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Posts Tagged ‘work’

You could argue that my daily life consists of a string of rituals, and you would be right. Ever since I was little I’ve attached value to doing certain things every day and as it shows in my Surprise of the Days, I believe that repetition is useful for something. Lately – besides my new getting-up ritual which includes, but is not limited to, showering, brushing teeth, flossing (new!), doing a sun-salutation, watering plants etc. – I’ve added a couple of new rituals. I call them my check-in and check-out.

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I am so spoiled.

Up until now, I’ve been in situations where I’ve always had a plan. I’ve been taught how to create a plan and how to follow through. And that’s what I’m good at. But lately, this safe haven of creating my own processes and world has not been enough. In this blog post, I’m exploring why and what to do about it.

So. To give you an idea of how I handle things that need action. Be it an idea, setting up my own business or planning a day out, this is what I think always happens:

1) Decide whether I want to do it
2) Make a plan
3) Follow the plan
4) Monitor the plan
5) If the plan is going in the right direction: good! If the plan is not going where I want it to: change or make a new plan and start at 1)
(I’m sure there are thousands of theories on this. This is just something from my own experience)

Lately, I’ve encountered certain situations where I went from 1 to 2 to 3, but at 4 and 5 I was at a loss. Monitoring a plan and know whether it’s going in the right direction requires some background knowledge and experience of the subject at hand. If it comes down to acquisition for my business, this background knowledge is close to zero for me.

What I also experienced is that this makes me feel restless, down, unsure or all the above. It creates chaos in my head. Not a good thing. So I started thinking about how I can do something about this.

There are two things I could do:
1) I could make a plan that will advance my understanding of how to do this and how to monitor this. This plan might encompass learning about acquisition and learning how to monitor it better. It might also entail making up my own strategies to see whether things are going in the right direction. Creativity together with knowledge can overcome anything! Fight this chaos and bring it down!
2) (and here it comes) I could teach myself how to be more comfortable in chaos. The thing here is, that I’m simply not used to not knowing what to do. I’m not used to not knowing for sure whether I’m doing ‘good things’ or going ‘the right way’. This not knowing is not something I can put into lists, structure or point at. It is scary, but at the same time I think there’s an important lesson to learn from it.

It is a fact that a human being can not know or learn EVERYTHING. If you have the feeling you’ve mastered something, this could either be true, or it could just be you, feeling like you’ve mastered it, while there’s in fact so much more to learn. If you realize there’s always another level to attain, your perspective changes and you realize how much you don’t know. There is always chaos around. Even if you don’t open your eyes to it.

Now, is that a bad thing? I think not. I will, however, make it unnecessarily difficult on myself if I do not learn how to deal with a situation in which I don’t exactly know what I’m doing (which, in my head, sometimes translates to chaos). Being comfortable in chaos, being able to progress despite uncertainties about the plan is something I’m willing to learn over time.

Note how I’m not saying you should not HAVE a plan. I think having a plan is good, because it provides you with something to hang on to. But. Clinging to a plan, however, is a very different story. So I think that both having a plan AND knowing how to detach yourself from the plan is the magic trick. Trying to control the chaos (by creating a plan) so you always have a next step to undertake, but at the same time knowing that you can’t control everything (by not clinging to having a plan). That’s how you keep being flexible. Once more, it’s all about letting go.

So my next question is: how do you do that? How do you learn to be comfortable in chaos?
As always, I have a plan :). I’m starting with fully experiencing the chaos. To teach myself how to be more comfortable in chaos. So hopefully, eventually, I can accept the chaos. I will fully acknowledge chaos when I’m experiencing it, with all the ever changing plans and struggles and uncertainty that comes with it, while being conscious this is what it is. Chaos. It will be hard work. But we will persevere!

Then, let’s see what happens.

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Half a year ago, when I still have a regular job at a company, the dream of visiting my sister who lives at the other side of the ocean was there, but I never acknowledged it, because I ‘only had 20 vacation days’.

It was only after giving up this job, that I realized this was in fact a very silly reason not to go visit her.

Seth Godin in this talk explains this by saying that we all have a lizard brain whose job it is to be afraid when you’re about to do something cool. We chicken out. A chicken only has a lizard brain. Us humans, in addition to the lizard brain (the amygdala) have other parts of our brain that makes us the cool beings we are. And I’m in the learning process of using these parts more and more.

I like this talk. It inspires me to get more done and get less stuck in the things I’m doing.

Go watch it!

http://the99percent.com/videos/5822/Seth-Godin-Quieting-the-Lizard-Brain

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Today I had an appointment to get my company officially registered. The reason why I hadn’t done this earlier is, that I did not have a name for the company yet. If you’re interested, here’s the story of the quest (or hunt) for my company’s name.

Chapter 1: The early days…

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And after a few weeks of not quite knowing, it all fell into place a couple of weeks ago: I knew what I was going to do.

Up until then, there was a vague idea, and a vague explanation. Now, it’s all so crystal clear. And that feels good!

This is what it is. I used the WHY, HOW, WHAT principle as was explained by Simon Sinek at a TedTalk. Watch it, it is pretty inspiring!

My WHY:

CONGRUENCY: I believe in the feeling that things fall into place. They feel right. They are supposed to be like this. Whether it’s quitting your job to start up your own company, finding a solution to a design problem or using a product for a specific purpose. All that should be congruent with everything else that is part of reality at that moment.
VALUE: I believe that everything I do should have value. I try to only do things that I think are valuable to me, the world and other people in the world.

My HOW:

NATURAL: I do this by turning things into something natural. Use of a product should be intuitive, easy, unobtrusive, effortless and supportive of the goals.
STORIES: I do this by listening to stories of real people. Every story is worth listening to, and is of value because you can learn from it. Feeling connected to others adds value to the process.
CREATIVE:I do this by being creative, by looking beyond the problem at hand and finding the solution beyond the ones that already exist.
SMALL: I do this by starting small and then spreading. I believe in an agile, flexible process that fits with what is really needed at that point in time. Doing lots of little things at a time and adjusting them has more value than doing one bulk of work with the possibility of getting it wrong. Without losing the overview of what is really important.

My WHAT:

USERS: I look at users
SITUATION: I look at the situation the user is in
NEEDS: I look at user’s needs, even the ones they don’t know they have
PROBLEMS: And then I solve problems to make things easier.
SPECIFIC: I do this for specific situations and target groups.

(I can hear you all ask: of WHAT exactly? I’m working on getting that clear right now)

I call myself the user’s advocate.

Pleased to meet you.

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I went to the Waarmaakdag the other day. Which roughly translates to ‘Making things happen day’. It was fabulous! It reminded me of how much I want to do this whole setting-up-your-own-business thing and of all the people in that world that I want to learn from and be part of.

There were experts on all kinds of different fields. A guy I already knew gave me a kick in the butt to go record my very own elevator pitch, so here it is! (in Dutch)

Elevator pitch of my very own company which does not have a name yet

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I love people’s stories. I think every person has an interesting story that is worth hearing and telling. Maybe this is the reason why I like using storyboarding in my work.

Storyboarding is a technique that originated in the film industry, but more and more product developers are using it in their design processes. It puts the use of a product in its context and focuses on the user and his interaction with the product.

A storyboard is a couple of images that together form a story around the use of a product. For examples, simply google on storyboard and look at the images available.

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