Browsing Category Persistence

This Guy Really Hates Me (how to take criticism)

Sometimes you put your heart and soul into something that matters and someone else won’t be into it. Just because it’s meaningful to you doesn’t mean it’s meaningful to everyone else.

Though that’s easy to say, it’s much more difficult to implement.

You can’t make everyone happy. We all know that. But no matter what we do there are parts of us that want to make everyone happy! It’s maddening!

No matter what you make, some people will love it and others will hate it (unless you make pizza or cute animal gifs).

I recently got this comment on this blog post (Note: if you’re reading this out loud to your children (do people do that?), language ahead):

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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 for you…

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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.

Something is better than nothing.

Let’s say you want to start a blog. You start playing with Wordpress or Squarespace but it’s confusing. You spent all day on Saturday trying to make it look right, but now you’re just frustrated.

It’s easy to quit there. Or you can choose to start writing, even though it’s not perfect…

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Finding Purpose in Life: The Long Guide to Finding Your Life’s Work

It was an earnest request: “I’d like to know how to find your vocation.”

We were sitting in one of Seattle’s finest coffee establishments. It was a sunny May morning— the best kind of day that you could hope for.

And I suddenly found myself unsure of where to start.

This is what I do! This is how I love to help people, but to answer the question so directly is challenging!

This is because the answer is usually pretty nuanced. It has to address who you, where you are, what you’re looking for in that question, and how you think of yourself, work, and life.

Here’s the trick about it: finding purpose in life is both beautifully simple and as complex as every person.

Finding your calling, vocation, and life’s work are about finding your identity. It’s about living into a deeper expression of who you are as a human.

As I expressed in the Meaning Manifesto, you were made to make something. If there’s one message for you to take away from that, it’s that you have something to say. So the question of finding your life’s work in essence is the question: “What do you want to say?”

And by say, I don’t mean actually say with words (though it could mean that), I mean create. Basically, what’s the impact you want to have on the world around you?

In this post, I’m going to lay out how you answer the question.

Expectations and a Promise

Before we really get into it, let me offer some expectations and a promise. This isn’t one of those click-bait posts on “How to Find You Calling in Three Easy Steps”. As I’ve written about before, those don’t work. If there was an easy way to find your life’s work, you would have found it by now. Give yourself some credit! You’re smarter than that!

Easy answers are too easy. So I want to peel back a few more layers of the process. Teach you more about how to think about where you are and where you are going in a helpful and productive way, and then (spoiler alert!) hear from you what else you need to know.

It’s also important to note that I think of the words calling, vocation, passion, and life’s work as all referring to the same things: what makes work meaningful.  I find that most of treatments that separate out those words are splitting hairs, and are not very helpful in a practical sense.  You are welcome to feel otherwise, I just want to make sure we all have the same expectations for this article.

Here’s my promise: I will not offer you cliches. I will not give you some thin advice that makes you feel good and get excited and then an hour later you’re right back where you started.

If you want cliches, try BuzzFeed or Hallmark.

Finally, this article is long.  It is divided into two major sections to make it easier to navigate: How to Think About Your Life’s Work and How to Find Your Life’s Work.

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How Getting Stuck Leads to Progress

We’ve all been there: stuck, discouraged, lost, maybe even burnt-out and frustrated. And I know that many of you are there right now.

Have you ever thought about what causes “stuckness”? I don’t mean, *how* you got stuck, but why one person may feel stuck while another in the same situation doesn’t?

It’s our stories that define our stuckness.

We all have stories about how life is supposed to go, whether we realize it or not. We learn these stories from many places throughout our lives, particularly in our early and most formative years. The communities, cultures, organizations, and institutions that have shaped us tell us stories about who we are and the way life should go.

We often don’t notice these stories until things start to get complicated. We take a hit we didn’t expect: we loose a job, a relationship, a scholarship, an opportunity. However it happens, we find ourselves outside the storyline that we thought we’d be living.

We hear ourselves thinking things like:

  • “It’s not supposed to be like this.”
  • “It shouldn’t be this hard.”
  • “I shouldn’t have missed that chance.”
  • “People like me aren’t supposed to _________ .”
  • “It’s all supposed to fall into place. What did I do wrong?”
  • “I shouldn’t have to be struggling like this.”
  • And other more specific versions of all of these.

These are terrifying places outside the borders of the life we expected to be living. These are difficult and painful seasons that ask us to redefine how we think about ourselves, our lives, and our work.

It’s in these moments that we most want to give up because the stuck-ness and sense of loss can be nearly unbearable.

But these moments are also full of possibility.

When life takes you off of the path you anticipated, the stories that have guided you fail to make sense of your present.

In these moments there are two choices: try to fight your way back to the known path and back into the story, or begin writing your own.

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