Reflecting on ‘Change’
I really enjoyed Phoebe Sengers’ interactions article about the pace of life (“What I Learned on Change Islands,” March + April 2011). It resonated with my own experience very powerfully, as I’m sure it struck a nerve with many.
In particular, the article made me think of my parents and the choices they made in their lives. My mom and stepdad chronically overworked, whereas my dad and step-mom have always reached out to neighbors, do volunteer work (like Meals on Wheels), and generally seem to be having a much happier and less isolating early old age. It’s really amazing to watch and has made me think very seriously about how to emulate what they do. They have kept their choices simple and it seems to have made their lives qualitatively better.
I’d like to know if Sengers has managed to hang onto that sense of peace and scale, and if so, how the heck to do it?
I read the article on Change Islands and can relate to its message. I had decided to take a day off work because I was feeling overwhelmed in my new job designing efficient IT applications for research scientists discovering drugs. But I was feeling guilty, so I decided to read an article to “not waste time.” I’m glad I chose this article.
At work I had created so much value from my ability to design quickly that more projects kept asking for my time and resources. Management calls it a success issuewhen there’s too much demand, throw more resources at it. But even if I just do “good enough” work to keep up with the demand, the superficiality of each engagement is not going to lead to deeper connections, which is the true goal in my book. I’m struggling to find that sustainable pace that will keep everyone happy.
I’m trying to find an approach to design that doesn’t just address task management, because this research work is not linear and you’re just as likely to discover a new drug from the edge as you would through repetitive analysis.
I wanted to share my story if only to say I have a similar one. Sengers’ story, perhaps, will motivate me to find my own Change Islands so I can stop trying to be so productive.
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