Perfect Is the Enemy of Good, or the Nirvana Fallacy

Welcome back! Well, I’m kind of saying welcome back for us- for you I say thanks for hanging in there! I know it’s been quite awhile since we last wrote (Jane posted our official welcome back last week, but I want to chime in as well and say THANK YOU to you guys for once again reading!). I’m really happy to be writing here again! It’s serendipitous that I’m in Orlando right now while writing this, because the last post I wrote for OMGIm30, back in January, was also written in Orlando- and was actually about Orlando.

One of the reasons I took a break from writing was that my work travel schedule had gotten completely insane (my busiest travel time is January-May). Another reason was that I felt like I wanted to revamp the site and fix a bunch of issues with wordpress. One of the issues we’ve been having is that people who view our site on mobile devices have trouble subscribing to our email list, so if any awesome tech nerds are reading this and have ideas how to solve this through wordpress, please drop us a line at omgim30@gmail.com. It would be really appreciated!

Anyway, there’s a lot of other tweaks to the site I’d like to make- but the real writing issue wasn’t the tweaks or the travel- it was that I was waiting and waiting for all complex things in my life to be done and fixed before I started writing again. I was really waiting for perfection before I could resume. And that’s where I started thinking “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”

..Which is a famous phrase, basically coming down to not completing a task because it feels impossible to complete perfectly. An example of ‘perfect being the enemy of good’ is not publishing a blogpost because I felt like it could be edited another 3 times and was not sure it was absolutely perfect. Another example is putting off writing any posts for months because I didn’t feel like my life or schedule was perfect.

This whole concept is closely related to the Nirvana Fallacy, where tasks aren’t even STARTED because they’re regarded as ‘imperfect’. A good example of the Nirvana Fallacy  is someone saying to me, ‘why bother being a vegetarian if you’re not fully vegan? If you still eat eggs and dairy, you harm animals anyway. Why not just eat meat too and screw it?” Or even someone saying “sex ed classes don’t work because kids are still going to have unsafe sex.” Sigh. That’s the Nirvana Complex in action- where you shoot something down that REDUCES harm because it doesn’t COMPLETELY eradicate harm.

How much does the pursuit of perfection overshadow the pursuit of good in your own life? When have you found yourself trapped in the Nirvana Complex as an excuse to not do something you think is important? Here’s to us all going for it anyway! And welcoming in new beginnings!

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Imperfect rainbow in Orlando. Still a good rainbow, even though it’s above a McDonalds.

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Help! Something is Broken and I Can’t Fix It In My 30’s

Sometimes there’s an easy answer to what’s broken in your life.

The other day I realized my blender was leaking. Gooey green smoothie liquid ran down my wooden countertop and spilled onto the floor. When I lifted my blender jar, I realized that the smoothie was coming directly out of the bottom of the blender and then getting everywhere. I didn’t know what to do, and I had no one around to ask for recommendations. So I googled.

There were a lot of answers to my blender question, but they all required me unscrewing the bottom piece of the blender jar. Alas, for the life of me I couldn’t remove that bottom piece. The sticky sugars from the fruit in the smoothies had gotten it completely stuck. I tried using every ounce of my arm strength, and even used my handy rubber jar opener, but nothing worked.

For this new issue, there were even more Google answers. “Go to the hardware store and grab a wrench,” someone said. “Unscrew your blender jar with the wrench and then put the wrench back on the shelf.”

“It’s even easier than that,” someone else chimed in to the above responder’s comment, “wedge your blender in a doorjam, and hold it tight with the door as you unscrew. But don’t put too much pressure or you’ll crack it.”

That sounded complex.

“Just put your blender jar back in it’s base and turn the jar counterclockwise,” someone else responded, “and voila.”

Voila indeed. I decided to follow that last direction it took me all of 2 seconds and zero effort to unscrew my blender and fix the problem. So easy! My god, what if I had gone all the way to frigging Home Depot to borrow a wrench???!

And the whole blender debacle reminded me of other ceaseless issues that I suddenly solved in seconds. For years it took me almost 20 minutes at a time to pull the damn cap off of my travel contact lens fluid container in order to refill it. I macguyvered my tweezers and my nail file into a tool to jimmy that awful cap off, and even then I usually broke a few nails doing so. For years I hated this task, sometimes just spending lots of money buying new containers of travel contact lens fluid in order to avoid the hassle of refilling my old one.

But then one day I randomly googled “how to remove your contact lens solution cap” and this Youtube video came up entitled: “How to Refill Travel Sized Contact Lens Solution.” It solved all my travel solution problems. You just yank the cap off when it’s open in one fell swoop. Once I figured out that trick, it took me about 5 painless seconds to complete a task that used to take me a full twenty minutes of pain every time.

It’s funny how many broken or painfully annoying things may have easier solutions than we think. By our thirties, a lot of habits have been formed, both good and bad, and sometimes we need to find easier habits than we currently know. An easy, life-changing answer to an everyday annoyance might just be a google away.

On a related note for 30-somethings, what in the world would we do without the internet??

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Charity In Your Thirties

Ten years ago, I saw a movie about Guantanamo Bay that completely incensed me. It was called “The Road To Guantanamo” and it was based on a true story about three Muslims from England who were captured by the US while on their way to wedding in Pakistan. They were mistaken for members of the Taliban and were sent to Guantanamo Bay and tortured for two years. Afterwards they were released without any charges. I was beside myself with outrage and disbelief during and after the film. How did this happen? How could we not know about this?

Then, after a few days, the movie faded from my consciousness. It was never completely gone, and although I still remember my response to it 10 years later, I also remember how helpless I felt to do anything against injustice like that. I told a few people about the movie, but that was it. I don’t even know if they watched it.

Right now, I’m having a similar devastated and equally unuseful feeling in my heart in response to what’s happening in Aleppo, Syria. Reading about children that are being ruthlessly shot on the streets, along with gunned down innocent men and women of all ages, while Syrian citizens reach out for help and to say goodbye on social media channels is horrific to the point that it doesn’t feel real.

The sad truth about what’s happening in Syria is that it’s awful on such a tremendous level that it’s hard to grasp. In Western Aleppo, 70 percent of buildings have been destroyed. Social media messages are going out stating truths that are too horrifying to fathom.

“Abdulla Saleem, 39, a doctor who is living in the bombed out remains of a building, said via WhatsApp, “They are killing everyone. … My friends are doctors, who were providing the only possible medical care to the injured. Now they are butchered. Everyone is dying. I will soon die, too.”

“Where are our supporters?” asked Radhwan Salem, 60. “Believers in humanity, I don’t understand how can the entire world watch this and do nothing. Oh, God, help us.”

As part of the world that is watching, what can I do? What can we do? I received an email recently from Marie Forleo about how horrified she and many other bloggers, authors, and activists including Glennon Doyle Melton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Brene Brown, Rob Bell and more are feeling about the atrocities in Aleppo. She mentioned how she and they had joined forces with a group called The Compassion Collective. The group has a specific action plan in place to help the citizens in Aleppo:

  • We’re going to purchase and fully equip two ambulances with medicine and medical supplies for 6 months, and enable The White Helmets– 100% VOLUNTEERS- to rescue children and vulnerable people trapped in the rubble;

  • We’ll equip the mobile hospital — which is arriving in Aleppo on Christmas Day — with medicine and supplies for serving the injured;

  • We’re going to help Independent Doctor’s Association fund the planning of the first pediatric hospital in the region; and

  • We’re going to continue to fund the work of the Help Refugees volunteer network devoted to delivering people to safety.

I immediately donated what little I could to the Compassion Collective’s cause, and I shared the information I received from Marie on my Facebook. Hopefully this blogpost will inform you guys about some ways that you can help aid efforts in Aleppo. Don’t feel useless, and don’t think you can’t do anything. Even if you can’t donate any money, which I absolutely understand, simply sharing information  on your social media networks about the Compassion Collective or The White Helmets is helpful. Here are some tweets that are being shared- feel free to copy and repost:

If we’re truly committed to a more loving and just world, we must ACT. http://bit.ly/2hCoOiz @MarieForleo @GilbertLiz @Momastery #Aleppo

 The healing of the world is in our hands. http://bit.ly/2hCoOiz @MarieForleo @GilbertLiz @Momastery @CherylStrayed @BreneBrown #Aleppo

You can also share this article about what anyone can do to help in Syria no matter where they live: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-help-aleppo-syria-what-charities-to-donate-to-2016-12/#contact-your-lawmakers-4

And if you’d like to donate to the Compassion Collective you can Donate directly using this link. 100% of funds received will go directly to aid in Aleppo.

Thanks so much for reading and for being caring and compassionate.

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Syria in 2010

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Syria now

Is Your Phone Ruining Your Friendships?

When you’re out with your friends, do you use your cell phone? Is it sitting on the table as you have your monthly catch-up dinner? Well, I used to be very cognizant of not using my phone around my friends, but I’ve noticed that in the last year, I’ve gotten worse. I’ve actually texted while having a conversation with someone (without having to look down at my phone), and texted during my graduate level classes while discreetly holding the phone under the table. I feel embarrassed even writing that, because I pride myself on giving all of my attention to anyone I’m talking to and really being present during school lectures.

This opinion piece in the NY Times is a beautifully written wake-up call to all of us; Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. The author, MIT Professor Sherry Turkle makes the case that it’s time for us to start connecting with others in a face-to-face way and to be okay with solitude sans our digital devices. It’s a beautifully written article and worth a read.

She brings up some fascinating statistics about phone usage and connection. This one in particular blew me away:

Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted. They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.

-Sherry Turkle

I thought that was fascinating! That even just having a phone in the vicinity of your interaction with a friend can affect the depth of that conversation. It sure does for me. For example, I have a close friend who lives out of town, and I go to dinner with her when she’s in town for a film shoot (she’s a producer) and because of the nature of her job, she’s always got to have her phone on the table. Invariably, at least once during a meal together, she stops to check her email, reply to someone, and then reply to another text that’s come through during dinner. Now look, I’m not complaining, because I relish any time I spend with her,  however little or distracted it may be,  but I miss the days when we were totally focused on each other, diving deep into  funny, odd and more vulnerable conversation territory.

Attention is one of the biggest gifts you can give to your loved ones. And, at the end of the day, we can’t forget that we’re animals – we connect via our eyes and body language. We need to keep that an integral part of our “connecting”  to other people.

Turkle’s suggestion to us all was simple and optimistic:

It is not about giving up our phones but about using them with greater intention. Conversation is there for us to reclaim. For the failing connections of our digital world, it is the talking cure.

So let’s reclaim conversation. With friends. Family. Strangers.

I’ve made a pact with myself to put away my phone when talking to my friends. What will you do?

Technology Burnout In Your Thirties

Sometimes I find myself laughing silently while alone in my bedroom.

I’ll look up for a moment and realize that I’m sitting on my massage chair while watching TV while posting a status update to Facebook from my phone while holding my laptop open to a Twitter-linked article.

And I’ll just start laughing. But it’s the kind of laugh that could easily turn into a slow and honest cry.

Those of us in our late twenties through forties that have grown up without cellphones and laptops in our lives are now living in a world where we’re dependent on our portable devices.

What has become of alone time without social media connection? I sometimes find myself anxious over Facebook posts, or wondering if I haven’t been on Twitter enough, or whether I should be posting on LinkedIn more. I actually spend time wondering why Snapchat is so popular and how to get more into Instagram.

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The moment I get up in the morning, I reach for my cellphone. What I see on that phone can influence my mood for the rest of the day. There’s so much going on and so little time. Then right after making some coffee, I’m immediately tempted to turn on my laptop. Once I do, I can get sucked into random article reading for hours on end.

Even in order to simply meditate, I have to open a meditation app on my phone or website on my laptop to access my music or guided meditations. How crazy is it that even to be alone with my thoughts I have to reach for a portable device???

However, when I take time off from social media, things change in my life. As much as I like social media and my laptop and my email, when I gain control and shut things down for awhile, I feel a kind of peace that is unreachable when technology’s buzzing around me at every moment.

My roommate actually disconnected from technology completely. Years before I met her, she gave away her smart phone. She sold her laptop. She has no TV. All she has is an emergency flip-phone and a radio. I can’t imagine myself doing what she’s doing, but she’s one of the most blissful, radiant people I know.

When I manage to disconnect from most technology, even for a few concentrated hours, I actually feel better (after the initial discomfort subsides). Time moves slower. Hot showers feel hotter. I find myself taking walks and feeling more connected to my body and my surroundings. I think harder about what I’m feeling and how it affects the way I breathe.

So I’m of two minds about the whole technology thing. I actually love technology and I do think it’s important and helpful. I’m extremely fascinated by the future of technology and I really want to learn HTML. My laptop is my favorite possession. My phone is my lifeline. Social Media is my way to connect the world. I love that so much information is at my fingertips at all times- I get how important it is to be able to find almost any answer to any question at any time.

Yet I also think it’s important not to get sucked into technology as a dependent habit- the same way it’s bad to get sucked into other dependent habits like smoking or nail biting. There are times when I can’t kick the urge to reach for my phone or check my email. I find it hard to simply be alone with my thoughts and no Facebook. This isn’t a healthy use of technology- it’s a crutch.

As I continue to walk the line between avoiding technology altogether (not gonna happen) and getting sucked in, I try to remember how good it feels to be without it for even just a little while. And even during those times when it feels anxiety-provoking to close the laptop and avoid checking my phone, I know that being able to live my life without technology, for even a short time, is extremely important.

Don’t be afraid to be alone with your thoughts.

 

 

The Never Empty Inbox

Thousands of emails had piled up in my inbox while I turned the other way, hoping they’d disappear on their own. Literally thousands…3,508 to be exact, spread evenly over my 3 email categories in gmail.

“How did I let it get this bad?” I thought.

The emails got unwieldy because I hadn’t wanted to read all of them the moment they arrived, but there were a bunch of articles I one day wanted to get to and read. “One day,” I thought, “I’ll have all this extra free time and I’ll want to read some of these fascinating articles.”

When I was in LA last week, I brought my computer and followed Jane to her job at the library. “I’m going to use this time to delete all my emails,” I said. And I did just that, sitting next to her deleting while she worked. In about an hour and a half, I’d gotten the emails down to 2,508..or somewhere around there.

Another hour later, and I’d gotten smarter and unsubscribed from a bunch of mailing lists…”maybe this will stop the craziness next time,” I thought. Some of the lists were hard to unsubscribe from…but most actually had a pretty clear unsubscribe button on the bottom of their emails. “I should have done this sooner.”

When I got back from LA, I still had over 1000 emails. I felt overwhelmed…was I going to have to go through all of it and find the good articles while deleting the bad? The anxiety deepened, and in one fell swoop, I did something I’ve never done before. I checked all the emails in every category and pressed ‘archive.’

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Suddenly everything vanished. I had an empty inbox and lots of time. And my anxiety was gone.

 

I didn’t miss the articles. I wasn’t nostalgic for the clutter. All I saw was an empty inbox and lots of peaceful time ahead. I felt the same way as when I moved and gave away 13 garbage bags full of stuff- I felt happy for more space and I never missed the belongings. Why did I ever have all that stuff to begin with?

Take the plunge.

Salary Calculator- Are You Getting Paid Your Worth? (And the Recent Tech Internship Salary Explosion)

Salary Calculator- Are You Getting Paid Your Worth? (And the Recent Tech Internship Salary Explosion)

Have you researched your salary compared with others in your industry?

If you haven’t, perhaps it’s time to make sure you’re getting paid what you deserve.

I’m self-employed, and I work in an industry (event and promotional marketing) where payment can fluctuate. I’ve been in this industry for a long time (more than 10 years) and I’m extremely experienced and good at what I do. I know the standard payment for events and the minimum payment that I will accept. However, everyone working in the industry has to demand to be paid what they’re worth, or the whole industry’s base payments can go down.

For example, let’s say that I usually work an event that pays $45 an hour. If next year that event suddenly starts paying $17 an dollar, I know my bottom line, and I will refuse to work it.

Now, since I refuse to work that event, a few scenarios can unfold:

1. The booking agency can call me and ask why I won’t work the event again this year, in which case I will explain why I’m not working, and we can potentially negotiate the pay close to or back to what it was.

2. The booking agency can hire someone else who will work for $17 an hour who is inexperienced and bad at the job.

3. The booking agency can hire someone else who will work for $17 an hour who is experienced and good at the job.

The first scenario is good- I have helped maintain what has been the industry standard (or even helped increase it!), and I have negotiated for what I’m worth instead of lowering my standards.

The second scenario is mediocre- if the booking agency hires someone who is bad at the job, the client will probably get upset. The agency will then potentially up the payment next time in order to hire the best workers in the industry. Sometimes the agency still won’t pay, and will just lower standards altogether, even if the client isn’t happy…this will eventually lead to the agency getting fired.

The third scenario is what causes problems- if someone experienced and good at their job accepts payment below industry standard, they will LOWER industry standard for the everyone involved! After all, if Amazon pays great computer programmers 250K a year, but start finding loads of just as great programmers who happily accept 30K a year, the salaries for all Amazon programmers will begin to decrease.

I have an accountant friend who recently figured out that the salary of her colleague DOING THE EXACT SAME JOB with WAY LESS EXPERIENCE was making 30K more than her a year! My friend only figured it out after accidentally seeing her colleague’s paystub. She didn’t realize how much money she could’ve been making, and therefore didn’t negotiate a pay raise.

I’ve known lots of interns who are working their butts off for various companies and making ZERO dollars. The other day, a woman named Jessica Shu posted a list of tech intern salaries in a group called Hackathon Hackers. The list promptly went viral. I’ve included it below:

intern salaries

Dear god!!! That’s some crazy money!

But- it’s great that interns are getting paid! They should be!!! I mean, this kind of internship money blows my mind- but it’s especially insane compared to those interns getting paid $0. ESPECIALLY if you’re an intern in the tech industry getting paid $0 – imagine seeing these numbers and realizing you’re likely getting screwed!

Know your worth…and don’t accept less! (And perhaps consider going into tech…) 😉

If you want to learn more about these numbers, lots of articles from major news sources have been written on the tech internship salaries in the last few days. See here and here and here. And don’t get down about it- just keep working to elevate yourself in your industry, know your industry salary standard, and demand the pay you deserve! You’re worth it!

Restarting In Your Thirties

Has your computer ever stopped working? Perhaps it completely froze up after you tried to download something, or the timer kept spinning when you attempted to install a new operating system? Were there times when you couldn’t fix the problem? Did you have the urge to take the whole beautiful machine and just throw it on the floor?

Last week I was working at an event in New Orleans where all technology kept breaking down. We had an Apple TV, various iPads, spotty wifi, scanners, lots of sound equipment, HDMI cables, bluetooth, and more all used in our multiple presentations throughout the day. Various times, after troubleshooting a problem for awhile ourselves, we’d break down and have a tech person come over and look at things. More often than not, the solution ended up being:

1. Hold down button to force close device.

2. Count to ten.

3. Push button again to turn on device.

That was it. Then it would be smooth sailing once again. I’d say about 70% of the time, that was all it took. After catching on to this deceptively simple trick, I was troubleshooting issues like a pro, and we had a lot less need for tech support. Strangely enough, people kept commenting on how tech savvy I was, even when I explained the solution to them. 70% of the time, it’s such a simple answer!!

When I got back to New York after the event two days ago, I was exhausted. However, I went to bed really late and didn’t get enough sleep, so I was even more tired yesterday. Still, I put some major items on my to do list for the day. Since I finally had a day off, I was going to attack the list, which included ‘write 3 articles, meditate, switch summer/winter clothes, clean out closet, go for 7 mile run, cook lunches for the week, unpack suitcases and do laundry, clean out email inbox, return all emails. These items seemed pretty basic to me, and I was sure I could get them done in a day. But instead of doing any of them, I forced myself out of bed and wandered my apartment like a maniac, sitting down to meditate and then getting up immediately. I turning on the stove and then turned it off. Sat down, got up, opened the laptop, closed it again. Turned on the shower faucet, turned it off. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt jittery and anxious. An hour or two went by and nothing got accomplished. I berated myself for wasting precious time and made myself even more anxious.

Then I remembered all the ‘broken’ technology this weekend. I felt broken.

And then I thought about my solution. It had worked 70% of the time before: Turn it off. Wait. Turn it back on.

I scrapped my to do list. I lay in bed. I stared at the wall.

Then I opened to a blank page and wrote:

1. Shower

2. Meditate

3. Take care of self.

4. Enjoy day.

I stared at the paper. “I can do this.” It was actually still difficult. I found it hard to move, but eventually I dragged myself into the shower.

With that simple action, I started to move forward, and afterwards I turned on my meditation music and stayed seated. When I finished, I stared at the ceiling again for awhile. Then I watched a show on Netflix. Then I went and met a friend for dinner. I listened to podcasts on the subway. My shoulders slowly unclenched. Then I slept for almost 12 hours last night… I must’ve been pretty tired.

Today I feel slightly better than yesterday, although I’m still prioritizing a careful need for rest. And for time.

Sometimes solutions are as simple as turning off and turning back on again. Meanwhile, let yourself enjoy the off moments in between. Sometimes you just need to restart. Try it for yourself- it seems to work 70 percent of the time.

 

 

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