I met Patricia Parkinson a year ago. Both of us were coaching at the Startup Weekend in Ubud, Bali. After a quick chat, I knew that Patricia is an extraordinary person with unlimited energy and positive attitude. She’s the second guest for my interview series with creative individuals.
Patricia wants to live in a world filled with valued generalists, innovative businesses, unlimited supplies of dark chocolate and a human race that has become interplanetary.
As a polymath with more than 10 years of experience as a creative director, UX designer, digital strategist, operations consultant (and more), she’s a master at transforming ambitious ideas into practical realities. She understands the complex relationship between design, technology, and entrepreneurship and knows what it takes to build something remarkable.
When she’s not leading teams, writing her forthcoming book “Integrate: Why Zealous Minds Own the Future” or developing products, you can find her mentoring entrepreneurs, exploring the world through location independence, cooking up a (delicious) storm or nurturing her inner cinephile.
What Are the Most Influential Habits in Your Life?
The most influential habits in my life are those that open and close my day.
Incense with intention
Most mornings, I wake to watch the sunrise while ritualizing the lighting of incense. I use these as anchors to provide foundational consistency in what is otherwise an inconsistent and varied day. During this time, I meditate and reflect on my three current intentions for being. At the moment, these take the form of discipline, decisiveness, and discernment. I also use this alone time to quiet my mind and visualize my ideal day, before I move into my habitual social media perusal, comms, and general busy-ness.
Lowlights and highlights + gratitude
At the end of every day, whether it be by myself or with my partner, I reflect on the lowlight and highlight of my day. Always the lowlight first to ensure I end on a high note. This provides me with a feedback loop to congratulate myself on my accomplishments and learn from my mistakes. I end this habit by reflecting on one specific person or moment from the occurrences of the day that I’m grateful for.
How Do You Set Goals and Manage Time?
As someone with a never ending list of new projects and related goals, I have to work hard to manage what’s realistic and articulate my objectives clearly… or I find myself overwhelmed with activity and action without making tangible progress.
In order to do this, I’ve identified eight key components of my personality: The Artist, The Explorer, The Entrepreneur, The Teacher, The Student, The Human, The Friend, The Curator. For each of these segments of myself I define values and annual, monthly and weekly goals.
Although I strategically outline a roadmap for the frequent interval goals, these take the form of foundational habits, whilst I leave one-off tactics/actions to be determined:
- A week in advance for weekly.
- A month in advance for monthly.
To manage my time most effectively, I rely on my calendar. I both schedule proactive time for unexpected activities as well as interval my productive time into sequences of three Pomodoro’s (which I refer to as “work blocks”).
How Are You Modeling Your Life?
I’m modeling my life for the utmost autonomy and flexibility. Although my time is highly committed to my ongoing endeavors, these are enjoyable activities.
“I’m modeling my life for the utmost autonomy and flexibility.” – Patricia Parkinson
I’m a true generalist and thrive being spread across many interests and disciplines. For me there is no such thing as separation between work and life for me, they are one and the same. But that doesn’t mean I don’t achieve balance. It just requires constant work on my self-awareness, self-discipline and self-compassion.
Can You Describe Your Work Process and Thinking Behind It?
My work process is non-linear. Like many creatives, it’s usually a sprint to the finish line at the end of a long race.
What Do You Eat for Breakfast?
When not dining out on delicious brunches, I have a few go-to breakfast foods:
- Eggs (preferably with green veggies such as broccoli or asparagus to dip into the yoke).
- Oatmeal with fruit.
- Raisin-free muesli and almond milk.
How Do You Train Your Body and Mind?
I’ve been working hard over the last year to shift my mindset from fitness being a chore to fun and invigorating activity. It came down to finding new outlets that were group and sport oriented, such as Pilates Reformer and kitesurfing. Another big win was finding Fitness Blender – making it easy for even the shortest interludes of practice.
I’ve been training my body to perform at its best by becoming more purposeful about what I use as fuel. After discovering I was pre-diabetic and lactose intolerant, I made major shifts in adjusting my “go to foods.” This doesn’t mean I never eat sugar or my vice – cheese! – but I do so in moderation. Reading the book Eating Animals helped me adopt this moderate approach to all aspects of eating. I don’t need to be a strict vegetarian or vegan to prove a point or make an impact, I can choose to limit my intake and not run to a meat dish by default.
The hardest aspect of training my body has been forcing a healthy water intake. I tend to be inconsistent with this habit, having stretches of sufficient intake to completely forgetting to drink water on other days. Forcing myself to carry a water bottle does encourage the habit by becoming an “in your face” reminder.
- Following rabbit holes.
- Engaging in respectful debate.
- Reading non-fiction and fiction.
- Being a life-long learner.
- Keeping an open mind to outside influences.
How Do You Meet and Connect with People?
- Having the courage to strike up conversations with strangers.
- Approach conversations with enthusiasm and curiosity.
- Tapping into communities both aligned and outside of my interests.
- Follow through on recommendations for connections from friends.
What Are Your Sleeping Rituals?
After being a hopeless night owl for the majority of my life, I’ve shifted within the last year to being a morning person. This transformation has occurred from:
- Realizing I’m my most productive early in the day before I’m engaging with others.
- How fulfilling and empowering it can be to have a whole day ahead of me to enjoy now that I’ve completed my urgent actions.
- The beauty of making time to watch the sunrise and visualize how you’d like your day to proceed.
Depending on the country and season, I’d say on average I wake at 6 am and go to sleep around 11 pm.
What Books, People, Experiences Shaped Your Thinking?
- Who Owns the Future by Jaron Lanier
- Wired for Thought by Jeff Stibel
- The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
- Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche
- This is Not the End of the Book by Jean-Claude Carriare and Umberto Eco
- The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero
Location independence: appreciating the diversity in people, cultures, values and embracing a minimalist lifestyle.
Rotating roles in the workplace: having the opportunity early in life to rotate between internal disciplines and become a “dot connector.”
Early professional start: I got my first full-time job at 17yo and have been self-reliant every since. It’s taught me how to be resilient and resourceful (among other benefits).
University dropout (twice): as cliche as it sounds, I’ve never been taught to think the way everyone else does which has provided me with numerous advantages in life. It’s also encouraged me to develop as an autodidact.
Too many to name. Most share similar qualities: open-minded, informed, self-aware, unapologetic, outgoing.
If you enjoyed my interview with Patricia Parkinson, make sure to read an interview with a world traveler and author Gregory Diehl.