I read yesterday an article reminding me about the importance of using principles for guidance. For example, money principles help you with realizing your money goals and getting out of vicious cycles. Similarly, an effective principle for bloggers is to write regularly, some even say daily. And for a website about creativity like this one, what could be better than using creativity techniques to get oneself unstuck?
Over the past weeks, I’ve been sinking deeper into a state of total life confusion, which I am slowly starting to get clearer about. I lead a particularly busy life, and perhaps you do too. Then maybe sometimes you feel pulled in so many directions that it’s quite difficult to find your bearings and choosing what to do next, and once that is clear, to actually do it.
Here I give my example about how thinking about having guidance principles can be an effective strategy to find yourself and to get unstuck in life.
My Present State of Confusion
I have a PhD in physics, and about 25 years of experience doing scientific research, so it would be a shame not to use that at all in the future. I also have 3 years of investment banking experience. But over the past several years, my life has been mostly about my artistic endeavors, which have grown so much as to fill up most of my time. There’s playing the piano, figure skating and acroyoga as the main activities, but whenever there’s free time, I’m happy to add in singing and dancing. Another big distraction is that I love to travel.
On the other hand, there are also many time-consuming activities which are less of my choosing, but that do boil down to a choice too: family obligations. All these social contacts are good for me, but they do take up a lot of time. It is not easy to define a principle for saying no in any specific situation when my time is requested. In the past couple years, I’ve just gone along with the social activities that we’re presented to me, but I see I need to curtail this.
The result of several years of putting no focus on earning money has left my resources fully depleted. That’s where a money principle comes in handy. Everyone is different, but the money principle that is baking up for me looks like this: my life focus needs to shift strongly towards a reliable method of earning money, without losing entirely my other activities, but letting these activities recede somewhat to the background.
What would be your core principle around money? For some, what works is earning more than they spend, which can also be phrased as not getting into debt. In the past, I had the tendency of just ignoring money issues, or going the other extreme of aiming to solve all my money problems by making a lot of money. Now I’m trying something different, a sort of portfolio career where I could earn both from my core strengths as a scientist, but also artistically and as a life coach or mentor.
Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel
In the light of this principle, I can see that I am doing well: that on a daily basis, I’ve done things that put me closer to reorganizing my life around the need for earning an income. I’ve been a lot less active at developing my websites, because they are not realistic sources of income for the foreseeable future. But they might become a form of income one day, and I’m not going to the other extreme of giving up on them: instead, they will develop slower, and I am OK with that.
I’ve been moving forward towards putting together a realistic plan for entrepreneurship that would receive government support. I will apply to the program in the coming months, and if admitted, I would receive a minimal wage stipend for one year, that would be sufficient to launch a successful business, doing scientific consulting work, and thus using my scientific research and project management experience.
If I don’t get admitted, then I need to find a job. Don’t ask me what job, as I am totally confused about what it could be: a professorship in physics, mathematics or engineering, a return to high finance, or a programming job in a fashionable industry like artificial intelligence. There are many things I could do, that I don’t feel strongly about. On the other hand, I would feel some pride to have a successful consulting business, with the time freedom to do my artistic activities. But planning for the eventual need for a job, as it’s early September and the start of the school year, I only booked evening figure skating practice: only 2 nights per week from about 7 to 10 PM each Tuesday and Friday. Therefore, figure skating does not become a hindrance to getting a job if I have to.
Offering Piano or Figure Skating Lessons or Workshops
I am very hesitant at starting to offer piano lessons to adult beginners. My teacher thinks I’m ready, but I don’t feel like it. There is a principle that what we resist persists, and under the guidance of this principle, I ought to put out an advert for piano lessons, prepare mentally to give a decent job, and accept that I will not be perfect. Similarly, I am awaiting a training to be a skating coach assistant to beginner skaters. Afterwards, I would be eligible to assist my girlfriend when she teaches a group of beginners. Finally, we also plan to hold our workshops on creativity and well-being along the lines of the materials presented on this website, but we keep seeing that it is a bigger job that is best left for later, and that’s no procrastination. We are slowly building the content.
The Enemy of Boredom
I can say it bothers me to see people close to me that are quite bored, and have no goals in life. I suppose I am a militant against that. Perhaps in reaction to seeing bored people, I make sure I am never bored myself, and I want to actively encourage people to take on new challenges.
I do admit that I do not know how to change people, and I can only offer my own examples, as illustrated in this website. I am happy to mention my brother’s example too, who is also never bored, but with entirely different activities than mine. For example, my brother is highly passionate about martial arts with a 3rd Dan in karate, and when he speaks enthusiastically about it, I can find myself briefly interested in martial arts, but it doesn’t persist beyond that. I am very anti-war by nature, and maybe that’s enough to keep myself away from being truly interested in them.
What I struggle with are the people who are clearly bored, and have excuses for not doing anything about it. I would really like to help these people, but I don’t know how. As I leave it on the backburner to figure out how, I also tell myself that it’s not my problem, and that since I don’t have that problem, maybe I can’t understand what it is like to have that problem. So I give myself a break and take this situation with equanimity.
Conclusion: Having Guidance Principles
Have I resolved creatively here my difficulties at figuring out my future? In part, yes. I think I am finding a mid-way point between what I would like for myself, and what the reality will allow. I used a principle of putting money at the forefront of my priorities in order to guide my decisions.
A useful and deep concept about money that was passed on to me from my wonderful life coach “Curious” George Copsey some 20 years ago, is that “money is a measure of agreement and flow in the world”. Money is about two and more people collectively agreeing how much something is worth to them. In my case, I have put myself outside of consideration of what I am worth for too long. So I have to go out and ask people how much do they feel I am worth to them, and see if we can have an agreement.
It’s a balancing act, just like figure skating and acroyoga are, in a way that is more tangible. I need to balance moment-to-moment a need to work towards producing income streams, while at the same time continuing with the activities I am interested in. This is the opposite of going to extremes, which here would mean giving up on specific activities. This is helping me with getting unstuck, because essentially I am continuing what I want to do, but adjusting course so that making money becomes the main focus of these activities.
I’m curious if you thought of guidance principles that would be useful for yourself as you read this article. What were they and how do they apply in your life?Social tagging: Self-coaching