Thursday, September 13, 2007

Option Three: What's Next

First, let me preface with some bullet points from "Stumbling on Happiness", by Daniel Gilbert.

+People make their decisions about the future trying to maximize their future happiness. This is why you don't eat McDonald's every meal, even though it tastes so damn good.

+People are horrible predictors of what their future selves will enjoy. And Gilbert is not talking about those mornings you wake up groggy & hungover, look at who's next to you in bed, and say wtf, but the times you buy a heavy metal poster at the store thinking it is the best thing since sliced bread only to take it home and realize it doesn't fit in with your Ikea decoration scheme.

+Even after being made aware of WHY you are going to make bad predictions about the future, even after hearing in detail all of your imagination's blind spots, and the fascinating experiments that reveal said blind spots, you are still going to make bad predictions.

+There is no magic cure, no 12 step program, to coach / train your brain into NOT making these mistakes.

My consolation: I figure that I would be pretty happy with 90% of the "future selves" I have conjured up over the past few months.


Now I'm going to get visual with this post. And of course, with my male left brain, this means I am going to bust out some charts. Later there will be bulleted lists: yessssss!

A rather confusing mind map, created via Personal Brain*, centered on the thought, "What's Next":

Organized by geography, my future self seems to have a few simple options, spanning the whole freaking globe:

I. Stay in HK
II. Back to USA
III. Go Someplace New

Then throw in all the different professional options...

A. Teach Middle School
B. Teach High School Somewhere
C. Get a Master's in Education
D. Learn Cantonese
E. Write!

...add in all the mixing and matching, leaves you more than 20 choices! (better or worse than this?)

I + A = stay where I am now, at a very young school, a great place for challenges & opportunities & growth
I + D + E = attractive life on easy street that I don't think my protestant work ethic gene will allow...(plus the devil would take my idle hands and bring about a holocaust ala Heroes)
I/II/III + A = a return to a style of teaching I miss, with students who are capable of (for the most part) controlling their hormones / impulses and able to concentrate (to some degree) on the task at hand
II + C = the next rung on the career ladder? don't have a master's in education...have toyed with the thought of going for administration / doctoral work...but just not feeling ready for that much commitment to school, not now...
I + A + C = figure out a way to get some release time from my job while maintaining a visa and take online courses / enroll at Hong Kong U
III + D = move away from the largest city that speaks a language = not the most sensible way to go about it
III + E = the next Bruce Chatwin? (minus the whole AIDS thing I hope)
III + anything = another cool place to learn about and explore


As I type this, I think that part of my "wrestling" with these future choices is simply a form of mental masturbation. Because damn it sounds so cool to do lots of these things.

This very moment? I am leaning towards I + A for next year, then the two years after that doing I + A during the school year and II + C over the summers at Columbia's Teacher College.

Thoughts from my four (more?) readers? How is a young man to deal with all the cool ideas he can cook up? How to choose?!?!?!

*Personal Brain = very useful tool, great for mind-mapping and for all those random links that you don't want to forget about but will get lost if you just pop them into your bookmarks or delicious...big downside: it costs 175 USD. pissed i got hooked on it before i knew about the you've been warned if you click here to find out more.