Possibility Archives - Page 2 of 5 - The Meaning Movement

Category "Possibility"

How to Find Your Breaking Point

You know the saying about the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s used when things add up to more than a person can take. It often refers to negative events stacking up; inevitably there’s one that pushes things beyond capacity— “the straw”.

It’s when you reach the tipping point and just cannot take it any more.

Things fall apart.

I recently read about how our breaking point is further away than we usually predict. A helpful measure of your capacity for hard things is to know that when you reach the moment when you feel like you can’t take it any more, you’re only 40% done.

So when you feel like you can’t run another mile, you may have a few miles left. Or when life falls apart and you think you can’t go on, you likely have a lot more to give.

Here’s what this means: when things get tough, there’s a time to stay the course and there’s a time to quit.
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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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The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy — Why You Make Them and How to Stop

I was talking with a friend about his business the other day. He’s wanting to scale things up and make a little more income. I suggested he try something he hadn’t done before. It would be a bold move on his part, but it would be unlike anything else in his field.

He bristled and went on to tell me that he couldn’t do that and all the reasons he had for it.

I wasn’t going to push him further than he wanted to go (this was just a friendly conversation after all), but he left the conversation just as stuck as he was before.

I left feeling frustrated. If you ask me for my opinion and ideas, don’t blame me if they’re too hard or scary for you. (After all, if you want to go places that other people are not going, you may have to take a different path to get there.)

I was annoyed that there were options right there in front of him, but he wouldn’t take them.
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Something is Better Than Nothing

When it comes to pursuing our goals, finding a deeper sense of purpose, or mastering a skill, doing something and taking some action is always better than doing nothing.

That is until we set a goal that is too far out of reach or our ideals gets in the way. Then our pursuit of continued action is replaced by the realization of how far we have to go to get to where we want to be.

It’s then that nothing instead of something seems justifiable.

Let me give you an example: let’s say you set the goal of practicing your art every day for a month. Three days in, you have extra meetings before and after work, and then a friend needs help moving. Before you know it, you’re waking up the next day and realizing that you won’t meet your goal this month because you missed a day.

What do you do next? Most people would quit. Why bother fighting for a goal that’s already gone?

The month passes and you only practiced a total of two times.

It’s easy to idealize an all or nothing mindset, when something is usually better than nothing.

Or let’s say you have a side business you work on daily. You hope to create a good income that you can eventually scale up and go full time. Today you only have 15 minutes instead of your usual two hours. What do you do? It’s easy to skip it because it’s not long enough to get any real work done.

But something is better than nothing.

Let’s say you want to go back to school but need to take the GRE before you apply. You set the goal of spending some time studying every day for three month until the test, but then you have a busy first week. It’s easy to postpone the test and tell yourself you need more time. But you’ve already done that twice.

Your fear of not scoring well keeps you from taking the test at all. But the truth is that a pretty good test score is better than no test score. Continue Reading