And I don’t mean simply where are you physically. Because whether you’re in Berkeley or Portland or Charlotte, where you are mentally and emotionally affects you deeply. In fact, where you are is critical to your happiness and your success. So in this brief article, we’re going to look at how to figure out and describe where you are, and why it’s so important.
Why it matters.
Where you are is an important question, because if you’re going to live the life you want to live, you’ve got to make time to think about where you are, how you got here, and where you’re going. Another word for this is perspective. You need perspective to live the life you want. So last week, we looked at how you got where you are. In fact, you might want to jump over there and do that brief exercise after you finish reading this article. Because in that article, we learned that in just 30 minutes of free writing about how you got where you are (“Here”), that you can get tremendous perspective. But why is any of this important? Because “…the unexamined life is not worth living,” to quote the ancient philosopher Plato.
Because you matter.
And I know. It’s possible that you feel pretty beat up right now. And whether that’s because you just had a fight with your partner, or you don’t have a reliable partner, or your work sucks, or whatever — you matter. We need what you bring on your best day. So let’s get you more best days. And one of the key steps to having more best days is getting perspective. Which means being aware of where you are, how you got here, and where you’re going.
So please do this, now.
Let’s lock in this next step. It’s like the exercise last week, with a new prompt (and no — you don’t have to do last week’s project to get the benefit of doing this project):
Set aside 30 minutes — alone — where you can write at your computer, without interruption.
Open a fresh document
Set the document for single spacing
12 point font
Once you start writing, write as fast as you can, without stopping to clean it up — and don’t stop until you have filled one page.
Once you’ve filled the page — wherever you are, even mid-sentence — stop. (In other words, even though you’ve set aside 30 minutes, you don’t need to use the whole 30 minutes unless you need it.)
Your prompt for this writing exercise is: “What it looks like here.”
(And yes — you get to decide where “here” is).
I’m here to help.
And yes again — if you’d like a little help with this, let me know. This is what I do everyday with men who are not so different from you — smart, creative men who feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment. So feel free to be in contact with me. I’ll be sure to respond.
Is there someone with whom you would like to develop or deepen love and intimacy? Then keep reading.
I became fascinated with these 36 questions that lead to love after hearing a talk by Mandy Len Catron. I suggest you watch this brief video (under 14 minutes), and then consider exploring the Questions (or at least some of them) following the video.
The first set of questions that lead to love.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
What happens to your mojo every day? Because you woke up today determined to rock it. And then should happened. And then you didn’t rock it. So — what is should? And why — and how — can you move from should to want — to will?
Because the fact is —
Even if you’re mentally healthy, you hear voices.
We all do.
Because your internal voices are the sound track of your life.
And some of the voices are helpful.
But some are not.
Because some of the voices in your head are telling you to make your bed in the morning.
Which could be a good thing.
But some of the voices in your head are telling you what an idiot you are.
Which is not all that helpful.
And some times, the voices merge —
“You’re such an idiot. You can’t even make your bed in the morning!”
Screen your calls.
So it’s important first to admit that you’re hearing voices.
And then, to identify which voices are helpful — and which are not.
Because the voice that reminds you of who you are — and tells you that you can do it — is a good voice.
That voice keeps you moving.
But the voice that says you should be something or someone that you’re not cuts you down — and is not a voice you want to be listening to.
Identify the voice.
So the first step is to identify the voice.
And this is not always possible — but try.
Is that voice your dad’s voice?
A high school coach?
Who is that speaking in your head?
Because it just so happens that there are many voices that have spoken into your life over the years.
Why did you listen?
And the second step is to ask yourself —
Why did I listen?
By what authority did that voice get into my head?
And finally — why did you believe it?
So first, identify the voice — who said it?
Then, ask yourself — why did I listen?
And then, third, ask — why did I believe that voice?
What to do when should happens.
Enough analysis, already.
The real question is — what are you going to do about these voices —
Because they are telling you what you should and shouldn’t do.
And those shoulds and shouldn’ts are killing you.
It’s time to move on.
So the main thing to realize about these shoulds and shouldn’ts is — that they are external.
They might fit.
Or they might not —
But they’re coming to you from somewhere outside of yourself and take a lot of energy —
Energy which you could be spending on rocking your day — if you weren’t so worn out before you even begin.
Here’s how to make the switch.
So what you want to do is make the move from should to want to will.
And in that light — a quick review of terms:
Should is an external voice that someone else spoke into your life that you listened to — for better or for worse — and is still with you.
Want is an internal voice that expresses your own personal longing.
Will is what you have decided to do with each of the moments that add up to your life.
And if you want to live your life fully —
What you do today will come from you want to do — not from what you should do.
Because want takes so much less energy — once you get used to it.
Once you get used to living from your internal center, it actually takes a lot less energy than does should.
Think of it this way:
Let’s say your first language is English, but you also know Spanish.
You can speak Spanish, but unless you’re fluent in Spanish, it will take more energy than if you just stick to your own native language.
So in that analogy, Spanish is more like should, while want is more like English.
It just takes less energy, and less gets lost in translation.
And the fact is, should will never be your native language.
Because something inside of you will always rebel against that foreign authority.
What do you want?
What do you want?
Are you going to take control of your life today?
Or let those shoulds run your life?
In other words — are you going to really look at the question of authority?
Seriously: Is there anyone who has more authority to live your life than you do?
Become the author of your own story.
Remember that at the base of the word authority is the word author.
And what do authors do?
They write stories.
And just because you don’t necessarily think of yourself as a writer —
You’ve been self-sabotaging again. And it isn’t pretty. So why do you keep doing it? And yes, as a creative man — it’s part of your nature. But if you’re ready to try something new — here’s one way to stop self-sabotaging today.
Who will win the day?
So first of all — stop kidding yourself.
Every day’s the same.
Sure, the details vary.
But at the baseline of every day is a battle raging inside of you.
And that battle will have a winner — every time.
And that battle will also have a loser — every time.
There are no ties in the war of art.
So who will win today?
Because you’re part creator.
And yes — at some level, it’s not your fault.
Because you were born with an artist brain, at some level you can’t help yourself.
You are going to look at the world differently than most of the men around you.
So yes —
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just join the crowd of men who wake up, scratch themselves and stumble out into the day?
Maybe — maybe not.
But it’s a moot point.
Because that’s not you.
And you’re also part part saboteur.
And because you’re different, your brain is taking in — and taking on — more than men without artist brains.
Don’t get me wrong.
There are days when you value your artist brain.
And on these days, you’re glad that you’re different.
But sometimes — in fact, often times, it’s overwhelming.
And so, in part to numb the crashing of too many ideas and options in your brain, you sometimes just want the noise to end.
So the question remains — who will win the day today?
Will the creative side win — where you break through the fog and actually make progress?
Or will you sabotage the day and go into a tailspin that could last for days or weeks?
It’s up to you.
So if you’re ready to try something new — something powerful and life-changing — stay tuned.
Because you know by now that I am crazy about your success.
And the reason I write is to help you get your creative artist brain engaged and focused.
So what we’re about to look at is one of those clarifying skills that’s so easy to do.
This little exercise is my adaptation from an exercise from a little book called Let Me Out by Peter Himmelman.
(In fact, it’s Mr. Himmelman’s picture you saw at the top of this post.)
He has a little exercise right along the lines of what you’ve been practicing if you’ve been following these posts for any time at all.
(And if you are new to this blog, sample an earlier post here.)
So here goes —
Hint: you’ll be doing some writing. Please read all of these instructions before you begin:
Get out your paper and pen or pencil — or an open document on your computer.
Consider what you are overwhelmed about today. (In other words, put your self-pity hat on).
And prepare to answer this question: “Why Me?” (In other words, why are you being called upon to do what you are overwhelmed about doing today? It could be anything from why you’re doing the job you’re doing, or why your partner is mad at you — or letting you down. It can be about anything at all, with the focus: “Why me?”).
What’s overwhelming you today? Because when it’s too big, it pins you down by it’s immensity. And when it’s too small, it nags at you because you might be missing something essential. But when it’s just right, you win. So let’s break it down.
It could be anything.
Literally — anything.
It could be something as small as whether to change your socks.
Or it could be something as big as whether to change your career.
But the common denominator here is — making a decision.
Look: you’re a creative man.
And as such, you have this artist brain.
Which means that you can entertain way too many options in that brain at any given time.
Which is good — because you can think of so many solutions.
But also bad — because sometimes you can’t seem to get some of those solutions out of your head so you can choose which one is best.
Which means that sometimes, it goes beyond good or bad — to overwhelming.
And when that happens — you need leverage to break the spell.
You need to break it down.
Break it down.
So break it down.
And you know what I’m about to say, don’t you?
Because if you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all you’ll know that I’m about to suggest that you do some writing.
Writing is one of the best ways to get stuff out of your head and out into the light of day where you can work with it.
Suddenly, it’s less overwhelming.
So do this.
If you’re facing an overwhelming decision today, break it down.
First , get out a piece of paper or a fresh computer document and write out the problem as clearly as you can.
Write as fast as you can, without editing, to get that nasty old overwhelming problem out of the dark recesses of your artist brain and out into the light of day.
Doesn’t it feel great to get all that junk out of your head?
Write out as many as ten solutions to that problem that you just spelled out.
Because you’re getting ready to play the Game of Stones.
But first, you’ve got to do some crossing off.
So here we go.
Take those ten possible options you just wrote down that address the problem you’re facing.
Now – the fun part.
From those ten good options, limit your list of options to just three.
Cross off 7 of those wonderful options.
Come on — you can do this.
Ready to get stoned?
Once you’re down to three possible solutions to your problem, from the original ten solutions, you’re ready to play the Game of Stones.
Because when you’re down to three of the best solutions, it can get really tough to decide which one of those solutions is best.
So now, with only three solutions left —
Write each of those three solutions out on it’s own sheet of paper.
And now — if you’d like — flesh out those solutions a little.
After all, you have a whole sheet of paper for each of those three solutions.
So once you’ve got those three sheets with perhaps a bit more detail that you just wrote, lay them out in front of you.
And here’s where you’ll need ten small stones.
Actually, you could use ten of almost anything small and available.
You could use pennies or nickels or almonds.
The point is to get ten of the same thing.
Everybody must get stoned.
So now you’re down to three solutions and ten stones.
Just lay those sheets out in front of you and start placing stones (or pennies or almonds) on the sheets.
You may have as many as three stones on each of the three sheets, but eventually it comes down to one of the sheets having more stones than any of the rest.
And there you have it!
Fleshed out well.
Have a good time.
So you see — decision making can be fun!
And rewarding, and physically satisfying.
Because the more you play the Game of Stones, the better you’ll get at finding that sweet spot of complex and satisfying solutions to sometimes overwhelming problems.
And as always, if you’d like to give or get some feedback on this post, feel free to write to me at email@example.com.