The Thrive Questionnaire//

Congressional Candidate, Don Boyajian, on The Time He Gave Up His Smartphone

'I’m most certainly an outdoorsman and an extrovert, which can be conflicting traits.'

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Donald Boyajian: Almost always, I pick up an instrument and play for a few minutes. It’s pretty automatic for me, and has been ever since I was a kid. It’s a great way to get loose and ready for the day.

TG: What gives you energy?
DB: I’m most certainly an outdoorsman and an extrovert, which can be conflicting traits. I’m energized both by time spent around others, but also by time spent alone outside. I think there’s a delicate balance between the two forces.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
DB: I have never owned a television. It frees up a lot of time, whether it’s for work, music, or time outside to clear my mind.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
DB: At the risk of sounding cliché, I must say “Into the Wild”. The frustrations of the protagonist, Chris McCandless, deeply resonated with me as a young man. In my youth, I had similar desires to lead an off-the-beaten path lifestyle, largely due to frustrations I had with the rapidly changing world around me. However, the greatest lesson I drew from the book was that it would be more productive to charge towards those frustrations and try to change aspects of society I found troublesome.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
DB: It’s complicated! In 2016, I gave up the smart phone and all social media for some time. For several months, I kept no cell phone at all. It was liberating but also debilitating. When I decided to run for Congress, I quickly reassumed a smartphone. I keep it by my side most of the time, and it’s usually on my nightstand while I sleep. Although there are some benefits to being able to follow old friends on social media, I would say that smart phones are a net negative for society and are no substitute for community and face-to-face interactions.

TG: How do you deal with email?
DB: Quickly and concisely.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
DB: I go outside whenever I have a free moment. I am fortunate to live within walking distance of a great trout stream. So, if I can get a few casts in, I most certainly will. It’s amazing what a few minutes outside can do to recharge and clear your mind.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
DB: This Thanksgiving, I felt pretty wiped. My brother and I are as close as close as can be, and he just returned from seven months overseas (he’s an actor). When I got to spend time with him over Thanksgiving, I think all the exertion from the campaign caught up with me. Fortunately, he (and the rest of my family) are the most powerful rejuvenating forces in my life.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
DB: Life is equally full of failures and successes. I learn a lot more from my failures than my successes. Two weeks ago, I was asked some questions in a public setting, and I just fumbled the ball. Through a busy campaign life, I’m learning to just move forward, respond productively, and not take anything for granted. The key is to learn from the mistake, and to not repeat it.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
DB: “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.”

Don Boyajian is a Democratic candidate in New York’s 21st Congressional District, which is in Upstate New York and includes all of the Adirondacks.

A third generation native of Saratoga County, Don Boyajian serves as a municipal and environmental attorney in Upstate New York. He currently lives in Cambridge, near his favorite trout stream.

His campaign can be followed at www.don2018.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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