Category: creation

Design the Life You Love: Vision Letter (spoiler: find out what I’m doing after the trpi)

In my desperate attempt to “figure out my life” before I go on this life-figuring-out trip, I grabbed two books. OK, it wasn’t that dramatic: my side hustle working with a career coach on her social media had me listen to a Hidden Brain podcast about “Designing Your Life.” One of the books I was led to was “Design The Life You Love” by Ayse Birsel. It applies design principles from a furniture/graphic designer.

Basically, you “deconstruct” your life and look at the present-day constraints, values, etc. You examine these from various “points of view.” Then you pick some role models that represent values that are important to you.

Then you “reconstruct” – use a metaphor for what your current life is, and what you want your life to look like. You highlight your values – your “manifesto”, et voila! New life!

What was interesting about this exercise was I noticed there were some pretty obvious things I was denying or putting down in context. In context, I was thinking about everything as will this make me income? Out of context – deconstructed down to the pure form, the values, what it represents, who I want to be like – it adds back up to a pretty rad existence. One that would be truly my own, and that would be energizing. Kind of the point of quitting a job I’m lackluster about, and a workplace that leaves me feeling like the peg that was trying to be shoved into the round hole.

My favorite part of the book was – shocker – “Vision Letter As Expression.” The best part is she had a template that tied all the previous work (answers) together. And it was the big reveal at the end (doo doo doo, wouldn’t know anything about wanting to go ahead and skip to the end!)

Just like how they tell you to share your weight loss/etc goals publicly, it’s also the part that I thought would be helpful to share, for some accountability. It is my vision statement, overall – maybe not  When people are like, Yeah, trip, awesome, BUT, “what are you going to do after?” I’m going to be like:

Dear Future Lauren,

I deconstructed my life recently and realized my constraints are my current career path, too little “me” time for nature/creative projects/ exercise. I’m really extroverted & value family, travel, and novelty.

My role models are Andy Warhol, Marie Forleo, Beyoncé, and anyone who’s ever published a book.

They remind me of my own values of strength, innovation, colors, energy, NGAF, creativity, ground-breaking, entrepreneurialship, tenacity and seeing things through to completion.

My life today is me gnawing my fingernails in the skydiving office, or maybe even still panicking in the car in the parking lot outside.

I’m redesigning it to be carried in a soaring hot air balloon, full of color, life, heat, energy, adventure, 30,000 foot views, etc.

What really matters to me is feeling love, fulfilled, soaring, serenity. It involves creative studying traction. Energy, self-care, travel. It’s positive, solid, and playful.



RIP Bowie.

I went as Aladdin Sane for Halloween 2015 … Shocked to hear the news today. He was creating until his last. Here’s to the ultimate confident creative. RIP. 

Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech: On Writing

Neil Gaiman‘s 2012 commencement speech at U Arts Philly contains a number of gems for writers – “everything I wish I’d known starting out”:

  • “[…] the prospect of four more years of enforced learning before I’d become the writer I wanted to be was stifling.”
  • I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it up as I went along, they just read what I wrote and they paid for it, or they didn’t, and often they commissioned me to write something else for them.”
  • He made a list “of everything I wanted to do […]. I didn’t have a career. I just did the next thing on the list.”
  • When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do.”
  • “If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that. And that’s much harder than it sounds and, sometimes in the end, so much easier than you might imagine.”
  • As a journalist, he “was being paid to learn how to write economically,  crisply, sometimes under adverse conditions, and on time.” 
  • Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes  it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing […]. Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be […] was a mountain.”
    • “And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain.”
    • “I said no to […] proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain.”
  • “I learned to write by writing.”
  • “The problems of failure are problems of discouragement, of hopelessness, of hunger. You want everything to happen and you want it now, and things go wrong.
  • “I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn’t get the money, then you didn’t have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.”
    • “Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me.”
  • “I don’t know that it’s an issue for anybody but me, but it’s true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money, either.  The things I did because I was excited, and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them”
  • “The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police. In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t have to make things up any more.”
  • “[…] now they had to earn a certain amount every month just to keep where they were. They couldn’t go and do the things that mattered, and that they had really wanted to do; and that seemed as a big a tragedy as any problem of failure.”
  • “And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once misspelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline looks like a real name…”
  • “[…]whatever you do you have one thing that’s unique. You have the ability to make art.”
  • “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.
  • “I didn’t stop and look around and go, this is really fun. I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride. But there were parts of the ride I missed, because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit I was on.That was the hardest lesson for me, I think: to let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.
  • “Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult, in this case recording an audio book, and I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall, and she said it helped.”
  • “And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.”

-Neil Gaiman

h/t Tim Ferriss

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