Unpopular Decisions You've Made That Were Necessary.
A message from Dr. Larrow: Every once in a while I will have a guest poster on my blog. It might be another doctor, colleague, or in this weeks case someone close to me: my husband! He is going to share some thoughts on route causes of stress in his life as part of our on-going discussion about stress, and stress management. So enjoy!
I’m a podcast listener. I prefer to listen to podcasts over radio as the content tends to be more specific to my interests (more on this later). As a listener to this more intimate form of broadcasting one gets to know a little bit more about the hosts than would normally be divulged by your regular morning drive time shock jock. Not necessarily those ‘shocking’ gritty details that a jock might spew forth, but instead the motivations behind someones actions. I admit, it is a ‘I like individual people more than groups’ mentality that attracts me to this medium. Someone will always appear different to a smaller, and more intimate group than to a large 500k listener market.
Iyaz Akhtar is a technology podcaster, and editor for CNET. He has taken it upon himself to create a new podcast series that doesn’t deal with his career interests (or something necessarily marketable for that matter), but instead deals with accepting and recognizing who he is, and what he needs out of life in order to be happy. At least this is my take on his experiment.
It is an interesting idea for any kind of medium to undertake this, but I’m glad Akhtar has. In just a few episodes he has helped me to re-open my eyes on my own life. This is something I haven’t really done in the last ten years until recently.
Recently, I left my chosen career path. At the time I chose that path, being a mechanic, It was itself a radical departure from what I had been doing. Now after being away from the auto industry that I had dedicated my life to for 7+ years, I am finally starting to see what it is that made me hate it so much, and what it is I need out of my own life in order to be happy.
Come to find out, like Iyaz Akhtar, it is not really that much that I need on a fundamental level. Some of the items in life that Iyaz Akhtar needed were a proper breakfast in the morning, regular exercise, and sleep. Sleep. These were simple revelations to me that struck me quite hard. Things I had forgotten. I had suddenly realized that I had given up on these needs for my previous career almost completely. Thinking back, there really wasn’t any sustainable way to include all three of Iyaz Akhtar’s simple needs into my own life during that period. And of course, I was paying for it dearly as was my relationship with my wife.
A year plus out from leaving my mechanic’s life, I am just barely starting to get back into any kind of sustainable rhythm. But there is hope as I force myself to do these simple things with, admittedly, with varying success. I find that if I do not eat a good breakfast then I can’t get in a good exercise, nor do I feel as though I want to. The flip side is that if I don’t exercise then that leads to poor sleep. Waking up early, and then snacking late night usually results. A bad cycle.
Akhtar’s podcast is not specifically about his digestion patterns, energy level, or rest state, however, as this particularly inspiring episode was actually about ‘making unpopular decisions.’ In Akhtar’s case his family expected him to be a doctor, more or less, and so he ended up with a biology degree. Later realizing that he did not love the field, but was more interested in the psychological aspect of humanity, rather than its physical, he ended up becoming a lawyer. After that, of course, he did something ‘unpopular’ and followed his interests which have lead him down the path of podcasting and covering the technology industry that he is interested in.
As for myself, my unpopular decision was to leave my dead-end office career, and pursue my automotive ‘passion’. It paid off in one major respect as I would have never met my wife if I had not gone down this route. Unfortunately, deep down inside I had another passion for technology with much deeper roots than any car fetish. This passion started before I was even 6 years old.
I’m currently following this path. Slowly yes, but I am following it. I find that the more of these simple things I do, like exercise and sleep for example, the better and easier it is for me to follow this passion. This passion that I see clearly is leading towards a happiness I have yet to experience in life. It may sound selfish, but you just have to focus on yourself sometimes. Because if you don’t you risk alienating those around you, and pushing them away. Seeing someone more stable, and possessive of their path in life is a much more attractive thing. I don't know about you, but I can accept someone easier who I know is going in one direction rather than someone who is flailing about wildly in a downward spiral.
I have had to put quite a bit on the back burner, interest-wise, myself in order to focus on these things that work best for me, and to show that my ‘unpopular’ decisions were the right ones. You cannot argue with progress, and no one can take that progress away from you. Nor should you let them even try.
So do yourself, and Iyaz Akhtar, a favor and subscribe to his podcast. His live schedule for it is not always the same, but when it is on the air you can join the chat room and ask your own questions to participate in the show. And of course, as it is a podcast you can just download it later for your viewing/listening convenience.
I want to thank everyone for reading this week as well as reading Dr. Larrow’s blog every week. We work hard to maintain this weekly schedule, and I hope it shows. And I encourage you to share in the comments below any ‘unpopular decisions’ you have made in the past that you have benefited from in the long term. If you have not made these fundamental life leaps then it might be a good time to figure out if that is right for you.