why do i live in an expensive city?

seattle is not cheap. lunch, on average, costs $15 downtown. coffee costs $4. rent is a whole ‘nother story. i make it work, but it takes a extra amount of effort to get by. it means that i have to be smart, scrappy, and always on the hunt for a better opportunity.

and, thank god, the city is full of opportunity. living in seattle has connected me with incredible friends, cool communities, and great stories. the pressure has pushed me to learn a lot as quickly as possible. i live in an expensive city because it offers all the things that get my brain going.

i expressed my concern about seattle’s cost of living to a friend, who told me “the reason i came here is for opportunity. coming from a smaller town, i know that there is not a lot there for me. that’s why i am here.”

sometimes i feel tempted to move to a smaller town, but for now seattle is checking all my boxes. i get discouraged, but every once in a while the city throws me a bone, and it’s just enough to make be believe that i’m making all the right moves to secure a meaningful career in the long term.

invent your job

we are living in a world of accelerating change. technology, careers, and strategies become obsolete at an alarming rate. if you want to be marketable, you have to be creative. the jobs of the future don’t exist yet, and its up to you to figure out what these jobs are.

this week i interviewed moji, a woman who created her own title as a environmental sustainability consultant. she told me that a lot of her job was education – she had to explain to clients what she did and why it was important. it’s an emerging field and more and more companies will experience pressure to become environmentally conscious, and moji saw that she could help.

for you, i’m sure you’ve noticed gaps in the market. if you see an opportunity to try something that might benefit a friend, a business, or a community, it’s possible you might be inventing a career for yourself. test it out, and see if you’re right.

the alligator wrestler

i spoke with coredero core on our podcast the orbit. cordero has tried a little bit of everything, from mma fighting to baking to chemical engineering. because he had such a diverse set of hobbies, i asked him how he got into so may different side projects.

“well, i once heard that when an employer looks through a stack of resumes, everyone more or less does the same thing. they look the same on paper, and when that’s the case you really have to distinguish yourself from the pack. having a hobby helps – everyone wants to know an alligator wrestler.”

he used this as an example (he doesn’t actually wrestle alligators), but it made sense. the thing that makes you shine are your interests beyond work. having hobbies shows that you love to learn and are self motivated and creative. what are the things that would distinguish you from one hundred other applicants?

i changed my day job

this week, i had my last shift at a day job that required a lot of mental energy. i got another gig, and though i haven’t started yet, i am hoping it will free up some cognitive space for me to hunker down and work on my passion projects.

this was a difficult decision. job X was stable but demanded a lot of time off the clock. job Y is less glamorous, but will pay roughly the same and will have a varied schedule. however, i can say with certainty that i am relieved to close one chapter of my life and open up a new door.

i spent the afternoon after my last shift in seattle’s cal anderson park. i stared at the clouds and closed my eyes, and just enjoyed being in this temporary limbo between gigs. i learned a shitload at job X, including how to sell to a particular client, how to work with manufacturers, and how to maintain a standard of excellence on a day to day basis.

it was an exhausting journey, but i know i will bring everything i learned at job X to each new project i take on.

my mission is to define the future of work

we all know 9-5 does not make sense, and my question is where we are headed next. what’s wild about companies like lyft is that it operates on its own schedule. artists, filmmakers, web developers, and more have the opportunity to work on their own schedules and don’t have to be tied down to a specific place or schedule. not only is this exciting, but it also is collectively powerful since it gives our workforce considerable agility.

as i interview young people who make a living online, it becomes clear to me that there are common challenges: time management, motivation, marketing, health care, etc. while an employer usually took care of some of the more managerial tasks for us, we now are burdened to make these structures for ourselves. my job, at least for the time being, is to help my peers figure out how to be their own boss.

the informal vs. the formal job market

the formal job market is posted online and has a series of clearly defined hoops to jump through in order to land the position. the informal job market exists in the background, and the key to becoming a part of it is being curious and testing assumptions.

i got a lot of my jobs just through shaking hands and asking questions. people often will grumble that certain industries heavily depend on “who you know”, and they’re not wrong. jobs are created by people, and it pays to know the right people.

what’s thrilling about finding work in a loosely organized field is that you can open yourself to huge opportunities if you play your cards right. the hard part is that there is no handbook, and at the end of the day we all have to eat. they key is knowing your strengths in both formal and informal spheres, and using them to your advantage to get where you want to go.

my phoenix problem

i’m into re-invention, but maybe a little bit too much. i throw my all into a project and then destroy it. i’ve started and ended so many blogs that i have a mess of domains and drafts that i will likely never go through. i have so many ideas that i end up hating the old one and tossing it into the wastebasket in hopes of making something new.

this process is a little bit frustrating, because it is hard for me to develop any kind of cohesive brand because i am shapeshifting so often. as i learn this about myself (i am currently 26) i am wondering if there is a way to accommodate my shapeshifting, or if there are any common threads in the history of work that i do.

one of my favorite artists keri smith pushed an idea on me that we are allowed to reinvent ourselves at any time. i’ve taken this to heart, and as a result have created this fluid identity that is a jack of all trades and master of none. it’s a hard place to be, but i know with certainty that i would not fit in anywhere else.

it’s like another taoist idea i read – that only the sages know the value of being useless. if you don’t fit into any of the pre-carved categories that exist (in terms of career) you are then tasked with pioneering a route of your own. and, in a world of accelerating change, i am hoping that my shapeshifting and inability to settle on a path will allow me to be agile and receptive to unheard of fields.