Jan 042016
 

I'm sure I'll figure it all out eventually...

I’m sure I’ll figure it all out eventually…

Today is my first “real” day at my new “job” (I don’t usually manage two sets of quotation marks in the same sentence…).

Today is the first day in which I’m fully focused on my new company.

And boy, that takes some getting used to!

Most importantly, it means getting rid of a lot of ideas that were baked into my brain in 10 years of working as a body-and-brains-for-hire.

Yesterday I didn’t set an alarm, so I woke up after a gorgeous 9.5 hours of sleep. A bit later than I would normally do for a work day (ok, quite a bit later…). But who is going to tell me off? Me?!?

Then my entire travel time consisted of walking down my stairs (saving approximately 40 minutes compared to what I was used to in London).

Sitting down I actually was looking forward to getting a whole lot of stuff done (whereas at an assignment I didn’t really care about the work itself that much, it was more about people being happy with what I did).

Then, really doing the work is hard! I’m very much in the process of figuring out what I have to figure out, which means thinking a lot. And it’s quite different from the thinking that I used to do at an assignment. There sometimes a lot of brainpower was needed to figure out the difficult bits of mathematics that I had to deal with, but it was clear that there was an answer. Now it’s not about finding an answer, it’s deciding what to do. In what order. With whom. Where. And perhaps most importantly of all, why?!

I usually spent my first day on the job reading a lot of documents to figure out what it is the company / department actually does. This time round I find myself writing those documents…
Not having a boss (well, me) means I can do whatever I want. The freedom of which is awesome! And hard! I have to motivate myself (even if, as sketched above, things are difficult). Am writing this personal blog post, even though I’m still in “working hours” (says who?). Though the post is about work. And taking a brake from deep thinking actually helps my subconscious to process things (or at least that is what I tell myself). So am I being “useful” for the company or not? Do I need to even worry about that?!

More importantly, is it about “making hours”? When I was a contractor I sold myself by the day, got paid by the hour. And an important reason for wanting to get out of that was so that I could build something which would then produce the things that would be sold. In essence creating a multiplier for the effectiveness of my time.

And once that was more-or-less in place, I would want to use that multiplier to reduce the amount of time I worked (as opposed to increase the amount of money I earned). It feels as though I should be working 8 hours per day. But again, according to whom?

I’m sure that soon enough this will become the “new normal”. But until then I’ve got some figuring out to do.

Any tips, tricks or suggestions?


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

Dec 212015
 

I considered writing this blog post later, but that would've meant I had to do some real work...

I considered writing this blog post later, but that would’ve meant I had to do some real work…

Today is my first “official” working day working on my startup. Before I’d been doing stuff, but that had always been “on the side”. And though I poured quite a few hours into it, it was never a full day. If I want to make this a success, that’s going to have to change.

After 30 years of school, university work and side-projects, I’ve learned a lot about procrastination. Mostly on how to procrastinate and less so on how not to procrastinate… Still, even on the latter at least I’ve learned a bit. So time to put all of that into action.

First, let’s just accept it, I’m going to procrastinate. Trying to eliminate it entirely is doomed from the start, so let’s not go there. Instead, I’ll try to minimize and / or procrastinate effectively. And doing something else once and awhile is actually good to relax, allow the brain to mull things over and to keep stress at bay.

Removing distractions
Not being able to do other “fun stuff” makes it a lot less interesting to procrastinate. To that end:

I just found out that without internet, I also don’t have Spotify. I might have to reconsider the internet blocker…
  • Delete all computer games from my laptop (they were gone from my phone already). Playing computer games is doubly insidious; they take up time, but I also know that as soon as I start, I won’t start on anything useful again for the rest of the day.
  • Re-install my internet blocker; I now actively have to decide how long I want the internet to be switched on.
  • Work from outside the house; a lot of stuff just isn’t there if you’re not in your own place and the threshold for doing something non-productive is much higher if other people are watching.

Accountability
A promise to do something is a very strong driver to actually do it; I want to be seen as reliable and keeping a promise means a lot to me:

  • This blog post is a high-level promise to anybody reading it that I will do my best to procrastinate as little as possible.
  • At the end of every day I’ll make a list of things I want to accomplish the next day. This makes me accountable to myself, but maybe I can share that list with someone else as well…

Productive procrastination
There are always things that need to be done as soon as possible. And those are the ones that are the prime target for procrastination. I can use the guilt I feel about procrastinating on those to make myself work on everything else that also needs to be done, but not with as high a priority.

Acceptable procrastination
Some forms of procrastination are worse than others. Playing computer games isn’t productive at all, while doing shopping or going to the gym is something that I want / need to do at some point anyway. Thus, a list of “acceptable” procrastination:

  • Playing sports (a healthy mind in a healty body)
  • Going for a walk (also very good to get un-stuck on something)
  • Buying groceries (a man’s gotta eat)
  • Cleaning (though only up to a point)
  • Juggling (good against repetitive strain injury, which is something I have to watch out against)
  • Reading non-fiction (especially if it is somewhat related to the business)
  • Reading blog-posts (if these are related to the business, this might even fall under the “productive procrastination” section)
  • Making something out of lego; I’m not sure if this is a good idea to add, as it’s the only truly “fun” thing on the list and as such the most real procrastination. I’m a bit afraid that if I don’t add something like this, I’ll find other things that are not on the list. So, as an experiment, for now it’s on

The items above have just been enshrined on a card and as soon as the ink dries I’ll attach that to my laptop; nothing like constant reminders to help you do the right thing!


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Dec 192015
 

As I’m writing this, I realize I didn’t hand in my access badge… Luckily my girlfriend works two offices down the road so she can take care of it.
Yesterday was the last day of my assignment. The last analysis done, the last addition to the documentation written. Cleaning out my desk. Saying goodbye to everybody and getting a number of heart-felt “we’ll-miss-yous” (and hugs). There was cake and even presents. And then I left.

The end of an assignment of half a year. The end of a year and a half at the same client. The end of three years of being a freelancer. The end of ten years of working in financial services. The end of 30 years of getting up in the morning because there was something that someone else wanted me to do.

Wow…

"What do you mean, what do we do after we get out of the cage?!"

“What do you mean, what do we do after we get out of the cage?!”

This has been coming. This is something I’ve been working towards, something I’ve been looking forward to with a longing that is hard to put to words.

Freedom.

As I wrote in my last post, it is not the freedom of having no responsibilities, it is the freedom of choosing my own responsibilities.

That is at the same time immensely liberating and a heavy burden to carry. There is no more boss (or client) I can point to (or ask for help). Anything that goes wrong is on my own plate, as is anything that goes right. Being able to make choices means having to make choices.

I’m terrified and I’m elated.

But I do know that, with the information I have right now, this is the right choice.


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Dec 132015
 

It's hard work being constructive, but the sense of achievement is a big rush!

It’s hard work being constructive, but the sense of achievement is a big rush!

I love to go travel. Whether it’s a weekend in a nearby city, a day of hiking or a few weeks in an exotic country, give me a ticket and I’m happy!

When I first started traveling I would think long and hard on where I wanted to go. Because travel is expensive and so you have to optimize the opportunities it brings. But many trips later and I’m far more agnostic on what the destination is. No matter where you are, there will be something awesome to see, interesting people to meet and adventures to be had.

What I’ve found that the traveling is actually not the main thing. It’s the freedom that travel brings.

Go see the sights? Good!
Bake on the beach? Fine!
Read a book at the pool? Sure!
Sumptuous dinner and partying? Of course!

When you travel you have a number of days set aside in which you don’t need to do anything specific, meaning you can do anything you like.

A few years back I went on a sabbatical, 8 months of the above. As expected, I absolutely loved it. But after the first few months something started nagging at the back of my mind. Yes, this was great. But after a while it started feeling selfish, hedonistic even. Everything I did was geared to personal enjoyment. And though that is certainly something great, it’s not the only thing in life. 6 months in and I started longing for doing something constructive, something useful again.

And so I went back to “real life”, back to work, quickly filling my days with responsibilities and expectations, pleasing customers / clients, saying yes when I wanted to say no. Needless to say, the joy that I felt while traveling quickly evaporated (though I did have a sense of doing something constructive!)

Perhaps the most important thing to learn in life is what makes you happy. The second would be how to find the courage to actually make that happen.
So travel is awesome, but at some point it becomes empty (and both in the mental and the wallet sense). And working feels constructive, but allowing another to dictate what you do will quickly crush the joy out of life.

Is there nothing in between? Is it possible to have freedom and to be constructive at the same time?

This is a question that has been in the back of my mind for a while. I don’t have an answer, but I have a hypothesis (or perhaps I should say two):

  • An important part of happiness is freedom. Freedom can be the full absence of responsibility, but it can also mean having a strong influence over what your responsibilities are.
  • Being constructive means doing something that makes other happy (external) and learning new things (internal).

I’m hard at work to launch a startup. It will help me to test the hypotheses above; I’ll have a lot of control over what and how I do things, it means building something that people (hopefully) will enjoy and I’ll certainly be learning a boatload of new things.

I’ll be sure to let you know when I find out whether I was correct or not.


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Nov 302015
 

30% of my life spent working already... Time flies when you're plodding along...

30% of my life spent working already… Time flies when you’re plodding along…

On the 1st of December 2005 I started my first full-time job.

Tomorrow that will be exactly 10 years ago.

10 years of doing more-or-less the same thing; building quantitative models for financial institutions. First as consultant, then internally with a bank and finally as a freelancer (oh and there was a year in between for travel as well).

Ten years represents a big investment. And I’ve gotten to be quite good at what I do (as I should; 8 hours per day, 250 days per year, comes down to some 20,000 hours, enough to become a master twice over (according to Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers)). Yes, every new assignment, every model will have its own specific difficulties and challenges, but they still tend to be of the same type (““No I don’t know why that data point is missing…” and ”I need that analysis now!”). And I’m recognized as being good at this, at least if I consider what companies are willing to pay for a few hours of my time.

Now I’m considering moving away from all of this.

Does that mean that a 10 year investment is lost, wasted?

I most certainly won’t be spending my time trying to predict fraud losses anymore (I sincerely hope!). So yes, a lot of the specifics I won’t be using again.

I do believe however that a lot of the generalities are transferrable; people skills, self-confidence, project management, time management, people management (just not risk management!). In that sense it’s like picking up a new language: The more you already know the easier it becomes; ”Ah, this word is just like that other word in English. And this grammatical construction is similar to the one in Swahili!”

Secondly, it’s much easier to learn something new than it is to learn more of the old. There are guidebooks, people you can ask, websites to help you get from level 0 to level 1 for just about everything, but to get from level 9 to 10 you need to make your own mistakes and solve the problems the hard way.

If I keep up this rhythm I can have four careers in the normal allotment of 40 working years. Not sure whether that makes me happy or sad…
So for me doing something new after 10 years seems like a very logical step. Yes, I’ll be losing the very nice income I’ve been enjoying over the past few years. But money and luxery are a very inefficient way to happiness. Experiences and challenge are far more worthwhile (for me at least).

10 years. I had fun. I learned a lot.

Now it’s time for something new.

Have you made any radical changes in your life? How did that work out? Were they worth it?


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!