Len Yeh on Work/Life/Passion Balance

I’m really excited to introduce someone who’s made changes in their career to make a bit more of a mesh between work and play, Len Yeh! He’s a pretty incredible human, so let’s get right to it!

Hi! Who are you?! What do you do?
I’m an experience designer with a focus on fitness and education. Currently, I’m helping a non-profit educational tech startup build a web application to better the math education in our country.

Work/Life/Passion Balance, what’s your method?
Balance–in the traditional idea of leading a bisected life with neat compartments for work and play–never worked well for me. I gave that a shot early on, and I quickly found myself trying to live two separate lives that weren’t feeding into each other. I was always involved with things at odds with each other, like going out to party and keeping up with my fitness. I was terrible at identifying conflicting goals and tasks. Since the people I socialized with mainly just drank a lot and stayed up until 4AM, I was, not surprisingly, in the worst shape of my life. When one part of your life wants to go left, and the other part wants to go right, you just end up standing still.

My strategy became alignment, so that the “work” and “play” parts of my life would largely go in one direction. I began to hang out more with people who were also interested in health and wellness, so it was always easy to call it an early night and get some sleep. I was a digital producer at the time, and changed my job to become a UX designer, as it was the role I was playing in for all my personal projects and hobbies. I no longer had to introduce myself as “ABC during the day, XYZ at night.” I was just XYZ all the time.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently designing digital math lessons for young students at work. One of the things I’m doing outside of work is studying to get certified as a personal trainer. These two things certainly look misaligned at a glance, but my personal experiences with fitness have given me a lot of background in behavioral change, willpower, and motivation. Now, my work with education reciprocates by giving me better insight on how to distill information down to teach people how to make fitness work for them.

When your life is aligned, you’re actually always working, but you’re also always playing (and learning). That could actually sound like a nightmare for some people who aren’t interested in that lifestyle. I’m not in the business of shaming people who aren’t doing what I’m doing.

For those who think alignment sounds nice, I have to say that it’s a privilege, and not everyone is in position to make the alignment without difficulty. If you’re an investment banker and love theater, I’d assume alignment is going to be more difficult and harder to explain to people, though not impossible. My story here is abridged, and I don’t want to make it seem like finding better “balance” or “alignment” was easy or risk-free. You can’t underestimate the amount of commitment and luck needed. I am fortunate after taking some calculated risks and putting some conviction into my actions.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Honestly, I probably thought I was going to become a dog and rename myself Scotch.

I don’t know that I thought I was going to be anything. I had a pocket response, telling people I was going to become a veterinarian. In hindsight, it was probably my first taste of rebellion. All the adults want your answer to be “doctor,” so that was my 5-year-old way of saying, “fuck you! I’m NOT going to be a doctor…for humans.”

Now that you’re pretty much a grown-up, what do you think you’re going to be when you grow up?
I don’t know.

If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that our desires and environments are constantly changing. I’m pretty happy with what I do now, but my profession didn’t even exist when I was a kid. I’m sure I could be something in 10 years that I don’t even think is possible. I could also be something much worse.

Thanks for chatting! Where can folks find more info about you?
I’m @fishbonedice everywhere on the internet, and I park some of my creative work on fishbonedice.com

I’ve been trying to write more, and last year I published an article on Medium about Vin Diesel and success. There’s a concept in there that I titled “Always Be Closing the Gap” that I think is relevant for the audience here. I can’t take credit for it. I discovered it on Quora by an awesome writer named Oliver Emberton, who I try to share any chance I get. His original post is here: http://www.quora.com/At-age-25-would-you-pursue-a-good-paying-corporate-job-that-makes-you-unhappy-or-a-hobby-that-makes-you-happy-but-has-no-guarantee-to-pay-the-bills/answer/Oliver-Emberton

I’m not exaggerating when saying that post was one of the large triggers that got me to live my life with more intention.

Anything else you want to share?
I want to thank you for doing what you’re doing and being so consistent with it. You are an active inspiration to me and the work/play that I plan on doing. Hopefully the readers who follow Workhappi feel the same.

I’M BLUSHING SO HARD RIGHT NOW

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