№ 8: Some Talk of Numbers

Some things help keep me focused and happy: tea and film cameras are major players
Tea and film: regular parts of my day as I  construct a better life for myself. 

Let’s talk about some numbers. Specifically, the income numbers and other related numbers that are critical to my getting out of teaching at Company X. The fact is, getting out of my currents company, making more money, and keeping my visa status is all a numbers game. Embedded in these numbers is the code to unlock the door to better work and a better life in Japan. These numbers have become even more important since my last post, too, as I have informed my manager that I will be quitting no later than December 31. Why then? Because I’m beyond sick of this situation and need a hard deadline for getting out.

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№ 7: Back in the Bog, With Protest

A short-ish post, written mostly on the train on my phone. Clearly this blog has not thus far been what I originally intended it to be, and so far I have not made the progress I wanted in changing my situation overall. That’s not being pessimistic, that’s just the truth so far. So far. Pressing on with all of the above, however, because like hell I’m giving up. So for today, an update. Continue reading

№6: Business Knowledge Self-Education

Though my skills and knowledge are broad overall and perhaps surprisingly deep in a more areas than you’d expect, the fact remains that there are skills and knowledge I need right now are woefully underdeveloped. Most specifically, those related to business. My business knowledge is getting better by the day, but I only started working to pick up these skills relatively recently and I know I have a lot to learn. Back in college, when I should have taken a bunch of business classes, I resisted. I didn’t want to be a businessman, you see. I wanted to be an artist. As it turns out, though, artists still need business skills if they ever want to break free of the starving artist stereotype.


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№ 5: On Gumption Traps

This whole thing sometimes feels like a rather sisyphean undertaking. Establishing oneself as a creative professional or entrepreneur is difficult enough anywhere. Doing it in a foreign country potentially introduces a number of additional difficulties on top of what one would normally face. For me, the necessary effort is more than worth it, given the difference between various potential futures differentiated only by the effort that I put in now, but I won’t pretend it isn’t a massive pain in the ass. Last time I talked some about the practical problems of transitioning to working as a full time creative professional in Japan, but today I want to get into what is often a much more serious category of complication: the gumption trap.

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№ 4: On Current Challenges and Roadblocks

Just a cloud
Just a cloud. Frankly I’m in too much of a rush and would rather get this post up than spend a while looking for a more relevant image. Better luck next time.

This is part of the post I’ve been pecking away at during break time at work, occasionally on weekends, and during other down time. It is only part because I realized recently that it was better split up into at least two posts. It was to be an examination of the various difficulties currently facing me in my overall quest to start a business and get out of teaching English. The problem with that is that there are a couple major categories of difficulties, which together make for a single post of unwieldy length. First, there are the typical challenges and roadblocks: the practical difficulties inherent to any undertaking. The three biggest groups there are typically problems of time, money, and because I’m an immigrant here: permission. The other major category of difficulty are the gumption traps, which is a less familiar concept. These are the difficulties of those things that frustrate us, that sap our motivation and energy when we so much as think of them. While regular challenges make us tired in body, gumption traps make us tired in spirit. The former category is more straightforward and where I’ll begin today. Continue reading

№ 3.5: Here’s What’s coming

I’ve been absent, and while I haven’t been posting here, I have been writing some things with this blog in mind. I am now home sick with the flu, though, and will get some things done here finally. Part of the problem is that I’ve been working on one monster of a post that really needs to be split up into two or three separate posts, which I’ve only realized today. This will make it much easier to get it out the door.

[NB: As of August, 2018, most of the following is no longer accurate. A lot of it is still coming, but not in the same order]

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№ 3: Challenge Set for January Transition

A Japanese Daruma doll. When you set a goal, you color in the left eye. When the goal has been achieved, you color in the right eye. I bought this and colored in that left eye on 2017-12-12. I will color in the left eye when I have officially resigned from my day job at Company X.

Post № 3 was originally going to be something about the specific challenges I face in trying to get out of full-time EFL and into deriving the bulk of my income in Japan from creative work. That will probably become № 4, as more pressing matters are at hand. Facing going into another year of this insane work schedule and having the life drained from me daily has been stressing me out as the end of 2017 approaches. A full year of the EFL grind is not something I’m going to do again. As such, I have decided to switch to part time at my day job starting January 18 (that’s just when I have the option to officially change my contract, no other reason for that date). This means that I will be required to work at Company X just two days a week. I may work more for extra cash if I desire, but my contractual obligations will be confined to two days per week. Continue reading

№ 2: What the hell am I trying to do, anyway?

Sakura in Saitama
Sakura at a park in Saitama, as seen my very first night living in Japan.
While it’s easy enough for one to set out with an exclamation of I’m going to start a business! and the vision of assumed future success twinkling in the eyes of the would-be entrepreneur, a lack of specificity is what kills a lot of attempts right out of the gate. This is what has killed many of my projects and attempted businesses in the past. Gumption and enthusiasm don’t count for shit when one’s aim isn’t clear enough to provide enough direction to effectively define mission, objectives, and actions.  The momentum-killing properties of a lack of clarity are multiplied when one’s day-to-day is dominated by overwork and a chronic lack of sleep. Irregular usable free time doesn’t help, either. The list of complicating factors currently driving me crazy is a mile long, but today I’m here not to talk about what’s in my way, but rather that thing at which I am aiming. So what is my goal, anyway?

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№ 1: Something of a Manifesto

My aim is to get to the place in my life where two critical things begin to overlap: living where I want to live and doing the work I want to do. I have accomplished the first, in that I am finally settled in the Tokyo area after many years of detours. I am now working to bring the other element in line. The Convergence Factor is a first-person blog documenting the process of clarifying my aim and working my ass off to reach my target. Continue reading