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You know when you keep jumping back and forth about whether or not you want to do something for months and never take action? Good times.

I thought about leaving my now-former employer to pursue my own interests in writing and film for six months before finally doing it. When you fear doing something though, as I did, your mind subconsciously sabotages you so that you don’t take action (at least mine does). The mind is very clever in how it preys upon weaknesses to get you to not take action. Below are some counterproductive self-talk techniques my mind employed in order to prevent me from taking the leap of telling my employer, “Well I’ve learned a lot here but I think it’s time for a change…”

“Water (fictitious English name of coworker) is such a good guy, I bet he’ll be really surprised and saddened when I leave. Oh shit…not only him, but all my coworkers as well. I love you guys! I gotta stay longer.”

OR

“This boss or that owner is a great guy. What is he going to say when I leave? Are the owners and my boss going to hate me for not finishing every project I was working on? I can’t just leave them hanging like this.”

OR

“Learning about industrial design and electronics is kind of cool, I can’t just peace out when there is so much more left to learn. I’m staying.”

The fact that all of these statements are true is exactly what makes them so devious. In the end though my company took my departure fine and understood it was time for me to try something different.

What’s Next?

I spent eight months thinking about and preparing for this move and how I would make the transition smoothly. I wanted to make enough money doing part time work while leaving enough time to work on projects I am passionate about (film and writing).

I decided to make Zhongshan in Guangdong province my base for now because not only is it the best city I have visited in China for living, but I have a lot of friends here and can live well for $500 a month while trying to establish myself as a writer. Most days now the lure of just surfing the internet reading blogs all day or studying languages in coffee shops is high, and I will usually be more than happy to go out to eat with a friend, but with enough ass-in-chair time with the Internet turned off, I will manage to make progress. When I am lacking in motivation to work on a short film or write I imagine I am back at work and that I could never just leave in the middle of the workday or waste time surfing the Internet. The whole reason behind leaving my company was that I didn’t have enough time to do the work I want to do now.

Progress So Far

For the last month, my brother, some friends and I have been making a short film here in Zhongshan. It was a ton of work to prepare for and film with such a small group, but it was a lot of fun and I have learned a lot. We are now working on post-production: editing, audio, soundtrack, marketing. I will write more about the filmmaking process in China in future posts.

In the meantime there are freelance writing and translating jobs to be had online and tutoring English still pays at least $30 hour. There are many rich Chinese people in Zhongshan who need an English tutor for their kids.

I am also continuing to write on this blog and make some short videos for it, so if there is anything you would really like to know/see in China, let me know in the comments and I will see if I can make a short video about it.

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27 comments… add one
  • Allen July 22, 2013, 4:03 pm

    Looking forward to your movie .and I agree that Zhongshan is a wonderful place for living.

    • admin July 31, 2013, 11:03 am

      Thanks, Allen. I hope we will finish before too long and then you can have a look. We may have a screening in Zhongshan which you can come to.

      • Allen August 1, 2013, 1:50 am

        Yeah,I would like to go to Zhongshan,now I am back in Shenzhen.

  • dave July 31, 2013, 12:01 pm

    With your new beard I think you should tell people that you are the 3rd Coen brother.

    • admin July 31, 2013, 10:38 pm

      I like your thinking, Dave.

  • Harryhe July 31, 2013, 4:53 pm

    GO! I will be your side, my dear friend…….

    • admin July 31, 2013, 10:55 pm

      Thanks, my friend. You already helped a lot with many films we’ve made. I hope to get better and make more with you.

  • Witch July 31, 2013, 5:52 pm

    Your new look is like Ryan Gosling in the film of The Notebook. Cool!
    I am very excited when I heard someone is trying for a change. I believe you can make it!

    • admin July 31, 2013, 10:53 pm

      Thanks Witch, I am excited too. It is mainly procrastination, laziness, and trying to do too much that stands in the way of success in my opinion. I’m glad you think I look like Ryan Gosling from The Notebook as well. Hopefully see you sometime before too long in Shenzhen or Zhongshan.

  • Lawrence July 31, 2013, 9:16 pm

    What’s the difference between striking on ur own in the US and in China?

    • admin July 31, 2013, 10:42 pm

      It’s much more affordable in China. So far anyway…

      • Lawrence August 7, 2013, 10:28 am

        Haha Rya Gosling, I like that! U do look like him. As to the word “affordable”…. I think it depends. Earing RMB3000~5000 a month but living in such a Crazy- Expensive society can’t be defined as “affordable”….Buying a 房子?Not mention it.

        • admin August 7, 2013, 3:31 pm

          I agree, 3,000-5,000 RMB is not enough if you want buy a house, or attain a high quality life in China. In many ways having a high quality of life with a house, car, etc. is more expensive in China than the US. But it is possible to live well enough in China on that much money so that you can invest in yourself and use your free time to do work that will one day make you more money. In the US it is very difficult to live on your own for so little. By paying for more things and owning more things, your time is sucked up leaving less time to invest in myself and my work. And for me time is the most valuable thing right now.

  • Paul Marsnik July 31, 2013, 10:41 pm

    Nick,
    Kudos to you for taking the leap. I think, and talk a lot about the “comfort zone” and how important it is to get outside that zone and into the “learning zone”. Most people who spend a bit of time in China, seem to have a much bigger comfort zone (ie. Things that would cause most people to freak out don’t seem to bother them. In fact they look at these things as an interesting challenge.) It appears that your comfort zone is quite large, but it is good to see that you are still pushing yourself into the learning zone. I am looking forward to seeing the film.
    Paul

    • admin August 1, 2013, 8:47 pm

      Hey Paul, thanks for the support. I agree that after spending time in China, things that might bother a lot of people back home have little effect on me. I will keep you posted on the film. Plenty of work still left to do on it. Let me know when you are coming back to China next.
      -Nick

  • Jatch August 1, 2013, 3:24 am

    Good work brud!

    • admin August 1, 2013, 8:42 pm

      Thanks, brother!

  • WB August 2, 2013, 2:43 am

    I can assure you that you are not alone in having those thoughts about your working situation! Great blog, it sounds like you’re doing well over there. Looking forward to seeing the movie.

    • admin August 3, 2013, 12:07 pm

      Thanks, good to hear I am not alone. I will be sure to let you know when the movie is finished. Let me know if you are thinking about another Tibetan adventure. I was thinking western TIbet and Xinjiang this time. Hope all is well with you.

  • Nancy August 5, 2013, 3:05 am

    You amaze and inspire me! So excited for your new adventure. Lots of big hugs and best wishes! 🙂

    • admin August 7, 2013, 3:32 pm

      Hola Senora! Thank you. I hope you are doing well. I enjoy seeing the pictures of your travels on Facebook. It looks like you are having some great adventures as well.

  • Mark Murphy August 5, 2013, 11:23 pm

    Thanks for the update Nick!

    • admin August 7, 2013, 3:41 pm

      Hey Mark, no problem! Hope you are doing well back home.

  • Jacqueline Collins August 6, 2013, 6:45 am

    I still think that the idea of short films is great; I’d love to see them when you’re done. And I’m sure there are any number of colleges and intercultural institutions that would be interested in showcasing some quality independent work!

    • admin August 7, 2013, 4:44 pm

      Hey Jackie, glad you like the short film idea, we hope to finish it soon but there is still a ton of work left to do even though most of the filming is done. That would be very cool if we could show it at some intercultural institutions or colleges, as I would love to share the craziness we both know that is China.

  • Erin next door in Buffalo August 14, 2013, 5:04 am

    I am excited that you are having this grand adventure, and it sounds like you moved into it with great forethought.

    You asked for ideas….. you can probably guess this, but…. music! I am particularly interested in the development of modern pop music and whether it uses traditional music as an influence. I am also interested in the points of view of masters of traditional music and how modern youth views them.

    Or, anything you are already interested in….. I find it all fascinating, not having visited this part of the world….. yet.

    • admin August 15, 2013, 2:26 pm

      Hey Erin, thanks for the request!

      Great idea. I have a little bit of footage I have shot of people performing. and I am sure I could put something together in the coming weeks. Some pop music does use elements of traditional music.

      Jay Chou is a Taiwanese musician/singer famous throughout East Asia. This song is called Grandma: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3vcJAIYd-4

      This song which translates to something like “The Most Dazzling Ethnic Scene”, is by a mainland band and I haven’t gone for more than a few days in the past 6 years here without hearing it at least once: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHEOfXOqp1Y

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