Wednesday, February 18, 2015

NYC a farewell

∑if = I. This is a formula I used to be obsessed with, and I thought it was the math formula that equaled life. The sum of “if”s creates the person that I am (or rather the people we are).

I’ve written about this before; that every choice we make in life, based on my option, is one of those ifs. What I’m updating on this topic is that sometimes you mess up on those ifs. Isn’t hindsight 20/20? I try to live by the Chvrches motto: “Make me blind so that I never look back.” It’s nice to look back and learn, but to regret is pretty useless. Making decisions are hard, some you will get right and nail it out the park, others you will miss really poorly. Most will act as a learning experienced boiled in with unexpected results.

That being said, I think I’ve lost to NYC -- the “Big Apple.” (I was always a strawberry kind of guy anyway.) Every time I think about this statement, and just typing it now, I think it’s the dumbest thing to say. How does one lose to a city? Like what kind of point system are we talking? What inning did NYC start to take the advance, and where did things go wrong?

I think it’s fair to say that I’m quitting NYC, and that it wasn’t for me. I’m sure it is the place to be for tons of people -- about 9 million of them. I often wonder what the other 9 million people love about this city. Is it the arts? Is it the job opportunities? Is it the polar vortex? I truly do not know, but I’m not a hater, and I probably won’t be. I think the fairest statement is that it just was not for me. However, if we are assuming I’m quitting NYC, and that NYC won again, beating me out of the city, we are going to need some kind of score card, some kind of metric to figure out why I lost to such a powerful city.


Happiness is such a hard metric. It’s a thing, but measuring it and optimizing it is hard. Making data decisions on emotions is also really hard. Emotions are not numbers, they are feelings. I wrote a while back about how I live my life in this Bayesian sense, that if something is not working, something is going to have to change. Sometime a few months ago, I came to the realization that New York was never going to get better for me, or at least not in the foreseeable future. Sometimes you have to just make emotions binary, and take the sum of those binaries to see if your average is good enough. If it isn’t, you need to make a few of those things ones instead of zeros. As much as sad emotions are hard to measure, good ones are just as hard to measure. For some reason, (ok I truly know why, but that’s besides the point) I love reality television shows. There is just something about that fake built up drama that gets me going; but that does not mean I should just sit around and watch reality TV all day (trust me, I’ve done that). Emotions and decisions require balance, and finding that balance is living life.

In economics there is a term called sunken cost: regardless of how deep you are into something, if it isn’t working, you shouldn’t do it. The not so real life situation is that I’m at a slot machine, I’ve already lost £100 and in order to make that back, I need to spend another £100 so that I can win £300. This happens all the time in life: if I just give it another month, things will turn around. I found myself saying that the entire time I lived in NY, and at one point I just listened to the sunk cost. This wasn’t easy: I have a great job, with great co-workers, my apartment is nice and I have a good core group of friends in NY, but I just failed to execute all those great things at once. Sometimes all the data can be right, but you can still make the wrong choice. However it is up to you to change that.

When I originally wrote this post, it was quite hard. Trying to figure out where I failed, and what I did wrong really made me think.Only after giving my notice to my current employer, and talking to people, did I started to realize one thing, you are always affecting people. It was when the guy I sit next to, who has worked there for only 2 weeks mentioned he will miss my energy and excitement that it hit me. Yes, I set up these really hard goals for myself in NYC, and that I wanted to basically be a rock star. Even though I didn't reach my personal goals, I still accomplished a lot here. I've impacted a lot of peoples lives, and have made countless friends over the time I've been here. Sometimes you have to take a step back a look at things from a distance to realize what you've accomplished.

So if you live in NY, let’s get one final drink (for now), and for those that live in DC, let’s get our party hats on for when I come back.

note: Thanks to all my editors over the years, especially the editor of this one