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Tools Archives - Page 3 of 6 - The Meaning Movement

Category "Tools"

Balancing Self Care and Hustle

- - Courage, Desire, Tools, Work

When I was a kid there was a time when no one could get enough of Tetris. It may have been the first truly addictive video game (later followed up by Mine Sweeper— raise your hand if you’ve spent your share of hours on either!). I remember being at family gatherings and my full grown uncles and teenage cousins would pull out their Game Boys and pop in the Tetris cartridge.

They were hooked.

The idea behind the game is simple, these blocks keep coming and you have to find ways to make them all fit. Sometimes there isn’t a perfect place for them and they stack up a bit. But if you’re good, you can catch up a few blocks later.

Re-framing Balance

I had a conversation with Rachael Ellison some time ago. She helps businesses become parent friendly and helps parents advocate for themselves in the workplace. In our conversation I asked her about the idea of work-life balance.

She replied simply, “No. There is no balance.” And went on to talk about other metaphors that are better suited for the struggle.

She mentioned the game of Tetris.

There are times when you have to work more than you should. And there are times when you have to do other things more than you want to. There are times when the blocks stack up and you have to trust that you’ll catch up a few blocks later.

Playing Tetris With Your Life

For the past two months I’ve been struggling through the transition from hospitalization to home life. Everything came crashing down on me two months ago with an emergency surgery. It was as if life put up a road block and said, “you have to stop everything.”

And stop everything I did.

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The Three Big Obstacles to Finding Purpose

I often ask people what obstacles and challenges they face as they work toward meaning in their lives. Though the answers come in many shapes and sizes, they boil down to three issues:

1) Knowing What to Do Next. People often feel overwhelmed by options and possibilities and feel a lack of clarity as to what to do when they have time to do something. Overwhelm is major issue in this search, and trying to decide what you should do next is a major contributor to that feeling of overwhelm.

2) Accountability. People often feel alone in the process. Some of us are asking different questions about life, work, and ourselves than anyone else we know— which can feel very isolating. We hear ourselves say things like, “If only I had a group of like minded people who understood what I am looking for and were trying to do something similar themselves.”

3) Time. People often feel like they don’t have the time to pursue meaning because they have too many other responsibilities. Work, family, friends, etc. can take up our time and energy to leave us worn and depleted.

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The Four Phases of Your Life’s Work (Which Describes You?)

- - Finding Your Work, Tools, Work

When I go on hikes, there’s this odd thing that happens. On the way in everything moves slowly. Everything is brand new. The trail twists and turns and every turn brings a new view and a new terrain to traverse.

This is some of the fun of hiking: you get to see new places. But it also is where some of the challenge comes into play. I know roughly how long the hike may be, but I don’t know how far I’ve come or how far I have to go. When it’s late in the day, your pack is weighing on you, you’re hungry, and almost out of water— the joy of the journey is often replaced by an anxious impatience to arrive. I just want to sit down, take my pack off, catch my breath, take off my boots and relax.

But then on the way back down the trail everything seems to move much more quickly. I remember aspects of the terrain. I recall that we crossed a bridge at about half way. I know that the steep section is only so long and that soon we’ll be past it.

The same experience happens on long runs or bike rides.

Once you’ve walked the path before, you have a frame of reference for where you are and what comes next.
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An Agile Approach to Life and Career Planning

You can’t plan your whole life out. It’s just not possible.

In his book Stumbling on Happiness, author Daniel Gilbert makes the point again and again that humans are consistently bad at predicting what will make us happy.

Isn’t that funny? We’re simply bad at anticipating in the present what we’ll want and what will make us happy in the future.

So even if you could plan out your entire life without any unexpected twists and turns, you’d have created a stagnant map to a moving target.

This is something I keep coming back to when it when it comes to career planning and your life’s work. For most people, your life’s work doesn’t change very much, but what will change is how you go about making that impact. You can say that your work is about helping people in a certain way, but you can’t necessarily be sure how you’ll go about doing that work 10 years from now.

Some of the difficulty in predicting and career planning is that at this moment you only know what’s possible at this very moment. Possibilities open and close in sets. What’s available and even imaginable to you right now is based on where you are and what you’ve been exposed to.

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The Psychological Necessity of Breaking the Rules

“We see you as an artist,” he said. His hair was long, thick, and wavy. His face thin and defined. His gaze intense and gentle.

Sixteen of us sat around a big solid wooden table, eating a meal together. We were all part of an Artist Residency at the graduate school I attended.

Somehow I ended up among them.

I didn’t think of myself as an artist. Though I studied music composition in undergrad, I always felt a bit like I was faking it— everyone else had a much greater mastery of their instruments and musical concepts.

I thought my main focus for the week of the Artist Residency was going to be writing music. It turns out it was something much deeper.

His words to me around that table were part of shift in how I thought of myself. It may seem small from the outside, but on the inside it was big. And risky.

I didn’t spend time around artists in my younger years. My family didn’t have a category for them. None of us were artists. In fact, I don’t know that I could find a single artist in my family tree.

We’d go to art events, but there was always a sense that those people weren’t our people. They were misunderstood and called “artsy-fartsy”.

Artists may make pretty things, but they didn’t seem to belong in our family.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties that I began to embrace the fact that I really am a creative at heart, and that making is a big part of who I am.
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