Nick Ang

The Art of Living Deliberately

April 21, 2018

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I’m currently in the midst of searching for a new job, and one of the biggest goals I wished to achieve with this new job was to relocate to San Francisco. Now, about 4 months into the toughest job search in my life so far, I may finally be coming to a conclusion.

I’ve learned a lot from this process about my goals, why they are what they are, and what are some things I will not compromise on. While I’d love to reflect on that at some point when this is officially over, what I want to reflect on right now is something that this job searching process made me realise about being human:

On a daily basis when I am in my default, resting state, I am not living deliberately.

What does “living deliberately” mean? To me, it means making the best decision at every moment that will enable me to achieve what I want out of my life, evolving with internal and external changes as they inevitably come.

Living deliberately, by definition, cannot be achieved on auto-pilot. Living deliberately demands our full consciousness.

I mentioned earlier about trying to get a job in San Francisco. Many years have passed since Mei and I roamed the streets of the city after I wrapped up a 2-week trip there as part of my university entrepreneurship program, but we’ve never stopped toying with the idea of moving there for work someday. Over time, it has become a kind of dream for us.

But like I said, many years have passed. Over those years, our reason for wanting to live in the foggy city must have changed. Like many young people, I imagine, the initial allure of San Francisco was really the allure of ambition. We could achieve anything we set our minds to achieving!

Now, what attracts us to San Francisco is the opportunity to live in a mostly unfamiliar place to challenge ourselves to break out of some of our set ways of thinking, and to provide us with a basis for comparing life in different cities.

Noticing this change in motivation is the perfect illustration of the importance of living deliberately. You see, to reach this level of clarity, I had to think very hard. But as we know, thinking hard is not enough because thoughts are susceptible to external influence. I had to think hard and clearly to distil facts from the mental soup that is constantly stirring in my head.

The ability to think clearly is, well, clearly a vital component to living deliberately!

So, to summarise everything so far: my current job search has made me realise that I’ve been making decisions somewhat on auto-pilot, or at least not fully consciously, but when recent events put me in a position that demanded clear thinking to distinguish basic facts, I struggled and came through it, which helped me see that our motivation for wanting a job in San Francisco has changed along with our circumstances, and therefore, it may be time to entertain the thought of taking a different path.

(I will share what that new path is with you in the coming weeks when things are more concrete!)

This experience has made me curious about the art of living deliberately. I’ve mapped out (on coggle) what I think are its components, based on my existing knowledge. In the initial version of this mind map, I put “thinking clearly” as an outcome of the Mindfulness component. My mind map so far consists of 3 main components: mindfulness, minimalism, and fitness.

I don’t know how these components fit together to enable living deliberately. I mean, I really have no clue at this point except for sparse data points gained from a few experiences.

But having just witnessed the importance of thinking clearly in helping me make decisions I’m confident of, I’m now yearning for a much better understanding of the art of living deliberately!

Soon, as I exit a period of uncertainty in my life and re-enter stability, I will dedicate a significant portion of my time outside of work to explore the various components of the art of thinking deliberately.

I’m not expecting this puzzle to be solved quickly though, so it will take consistent work over a couple of months, maybe years, to determine what is, what is not, and what works. To make time for this, I may work less on writing technical articles for Bite Size Programming (link broken, removed). But for now, the way I see it, this undertaking will prove to be even more important and helpful.


Nick Ang © 2020

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