089: More Meaning, Not Less Work

089: More Meaning, Not Less Work


🤔 Avoidant Feelings? 🧠 More Meaning, Not Less Work 🖼 Self-Sufficient (S&B 039) 👉 Raising $100k to fighting anti-Asian hate

This is the 89th edition of Cultivating Resilience, a weekly newsletter for innovators looking to build, adapt, and lead in times of change—published by Jason Shen: a resilience coach, product manager, 1st gen immigrant, ex-gymnast, and 3x startup founder.

🤔 Avoidant Feelings?

I got a lot of good responses to this question on Twitter so I'll ask it here:

Which emotion do you avoid and why?

Answers I heard included: anger, envy, stress, "hangry-ness"

Reply back to this email with your response and I'll send you mine!

🧠 More Meaning, Not Less Work

I coach a small number of founders and leaders on resilience and recently, a prospective client shared their feelings of burnout at work and their hope for a more fulfilling new career direction.

The conversation led me to dig up and share a piece I had written for Fast Company a few years ago, but seemed as relevant as ever. One of the tenets of the (alleged) Great Resignation is that workers are burned out and feeling like work is not as fulfilling as it once was.

Typically, the knee jerk response here is to take some time off to "recharge" or invest in "self-care" through some kind of expensive product or service that you buy from a site with a lot of white space and minimalist photography.

But people aren't batteries and pampering can only take you so far.

While the term “burnout” is often used loosely in casual conversation, most formal definitions state that feeling tired is only one of three dimensions. (The other two are negativity and cynicism, and reduced sense of professional efficacy.) Working less is only part of the answer.
As I’ve written in the past, I’m very much against late-night emails and working excessively long hours. But in my view, the two other dimensions of burnout aren’t caused by a deluge of work but rather a dearth of meaning.
I have seen many entrepreneurs work day and night to build something they believe in, exhausted yet exhilarated. And I have seen those same founders struggle to write a single line of code after hitting a major setback or losing faith in their business. Work in of itself is not the issue; it’s the meaning that the work provides.
Traditionally, people have found meaning in their lives through family or religion. And while more millennials are living at home than ever, largely due to economic reasons, they are marrying later and having kids later (if they have children at all). Meanwhile, three-quarters of baby boomers describe themselves as Christian while only half of millennials do, with 40% identifying as spiritual “nones.”
This leaves work as the primary source of meaning for many people, which can create a vicious cycle. Feeling burned out leads to poor performance, which leads to a further loss of meaning and more burnout.

My suggestions which you can read more in the article are:

  • Get into a hobby
  • Reconnect with others
  • Reframe your goals
  • Find ways to contribute
Recharging is for batteries, not people
Last year, journalist Anne Helen Petersen wrote a widely shared piece in Buzzfeed naming millennials the “Burnout Generation”. According to Petersen, we’re overworked, underpaid, and often paralyzed by the systemic dysfunction of our increasingly volatile world. As a result, many of us struggle with…

🖼 Self-Sufficient (S&B 039)

👉 Raising $100k to fight anti-Asian hate

In edition 062, I wrote about my research on the drivers of anti-Asian hate, which was part of my work for the philanthropic work I do at 13 Fund.

Well, the follow up to that research was to find a nonprofit going after the biggest factors that enable. the harassment and violence of Asian people which has sadly only accelerated in 2021 (reported hate crimes against API's went up 361% in NYC and 567% in SF year over year).

This week I announced that 13 Fund had organized a syndicate that raised $100k in funding through a syndicate of donors to support Hollback! and it's efforts to bring bystander training to adults and students around the country.

As a 501c3 founded in 2010, Hollaback! started by combating street harassment experienced by women and nonbinary individuals. Hollaback! developed their 5Ds’ framework (Direct, Distract, Delegate, Delay, Document), providing tangible and effective ways for people to intervene when they witness or experience harassment firsthand.
In 2020, Hollaback partnered with Asian Americans Advancing Justice to customize their bystander intervention training to support Asian Pacific Islanders and allies in the face of rising attacks against the API community.
After meeting with Hollaback leadership including executive director Emily May and deputy director Jorge Arteaga and hearing their commitment to continue supporting the API community through live translations across a range of languages. Even as they expand their new bystander training programs in support of the Islamic, LGBTQ+, and other communities, they are also collaborating to bring new API-focused bystander training to a younger generation in partnership with Woori Show and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, work that we hope our grant funding can help support.

Read more:

Fueling the fight against anti-Asian hate with a $100k grant to Hollaback!
13 Fund’s second grant to focus on bystander intervention training and media to reduce pre-existing bias of Asian Pacific Islanders

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Recent issues

088: The Happiness Graph
🤔 How happy were you in 2021?🧠 How Arctic families raise resilient kids🖼 The Happiness Graph Has Flipped👉 Ode to Open Source - Ghost
087: Living Recklessly
🤔 Who do you depend on? 🧠 Joan Didion’s UC Riverside Speech🖼 Finding Peace (S&B 038)👉 Gamma (a docs + slides mashup)
086: Embracing Uselessness
🤔 How do you restore yourself?🧠 Embracing Uselessness🖼 Stress Management (S&B 037)👉 A checklist to track 2022

More Resources

  • Book Notes: Summaries / quotes from great books I've read
  • Scotch & Bean: a webcomic about work, friendship, and wellness
  • Birthday Lessons: Ideas, questions, and principles I've picked up over the years
  • Career Spotlight: A deep dive into my journey as an athlete, PM, founder, and creator.
  • Get Coaching: if you're interested in 1:1 resilience coaching, you can learn more here