Why you should practice the art of life crafting

Have you ever been kept awake at night, staring at the ceiling thinking “what the hell am I doing with my life?” Perhaps it’s come to you during your morning commute, crammed into a subway car or stuck in traffic. Or maybe it’s popped into your head while chugging a cup of coffee and scrolling through your Facebook feed on your lunch break.

So many of us often come to face a moment of panic where we ask ourselves this question. Life is such an amazing, precious gift filled with countless possibilities, yet so often we feel unfulfilled.

Why is that? What causes us to feel lost? Here are some reasons:

Prioritizing one aspect of our lives over all others. Maybe you focus on your career to the point where you never have time for your family. Maybe you prioritize going out partying with your friends to the point where you’re compromising your health.

Living someone else’s dreams. Maybe you’re studying to become a lawyer just because that’s what your parents wanted you to be.

Drifting. Maybe you choose the things that happen to come along, satisfying short term needs for comfort and security while leaving you feeling controlled by your circumstances.

Being a member of modern society. Modern society is pretty much set up to make you feel bad about yourself. It needs you to feel ugly so that you will buy more things to look pretty. It needs you to feel poor so you will work harder to have the money to buy things to show other people you’re not poor. It needs you to feel powerless so that you won’t do anything to upset the status quo for the people who have power.

Wouldn’t you rather have a life that is self-empowered, balanced, and with a sense of direction and purpose? Wouldn’t you rather create your own dreams that make you feel excited and fulfilled instead of chasing hand-me-down dreams that make you feel small and empty?

This is why you should practice the art of life crafting.

What is life crafting? It’s the process of living powerfully by actively creating a life you love, a life that rings True for you. Life crafting is not just about planning. It’s about continuously envisioning, exploring, and reflecting on what makes you happy, what you stand for, and where you want to go.

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” — Helen Keller

How can you get what you want out of life if you haven’t stopped to figure out what you want? When you were a child, you practiced dreaming big every day. Maybe you imagined the big house you would live in, or the underwater adventures you would go on as a marine biologist, or performing in front of thousands of people as a great ballerina, or maybe you wanted to be the President. Maybe it’s okay to lose sight of childhood dreams. The real question is are you creating any new ones?

Life crafting is about working to identify what makes you tick, what you stand for, what you won’t stand for, what you’re curious about. It’s about taking those things and sculpting visions for each area of your life: your relationships, your career, your finances, your health, your spirituality, and so on. It’s about setting goals, both short term and long term, for all areas of your life. It’s about charting a course for your life, rather than just “seeing what happens”.

So why is it that the vast majority of people will spend more time planning a one week vacation than they will planning the rest of their lives?

We think we have no idea what we want. We’ve been drifting so long our vision-creating muscles have atrophied.

We know what we want but think we have no idea how to get it. We know we have some big dreams that we really care about, but achieving them seems so daunting that we try to ignore them.

We’re afraid of looking bad. Chasing our dreams means we’ll have to take risks. Taking risks means people might think we are foolish and laugh at our efforts.

We don’t want to upset people. Achieving big goals means we’ll have to grow, which sometimes upsets people who would rather see us stay the same so they don’t feel threatened. Often it means rearranging our priorities, which can upset people when it diminishes their power over us.

We’re lazy. Thinking about our lives takes work! And then the ideas we come up with mean even more work!

While these fears are completely natural, there are many ways to address them. In future posts we’ll look at lots of exercises for crafting a life which can help you

  • connect with what is most important to you
  • create a set of personal guiding principles
  • determine how others see you
  • deal with feelings of loss of power
  • create balance between the different roles and areas of your life
  • learn to say no to things that are not in line with your priorities
  • help others and make the world a better place

Until then here is an exercise you can complete on a single sheet of paper in fifteen minutes that might help you identify a few ways of being in life that are important to you:

  1. List three amazing experiences you’ve had in your life. Why were they so amazing for you? Did they have anything in common?
  2. List three things you are most proud of accomplishing so far in your life. Write down why they make you proud. Do they have anything in common?
  3. List three people you admire. Write down what you admire about them. Are there characteristics you’d like to emulate?

I’m looking to learn more about people’s personal challenges with setting and achieving their most meaningful life goals. I’d love it if you took two minutes to let me know yours in this survey.