How to Quit Worrying

I Think I Pushed a Good Guy Away by Being Too Intense
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“Often, when driven people care about something and finally experience whatever they’ve been hoping to achieve — whether it’s a new relationship, a health goal, a promotion or something else altogether — they’re unable to entirely savor the good times. They may, in fact, do the exact opposite: endlessly worry about when their peak might plummet.”

I wrote about this once in “Are You Constantly Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop?” Money quote: “Did you ever consider that the first 35 years of your life WAS the other shoe?”

Now an article comes out with the same concept but with research-based techniques that can help you enjoy the nice life turns while quieting the nagging voices that suggest disappointment is waiting just around the corner.

  1. Notice that worrying will only steal your current joy.
  2. Stop writing off hard work as luck.
  3. Remind yourself that a happy life is a balanced life.
  4. Focus on your values not your goals.
  5. Don’t believe everything you think.
  6. Act the opposite of your impostor urges

I’m taken by the last two – at least in terms of how that affects my readers and clients.

Believing everything you think is dangerous because it puts feelings on the same level as facts. They are decidedly different. A man feels he deserves to get laid for buying a pricey dinner. A man feels you should be content that he sees you only once a week. A man feels that he has the right to keep his dating profile open when you’re committed.

You don’t think those feelings are valid, do you?

Well, he doesn’t think it’s valid that you feel it’s appropriate to check his phone, or that you constantly tell him what he’s doing wrong, or that you expect him to propose to you in less than a year. Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean it’s true or universal.

Lead with positivity and confidence instead of self-sabotaging that nothing ever works out for you.

Act the opposite of your impostor urges is just another way of saying to be the CEO of your love life. Maybe you’ve failed to forge a relationship with Mr. Right for decades but that doesn’t mean that THIS man is going to disappoint as well. You’ve never been this version of you before and you’ve never dated this man before, so lead with positivity and confidence instead of self-sabotaging that nothing ever works out for you.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Emily, to

    Try some Xanax. It’s a hell of a drug.

  2. 2
    jo

    First, Happy New Year!

    Second, I thought the most relevant point to relationships was #4: Focus on your values, not your goals. Instead of focusing on a goal such as getting a boyfriend or a husband, we should focus on living out those values that matter to us. In the context of relationships, that might include any or all of love, family, giving, receiving, and learning how to get along better with others. A commitment to values takes the focus off expectations of others, and puts the focus on improving oneself. That is bound to improve relationships indirectly.

    1. 2.1
      Jeremy

      I don’t know. I’m not necessarily disagreeing, I just don’t know if I agree.

      Part of what my wife does as a school psychologist is to encourage students (and their parents) to be “process-oriented” instead of “goal-oriented.” Don’t focus on getting an A+, focus on working hard. Praise effort, not achievement. Because when you praise achievement, those who fail to achieve feel inadequate and those who DO achieve become loss-averse and therefore fearful of taking risks. I understand what she’s doing, the research on which the approach is based. But…..ultimately when these kids apply to university, the schools only care about their marks, not the effort they expended. When they apply for jobs, their bosses won’t care how hard they worked on a given project, only on what they’ve achieved. In other words, while I understand what those who focus on process are trying to do, when push comes to shove what matters is the goal.

      So is it better to focus on all the things you wrote, Jo? Or is it better to focus on the goal and determine whether it is realistic and whether the means we’ve been using to try to obtain it have been optimal? Should one focus on values, or should one hire a dating coach….if one’s goal is to be in a relationship? Because while focusing on values may indeed improve relationships indirectly, sometimes a more direct approach yields better and faster results?

      1. 2.1.1
        jo

        Jeremy, interesting question. Ultimately, I think focusing on and following one’s values is more important than aiming at goals. Interestingly, that has also helped in my career, despite what seems like your skepticism that value-focus rather than goal-focus can lead to achievement.

        A goal in itself – particularly an externally oriented one – may not bring happiness or fulfillment. One could find a partner as a goal in itself, but that partner could bring considerable pain, could be incompatible, etc. One could hit goals of marks and university acceptances, but if no values aligned with those goals, the student could be in for some serious trouble ahead.

        No doubt there is a way to define ‘goals’ that takes into account the integrity of the whole person (therefore including values). But the flavor of the article is that goals are just those external signs of achievement. Moreover, the article itself cited a study that when students focused on values and not just goals, those achievements (high grades) were better attained.

        1. xxxxx

          Well said, Jo. I think there is a time and place for goal-focus approach, particularly where you are being paid to achieve a particular outcome, in a professional capacity. Of course a goal focus approach would be more successful if the factors contributing to goal achievement were largely within your control. In a relationship type situation, where the actions and desires of others contribute to your goals, a value based focus is probably the way to go.

        2. jo

          Yes, xxxxx, it makes sense to focus on the things that one can control and that matter to the self (values). Some goals are mostly self-directed, such as good marks in fair schools; but relationship goals are most certainly not – at most, we have half-control over these. Many external goals are likewise out of our hands (honors, beauty, prestige), and the goalposts often keep shifting.

        3. jo

          Jeremy, it’s about economics – supply vs. demand, or the diamonds vs. water paradox that you have probably heard about. The value we place on something, and its relative abundance or scarcity, both play roles in the price. I agree that there are many valuable occupations that are not highly paid (aside from nurses, teachers come to mind), but the other consideration is how many people want those jobs vs. how many a society or system can take (or can value, in the case of poets, for example). When there is a shortage, prices or salaries go up.

          With the arts, including writing, it’s an interesting question. For right or for wrong, I feel like there’s a ‘saturation limit’ when it comes to how much the public needs or wants. How many modern poets do most people know besides, say, Mary Oliver, who recently passed away? How many modern poets do most people even care to know? They may not care about poetry at all, or would say, ‘Shakespeare is enough for me, thanks.’ Same with art. To the extent that people care about it, what’s in any museum (usually centuries-old art, not the most modern artworks) is more than enough for most people.

          Again, supply vs. demand. I guess as rationals, much as we appreciate the arts, we’re more likely to accept the reality as it is.

        4. Jeremy

          @Jo, yes. But I think there’s more to it. Secret channels, short-cuts that people tend not to think about.

          When my (now) wife (then fiancee) was in grad school for psych, the overwhelming majority of her contemporaries did PhDs. Very few went into the master’s stream, which took 4-5 years less. She took for granted that she’d do a PhD and would be in school well into her early thirties. I frowned and shook my head. “Ever do a cost-benefit analysis,” I asked her. “Cost-benefit analysis of what?” she replied tellingly. I researched the average salary of various types of psychologists in Canada, especially school and child psychologists (which was her field of interest). Salaries of those with PhDs, salaries of those with master’s degrees. Know what the average difference was? $10k per year. $10K per year!!! For an extra 4-5 years of life in prime child-bearing years. Demented!

          I sat down with her at the time and asked her why she really wanted the PhD. She couldn’t believe the difference in salary was so small. “I don’t get it,” she said. “If this is the case, why would ANYONE do a PhD?” “I don’t know,” I replied, “Why were YOU going to?” Because it’s fun to be called “doctor” at car dealerships by wily salesmen? Because it’s just what everyone else DOES, like lemmings off a cliff?

          She did a master’s degree and a decade and a half later earns the same as her contemporaries with PhDs, who must be feeling like the jackasses they are. And if she ever wants to be called “doctor” at a car dealership, she can always do the PhD later in her spare time. You know, as a hobby.

          This applies to our discussion because it’s not always about economics and supply/demand. Sometimes it’s just about knowing the back channels of which job pays what. Nonsensical is that may be. Sometimes the most Rational thing of all is to abandon what we think should be rational and look at what is.

        5. jo

          Jeremy, it’s not ‘demented’ at all to pursue a PhD if those are the specs she was working with. Just now I did a simple Excel calculation, assuming that level of salary increase and an inflation rate of 5%. In 10 years, the additional earnings are about $132,000. In 20 years, $347,000. In 30 years (the likelihood of a career length), $698,000. Even with the additional years of school, it adds up to a LOT over a career, especially if it’s invested wisely. Then the difference in MS vs. PhD could be over $1 million.

          Geez, you just made ME want to go back to school. While Emily is probably giving me the side-eye for being too STEM for her.

        6. Jeremy

          Mmm, but your logical model has missed something, Jo. First, what are the years worth to you? Especially if you want children in your early 30s? The years in which you could begin to establish a career (instead of being in school), to which you can return when the kids are slightly older? The years in which you’d generate income, the years that would entitle you to maternity benefits (in Canada) during your years off, and seniority raises in spite of your absence. Second, in your calculus of assumptions, nowhere did you consider that one could always do the PhD later, in one’s spare time, once already working and earning a salary. Third, nowhere did you consider that all the income you calculated would be mostly irrelevant with your spouse’s far greater income, and with that irrelevance comes the freedom to consider your time/flexibility as having FAR greater value than the additional income…

        7. Jeremy

          At a rough calculation, starting salary of, say, $70k/year, just the 5 years you’re working while your contemporaries are still in school would land you $350,000. Invest just that over the remaining 25 years of your career – how does it even the balance with your calculation? AND you have the years. AND you can always do it later. AND you have freedom and spare time. AND, like my wife, you might do better than average and actually have a salary EQUAL to the PhDs who did 5 more years of school than you.

          Tell me again what’s rational?

        8. jo

          Ah, but you have not factored in all the other advantages, which by the way, vary from field to field. There are certain areas where I’d say a MA or a BA was enough. For others, a PhD matters.

          Where I live, government employees can reach a certain pay grade if they have a master’s, but only the PhDs can reach the highest pay grades. So the ceiling for the MS is lower, and once you reach it, you really can’t do better unless you do return to school to get the PhD. So over time, that really does amount to much more income for the higher degree. For PhDs, the sky is the limit. That is true not just of the government, but for most jobs.

          That is great that your wife is now getting paid as much as PhDs, but it depends on her field and whether the PhDs are at the top of what they could be doing given their education.

          Not to mention, as least as I hear it from my smart co-workers, PhDs have more choices about the jobs they can have, and usually choose work they enjoy. That counts for something, although I’m sure you’ll now assert that as women, we have more POWER to choose jobs we love because men will support us no matter what. (To which I’d say: yes, if we have partners who are willing to do that. Not everyone does. Even those partnered among us may not feel comfortable relying on the man for that.)

        9. Mrs Happy

          Jo re your – “men will support us no matter what. (To which I’d say: yes, if we have partners who are willing to do that. Not everyone does. Even those partnered among us may not feel comfortable relying on the man for that.)”

          Bingo. Also, I know a lot of wives being financially supported by their husbands, and there is always a non-financial cost for the wives to pay in that transaction, and in my circle what I observe is, that cost usually has something to do with control of some sort or other, even if only weak control and behavioural expectations/wants. No-one is happy to keep supporting another able-bodied adult unless they’re getting something for it.

          Related to that issue, by not doing the PhD for 5 years, and by instead marrying and having 4 kids across 8-10 years, Mrs Jeremy has both sacrificed future earnings, and pitted the certainty of her higher earnings against the lowered certainty relying on another’s income, including the ability and desire of that other to keep giving her money. It’s a risk. A reasonable risk to take, but still a risk. Lots of women take this risk.

          Jo and Jeremy if I may indulge myself for a moment:
          I don’t know whether you’ve factored into your calculations a whole lot of mathematical variables, like the fact it won’t be (10k + inflation and income rises) a year, because she’s only half time, and had years off after each birth, or the higher tax rates she will pay as she earns more. JJ has noted the accumulating-wealth-for-5-years potential of a 350k initial investment, but he forgets the basic annual tax paid on the 70k, further tax paid on earnings from the now <350k wealth building initial deposit, and the costs associated with working as a professional child psychologist (outfits – clothes shoes handbags -, grooming – hair makeup beautician -, travel – car petrol parking insurance – , association levies, insurance if private, ongoing education costs, materials like toys/books for the kids. Student life demands few such costs.). Also, importantly, the psychological reality (and it's not like you JJ to forget such) that most humans increase their quality of life in tandem with their increasing wage, so it's unlikely she'd drop that whole <350k into an investment. Instead she'd stop taking the bus places (though who knows, with her husband), buy a car, eat Canadian Atlantic salmon instead of 2-minute student noodles, and live somewhere nicer. There'd be little change (nothing really) left from $(70k-tax); there'd be no initial 350k investment. Also the cost of uni fees doing the actual PhD, or student loans with interest, are an ongoing negative cost.

          Really though, if they're getting married and sharing finances and bank accounts from her late 20's on, what it all means is, doing the PhD she's a drain on the net marital wealth position, and working she's a net positive on the marital wealth position, for at least 15-20 years give or take, after which the positive monetary value of having done the PhD kicks in, but possibly at the cost of J not marrying her, or her not having 4 kids, or having 4 but later so risking health problems.

          Ok, I'll stop here. I've long lost Emily, Jo is incredulous, JJ is fashioning counter-arguments, and if Karl is reading he has dived into actuarial tables with his calculator.

          I've never thought a PhD particularly useful in increasing income outside university jobs and a small number of certain specific fields.

          BTW Jo you were right with your below comment diamonds/water/value etc, (though most in this country will take the water hands down right now) I hadn't read your reply, sorry.

        10. jo

          Mrs Happy, I’m not incredulous at all by your response. All of it makes perfect sense, except for two things:

          1. Do clothes, bags, and beauticians take up that much money for most women? Clearly I’m missing out – well, not really – even if I had the money for those things, I’d spend it on something else like traveling all over the world.

          2. Canadian PACIFIC salmon. 😉

          Your point about the preciousness of water now is taken. Wishing you all a quick resolution of the wildfires, and I hope you’re not in a zone of danger. It is horrifying to read about the dozens of humans and thousands of animals who have been killed.

        11. Mrs Happy

          Yes it’s weird isn’t it Jo – diamonds are only of worth if you have all the other things we would call basics, but are actually far, far more important – food water shelter fresh air safety love relationships medicine etc etc. Just like your jobs analogy I suppose – because really, nurses and teachers and train drivers are far more regularly useful than superstar sportspeople, it’s just we take the former for granted.

          I think on average students don’t spend anywhere near as much to present themselves as professional women. It wasn’t really a fair comparison because Mrs Jeremy came from a family with money so she probably spent a reasonable amount on looking good even while a student. But if I didn’t have to look a certain way for work, I’d live in a baggy cotton summer dress or cycling shorts every day, and my dressing and presentation costs would be fractioned.

          I can’t believe people are dying in the fires, it’s terrible. After our 2009 Black Saturday bushfires the recommended national fire policy clearly changed, from stay and defend your property if it was prepared, to, just leave ASAP, don’t stay, staying is dangerous, but the former is so ingrained in this land people have trouble shifting mindset, and the fires are moving so quickly in this tinderbox heat and joining up and people get trapped. Sort of like Evan’s original post here – it’s hard to think differently if you’ve always done something one way. And in terror you don’t think clearly.
          In December the forecast was for no rain until April, then that changed to Feb, but the other day I was driving to the beach with kids, meeting with other families for a big beach swim playdate, and on the way it started raining. Actually, weirdly, it took me a beat to work out what it was on my windshield, so unexpected. We could all have cried in joy. Nobody cared the beach day out was delayed. The fire containment line is currently the Pacific Ocean. Most people in this country live on the east (Pacific) coast. Unbelievable.

          I didn’t know about the salmon, thanks. I do like watching the bears catch it.

        12. Jeremy

          No counter-arguments. But you thought I hadn’t considered that stuff? Like taxes, tuition bills, student loans, etc? Give me some credit, Mrs H. Just didn’t want to be more tiresome than I already was being. But essentially all in, the difference between the two streams in my wife’s case was bupkis. In other cases, as Jo mentioned, the difference might be more significant.

          In my field, we let 4 people into the program per year. Very competitive, hard to get a spot. The university has one wildcard spot for anyone who wants to do a PhD along with the specialty. Takes an extra three years of one’s life and entitles one to exactly ZERO additional earnings – and more likely a significant pay cut if relegated to a life of academia. Occasionally they find some sucker willing to do it…. But most of us feel a bit bad for them.

          I’d like to have sat through your lectures too. You always have well thought out opinions. Maybe should start a blog.

        13. Mrs Happy

          CB ahh yes of course the sun will set early for you in winter. I knew you’d considered some of it, I just couldn’t help myself, and I’m trying to entice Karl out of hiding.

          JJ you’d always be welcome at my lectures, you’d no doubt make me think on my feet, but even with the word bupkis thrown in, ETO is still getting the special seat, because her word is better.

        14. Jeremy

          Her word is better?! [flouncing indignantly].

          Yes, the sun sets early and rises late this time of year, with all the implications therein. Cold and freezing-rainy, not that I’ll complain about that to you. I heard you’d got some rain recently, hopefully enough to make a dent?

          You’re right that life would go on without me. But things would not be the same were I to lose my ability to work. Schools, house, lifestyle. I calculated what I have to earn each month to maintain it, and the number was staggering. More than most would consider a good yearly salary. And while my income has doubled in the last 3-4 years, so have the expenses. Like being on a treadmill, sweating, breathing hard, going nowhere. Were it all to collapse, though, would the greatest damage be to my ego, my sense of worth? Have I made my father’s mistake, and simply don’t know it because I’ve never been tested? In the end, does it matter? Something I think about while watching the fish.

          Oh, and of course no one is happy to keep supporting an able-bodied adult unless getting something from it. Question is just what they want to get, and what the other wants to give. All calculations aside, if what a woman wants above all else is to have children, then what she gives up in order to get them is more a path not chosen than a sacrifice. Had my wife waited until her mid to late thirties and then discovered that her fertility wasn’t what she’d hoped, she’d have viewed her career as the ultimate sacrifice. $10k extra per year? $5k after tax? A piece of furniture or a slightly fancier hotel on a vacation?

        15. Emily, to

          Mrs. H.,
          “JJ you’d always be welcome at my lectures, you’d no doubt make me think on my feet, but even with the word bupkis thrown in, ETO is still getting the special seat, because her word is better.”
          Your damn right it is! 🙂 Jeremy may make 10x what I do, but I’ve got a better vocabulary. 🙂 My iconoclastic friend … I truly miss him. He brought out the demon in me, whereas I find as I get older that most people (well, men, particularly in these short-term situations) expect me to bring out the demon in them. 🙂

        16. Emily, to

          “You’re” not “your.” I’m a English major. Geez, Louise.

        17. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “Mrs Jeremy has both sacrificed future earnings, and pitted the certainty of her higher earnings against the lowered certainty relying on another’s income, including the ability and desire of that other to keep giving her money. It’s a risk. A reasonable risk to take, but still a risk. Lots of women take this risk.”
          How do you feel about this? I always told myself that had I wanted children and had I married, I would never have done it unless I could walk out the door at anytime being able to support myself and my child, including health insurance, even if I never got another dime from my estranged spouse. Despite all the stories on here about men getting raked over the coals financially in divorce, I’ve seen several instances in which the family was living a comfortable, upper middle class existence before the divorce and then the wife and two kids are in a crammed apartment, eking out a living after divorce. In one instance, I know the ex-husband was living very comfortably after divorce and the only way for the ex-wife to do so was to marry again.

        18. Mrs Happy

          ETO, re “Lots of women take this risk.”
          How do you feel about this? ”

          Mixed, actually. My parents kicked me out of home when I was a teenager, and didn’t provide properly (clothes, textbooks, etc) for me when I was there. I’ve worked since I was 10. So I knew from a young age, I couldn’t rely on anyone in life and had to be able to provide for myself.

          It was pure chance the industry I went into could pay well, I didn’t pick it for the remuneration, that was just luck. But funnily that set me on a path of not needing to care about a partner’s income because I had a good income, and interestingly that’s not all roses. Only after kids was this a big problem, because to maintain the lifestyle, I was the one who definitely had to return to work. We could live comfortably on my husband’s income but not luxuriously.

          Sometimes I get a big wake-up call though. I’ve had 2 cancer diagnoses in the last 2 years (I am fine, don’t express sympathy) and with the last one recently I had 2 treatment options. One would have me out of work for 6 weeks, the other 1 week but this would be a lot more painful. I understand JJ’s point about monthly outgoings, it costs me 40-50k a month to run my family’s current lifestyle and that’s in after tax dollars and I pay a high tax rate. I couldn’t actually comfortably afford the 6 week treatment without either exhausting savings or selling a property (I like to buy properties as a hobby – sorry, investment). That was a pretty unimpressive position to be in, given I’m in my mid-40’s and likely to have other health problems – to not be able to take time off work for either treatment option, to be forced into the 1-week option just because of money. Big wake-up call. (I definitely need to stop buying luxury cars and going to property auctions for a start.)

          Everyone approximately halves their assets after divorce, but the higher income earner recovers faster, the lower almost never recovers alone. It’s only a virtual halving though, because no individual in the marriage ever owned 100% anyway, but everyone has the mindset they do. E.g. when I think out my net asset position, I add my assets then deduct debt and come to a total, and think, okay, that’s what I own. But actually I (and everyone) should then halve that if married. But nobody does. So everyone then whinges about losing wealth after divorce. But the 100% was never all theirs to begin with.

          So ETO the answer is, from my life experiences, I wouldn’t like to have to rely on another for money, but it would be nice not to have the earning burden mostly on me, but that is the type of life I’ve chosen, largely because of my parents behaviour towards me. Women who when younger had their families take financial care of them, are comfortable having their husbands take financial care of them. My husband likes our life but I suspect would be much happier if his wife didn’t work and he supported the whole family because that’s the family background he came from and his ego would feel better.

          When younger I was in relationships with and engaged to really wealthy men, and not once did money come into my calculations when deciding to end things, though especially with the older men it was part of their overall package attraction initially, and that was because I too could earn comfortably (though not buy a plane). I suspect that is a position of great choice and freedom many women in this world do not have, and 1 week of a high quality medical treatment with short term pain, and working part time after kids but having to work, are small, small prices to pay for my complete autonomy and freedom.

          The women around me who don’t work have less power in their life and relationships, but no burden of juggling career and kids and home etc, they just do the home and kids stuff, so their life is slower and easier and much less time pressured (though they think they’re busy). Many of them are less capable, more simple, people, than your average successful career woman, but they’re very nice. They are usually confined to the domestic circle quite narrowly (husbands travelling and working till late at night, so they do all the child stuff and have to be near schools during the day and at home every night) and for some their minds can become correspondingly narrow, so that path definitely isn’t one I really want, I just sometimes fantasize about not having to earn so much every single fishing week. But they definitely have to pander to the man, make sure he wants to stay in the marriage, they have a vested interest in putting his wants and needs above their own, because if they divorced they couldn’t afford to maintain their current comfortable lifestyle. Most of the really wealthy men I see who earn all the money in the relationship get much more attentive, malleable, even sometimes ego-pandering, wives; the wife’s main job is to look after her husband and so she does that with much more effort than can or will a woman who is working, with a career, earning a lot and stressed, and also juggling home and kids – e.g. my poor husband gets what is left after my exhausting stressful working day or week, and sometimes it’s not much. I would much prefer to have my own career over domestically supporting and ego-boosting a man and smoothing his path so his interesting career takes off, but that’s not a choice everyone makes.

          ETO the biggest shock is, after you have kids you want to be with them, and going off to work seems much, much less important than it used to. So people have grand plans about returning to work, but once that little baby who needs you is in your arms, the importance of being financially independent enough to walk out the door of a bad marriage, recedes, for most women.

        19. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “Sometimes I get a big wake-up call though. I’ve had 2 cancer diagnoses in the last 2 years (I am fine, don’t express sympathy) ”
          I shan’t offer sympathy but happiness that you are ok. 🙂
          “Everyone approximately halves their assets after divorce, but the higher income earner recovers faster, the lower almost never recovers alone. ”
          That’s the point I was making. Usually the man earns more if its a double-income marriage. She’s making maybe 25% of what he does so, even with child support (there is no alimony in my state), she’s struggling post divorce more than the husband. Of course, you could argue she should have picked a more lucrative career, but then we wouldn’t have, for example, teachers.
          “So everyone then whines about losing wealth after divorce. But the 100% was never all theirs to begin with.”
          Totally agree.
          “…are small, small prices to pay for my complete autonomy and freedom.”
          Well, there’s no such thing as complete autonomy and freedom. You have to answer to a boss and/or a corporation or business.You can’t say how you really feel or call in and say, “F.U. I’m taking the day off.” But wouldn’t that be marvelous if you could? 🙂
          “But they definitely have to pander to the man, make sure he wants to stay in the marriage, they have a vested interest in putting his wants and needs above their own, because if they divorced they couldn’t afford to maintain their current comfortable lifestyle.”
          Exactly. He makes the gold makes the rule.
          “ETO the biggest shock is, after you have kids you want to be with them, and going off to work seems much, much less important than it used to. …”
          You mentioned in an earlier post in this thread that you’d lost me. You hadn’t … until this comment. 🙂 Two kids talked loudly through a movie that was NOT for kids that I went to the other day … with the numerous attempts by the parents to quiet them down, and all I could think, aside from wanting to shout ZIP IT!, … was thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that.

        20. jo

          Mrs Happy, I was teasing about Canadian Pacific salmon – salmon spawn along both coasts, although as I understand it, Atlantic salmon is the name given to generic farmed salmon, not wild salmon caught in that ocean.

          You, Jeremy, and maybe some of the other commenters are so wealthy that we probably wouldn’t meet in the same circles if we lived near each other, so it’s nice to chat here. It’s unimaginable to me, purchasing property at an auction and spending $40-50K per month. You’ve done amazingly well given your neglectful parents. Are you in TV? I wonder what you were a professor in: communication or business? I’m guessing it’s neither law nor STEM.

          Emily, what you’ve heard if what I have as well: that most mothers are worse off after a divorce because too often, they’re the primary caregivers of their children and don’t get enough alimony to support all of them. Having children is risky, for sure.

        21. Jeremy

          Mrs H, you wrote, “So I knew from a young age, I couldn’t rely on anyone in life.” Me too. But you and I both learned a wrong and harmful lesson. Tell me – can your husband not rely on YOU? Can your children not rely on you? Can my wife and children not rely on me? I’d bet they can, at least as much as anyone can rely on themselves, perhaps more. Since, of course, you and I are so much more capable of BEING relied upon, are we not? 🙂 Is the lesson that one can’t rely on anyone else, or should it be that one must carefully vet the ones on whom to rely….and then RELY on them? Because that’s the basis for humanity and a fulfilled life? And does this not also answer Emily’s question?

          I, too, would have chosen the short and painful path. Not because I couldn’t rely on others in the meantime, but because they simply couldn’t fill the gap, no matter how much they tried. That is the Yang to the Yin of your earnings, and mine. With great power comes great responsibility, Spiderman. Spider-woman. Perhaps that’s what your arachnid admirers are trying to tell you? I got bit on the neck by a spider at summercamp when I was 8. And the only super-power I got was arachnophobia. Should make that into a T-shirt. Better than the one my brother got me for my last birthday, that reads, “I’m what Willis was talkin’ about.” I always get honked at by middle-aged drivers when I wear that shirt for running.

      2. 2.1.2
        Rampiance

        Jeremy ~
        In my view, the strategy of holding values paramount serves best because it helps one discern the value of the goals.
        For example, say I have a set of values and a goal. As I proceed along my values-oriented process, I can periodically assess whether my goal aligns with my values. Maybe the goal I chose has some inherent flaws and I did not know it was misaligned with my values. Rather than discard or override my values while seeking my goal, I can adjust and choose a different goal more aligned with my values.

        As we proceed along our processes, we learn as we go, so we change as we go, and along with a lot of other things, we learn more about the goal we aim at (which might change as we change), and we learn more about where we want to go (which might change as we change).

        1. Jeremy

          Ah, but that’s so personality-dependent. A story:

          When I was a teenager, I knew with absolute certainty which career I wanted to pursue. I told everyone what I’d be, focused all my efforts toward it. And when asked why that career, I’d recite the list of reasons I’d invented – from the practical to the ideological – of why that career suited my system of values. But when I was in my 3rd year of undergraduate university, I began to have doubts. I spent some time volunteering with those in my chosen career, and I was shocked to discover that I hated it, that doing those things and being with those people and living that lifestyle made me deeply anxious and unhappy. Because while I had spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I wanted, I never had never given much thought to what I DIDN’T want. And wouldn’t you know it….what I didn’t want was equally important!

          My 20 year-old self crafted a list of what I wanted out of life, how I wanted to live, and a second list of what I didn’t want in life, how I didn’t want to live. And having done that, I compared the career I’d always wanted to those lists and found that while it satisfied the one, it totally violated the other – no wonder I’d been unhappy! I then researched careers that did satisfy both lists, and was shocked at what I found. A career I’d never even considered before. And I knew that to satisfy my goals – the goals of what I wanted, the goals of what I didn’t want – I’d have to skew left after a life of travelling right. Violate all the expectations of others and of my past self. Terrifying. Terrifying….and ultimately the ONLY way to achieve success. Because to a personality such as mine, success is defined as having what I want in my life, and not having what I don’t want. GOALS. Well-thought-out goals.

          And when I considered embarking on that left-handed path, what troubled me was my system of values. I’d followed the right-handed path because of those values. But after much thought, I had to ask myself where those values came from, since they didn’t seem to jive with the goals that would make me happy. Were they my own internal values, or were they internalized from others? If the former, had I really thought them through, or had I simply adopted them and searched for confirmation bias? If the latter, did I want to live like those from whom I’d internalized? The answer, it turned out, was no and no.

          There are those personalities whose priority is to establish a system of values and craft their goals around those values. Because their inborn priority is to obtain positive feelings through their own way of being. And there are those personalities who establish a system of goals and craft their values around those goals. Because their inborn priority is to obtain positive feelings through fulfilling certain objectives. And never the twain shall meet. Which is why giving advice is so difficult. We all give advice as though the person we’re talking to is ourself.

        2. Emily, to

          Hi Big Jer, Happy New Year,
          “– I’d have to skew left after a life of travelling right.”
          It happens, but for a true right-brained person, it’s usually at about 35 or 40 (not at 20), when you are tired of making no money and what you do all day is watch the people who followed a more logical career path earn the pants off of you. At 20, you didn’t want to “sell out” and pick something practical. That’s what your dad did. But at 40 .. hey .. why not? As my friend once told me, it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man than it is with a poor one. 🙂

        3. Jeremy

          But that’s just it, Em, it’s not about “selling out.” It’s not selling out to realize that what you’d considered to be your “values” were never things that ought to have been your values at all! If one spends one’s entire young life believing one should live like a university student, and then one finds that one is more comfortable living otherwise…..it’s not selling out to live otherwise. It’s changing one’s mind based on acquired wisdom. If we all gave so much credence to the desires of our past selves, we’d all have to be fire-fighters when we grow up. Or perhaps fire trucks. Happy New Year, BTW 🙂

        4. jo

          Having values is not the same thing as giving credence to the desires of our past selves. One could just as easily label the latter as a sign of evolving goals (e.g., being a fireman).

        5. Jeremy

          It is the same when the values of our past carry over to our future without consulting our present. Exactly the same way as it would be the same with goals. The only difference between goals and values in this sense is that everyone knows that goals can change. But fewer people IME understand that values can change in the same way without changing who we are. We are the thinkers of our thoughts, not the sum of our thoughts. And we are the arbiters of our values, not slaves to them. When we become their slaves then we are allowing our past selves dominion over our presents and futures.

        6. Emily, to

          Ah, but it is selling out, Big Jer. I just spoke with a friend on the phone who told me her son was considering an engineering major in college. I said, “That’s a good, solid career.” Even 5 years ago, I never would have said that. I wanted to punch myself. Who had I become? Everything I abhorred years ago.

        7. Rampiance

          Jeremy ~
          I agree it depends on personality. I think each person has a preference for process or for product, and I would guess those preferences correspond to P & J on Myers-Briggs. The main thing is to adjust as new information and experience comes in … adjust both values and goals to align with ones innerness. I have done both, discovering new values that serve my being better, aiming for new goals that align with my values. I tend to go values-first, and I tend to be very not-a-closer, almost allergic to closing figurative doors and windows.

          My son, on the other hand, is a closer, but he readily adjusts his goals when he sees the ones he has are not working for him. I have learned that he can turn on a dime when he sees his goal will fail his purposes, very much like you did. So I listen to him explain how his current goals will achieve what he wants, and I ask him which values are served by his goals, because the goal itself does not divulge the values behind it. When he gets stuck ((Unhappy! Angry! Frustrated!)), I internally use my system of values & process to suggest a new goal for him, and frame it so it achieves what he wants (as you described in your journey).

          I agree, we all work in our own special ways!

        8. Jeremy

          @ Emily, that’s because your present self is wiser than your past self. Not only is that not selling out, it would be depressing if it were otherwise! You might indeed have abhorred it in the past… because you were immature and didn’t understand the world and were blinded by your “shoulds.” When your shoulds disagree with reality, the problem isn’t with reality.

          @Rampiance, agreed. Though I don’t think the difference is between J and P in Myers-Briggs but rather between NF and NT (the S personalities are not oriented to the abstract and so this conversation would not be meaningful to them). The former subordinates goals to values. Hence your asking your son which values his goals serve. The latter subordinates values to goals. Hence my asking whether my values were appropriate in light of my goals.

          But regardless of which is primary, once a goal is determined, the best way to achieve it isn’t to focus on values but rather to assess the best way to achieve the goal. Once I’d determined a career path, my way forward wasn’t to focus on how to BE, it was to focus on the best path from A to B. In spite of the fact that achieving the goal didn’t just depend on me but also on other people. I just had to find out what those others wanted and be able to give it to them so that they’d be willing to give me what I wanted.

          Isn’t that what the women on this site are here for?

        9. Emily, to

          Jer,
          “Emily, that’s because your present self is wiser than your past self. ”
          Only the very fortunate don’t sell out. The authors or bloggers lucky enough to make a living on their websites or books, the actors who aren’t necessarily famous but don’t need a side gig to supplement their incomes. And then the insanely fortunate do whatever they want, never having to kiss anyone’s butt and only having to answer to the tax man.

        10. Jeremy

          You keep using that phrase. Emily, stop for a second and consider – where did this notion of “selling out” come from, for you? The concept of the rebellious teenager, sticking it to the man, following a dream – were you born with these ideals or did you pick them up somewhere, like a tapeworm? If the latter – obviously the latter for all of us, for all our ideals – did you ever stop to consider whether these concepts work? Work for you, work for anyone? Make anyone happy instead of just individuated?

          I have a cousin who is 15 years older than me. When I was a teenager, I thought he was the coolest guy in the world. He was the only adult I knew who loved Dungeons and Dragons, could talk for hours about Star Trek or Lord of the Rings. Who didn’t drone on about the news or politics or all that bullshit. And after we’d have our conversations, he’d tell me, “Stay true, Jeremy. Never sell out like all the automatons around you.”

          That young man never did sell out in his own mind. Never got a steady job, never became an automaton. He bummed around for a decade or so in Israel, trying his hand at making stained-glass windows, living on a commune, and writing childrens’ stories. All the while dodging the state military draft and living off the handouts of the “automatons” around him – his elderly parents and the state welfare system. About a decade ago he moved to the Florida pan-handle where he lives with his wife and children in a trailer. Each day he drives 4 hours to and from the Everglades to pick wild berries which he makes into jam to sell. Problem is, he can’t seem to earn enough selling jam to pay for the gas he uses for the drive. His teeth are rotting out of his head because he can’t afford dental work, and he certainly isn’t happy about his living situation, his poverty, or the fact that he seems to have used up all his elderly mother’s money. But damn it, at least he’s always been his own authentic self, not an automaton.

          Jeez, what would have happened if he’d never listened to 70s and 80s music – or at least, just listened for enjoyment and not to learn how to be in life? If I thought he had the wherewithal, I’d ask him the question I asked you above, Emily. But he doesn’t. Because the reason he’s never changed isn’t because he’s too authentic, isn’t because he’s too idealistic. It’s because he’s too stupid and too proud to look back on his mistakes and admit that the values he picked up along the roadside in his youth were harmful…and wrong. Because there are so many ways to feel individuated. Pick one that also lets you be happy, comfortable, and fulfilled.

          What do I need? What do I want? Want can I live without? What am I better off without? Should the goals/values of my past remain those of my future, or am I allowing my past to dictate my future without consulting my present? In what way is my major fear preventing me from being happy?

        11. jo

          Not sure how this conversation got so far off track. It seemed pretty clear from the article that the point of #4 is to focus on the ‘Why’ behind every goal, and that will help in achieving the goal. The Why is the value. No one said values were immutable. They give meaning to the things we do.

        12. Emily, to

          Jer,
          “You keep using that phrase. Emily, stop for a second and consider – where did this notion of “selling out” come from, for you? The concept of the rebellious teenager, sticking it to the man, following a dream – were you born with these ideals or did you pick them up somewhere, like a tapeworm?”
          Yes, my ideals are from my youth and they are mine and my alone. I’m no tapeworm, and I grew up with Builders and Guardians in bourgeois America (and bourgeois America is currently all around me) so I didn’t get the goals by osmosis. 🙂 In terms of career, maybe the phrase “selling out” is too strong. It depends on what one wants to become. If one wants to be a lawyer, one goes to law school and then goes to work in the public or private sector. One’s goal is, after hard work and dedication, very reachable. One’s career path is obvious. No selling out there, but then the goal was very “reasonable” to begin with. Now, if one wants to be a working actor, the career path isn’t as obvious and fixed and that’s a much more difficult career to make a living at. If one winds up as an administrative assistant, yes, that person will be disappointed. Those with reachable goals will see that as “adjusting one’s goals” as one “grew up” or “learned from life.” But the person who wound up in a 9 to 5 when they were doing everything possible to avoid that cage won’t see it that way. The lust for fame and fortune isn’t always just about the money and the hero worship; it’s about the freedom. If an actor gets on a successful TV show and invests the money well, when the show is over he’ll never have to work again. He can pick and choose his projects. I’m using acting as an example. Could be any artistic career or even someone who starts a business and later sells it for millions.
          “I have a cousin who is 15 years older than me. When I was a teenager, I thought he was the coolest guy in the world …That young man never did sell out in his own mind. Never got a steady job, never became an automaton. He bummed around for a decade or so in Israel … ”
          Why do you always use the most extreme examples to prove your points?

        13. Jeremy

          Because those examples that you find extreme are all around me, not fiction. I find your example just as extreme. I agree that if one sets one’s sights on being a famous actor or artist doing anything else will seem like selling out. But why set one’s sights on something that one needs sooo much luck in order to achieve? Something that only one or of every ten thousand applicants will obtain? Do we not realize that statistics apply to us?

          My father loves photography. Would do it full time if he could make a living doing so. But realized that he probably couldn’t. So he chose a career he liked that gave him the financial freedom to do what he wanted in his spare time, and he does all the photography he wants in his home darkroom as a hobby. What is a job FOR? Like marriage, it can’t be your everything. So what do you need it to be, what can you only get from it? And for all the other things you want, where else can you get them?

          I don’t mean to go of on tangents here. But I find this discussion so applicable to relationships. It is all the same.

        14. Emily, to

          Jer,
          “I find your example just as extreme. I agree that if one sets one’s sights on being a famous actor or artist doing anything else will seem like selling out. ”
          I didn’t mean the options are to either make millions as an artist or sell out. I consider anyone successful who can make a living at their craft. I grew up in a Midwestern city that had a professional theater and a company of trained, Equity actors. I’m sure they weren’t making tons of money but could eek out a living while doing what they loved. The other option is to do what your dad did and get a full-time gig that subsides their side hustle. However, I have found (ha ha ha) that the full-time gig often expects you to, you know, pay attention and put forth energy. which you much rather put toward the side hustle. Also, if one has a full-time gig and a side hustle and a family, well … that can be tricky because children and wives expect you to pay attention to them, no? 🙂

        15. Jeremy

          Yes, that’s a good point. I’d agree that most of us have less time and resources for the things we love to do than we might hope for. But the other side of the coin is that when we adopt our passion as our daily job then the thing we once loved to do becomes the thing we HAVE to do. Have to do or else we can’t live. LOL, how much do you think pornstars love sex after a few years on the job? Perhaps what we love remains special specifically BECAUSE we don’t get to do it all the time?

          And how much more so when your passion can’t give you the lifestyle you want? All the OTHER things you love and like and want and need? I encounter young adults all the time, and I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard them (and their older counterparts) verbally kick themselves for never having thought much about income when they chose their jobs. They only thought about what they liked and what they were good at. Oy. The fact that I love aquatic life doesn’t mean my vocation is to work in a fish-store. I have no problem with a person wanting to be a professional violinist….as long as they look at what the majority of violin players earn and the lifestyle of the majority of professional violinists, and are ok with that for themselves (as opposed to believing they will be the next Yitzchak Pearlman and believing themselves to be failures if they aren’t).

          And again, this is just like relationships. Unrealistic expectations of what relationships should look like, prioritizing the shiny and the attractive without examining the underbelly….leads to all manner of bad decisions. Yet how many are smart and humble enough to examine a lifetime of bad decisions and admit to themselves that the values they once held dear were wrong? Whether they adopted them by positive example from those around them, or by negative example of whom they didn’t want to be like?

        16. jo

          Jeremy, I can’t help thinking that you took a false premise and kind of ran with it. No one but you claimed that values were immutable. Of course our values change, just as our goals change, just as WE change.

          From the description of your cousin, it doesn’t sound as though his problem was following wrong values. Indeed it’s possible that he’s not following any values at all. It sounds more as though he had trouble evolving – at least to the extent that he could make a suitable living. But I won’t be hasty in judging him: in the USA among western nations, it’s notoriously difficult to be solvent if you make even one misstep in your career since graduating from school.

          Emily, did you really want to punch yourself because you wished a stable career for someone else? I don’t see the need; rather, an example that sometimes we can be kinder to others than to ourselves.

        17. Emily, to

          Jer,
          “But the other side of the coin is that when we adopt our passion as our daily job then the thing we once loved to do becomes the thing we HAVE to do … Perhaps what we love remains special specifically BECAUSE we don’t get to do it all the time?”
          Well, that’s my thought about sex, but I know you and I disagree on that topic. 🙂
          ” I encounter young adults all the time, and I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard them (and their older counterparts) verbally kick themselves for never having thought much about income when they chose their jobs.”
          That’s exactly what I did. Even with graduate school. Not once did I ever think about or look up salaries for my major. But being that practical in one’s 20s is so dull. Heck, its dull in your 40s but unless you have a sizable inheritance coming your way, it’s stuff you have to think about.
          “And again, this is just like relationships. Unrealistic expectations of what relationships should look like, prioritizing the shiny and the attractive without examining the underbelly….leads to all manner of bad decisions.”
          I agree with you, but it’s just getting to the point where you’re ready to accept the differences between a sexy, steamy, I-know-I-shouldn’t-do-this-but-damn-it-feels-good short-term situation for a reliable, dependable, consistent long-term relationship. They’re vastly different.

        18. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “Emily, did you really want to punch yourself because you wished a stable career for someone else? I don’t see the need; rather, an example that sometimes we can be kinder to others than to ourselves.”
          I meant that, 5 years ago, I never would have thought that engineering was a good thing to go into. I would have cringed internally if someone told me her child had picked it as a major and thought the kid lacked imagination. Now, though, I’m starting to worry about how I’m going to ever retire so I see things from a different, drier, more logical perspective, which makes me sad. It’s what time does.

        19. Jeremy

          You are wrong about my cousin, Jo. His problem is that he is following a set of values about which he is very vocal. Just like Emily. His values are very, very firmly rooted in his mind. His goals much less so – in fact, his only real goal was to live a life following his values. Because while he never WROTE that values are immutable, he believes it with all his heart. Believes that goals can change, and people can change….but that values form the bedrock of our decision-making processes and give meaning to our actions (as you wrote). That when you BELIEVE, what you actually do does not matter….God, how much harm has that chestnut caused over the millenia?

          You’re right, Jo, no one wrote that values are immutable. But so many people live like they are. And the advice to focus on values when goals elude us implies exactly this – fails to account for the very real possibility that our values are EXACTLY what are standing in our way.

          Evan recently posted an article about a woman who didn’t feel desired by her husband. And one commenter wrote that the husband might just have been someone who values personal authenticity very highly – found it impossible to be or say anything he didn’t strongly feel. And my response was that such a person’s values are antithetical to long-term relationships – which necessarily require one to subsume (to some extent) one’s own authenticity for that of the couple. There is a reason why highly Idealistic personalities have trouble with marriage IME. Because they believe their values to be sacrosanct and immutable, that which gives meaning to their actions…

        20. Buck25

          Emily,

          Let’s explore this question: what would you do, if you DIDN’T feel that you had to, in your words, “sell out”? What would be true to your own vision of who you, Emily, want to be? Bear in mind, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks about your choice; all that’s relevant is whether that choice fulfills you enough to be worth the effort it requires from you).

        21. jo

          Jeremy, we might have different ideas about values, and what I mean by values evolving (among other things) is going from being more self-serving in good ways as a youth to being more socially focused and contributing as an adult.

          What I ask, gently, is whether you have disparaged ‘values’ because in your mind, it’s tied up with ‘Idealism’, which you have voiced your displeasure about in several threads. There seems to be a lot of typing people as NT Rationals or NF Idealists or SJ Guardians, but I would caution about putting people and concepts into boxes like this. After all, I’m a Rational who believes in acting out values that help others around me.

          In another post, you’d written that you had so many criticisms about MBTI… yet you seem to believe in and judge by its strict delineations more than the rest of us in these convos. I try not to be too hasty in judging others just because I know their so-called ‘type.’ Or judging the traits associated with those types as automatically positive or negative, and finding anecdotes to support such views.

        22. Emily, to

          Hi Buck,
          “Let’s explore this question: what would you do, if you DIDN’T feel that you had to, in your words, “sell out”? What would be true to your own vision of who you, Emily, want to be?”
          Well, there’s nothing I want to do full time. As Jeremy pointed out, anything I’ve ever been interested in loses its luster once I HAVE to do it, every day, all day, while answering to a boss. But if I could do it, say, 3 days a week, without the pressure of having to earn a living and insurance and a 401K and all that bullshit, I’d do research and write, probably for a podcast or a magazine, about Old Hollywood movies/scandals.

        23. Mrs Happy

          If your main day job is something you like – doesn’t have to be something you absolutely love every second of the day – and you experience positives via it (e.g. intellectual stimulation, prestige, decent money) it’s very easy to “sell out” into it, and then pursue your beloved side hustle in free time. This sort of situation will see a person feeling pretty content most of the time.

          Emily seems to be describing a much bleaker experience. The important difference is that her main day job gives her precious few positives. That would probably drain a person. They’d have less energy for their side hustles, even if they were to enjoy them. So some of this is less about personality, goals and values, and more about chance and luck.

          Plus, for Emily and others, “selling out” is a terrible concept they dread. For someone quite practical, or someone who is going to “sell out” into a pretty good wicket anyway, it’s not really selling out at all, not in the same way it would be for Emily. Because engineering (or the like) would be awful for Emily.

          Emily I think it’s really common for females not to be taught to consider money. I think it atrocious nobody took you aside and spoke about money w.r.t. your major, but I’m not surprised at all. I see teenage girls finishing school in this wealthy area, and they plan to go into fields that will see them not be able to afford a house in this region, or anything like the lifestyle their parents have given them, and they cannot understand the practical end point of their decision.
          Emily, I too never looked up salaries for my field. In fact it was sort of frowned on to discuss it openly during university, but I suspect the males were factoring it into their career directions. It took me until I had kids (late 30’s), and suddenly wanted to work part time but needed to earn more than I had been whilst full time, to change direction in my career and focus primarily on making money in as few hours away from my children as possible each week. I see this as such an impractical roadblock for females, this lack of financial mentorship and practicality, from their parents and teachers and colleagues and media and society; it’s a handicap.

        24. Emily, to

          Hi Mrs. Happy,
          “Emily seems to be describing a much bleaker experience. The important difference is that her main day job gives her precious few positives.”
          Bingo. My main job is awful, the money is laughable, the people are dull. I’m working on getting something better, but I’ve never had a job I really liked. Some I’ve disliked a little less than others, but what I could always see, after about the first six months, was endless weeks in front of me, Monday through Friday, all in blaring red, and my two precious days of freedom, Saturday and Sunday, all in green.
          “Emily I think it’s really common for females not to be taught to consider money. I think it atrocious nobody took you aside and spoke about money w.r.t. your major, but I’m not surprised at all.”
          Well, tbh, shame on the liberal arts education, that never once takes you aside and says, “Ok, you can write a killer English paper, but what are you going to do with it?” Plus, my family was useless and very checked out.
          It’s good to hear from you, but now that you’re back, I’m under no illusions. Jeremy will be lost to me forever …. 🙂

        25. Evan Marc Katz

          The search for the “good enough” job = the search for the “good enough” partner.

        26. Jeremy

          Mrs Happy, I agree with what you wrote here. But I never would have advised Emily to pursue a career in engineering. My career advice usually goes something like this: Decide how you’ll want to live your life. Will you want to prioritize income or flexibility? Will you want to work with people or away from people? What sort of lifestyle will you want to live, and how much income will you need to live that way? What sort of lifestyle do you NOT want to live, what do you specifically NOT want in your life? And once those questions are answered, compose a list of jobs that provide you with what you answered. And, OF THOSE, pick the one you like best, find most enjoyable or meaningful or stimulating….as prioritized by your personality.

          You might answer those questions wrong, might fail to predict what your future self will want…..but regardless the advice process is so much better than, you know, “Pick something you think you’ll enjoy”…..and hope for all the rest. Or perhaps, “All that matters is what fulfills you.” I don’t think that sort of bad advice is limited to women, BTW. Most of the men I know were given equally bad advice. Sometimes even worse. Like my father’s: “Jewish boys choose from only 3 jobs: The smart ones become doctors. The dumber ones become lawyers. And the really stupid ones become accountants.” [Turns to me and looks me in the eye] “You’re a smart boy, aren’t you, Jeremy?” This well-intentioned poison is so ubiquitous and harmful. My brother, who eventually became an accountant, still feels an inferiority complex to this day.

          How are you doing BTW? Thinking of you and your family while watching the news of the fire situation.

        27. jo

          Mrs Happy, you opened a can of worms with that topic. I completely agree with you, and the reasons for this are pretty complex. Here are a few: in many parts of the world, not just the western world, we still have this expectation that men will take care of women, so women don’t need to worry our pretty little heads about making money. While I see that attitude changing in North America, because in fact it is no longer true: if parents and teachers were raised to believe that girls and women don’t need to learn about finances, they won’t think to teach it to them.

          Complicating matters further is that – not just do girls and women NOT learn about finances, boys and men are more motivated to learn about them. Why? Because they want what Jeremy keeps describing they want, and one proven way to get that from women is to be a high earner. So money means more to males than to females, because in addition to every other reason we need money, there’s a partnering incentive. Meanwhile, men don’t care as much how much women earn, so you see the balance of incentives is completely off.

          Like I wrote: I see this paradigm changing now, but my view is limited to an advanced metro area in the west, and the whole world needs to catch up. The truth is that women have been earners, workers, and providers for as long as humankind has existed. We need to stop the expectations among females that males will provide – not because they wouldn’t, but to even the balances of money education, responsibility, and power.

        28. Jeremy

          Jo, to answer your question, I don’t believe in boxing people by type. MBTI fails, partly because its variables are too vague, partly because its dichotomies are not dichotomous (or even on the same spectra), partly because its measurements are not repeatable…..but more than this, because it relies on people’s answers to questions about themselves, not considering that when we don’t know something we make shit up. Make up what we want to believe about ourselves, confuse the way we are with the way we think we should be, hope we are, fear we aren’t. Such conflation can lead one to totally mis-type one’s self on such tests…

          There is no “thing” in nature that conforms to the “Idealist” stereotype. But there are indeed people who tend to be oriented to the abstract and tend to have, as their primary judgment motivation, the feelings they get from ways of being, personal values, authenticity. They tend to search for meaning in life, and their default setting toward that which provides them with good feelings is ON. Not always. And this is not immutable. They are not “Idealists,” they ACT like the idealist stereotype. The stereotype is a communication aid, a short-hand. It is not that I am conflating “values” with Idealism, it’s that I use the word Idealism to specifically refer to those whose prime motivation is their values. Because not everyone’s is.

          Are you a Rational who values values? Are are you a sometimes-nerdy Idealist? You are neither. You are a human being, not a stereotype. But you might choose, on some level, to act more often like the one versus the other because of what your motivations and your ways of seeing the world are. It is not that I judge a person based on “type.” It’s that I observe behavior to suss out motivations, and have noticed them to often be systematic.

          TL;DR – we all have our blindspots. But that I think whatever we are pursuing, we need to consider the best way to pursue it (and, of course, WHETHER we should be pursuing it). The way to pursue a goal is not to pursue values. Believing otherwise is, IMHO, a blindspot typical to those who think like a particular stereotype.

        29. Mrs Happy

          Poor Rampiance being inundated with our replies – because many in this group will want the last word.

          1. JO!
          “… to even the balances of money education, responsibility, and power.”
          You’ve gone to the dark side, talking about power. Even when I want to type that word I hold back because it will just give some too much satisfaction.

          It has only been one generation in the Western world that women have had equal access to education and training and income, so it isn’t surprising patters are so slow to shift that we still see females not taught to prioritise income. I actually have a bit of a twisted view on this, simply because of my own experiences. I think women even more than men should really prioritise landing a high-income job, because after they have kids, most will only want to work part-time, so being able to earn a decent hourly rate is important because it allows the women to spend time with their children, whilst still supporting themselves and saving for retirement etc. After kids are born men keep working full time anyway, in fact they increase their hours slightly, so they can afford to earn less per hour.

          2. Emily to:
          When I started uni I started a triple degree. That was almost unheard of then (1990’s), though double degrees are now common, so who knows what I was thinking. Six months in I realised I’d have to drop one degree. One was an Arts degree, equivalent to your Liberal Arts degree. Even though that was my favourite area of study, that was the one I realised I should drop (for practical career reasons). So I hear you on the Arts degree.
          Ever since I dropped it, I’ve wanted to go back to it. It’s like a yearning, feeling like my education isn’t complete. I don’t regret dropping it, but not doing it made my mind and life more circumscribed and narrow, and there are many, many subjects about which I’m quite ignorant; I have huge gaps in my general world awareness. Your Liberal Arts degree has probably fashioned who you are. There is good in that.

          3. Jeremy,
          in your opinion, why is it everyone gives such bad advice about careers? This extends to subject choice at high school and uni too – the old “do what you’re interested in” chestnut. If it doesn’t work for life’s practicalities, why does almost everyone slavishly dispense and follow this advice?
          Aged 14 I had a careers adviser at school who gave me similar advice to yours above, really practical, who crossed off my subjects I’d chosen to study for the last 2 years of high school and listed others I had to do instead. I am so grateful to him.

          People like your near-toothless cousin drive me up the wall with frustration. A good friend of my husband’s is one of the few people in this country making a very successful living being an artist. When we go to his parties they are full of hangers-on in the art world. These arty types, who loudly insist the state owes them a living wage because art is good for humanity, drive me bonkers, mainly because I’m one of the only people at these parties paying 50% tax (which would be how they’d get their living wage). I explained to one of them that I like making quilts with my daughter, and that’s art, but I don’t expect the generic taxpayer to go to work and earn money, just so I can stay home all week and quilt, but he didn’t get it.

        30. Rampianced

          I must say it is a really good thing that SOME of us really ENJOY engineering! (just sayin)

          I chose to major in engineering because, in this order,
          (1) I enjoyed math and science (which I was told engineers did a lot of in school, and it was true)
          (2) I was pretty good at math and science (still am)
          (3) I could quickly pay back my school loans after I got a job (both of which I did)

          What I did not know is that I would get such a great education in how to * do life *, because engineers design things, which basically means making decisions to get from where you are at to where you want to go.

          After graduation, I practiced engineering for four years, went to grad school for more engineering, which I enjoyed even more. Then I had babies, and left the engineering scene. BUT I have been using my decision-making skills e-v-e-r-y day, especially while raising children.

          One reason I read every EMK blog post is because I can evaluate a plan and its specifications to know whether it will get one from where they are at to where they want to go. Evan*s advice does that, so I know it is worth my while.

        31. Jeremy

          Mrs H, you asked why I think so many people dispense bad advice, perhaps in spite of their own experiences with it? Not to beat categories to death, but:
          – Some people just can’t get past their “shoulds.” They believe the world is the way they think it should be, and if it isn’t that way then it’s the job of people to make it that way. My sister-in-law did a bachelor’s degree in English and couldn’t get a job with it. So she went back to school and did a master’s…in English. When she couldn’t find a job yet again, she told her fiancee at the time (my brother) that she planned to go back and finish the PhD. My brother asked what job she hoped that would help her get. She replied, no word of a lie, “It’s not about the job, it’s about the education.” There’s no cure for stupid. My brother convinced her to translate her English skills to a practical field and she is now a speech pathologist. She still advises young people that it’s all about education and not earning potential. After all, look at her! She’s happy, and doesn’t make all that much, perhaps $40-50k/yr. Of course, she’s married to a man who makes 5x that….

          – Some people don’t evaluate the why or the how of advice, they just look at what others are doing. Because their main goal is the security of fitting in. If everyone gives that advice, that’s what they’ll do. Because how could everyone be wrong? Ask anyone. Anyone normal.

          – Some people need no advice to seek what they enjoy. It’s what they’ll always do, advice or none.

          And finally, some people give/follow that advice because it seems to make sense to their logical schema. For example, when I was younger I truly thought it didn’t matter what a man earned. Because I was raised by very feminist teachers and family members to believe that women were equal to men, and hence wanted basically what men wanted. So if a woman wants to work and earn, and if women everywhere tell men that they don’t want us for what we earn but rather who we are….well then excellent, we can focus on our passion. Problem is, the more I opened my eyes and looked at the world, the more I saw that the less men shoulder the burden of earning, the less women (in general and with exceptions) are interested in long-term marriage with those men. Because “who they are” might be good enough for short-term relationships, or even uncommitted long-term relationships, no woman I’ve ever met was happy, proud, to support a husband. They’ll do it, but won’t be proud to do it. And will, in times of stress, complain of how jealous they are of other women who don’t have to do it, whose husbands aren’t so useless. That was disappointing to learn. I still search for disconfirming evidence. Disconfirming evidence meaning long-term behavior, not words. Words, I’ve heard.

        32. Jeremy

          Emily, I understand what you wrote above. And how you feel about your job and about liberal arts education. If you’ve never seen it, watch John Mulaney’s standup comedy routing called “Kid Gorgeous at Radio City.” It’s on Netflix. He’s absolutely hilarious, and one of the things he talks about is how he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a college education…to get a useless degree in a language he already spoke. It’s not that education is useless – not at all! It’s that of prime concern is how one is to live. Education above that is higher on the hierarchy of needs.

          But this in mind, I can’t help but wonder….why do you still call wanting otherwise “selling out”?

        33. jo

          Rampiance, you wrote exactly what I was thinking when Emily implied that engineering was not ‘creative.’ I’ve always admired engineers BECAUSE they are creative. Engineering, like every discipline, is not just about learning facts. It is also about learning a way of thinking. And as I see it, engineering teaches people to think about how to solve any problem. I admire people who look at a problem and focus on solutions rather than complaining. I also like the solutions engineers provide. They show tremendous creativity, and we all benefit from it.

          Mrs Happy, so none of us should use ‘power’ in a response to you, eh? 😉 The funny thing is that this is relevant to all of what you wrote. Women SHOULD talk more about power, in the same way we need to learn about finance. We shouldn’t treat it as something that only belongs in the men’s sphere. After all, it is relevant to us as well.

          Jeremy, thanks for your reply. There can definitely be an element of answering MBTI the way we want to believe we are rather than as we truly are. On the other hand, if we take the test many times over many years and keep getting the same result or one letter off, maybe that hints at a pattern? Or maybe that’s just me.

        34. Jeremy

          Hi Jo. I definitely agree with your comments about power. When I write about it, I know it pisses Mrs H off. But that’s not (the only reason) why I write about it. It’s because I truly believe that you, as women, HAVE a ton of power. Power that women so often don’t think about in the face of the power they don’t have, wish they had, see men as having. It is the realization, as I wrote on that other thread, that sometimes as we fear what the mammoth can do to us, or plan out what we can do to the mammoth…we fail to consider that to others, we ARE the mammoth. You have power. Holy crap, you have power. Is the fact that women often don’t consider income because they are disadvantaged? Or is it because they have the absolutely MAMMOTH advantage that male partners are often willing to shoulder that responsibility for them without losing respect or attraction to them? As a man, I can’t even imagine a world where that would be possible for me. My entire life might have been different.

          Oh, and regarding what you wrote about repeatedly getting the same result on MBTI tests….I guess I don’t think that means very much, because the variables of the test are not dichotomous. Thinking and Feeling, for example – these are not opposites on a spectrum, but rather separate variables. We are ALL thinkers, we are ALL feelers. The question is not whether we are T or F, but rather do we prioritize our own feelings or internalize those of others… So do you test INTP or INFP? Doesn’t matter. Because those categories don’t exist because the dichotomy doesn’t exist. The difference between the two on a test is minimal. But there is all the difference in the world between someone who acts like an Idealist stereotype vs a Rational one. Which is why I prefer those terms.

        35. SparklingEmerald

          Mrs Happy posted about “These arty types, who loudly insist the state owes them a living wage ”

          *********************************************************************

          Did they really insist that the STATE pay them a living wage, or did they merely opine that they wish they could make a living wage ? Here in the states, a big beef with artistic types is the expectation that they will perform, draw or act for FREE, because they enjoy it so much. I’m not just talking about non-profit orgainzations that might ask for volunteers musicians or artists to raise money for charity. I am talking about corporations or well off people who want entertainment for their events, and expect artist to provide their art for “exposure”. Example, when I worked for a major corporation, my son , who was a music major and was now a working musician (yes, he makes a living teaching and performing music) our office was having a catered party. Our marketing person approached me, and asked if my son would be willing to perform for this catered event. I said I would put her in touch with him and they could work it out, and I said I wasn’t sure what he was charging for performances, and she said “Oh, we don’t want to pay him, we thought perhaps he might just enjoy playing for us”. I told her that he was a professional musician, and that he rarely does free performances except for charity and friends. She seemed a bit miffed at that. I SERIOUSLY doubt the caterers catered the party for the sheer “enjoyment ” of it. So they were willing to pay caterers but this wealthy corporation I worked for thought they should be able to have musicians play for no fee.

          Also, music pirating is an issue here. People want to enjoy music, but don’t want to pay the musicians for it. Same with artists. I do have a friend who makes a living as an artist (mostly commerical art) and she is often asked to do free work for “exposure”. How often are accountants asked to do someone’s taxes for “exposure”. How may people think they are entitle to have a plumber come and repair their leaky sink for the sheer “enjoyment” of it ?

          I don’t think “the state” should pay artists and musicians (unless they are asking them to perform for a state event or something like that), but I also don’t think people should expect a visual or performing artist to give their work away for free.

          You don’t expect the state to pay you to stay home and quilt, but how would you feel if you were constantly being asked to donate your quilts for fun. (I’m not talking about donating a quilt to charity, or making a quilt and giving it to a friend, I’m talking about non-friends, non charities asking you to give them quilts just because they are to cheap to pay,and think you should give them one, since you enjoy making them)

        36. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “Rampiance, you wrote exactly what I was thinking when Emily implied that engineering was not ‘creative.’ ”
          It’s the personality type that goes into engineering or, really, STEM that I don’t mesh well with. STEM personalities are my trigger, like idealists are for Jeremy. As a general rule, engineers tend to be very logical. Get me in a room full of them and I just want to poke the bear. I just want to start talking about strippers! 🙂 Now, whether they’re creative or not I don’t know. They’re just not emotive.

        37. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “It’s like a yearning, feeling like my education isn’t complete. I don’t regret dropping it, but not doing it made my mind and life more circumscribed and narrow, and there are many, many subjects about which I’m quite ignorant; I have huge gaps in my general world awareness. Your Liberal Arts degree has probably fashioned who you are. There is good in that.”
          I used to work with a guy who had no college degree but was every bit as literary as I was. He read a lot. Now, getting the liberal arts degree forces you to be exposed to great authors, but if you have the discipline, you don’t need to spend tens of thousands to get the degree. You’re thinking, “Yeah, but I’d miss out on the lectures the professor would give.” But I can’t tell you how much time professors devoted to “class discussion.” That was a waste, imo. I wanted to hear the prof, the expert, the Phd, give me insight and nuance, not a bunch of 19-year-olds ramble on with half-formed opinions, but that’s me.

        38. Emily, to

          Jerrykins,
          “But this in mind, I can’t help but wonder….why do you still call wanting otherwise “selling out”?”
          Because contemplating “how you want to live” is something your dad worries about, that stuffed shirt with the 9 to 5, who gets home at the same time, eats dinner at the same time (or has a meltdown), watches “Seinfeld” reruns every. single. night, who watches you leave for the clubs at 10 p.m., shaking his head because he’ll be in bed in 15 minutes. You thought at 18 or 19 you were going to avoid that trap, but you haven’t. Despite your very valiant efforts, you’ve … become him, as has everyone around you.

        39. Mrs Happy

          ETO:
          “You thought at 18 or 19 you were going to avoid that trap, but you haven’t. Despite your very valiant efforts, you’ve … become him, as has everyone around you.”
          I just see this as stage-of-life differences. When you’re 2, you want to be with mummy. At 12 you’re playing with friends. At 22, studying, exploring, protesting causes, believing in the revolution. At 32 getting more sensible about life choices. At 42 staid and settling into home life rhythms. At 52 and 62 winding down in career, at 72 grumbling about frail health.

          I don’t see any of this as selling out, I just see it as extremely predictable life stages, though ETO I know you want to hit the clubs when others your age want an early night in. Frankly I think it great you still have the energy. (We miraculously have babysitting available this Saturday night, so looked at plays, nothing on, then looked up the one movie I want to see, but it starts at 9.30pm. My husband and I glanced at each other, knowing this meant a midnight arrival home, and said “nah, too late”. Mid 40’s and we’re like a couple of geriatrics, need to be home before 10pm.)

          SparklingEmerald,
          I meant exactly what I wrote. I live in a country with ready access to long-term welfare, free medical care, free education, and subsidised everything (travel, housing, electricity, etc) for those less able. Now when I was young and poor I benefited to no end from the free university and medical care and subsidised housing, so now that I am old and wealthy it would be somewhat churlish of me to whine about my high tax rates, but I do take umbrage at able-bodied people who want to pursue their “art” and have taxpayers finance their life. Frankly I am of the opinion that if no-one wants to buy your art, go get a paying job and accept art is your hobby not your living.

          And I feel for your musician son, but all sorts of people get asked for freebies, I’ve lost count of the number of times I or my husband have been approached for such, and we aren’t in artistic fields. My husband is, amoung other things, a computer whiz, and for the first 1-2 decades home computers were available, he was asked almost weekly to come set up someone’s computer and train them up. They were happy to pay for the computer, but balked at paying someone who knew the technology to teach them or set things up, they just seemed to think because he “knew” computers’ he’d happily devote half a Saturday to them. He is so nice he did. I wouldn’t. I have no qualms in saying no to some of the people who ask for freebies. So if anyone asked me for a free quilt I’d calmly say no and that’d be the end of it.

          Jo,
          “Mrs Happy, so none of us should use ‘power’ in a response to you, eh? The funny thing is that this is relevant to all of what you wrote. Women SHOULD talk more about power,..”

          Jo you are right of course and you start a very good point talking about power and financial responsibilities. I think it a very rare couple that doesn’t have a monetary financial power differential affecting their relationship, and I think many women are made quite subservient by it.

          Though it pains me greatly to write it, I’ve come to realise power has only not been a particular issue for me, because I’ve never been completely powerless, so it hasn’t seemed important. People who have been hurt by powerlessness are understandably more sensitive to power differentials and it is important to them.

          Jeremy,
          “My sister-in-law did a bachelor’s degree in English and couldn’t get a job with it. So she went back to school and did a master’s…in English. When she couldn’t find a job yet again,…”

          The bestselling book ‘Maid’ infuriated me for this very reason. After living hand-to-mouth, housing her sick daughter in mouldy units, unable to afford safe childcare, or the basics like good food, heating, toys, after working so hard in awful conditions for years, when she finally had the chance to get to college and change her circumstances, she chose a degree (creative writing) that would see her living in similar precarious financially-unstable conditions for the rest of her life, over her practical 2nd choice (accounting). I had no patience with that sort of repeated stupidity, and lost respect for the author at that moment.

          ” It’s because I truly believe that you, as women, HAVE a ton of power. ”
          Oh we know. I wouldn’t be male if you paid me, I’ve always had it much better being female. But most women in the world don’t have much power at all.
          JJ, you don’t have to work full time you know. It’s such a load for you. Just drop a day; you’ll never look back.

        40. Jeremy

          The work itself is not the load, Mrs H. The responsibility is. The knowing what is on you, what depends on you. Myself, my wife, four children and a small army of employees, a larger army of patients….. Should I become sick or disabled all manner of things implode. Responsibility is the mountain I carry, the price of competence. I’ve not taken a sick day in 15 years. In the summers I don’t work on Fridays, and love having the day off. Wish I could cut the day for the rest of the year, but can’t. Schedule too busy, too many people to see.

          Now question regarding the other thing you wrote to Jo: Has power not been important to you because you’ve never been without it, or have you never been without it because it’s (on some level) so important to you? The power to have or not have a relationship on your own terms, the power to walk away, the power to not be without control of your own destiny? Do you think on some level, at least in past relationships, that you chose the relationship because it was fun and exciting and happy-making…. and disposable, if it didn’t serve? And to preempt the question, no, not everyone does.

          The reason I wish more women would talk about power is to recognize the power they wield, that men lack. It would lead to better communication between the genders. Because while I agree with you that women should consider income when choosing a career, I disagree that their doing so is more important than men’s doing so. Because men lack the power women have. The power to not focus on income and not be valued less. The power to be wanted more than their partner wants power.

        41. jo

          Mrs Happy, what’s left unsaid in your replies to all of us goes right back to the original post and #4 (values) I’d highlighted. That is: aside from gratifying yourself, you can adopt the value of *caring about your usefulness to society.* Most of the time, by making that value your focus, you naturally move toward jobs that also earn you a decent salary and some free time to explore your personal interests.

          Much as I agree with your and Jeremy’s points, I did try to think like the other side: tried to imagine a world where those who studied and then pursued creative writing, art, English, etc. went on to stable jobs and high salaries. Of course this would be great. But the reality is: other fields like accounting and engineering are more broadly useful to society. Do we want lots more paintings and poems, or do we want reliable banks and bridges and airplanes and mobile phones? If our life were at stake, do we want a new memoir or a doctor’s services?

          Society chooses what is valuable, usually considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – and rewards its members accordingly. At face value, I see nothing wrong with that. But I’m welcome to being convinced otherwise – and I also favor a social welfare state to prevent desperation about livelihood.

          (Emily: try starting that topic you mention the next time you’re in the company of engineers. They’ll probably love it, but dissect it in a way that you’d find tedious!)

        42. Jeremy

          I don’t know, Jo. Healthcare is valuable, and both doctors and nurses are essential. So why do doctors make salaries an order of magnitude higher than nurses? Education is as valuable as healthcare, so why do teachers make salaries comparable to nurses and not doctors? Why does my wife, a school psychologist who helps children learn – and thus helps the future of our society – make less than 1/20 of my earnings? How valuable are bankers and financeers to society? Enough to justify their salary? How about NBA players?

          I agree that the market sets the value of any job, but I’d disagree that it sets that value based on importance to society. And thus I disagree (and have disagreed) that focusing on being of value to society necessarily leads to success. If material success is one’s objective, would it not be better to learn which jobs provide it? The direct route rather than the indirect?

          The reason I don’t want my kids to become writers isn’t because writing is less valuable to society than banking. It’s because it’s hard to earn a living from it. J.K. Rowling managed, and Evan used his skills to translate into a successful business…..but the statistics! The curve is so skewed! Not because writing isn’t valuable to society, but because it simply isn’t often well-remunerated.

        43. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “At 22, studying, exploring, protesting causes, believing in the revolution. At 32 getting more sensible about life choices. At 42 staid and settling into home life rhythms. At 52 and 62 winding down in career, at 72 grumbling about frail health. … I don’t see any of this as selling out, I just see it as extremely predictable life stages”
          But why does it have to be that way? I can’t be the only one questioning this. Why at 32 or 42 or 52 can’t you still be protesting, questioning everything you were raised to believe and staying OUTSIDE the circle instead of jumping back into it?
          Btw, I don’t go out clubbing until 3 or 4 am.like I used to. Maybe 1 a.m., and that’s every now and then. There’s not a magical sense of “anything could happen” like there was in my 20s. I know exactly what will happen even before I leave the house.

        44. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “Emily: try starting that topic you mention the next time you’re in the company of engineers. They’ll probably love it, but dissect it in a way that you’d find tedious!”
          Exactly my point! Who wants to talk about strippers in a tedious way?! 🙂 Actually, that’s not completely fair of me. I work with a bunch of engineers and there are several who are friendly and I can joke with them. But there are plenty of others who are nervous/twitchy in their social interactions.

        45. jo

          Sorry Jeremy, my reply to you ended up just above Rampiance’s earliest comment. The basic point is that prices and wages are not just based on value, but also on supply and demand. In the case of the arts, there are additional saturation and historical factors, which also fall under demand.

          Emily, the good news is that more and more people are stepping outside that predictable life time table. Gloria Steinem once said something to the extent of ‘Women grow more radical with age.’ Well, that would be fully half of us humans, and now that we have more power than ever (wink in Mrs Happy’s direction), let’s live it up. 🙂 But really, those ages that Mrs Happy specifies are predictable in part because of simple biology of aging, and because of increased experience and knowledge that one can’t help accruing with age.

        46. Jeremy

          Emily, you asked, ” I can’t be the only one questioning this. Why at 32 or 42 or 52 can’t you still be protesting, questioning everything you were raised to believe and staying OUTSIDE the circle instead of jumping back into it?”

          Because at some point, after asking questions for long enough, one should begin to answer at least some of them. At some point after advocating for revolutions to break down walls, one must question which walls are load-bearing. At some point after staying outside the circle long enough, one should begin to consider why everyone else wants in. It can’t *just* be because they’re all sellouts (to you), or stupid (to me). At some point what we must question is the merit of impulsive action versus thoughtful action.

          A tadpole is not a sellout when his body decides to sprout a foot. The tadpole who insists on binding her new hands and feet so as not to sell out and become a frog like her contemporaries….is only binding her own hands and feet. Because while she might question why tadpoles must become amphibious, neither her questions nor her answers will ultimately change anything. She’d be better off focusing on how best to use her newfound limbs to best advantage.

        47. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “Gloria Steinem once said something to the extent of ‘Women grow more radical with age.’ Well, that would be fully half of us humans, and now that we have more power than ever (wink in Mrs Happy’s direction), let’s live it up.”
          I don’t know any women my age who are “radical.” I’m not saying they aren’t out there, I just haven’t met them. And didn’t Steniem get married? Kind of takes a bit away from her radical image.Unless she married a much younger, completely hunky man. Then I completely approve. 🙂
          Jeremy,
          “At some point after staying outside the circle long enough, one should begin to consider why everyone else wants in.”
          Nah. You question it EVEN more. 🙂

        48. Mrs Happy

          Jo –
          “you can adopt the value of *caring about your usefulness to society.* Most of the time, by making that value your focus, you naturally move toward jobs that also earn you a decent salary …”

          I absolutely disagree. The jobs really useful to society aren’t remunerated anywhere near as much as they should be.

          Emily –
          “Why at 32 or 42 or 52 can’t you still be protesting, questioning everything you were raised to believe and staying OUTSIDE the circle instead of jumping back into it?”
          After I’d questioned it, I answered it, i.e. decided what I thought and felt about issues, (this drastically varied from my parents’ politics and paranoid worldview, and Catholic school teachers’ beliefs and positions), and then I just go on with my life.

          Me getting on with life involved establishing myself in my career during my teens and 20’s, and travelling and living a very exciting life till mid-30’s, and then during my 30’s deciding I wanted to have children, so marrying with a view to creating my family.

          Everyone’s ‘getting on with life’ program will look different. Maybe you are not completely content with yours at the moment? If so, there must be things you could change. We could all brainstorm for you if you were comfortable giving specific details. There’s a decent brains trust here, and hopefully even if Karl was hurt recently and we were too harsh on him, he too would come back to help.

          Anyway Emily as I got older, I stopped wanting to chat through the night with revolutionaries – I started to find such people repetitive, unsuccessful and bitter. I stopped wanting to go to yet another party or club and meet strangers, the odds were too low I’d find them interesting, not worth the time and energy investment. I really preferred just hanging with a few good friends, lying on the couch burning candles all night, eating Thai food and chocolate and chatting.

          I never really wanted to rage against the man so I’m intrigued Emily at whether you really want to. I know that as I got older, quite surprisingly comfort became a priority. Physical comfort, (a recent Xmas present to myself was linen sheets worth an average week’s wage), and intellectual comfort (pick my companions ruthlessly), and luxuries comfort (good food and service and settings and company). When I was younger I backpacked around Europe, and in Nepal slept on ice, and in the outback camped with wild horses and leeches, dirt and grimy clothes, but now I think twice about staying anywhere that isn’t a 5-star resort or hotel with fantastic reviews.

          Emily, what do you get from staying outside the circle?
          I ask because from the age of about 5 till 30 I was determined never to marry, but when I looked at why, it was really just because I didn’t want to live like my parents had, fighting nightly, and I thought that (fighting, and being stuck) was what marriage was. Living alone seemed like it would be safer and more calm, so that was my goal. Plus, I wanted to be different.

          “But I can’t tell you how much time professors devoted to “class discussion.” That was a waste, imo.”

          Emily I previously worked as a lecturer at university in my field, and the uni faculty ran tutorials like this. Basically what that structure does is remove any prep work for the professor; you as the teacher can run those classes on the fly 1 second after being informed of the topic area for the week. Even while running the tutorials as directed (group discussions), I used to think the time would be far better spent if I just talked for the whole 2-3 hours, though that would make it a lecture. (It won’t surprise you to learn I love the sound of my own ideas, and people hanging on my every word, but I digress.) As it was, we all had to listen to a student, whose entire knowledge of the topic had been assembled in the last week or so at best, give a presentation and answer questions – against me, 10-15-20 years in the field. Useless teaching structure. I stopped doing them.

          Jeremy,
          “I agree that the market sets the value of any job, …”
          Income is inversely proportional to the number of people who can do the job. Lots of people can mop floors so floor-mopping doesn’t command a high income. Few people can sing an opera well, or play sport excellently, so those jobs are favourably remunerated.

          “Because at some point, after asking questions for long enough, one should begin to answer at least some of them. ” Gold. This – your wisdom – is why I keep coming back. BTW, CB, I have found a loophole in your limitations – can I use it? I’m horrified you’ve maybe been impatiently waiting for me to, and it has taken me this long to twig.

          “The work itself is not the load, Mrs H. The responsibility is. The knowing what is on you, what depends on you. Myself, my wife, four children and a small army of employees, a larger army of patients….. Should I become sick or disabled all manner of things implode. Responsibility is the mountain I carry, the price of competence.”
          This makes me wish I could send you a fish. Two fish. TWENTY FISH!

          But seriously, sometimes I as the main breadwinner wonder what would become of my kids if I couldn’t work. You know what, your kids, like mine, would be okay, and so would your wife. They have family and friends and supports who could look after them. They’d have fewer island holidays and toys, so what. They’d still be loved and raised well. They’d live comfortably compared with most of the world.
          Your employees would just get other work – a job is just a job. Your patients could see some other clinician and they’d be okay too.
          (I cannot believe you work 5 days a week. That’s just ridiculous. You’re in your 40’s, right? About 42-3? And you earn mid 6 figures? Time to wind down JJ. I am your new life coach. You’ll still be loved when you earn less money.)

          Anyway, you actually do not have the responsibility you think you have. It’s all in your head. (Not to suggest this means it is not real.)

        49. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “Anyway Emily as I got older, I stopped wanting to chat through the night with revolutionaries – ”
          I’m not really a political person and I know exactly the kinds of people you are talking about. I find them as tiresome as you do
          “Emily, what do you get from staying outside the circle?”
          Actually, I’m acquiescing. Giving in. I’m very shortly moving to be near what little family I have left. I have spent a year running around like a manic, joining all these groups, trying to find my “Sex in the City” friends, who were supportive and made me feel valued. It’s been a waste of time. All I have is a bunch of friendly acquaintances who I won’t even tell I’m moving 8 states away. There’d be no reason to. At the end of the day, it’s about what people value and prioritize. I’ve never prioritized family, but if everyone else does, it seems ridiculous to put so much energy and time into friendship. I haven’t met one person who doesn’t prioritize family. Even my most iconoclastic friend left his estate to his nephew and NOT to his female friend who spent A YEAR cleaning out his apartment, selling his things and settling his debts. Why she did all that work I have no idea. And all he did the whole time I knew him was avoid his family and bitch about them. It’s not that the few family members I have left haven’t been good to me. They have, and I am grateful for that, but it’s not the same as having a bestie who really understands and gets you. I don’t have that kind of connection with them, but society has forced my hand. I’m too old to be prioritizing friendship and cheap sex over family and marriage. 😉
          “Even while running the tutorials as directed (group discussions), I used to think the time would be far better spent if I just talked for the whole 2-3 hours, though that would make it a lecture. (It won’t surprise you to learn I love the sound of my own ideas, and people hanging on my every word, but I digress.)”
          And I would have loved to hear your lectures! I want to hear the expert! My shining face would be in the front row! 🙂

        50. jo

          Mrs Happy, you might not have read my follow-ups. I wrote that renumerance depends on supply vs. demand, like the diamonds vs. water paradox that you may have heard of. Even if it (water or a job) is objectively more valuable, if there is so much of it (or so many people wanting to fill those positions), it will be valued less, and/or only a very few will succeed.

          Emily, I wish you the best in your move. Maybe part of the reason we favour family is because of evolutionary biology. We’ll donate our resources to kin in order to make sure that our genes survive, even if it is a nephew who never sees us, while passing over a friend who is no blood relation. Too few people think critically about this, hence the problem of friends not having the same primal pull as family.

        51. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “Emily, I wish you the best in your move.”
          Thanks
          “Too few people think critically about this, hence the problem of friends not having the same primal pull as family.”
          I find that people don’t think about it at all. They just go along with the program. But how much is too much? How much is doing too much for/with your family? I’m finding that … don’t punch me … people who don’t have their own spouse and kids tend to be very (overly?) involved with their family of origin, running off for every minor request and, on the flip side, almost feeling a sense of purpose and energy when a true crisis arises.

        52. Mrs Happy

          Emily, anyone who can use the word iconoclastic in general discourse would get the special special front seat at my lectures.

        53. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “Emily, anyone who can use the word iconoclastic in general discourse would get the special special front seat at my lectures.”
          By any chance were the lectures about … oh, I don’t know … power in relationships? 🙂

        54. Mrs Happy

          I would like to say they were a deep dive into Auden’s poetry or a review of Shakespeare’s sonnets, but alas, they were far more practical. Far removed from the joy of an Arts degree.

      3. 2.1.3
        Lurking

        Right. Marriage is pass/fail.

      4. 2.1.4
        BBQ

        Focusing on the goal and placing great value on achieving it is what makes the process of working toward it meaningful in the first place.
        It’s true that for these young kids putting pressure on themselves to achieve grades that type of thinking has the potential to be counter productive if they spin out because they can’t handle it. So in their case as a kind of psychological placebo it may be worthwhile telling them to focus on the “process”, just to get them to calm down a little, but in truth it’s not the truth (tho it may have it’s place for people on the verge of mental exhaustion).

        As your comment suggested, if your not achieving results the best way to change that is with a direct and honest analysis of the goal itself and your methods in seeking to achieve it. A placebo for the mind is just that and won’t get you any closer to your original goal.

        Having said that I feel like people are either worriers or they’re not (something I’m seeing first hand right now living where I do in this Australian bushfire season). Imo just make your plans, attempt to carry them out and say F it to worrying, just leave it to fate (if you can).

  3. 3
    Lynx

    What a perfect article to read at the beginning of a new year. This line jumped out: “But taking yourself out of the moment to dread what might happen next won’t prepare you for disaster.” Great point.

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