you again for reading working title.

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