I always said I wanted to be a carpenter when I grew up.
Jesus’s auld lad was a carpenter and he was pretty important so I thought I could create the next Messiah.
I was all in, spending time in sheds with saws, hammers and nails to craft bows, arrows and swords.
They were much sturdier and more effective in fights than the weapons I had imagined in my head.
I remember writing my letter to Santa one year and asking for a power workshop as a part of my CPD for carpentry.
It was a woodwork set for kids, with an electrical lathe, saw and other power tools.
It came with safety glasses although I am still not sure how they protected my little fingers from being butchered.
I used my best handwriting for the presents I wanted most on my Santa list.
Christmas morning, around 5 am and I ran down the stairs making sure to make as much noise as possible.
I had the idea that the more enthusiasm I showed, the more impressed the big man would be.
I nearly took the door off the hinges going into the room with the presents, I opened everything and sat in a moment of meditation…………
The fat bollix.
How could he do this to me? He didn’t bring the power workshop.
I wasted no time in sharing my true feelings with my parents at how Santa could be so thoughtless and cruel.
They looked nervous, then at each other and nodded in agreement.
He must have screwed them over too I thought.
Fast forward two days when I was putting the final touches on the master plan to get him back for what he did and my parents told me they found the power workshop behind the couch in the sitting room where the Christmas tree was.
The relief……..I didn’t know if I had it in me to kill Santa.
I burnt the revenge plans in the stove and forgave him in prayer, thinking that was the best way of reaching him as I wasn’t sure if he accepted letters after Christmas.
My parents were relieved that I had forgiven him, they must have liked him a lot as they didn’t like the thought of me falling out with him.
How We Spent Our Time As Children
When we were children we did things because they were fun. Like playing games, making weapons out of wood and allowing our imaginations run wild.
We were creating new things which didn’t exist before out of something current.
Creating our reality.
When it came to dreams and aspirations, we went all in.
Everything you can imagine is real. – Pablo Picasso
As a kid, we knew this to be true. Our lives proved it.
We could make up games and play for hours with a single stick, what more was there to be considered than a simple question.
Am I enjoying this?
The idea of money, job security, social status and benefits never entered our heads when we thought of what we would do when we grew up.
Why would they?
What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?
Since then, the carpentry dreams became less appealing and I went down different career paths.
Apparently, there are additional responsibilities as an adult we didn’t need to know as a child.
The question remains.
Occasionally going over and back with thoughts on what I want to be when I grow up.
I have done a lot of work to clean the slate so that I can have some of the space I had as a child.
Dusting off the imagination and using it feels good again.
Each thing I have done has gripped me and taught me a lot but the more time that passed the looser the grip became.
Until I let go.
That question was never meant to have one definitive answer, it’s only written in pencil.
In fact, it’s a terrible question.
We no longer have to choose one thing and stick with it for the rest of our lives, that’s out of date thinking.
We can open up the possibility of finding something which works for us.
Opening up the possibility of something working out and getting better is massively underrated.
Just holding that thought that maybe there is something out there we can do which allows us to say “I enjoy this” is powerful.
Much like the quote above imagining something is the first step to it coming into our reality and as my good friend says;
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step – Lao Tzu
Just because we studied or worked for years as an engineer, caretaker, teacher or mechanic does not mean we should continue to do that when we are not enjoying it.
If work is what we spend most of our lives doing then surely we get to choose what we do.
We can pivot.
To pivot means to have one foot planted firmly while we change position.
The planted foot provides some stability and security while we explore the directions we can move in.
This is not the same thing as dropping everything straight away, there are things to consider and work out first.
What Is There To Work Out?
For years I have invested in myself so that I could work out when I needed to pivot and in what direction.
I have invested most of what I had, emotions, money and time into self-development.
Books, courses, coaching, mindset training, lifestyle choices amongst other things.
They all have served me in there respective ways to be where I am today, at the start of a new chapter.
The most important thing they have led to, greater self-awareness.
In being able to see my situation more clearly, to be able to uncover that intuition we each have and then to back myself in what I do as a result of it.
Put simpler for all the personal development work I did, it came down to listening to myself and taking action based on that.
Only through action can we go on our personal journeys.
No one will believe in us more than we can, in order to create the change we want in our lives then we have to listen to ourselves and back it up with action.
That means people around us will question us, asking what we are doing, telling us all the reasons it won’t work or offering their advice on what we should be doing instead.
This has to be acknowledged and ignored, we are on our solo mission of finding out what we are capable of, if this is important enough then we won’t be held back.
Getting out of our comfort zone on a regular basis will give us a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Personally, the first thing was having the awareness that I was not enjoying what I was doing.
Not enjoying may be putting it lightly but there was a deep feeling that I was not doing the work I was capable of doing.
In that awareness, a question came to mind.
Am I considering changing profession because this is hard or because it’s no longer for me?
If it’s simply hard then I need to push through until it gets better, if there is no future here then get out.
Then I read something about this, apparently, I was not alone in asking this question.
There is something called “The Dip” which appears in our lives defined by Seth Godin in his blog here.
Understanding The Dip helps us to see whether the situation we are in is worth sticking with or if it’s time to move on.
When I was in that period I had to take a step back and do a lot of analysis on my next professional move.
Listening to this audiobook called “The Dip” helped me a lot to see my situation clearer.
It’s not that this was an easy thing to do but it was necessary.
If we can find out what kind of dip we are in it gives us greater self-awareness of other possibilities in our professional or personal lives.
Listening to that 90 mins of audio was one of the things which allowed me to make that pivot in my professional life and to view work differently.
If you feel you are in a dip then it may help you too.
Projects Vs. Career
I would rather have little money doing what I love than having lots of money doing something that makes me miserable.
Again just my own situation and the lens I am currently viewing the world through.
Money is still important, put best;
Money doesn’t solve all your problems, but it does solve your money problems – James Altucher
I currently view my work as a series of projects and mini-experiments.
Viewing work as this removes a lot of the anxiety around the outcome of each project.
No longer having a career in the traditional sense.
We are not defined by our work.
I have made the mistake before of tying my self-worth into my work.
When the ship went down, I went down with it.
A perfect recipe for suffering.
If a certain project does not turn out as intended then it’s easy to adjust the sails slightly and concentrate on a different approach or let go and work on the next project.
Each project involves being creative and just in case you are wondering you are creative too.
This is simply what works best for me at the moment.
I am going back to my childhood question often.
Am I Enjoying This?
I realise there’s lots of hard work to be done.
The work I am doing when I enjoy it is more productive than when I was trying harder and taking it more seriously.
I am doing more work now than ever before and much like the cliché it doesn’t feel like work.
There are tough days when I think wouldn’t it be nice to have regular hours and regular income, that’s when I start self-sabotaging.
When this happens I can acknowledge that this is normal and part of the process and then do something productive.
The thing is it eventually passes and when it does I realise why I am doing what I am doing.
The last year, in particular, have been largely based on listening to my gut, trusting the process and leaning into projects.
More importantly, in backing myself and leaping first.
All with the intent of producing work I will stand behind.
Maybe it will help people, maybe not, keep showing up and keep creating work.
I have found the biggest effort and work is required at the beginning of the process, to navigate the dip.
Once we recognise the dip then we can start to explore our options.
We can start to use our imagination again.
It’s not as if we have to drop everything, there are always mini-experiments that we can test in our lives to find out what might work or what doesn’t.
Asking ourselves the question, is there something we might enjoy doing that we could explore?
These experiments require some risk but doesn’t everything worth doing in our lives.
They help us understand what may work for us and what we are capable of.
Once we are open to the possibility of finding out what we are capable of doing then we have taken the first step on a journey which may be the most important one we go on in our lives.
PS: Can You Do Me A Favour?
The whole point of this project is to help you make changes you want in your life.
In order to do that getting some feedback, questions, recommendations or anything else then it will help me to understand how to create better work.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will read your email and get back to you asap.
Thanks for reading.