Jack Cheng  /  Updates

Maxing out Your Triangle

November 17, 2008

I find that most people take on new jobs, projects and hobbies for three reasons:

  1. To learn something new
  2. To pay the bills
  3. Because they love doing it

These three things fulfill some of our very basic needs — they give us stability, excitement, ways to contribute and opportunities to grow. If you’re with me so far, then allow me to present exhibit A, the love-growth-cash triangle:

blank love-growth-cash triangle

Here’s where some common activities could fall on our chart:

entry-level job, shit job that pays the rent, hobby plotted on triangle

Some people might ascribe to the philosophy that it’s okay to be at a well-paid-yet-crappy day job and use the remaining time and money enjoying your hobbies. I disagree. Here’s why — if you combine the two triangles, you get the following:

overlay of hobby and shit job on triangle

In other words, you end up missing out on pieces of the bigger (triangular) pie. There’s a certain joy that comes from doing what you love, getting compensated for it and constantly learning new things in the process. Your goal should be to maximize each experience and try to cover as many new areas of the bigger triangle as possible.

If you have a shit job, come up with new ways to learn something out of it. If you have a hobby you’re super-excited about, try to turn it into a business. If you’re just starting a new gig, instill it with something you’re passionate about.

max out the triangle!

Do it.

Re-evaluate everything you’re working on. Grab a pen right now and draw a triangle for every job, project and hobby. Take a good hard look at each one. What can you do to get more out of that experience? If it’s not helping you max out the bigger triangle, drop it and find something else to spend your time on.

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Jack Cheng is a Shanghai-born, Michigan-bred, Brooklyn-based writer. Full Bio

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