Sunday, 21 August 2016

Pursuing What Matters

As a PhD candidate in Norway, I get a personal budget to spend on research and research-related travels. I have not used much of it yet, as I have been thinking about a good way to spend it. It is difficult to know what you want to pursue early on, because in the beginning everything seems interesting and it is difficult to choose. But as you get more into the topics, you start to see clearly what you would like to explore in more detail.


During summer I came up with a plan.

Norway can be quite a lonely place and therefore I felt like doing something that requires me to meet like-minded people and to connect with them. Also, my personal moneyless / rewilding experiences have allowed me to experience first-hand the changes in thinking that result from this new way of being, which is not always easy to understand for others who have not had these experiences, nor is it easy to explain. I would love to learn to communicate about this more effectively; not just from my own personal experience, but also from a deeper understanding of the processes involved and how the mind works. Furthermore, I would like this information to be available to everyone, so that it will be much easier for everyone to make decisions about their lives and so that we can all understand the consequences of our lifestyle choices for our own health and happiness (even when -or especially when- you think that you don't really have a choice!).

And so that is what I would like to get into and explore further: what kind of changes happen when people live alternative, more self-sufficient lifestyles? And what makes this so?

To investigate this further, I will be interviewing everyone I have come to meet (virtually until now) who lives (or has lived) without money or with very little and as self-sufficiently as possible as a conscious lifestyle choice. Most probably I will also look at the other side: people who disapprove of such a lifestyle. I think the personal budget is a great opportunity for me to research this, as I think it would be difficult to find funding for such a project otherwise. Luckily, my supervisor is very supportive and it is thanks to him that I will be able to carry out this plan very soon.

I will be traveling to the US next month for the first set of interviews. Unfortunately there was no way for me to avoid flying. However, the next trip goes all the way to Australia, and I will attempt to get there without flying. I will be taking a train all the way to Singapore and then find a way (hopefully) to get to Australia by ferry / sailing. Along the way I will be meeting people who live alternative, mostly self-sustainable lives (or the other side of the coin: people who strongly reject people who pursue such lifestyles). I will aim to rely on Couchsurfing as much as possible so that I can familiarize myself more easily with the countries I am visiting and have yet another opportunity to connect with amazing individuals. It will also help me to extend the trip even further and collect more data.

If you know anyone you think I should meet, please let me know! Also feel free to get in touch if you would like to host me or want to organize an event with me. I am open to doing workshops, speaking events, etc.

Source: seat61.com - Silk route
If you are in a similar predicament and would like some guidelines on how to spend research budget, go for the following:
1. Choose something you are really passionate about
2. Choose something that is unlikely to get funded if you would submit it as a project directly
3. Choose something that can potentially change the world for the better in a big way (because we need that!)

The same goes for choosing a career.

I hope to meet many of you along the way!