Life Bubbles

People talk about parallel worlds, living in a simulation, etc. The interesting thing is that we all live in different bubbles all of the time, in a way. It’s almost like each of these life bubbles is a tiny world where we interact with other people and often have conversations about different things.

I was born in Mexico, and most of my family and childhood friends are still there. When I go to Mexico, I am in a different bubble. The streets, the people around me, the food, and the conversations are all part of that bubble. I often talk about other topics when I am in Mexico than at work or home in Seattle.

One of my passions is photography, so I follow this topic on the internet. In addition, I follow photographers on social media and often read books about the subject. This is my photography bubble. When I share my thoughts about photography with people from my other bubbles, the reaction is mild, very different from that of someone interested in photography.

My day job is programming. I code for a living, which is another type of writing. You type words on a screen, and these words then get translated into something a computer system understands, causing this system to perform the task described by the written code. This is a very different bubble than my family bubble, Mexico, or photography bubble. My technology bubble includes books, coworkers, conferences, blog posts, projects, etc., and it’s unique and very different from the rest of my life bubbles.

Why a bubble? I think of bubbles because that’s the easiest way for me to interpret the uniqueness and differences of these areas of my life. Each of these bubbles comes with its own characteristics, such as people, conversations, goals, etc.

My life bubbles aren’t entirely shielded from each other, and there are family members interested in photography, friends who work in technology, etc. However, for the most part, when I am at home, I react and behave slightly differently than when I am at work. Of course, this is nothing new, but once I started thinking of these interactions, work, home, hobbies, etc., as different bubbles, it somehow made sense to think of these experiences as bubbles.

My goal is to try and make these life bubbles blend; this can make things simpler and more enjoyable for me. I want to live my life as if everything is part of one big bubble, where everything blends and connects.

As I wrote the sentence above, I thought of Ben Stiller’s new TV series “Severance.” Trust me, I do not want to live separate lives as the fictional characters do in that show. It’s sad.

Listening vs. Talking

This is not new advice; we all know that listening more and talking less is an excellent way to improve communication and relationships. But listening is hard.

When I was a kid, I remember listening to adult conversations and thinking, they talk too much. I was always a quiet kid, and as an adult, I believe I am more on the quiet side than the talking one. However, I still don’t listen enough, and I think I talk too much. As a kid, I didn’t particularly appreciate how adults wanted to talk to me instead of hearing what I had to say, and now I probably do the same to kids.

We all want to know that people listen to us, that we matter, which might be why most of us are always trying to say or do something to get noticed. No one wants to be invisible. Listening should give us the same reward, but it doesn’t.

In my experience, when I am listening to someone, I can only do it for some time before I feel the need to say something too. So interrupting people or saying something when there is nothing to say can cause conflict and the opposite feeling of what we want in the end; for someone to listen to us.

Social media is another medium where we now go and try for people to notice us. We feel good when strangers say something to us or when someone demonstrates that they see you by liking your tweet, Instagram post, etc. But even knowing all of that, I think we listen less and try to talk more.

You know the saying, “everyone has an opinion,” right? It’s true, and I think the need to have an opinion comes from the need to be part of the conversation, for people to listen to what we have to say. We want people to care about us and our opinion.

I am trying to listen more and talk less. It’s hard. Whenever I am in a conversation where I have an opinion, I want to interrupt and say something. But in more instances than not, sharing my opinion or interrupting someone else when they are talking produces a negative output. It’s not what I am looking for, so I need to change that.

What are your thoughts about this? I care about what you have to say about this, so speak up if you have an opinion. I am here to listen/read.

Also, happy birthday Mau. Love you.

Cheers.

How to increase your company’s attrition rate

You did read that right! and it wasn’t a writing mistake. The title of this post is, in fact, how to increase a company’s attrition rate. Earlier today, I saw a post on Twitter that caught my attention. It was a tweet about people leaving a company for another due to a 30%+ increase in compensation.

It caught my eye because this is happening more and more these days. It’s nothing new, but the attrition rate at many tech companies has recently increased at a faster pace. Many people think it is part of the great resignation.

People leaving jobs to get better compensation is nothing new. Switching jobs is a common way to get a higher position and higher compensation. But why? It doesn’t make sense. But in general, companies focus and invest more in hiring new talent than retaining employees. As a result, companies spend a lot of money attracting new employees, recruiting, signing bonuses, etc. While increasing salaries by a few percentage points and fewer stock options for existing employees, why? Yes, I agree. It makes zero sense. And I feel like no one wins here, nor the employees or the companies.

I am familiar with the amount of time and money invested in recruiting new employees, specifically tech talent. It’s not easy. It takes time and money and is a big distraction for any company since their most senior engineers often direct interviews for new candidates. However, these very senior engineers will then go to another job because their compensation (base salary + stock + bonuses) is either stagnant or increases a few percentage points every year.

In the tech industry, when you switch jobs, often your compensation will increase by at least 20%, that has been my own experience, but I am sure it varies a lot. The point is, a compensation increase of 10% or more is not something most people experience. Therefore they end up moving to other companies. Sometimes companies who will not increase employee’s compensation significantly, are the same companies who will offer much higher compensation to convince someone new to join them…

When you hire a new employee, it takes time to get them for them to get familiar with the company, the team, and the work before they are efficient. And again, after a few years, if these employees don’t feel fairly compensated, they will leave for another job. Employees switching jobs is normal, but what’s not normal is allowing good employees who like their careers to seek other employment to achieve a higher compensation. At the same time, the company invests a lot of money and time hiring to replace leaving employees and fill new positions.

I understand that many people leave their jobs looking for a better culture, challenging new opportunities, and a better work-life balance. Still, in this case, it’s really about more compensation, something that more and more employees have in mind now, especially with the higher inflation rates.

Your North Star

It’s a metaphor. Your North Star is your personal mission statement.

In my last post, I mention having a North Star a couple of times, and for me, it’s an excellent way to describe my single long-term goal. There are many goals on my list, but most of them align to the one single long-term goal, my North Star. It gives me something to look forward to and be motivated about; I might feel lost without it.

Having lists and agendas, it’s not something I do, not consistently. I collect notes and a logbook, but having an open schedule and plan is essential. It allows me to adapt and tweak my days, weeks, and months to ensure that the things I do help me progress towards my North Star. My North Star is described in a single sentence, and then I write things down that I might need to do to get closer to that long-term goal. That’s how I keep track of my North Star goal.

Divide and Conquer

Have you heard of the term divide and conquer? in computer science, divide and conquer is an algorithm design paradigm. The idea is to break down a problem into two or smaller problems until these are simple enough to be easily solved.

This is how I think of my personal goals. They aren’t problems, but I like having a significant, long-term goal or plan, my North Star, and then break that into smaller goals, maybe even daily goals that can help me achieve my North Star.

Why do this? It helps by making it easier to accomplish smaller goals, and doing so gives you the motivation to continue doing it. In the past, I had long-term goals that I didn’t achieve because they were too ambitious, and I just never knew where to start. The divide and conquer method, applied to objectives, is an excellent way to get things done.

Why a North Star Goal?

Because it motivates me. Without it, it doesn’t take long before I feel bored or unmotivated. My North Star goal is split into smaller goals, I do this so it’s not overwhelming either. So that’s how I keep things balanced. It works for me.

As time goes by, seeing the progress towards your North Star can give you a reason to keep trying, keep learning, and keep doing. This is very important, at least for me. Otherwise, it’s too easy to become complacent.

You can have more than one North Star, but for me, I can only handle one at a time. Otherwise, I end up distracted and making plodding progress to any of my goals. Therefore, I believe in avoiding multitasking, and instead, I shot to focus on one thing at a time.

One of my North Star goals in the past was to learn English, I tried different methods, and while it wasn’t easy, I made it a reality by focusing on that one big goal first. Another North Star of mine was to find a job as a web developer. Again, I started small, working on small projects on my own, reading books, then learning how computers and the internet works. And finally, getting my first job as a LAN engineer. This job was mostly about computer networking, but it allowed me to work with computers and software, from which I then transitioned into a web developer.

The tried and true suggestions such as keeping it simple, avoiding multitasking, focusing on smaller tasks and goals will continue to be solid advice, in my opinion. But having a North Star goal will give you purpose and direction.

What is your North Star?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As a kid, this is something we are asked often, and often we have an answer for this – an astronaut, a firefighter, a policeman, a pilot, a veterinarian. However, is there anything more complicated to answer than this as an adult? Think about it. The question makes you think about your education, work, hobbies, your life.

Are you doing what you love?

Why is this hard to answer? It reminds us of the things we love and that we are not doing. It’s hard to realize and accept that we are not following our dreams and are not on the right path to achieve them either. It’s always easier to avoid thinking about this and continue to do what we are doing.

I don’t know about you, but I am not doing anything remotely to what a veterinarian does. That’s what I said I wanted to be when I grew up. But it’s also true that I don’t want to be a veterinarian today. My goals and dreams grew as I grew older.

Life takes you to places you didn’t even imagine when you were a kid. Sometimes you are lucky and have more support available to you as an adult to pursue what you said you wanted to be, but you often don’t. Instead, life necessities get on the way, and you work doing something that pays the bills but that you don’t love or like at all.

This is fine, as long as you keep your dreams in front of you, as long as you still have your North Star, it’s okay to do what you need to do while you work on getting to where you want to be one day.

Avoid doing the same thing while expecting different results. If you are not progressing towards your dream of becoming something else, then you are on the edge of insanity, as Einstein said…

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein

Overtime our goals evolve, we evolve, and it is essential to check with ourselves about this question again and again. What do you want to be when you grow up? This has nothing to do with age; it’s more about what you want to be doing next, on the next phase of your life. I’d expect that most people’s answers to this question will continue to change.

If one day you ask this question and the answer is equal or similar to what you are doing, and this doesn’t change in the future, you’ve arrived at a place in your life where you are contemptuous with who you are what you are doing. Congratulations, you are in the minority.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Ask yourself this question often, and make the necessary adjustments to your life if what you are doing is not what you want to be doing. Our time is finite, and it’s easy to go through life without stopping to see if what we are doing is what we love.

We go through life worrying about our family, paying bills, global pandemics, wars, social media, the latest Netflix series, etc. But in comparison, spend very little time and effort on our North Star, which is ironic because this is where we have real influence and the possibility of change.

It takes patience and consistency. It is necessary to have clarity of mind, passion, hard work, and luck. However, the thing with luck is that the more patient you are, the more consistent you are, and the harder you work towards your goals, the greater the surface area of luck you’d have.

Am I doing what I want to be doing today?

Not yet, but I am close. It has taken me years of work, luck, learning, and perseverance, but I am not doing what I wish I was doing professionally 100% of the time, not yet. But I am happy, and this is because I know I am on the right path to achieve it. There is more learning to do, more focus, and more luck.

What about you? What do you want to be in the future?

*North Star: It’s a metaphor. Your North Star is your personal mission statement. It’s a fixed destination that you can depend on in your life as the world changes around you.