Making the most of it.

Last weekend I was at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. I bought my ticket last fall– one of the lucky 3000.

WDS is comprised of main stage speakers, workshops, film screenings and unofficial meet ups that try to answer this question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”

Since it was only three days long, there was a temptation to pack in as much as possible. At events like this it’s common to hear, “I want to make the most of it.”

It got me thinking about what it means to make the most of my time.

Usually when we say that we want to “make the most of it,” we mean that we want to do the most— meet the most people, attend the most sessions, hit the most bars up at the pub crawl. I’ve tried this technique many, many times. It seems logical that by doing the most, we make the most of our time. But it’s never seemed to work all that well for me.

I came to WDS with a desire to experiment with making the most of my time here by figuring out how to be the most (present) rather than to do the most.

This new approach had me sitting in the basement of the hostel typing this post before I sat to meditate and then walked to the grocery store instead of socializing and bar hopping with my fellow attendees. I’ll admit I’m suffered a little from FMS (fear of missing something), but the message I got after checking in with myself after the final speaker of the day was: shower, eat and then re-evaluate. Upon evaluation, the message was write, meditate, groceries.

I worked actively with trusting that I’d still have maximum fun and cross paths with those I’m meant to meet. In taking care of myself, I was also more present to recognize the magic and participate in the events. For example, I had no idea where I was going to stay the days following the conference. One rad gal I met at the very last session of the summit offered me up a place to stay a few days while I get my bearings in Portland!

In the concrete the practice looked like this:

At every break I take a moment to check in with myself. Closed eyes and several seconds of reflections. How do I feel? What do I want or need? How’s my energy?

When I’m feeling distracted or bored or tuned-out in any way I check in again: What’s going on? What do I need? How do I get that for myself?

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Steve Jobs and Turning Don’ts Into Actionable Do’s

As a lover of TED and other inspirational talks, I’m shocked I didn’t listen to Steve Job’s popular 2005 Stanford Commencement Address “How to Live Before you Die” until today (hat tip Scott Dinsmore). He reminded me of the importance of moving forward by following our joy, even when it doesn’t make sense at the time. For example, he took a calligraphy class and fell in love with fonts and spacing even though it seemingly had no “real world” value. He later used this know how in designing the interface for Apple’s Macintosh computers.

It’s a wonderful speech and I recommend you carve out 15 minutes to give it a listen. He ends with some advice. Here’s what he says:

“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drowned out your own inner voice. And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I love the sentiment behind Job’s advice. As a language enthusiast, I got hooked into the words themselves. For me, how we say something isn’t mere semantics or word play. It directs our thoughts and ultimately our actions. “Don’ts” instruct us on what to stop doing but do a poor job of instructing us on what to start doing instead. This is pretty major in the case of Job’s advice because what he wants us to stop doing is living the status quo which is, by definition, what most of us are doing! What are we to do instead? When his advice is reframed as “do’s” a new path unfurls before us as does a new direction. We begin to draw the map of a brave, new life. (This is an internal process some of us do automatically.)

Here’s Jobs’ advice reframed as “Do’s” (I kept the last line intact because it’s already a stellar “do” statement):

Your time is limited. Be certain you are living your life by your design. Protect it  from outside influences like cultural expectations and the status quo.Think for yourself. Live by the results of your own deep thinking and understanding. Draw your own conclusions. Listen to your inner voice. When others opinions get noisy, get quiet. Hone your hearing. Create practices to dialogue with your inner voice. Give it permission to speak up. Give gratitude when it does and act in ways that honor what it’s told you. And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

When I initially had this idea I thought it’d be easy because, I conjectured, I would just change “don’t” to “do” and write the opposite of what he said. But, as in any translation, I found myself with many options. Perhaps you’d like to weigh in on how you’d reframe any given piece of his advice as a do or tell me how you thought I did?

Deliberate Inefficiency

knead by cesarastudillo
Sewing is inefficient. It’s faster and (usually) cheaper to buy your clothes than to make them.

Handwriting letters is inefficient. E-mail! Text messages! Get with the 21st century, right?

Making artisan French bread (a three day process!) might win the ultimate prize in inefficiency.

Here’s the deal though: There’s so much satisfaction in the making. In process. In creation. In being without doing.

Keep calm and go sloooooooowwwww.

Chew on this:
I recently started using the beta web version of Lift. An app that helps folks achieve their goals and track habits they’re trying to cultivate. There are 9,177 people trying to cultivate the habit of “Stop and enjoy life.” They are cultivating slowness. And being deliberately inefficient.

When you stop to smell the flowers, write a letter (lick the envelop, adhere the stamp and walk it to the mailbox), or spend twenty blissful minutes with your hands in bread dough you are cultivating the art of deliberate inefficiency.

Deliberate inefficiency is a quiet and enjoyable act of defiance against our fast-paced, I’m-too-busy-to-notice-much-less-enjoy-life.

Inhale. Exhale. Ahhhhhhh…

Photo Credit: cesarastudillo