Welcome friends to Episode #112 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. There’s often a time in our life where the day to day doesn’t cut it anymore. We want some of the magic and the mystique. We are looking for something intangible and extraordinary. A feeling and an experience where we feel connected to the moment in such a way that we get lost in it. Today, we’ll look at what it means to have that feeling of attention and detail to a craft – and to be inspired again by our work.
I recently went back to my childhood home and was cleaning out my room when I noticed a few of my projects. These were items that I had spent copious amounts of time on as a child. A book I wrote, poems, art projects – even the organization of my jewelry box. It was like I was able to see inside the head of a focused and creative person.
Decades later, I realized that so much more had been added to life that there were fewer moments where I felt like I had the time and space to dedicate myself to something fully. There was just so much more to be done. I felt more like an assembly line operator where things would come onto my desk and I would have to process them to get them out as soon as I could. Emails to write so that the ball was now in someone else’s court. Decks to present so we could make decisions and move on. Trying to get as much done in as short of a time as possible.
In the drive to efficiency, I noticed that the root cause was a sense of unease. I had to get it done so I could feel better. I didn’t appreciate all the things that were coming my way. I just wanted them done. Yet, I noticed that this wanting to be done was never-ending. As soon as I said, “Ok – just push hard for the next 6 months to get this done” it became a never-ending sprint. Another thing would come into my world and I would push again for another 6 months. Enter exhaustion, boredom, burnout and overwhelm.
The Pull of Something More
What was really needed at that time was what I eventually discovered – the pull of something even more compelling. Seeing my life and my work as my craft. We think of craft as if it has to be a special, art-driven endeavor but I would challenge you to see it for what it really is – seeing the magic of your everyday life..
What if we treated our work and life as a craft and not something that we were just trying to finish as quickly as possible? What if our experience of work could be crafted of simple, pleasurable and highly effective moments that we string together, one intentional moment at a time? We would be highly engaged for a long time. What happens when you’re highly engaged for a long time? You become a craftsperson. You are fine-tuning your craft through the details, your growth and development of your skills.
Everything can become a craft, whether it’s the time with your family, being present with others, going on a vacation, or even knowing what to order in a restaurant. The main criteria is that it passes through your figurative hands. What if you were the one that transforms the situation, the room and the end result?
I often think of the legacy we can leave behind not because we are trying to leave a legacy, but that we allow ourselves to truly experience and appreciate life to such an extent that your willingness and clean energy changes things around you.
When you can appreciate life, it allows you to accept situations as they are and then elevate the experience even more. What it looks like is a sense of attention to that moment that allows you to notice and not bypass what actually matters. You might see that you won’t get the buy-in you need to move it forward without adding this one piece of work. You might see that the way you’re speaking to someone isn’t working. When you’re focused on your work and your life as your craft, you aren’t afraid of the details. You allow yourself to really use all your senses to tune into what is actually happening.
Your Craft Can Change Your Experience with Time
Working on your life as if it was your craft allows you to be more efficient and use time more effectively. It’s the opposite of the daydreaming artist persona – it is the present creator persona. The one who sees that you are not broken, nor is anyone else – so you don’t need to fix things or escape life. Yet, if life is presenting you with something to obviously solve, work on, or respond to – you do it willingly. Without personal drama or agenda.
If you’re listening to this right now and there’s something in your life that feels a little bit off, check in with yourself to see if you’ve been rushing through life lately. I often work with my clients to slow things down not from a time point of view but from a feeling point of view. For example, are you trying to cover up that feeling of unease, overwhelm or discomfort with something else like another trip, project or hobby? Are you filling your calendar and agenda because boredom with extra time is the last thing you want? If you don’t feel comfortable being bored or with yourself for a bit, it’s natural to want to fill all your waking hours with something “productive”.
Productivity that isn’t important is an illusion. It covers up the real thing you need to do and gives you a reason to put off making the decision you know you need to make or doing the work you actually need to do. Usually that means deciding if the work we’re doing has purpose or meaning and if so, what it is. If we don’t believe in what we’re doing, we won’t put the attention, awareness and focus on what is required for us to do it well.
When you do put your attention on something, your energy around it changes. You decide to do your work not from a place of dread or overwhelm, but from a place of calm and purposefulness. Whether or not you realize it, the way you do your work is going to be at times more important than what you do. The result of working this way is that you have less fear or anger driving you and instead, you are more courageous about how you do your work and how you express what you know to be true. You are becoming more you in the process.
In summary, life isn’t about producing, it’s about creating and contributing ourselves to the mix so that we allow ourselves to be fully human – present and whole – within the experience. Not because it always feels good or easy, but because we’re committed to painting our own versions of life that may not look like what others have achieved. No amount of doing is going to make our problems disappear so the unlock is to change our experience of life. This is your craft and you’re allowed to make it your own.
Have an amazing week. I’ll talk to you next time.
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