Transform What Holds You Back Into What Lifts You Up

She tells me how she drove two hours to listen to my talk at SXSW.

She tells me she loves everything about career prototyping, the creator mindset, and inviting serendipity.

But she’s still stuck.

She tells me she how she wants to launch a career as a designer. But her small town has limited clients and competition from established designers.

We stand in the empty hallway and I say;

“Sounds like you have a strategy gap. Let’s try a little exercise called Anchors to Rockets.”

Too often, our challenges feel like insurmountable anchors holding us back. Sometimes, these anchors are just assumptions. Other times, we lose sight of what we can control.

Turn Anchors into Rockets

First acknowledge the anchors; new designer, limited portfolio of work, small town, few clients, competing firms.

Then ask how you might transform one of these anchors into an advantage? What is within your control? What assumptions might you be making?

Let’s Clarify our challenge with the “How Might I?” format:

How might I launch my career as a new designer in a small town in a way that helps me build my portfolio so that I can establish a stronger position for myself?

Need some inspiration? Steal it.

Steal like and artist, but know good from bad.

You don’t always need to come up with novel solutions. There is so much in the world to study, remix, and transform for your purpose.

You might have to look to new territories to find inspiration in unexpected places. Or look to where someone has already found ways over, around, and through similar challenges.

What if we stole ideas from the city?

Logo from the Charlottesville Design Marathon

Some cities may call it by other names, but I know it as Design Marathon.

Design Marathon is a day-long event inviting local nonprofits to pitch a design need to local designers who then form small teams to tackle the need. It is a fun, community building day of creative philanthropy.

The Design Marathon concept transform anchors into rockets by reframing competitors as collaborators. As a new designer, she can add work to her portfolio. And as a small town, she is likely to rally support and press around a unique event.

Mindset Manifest Possibility

Drills like Anchors to Rockets help train our brains to scan the world for ideas and new paths toward success.

By reframing her anchors, this upstart designer gains the spotlight and invites serendipity by creating a meaningful event for her community.

The nonprofits and design firms may both have small projects ideal for new designers. Perhaps some of the work started at the Design Marathon will inspire follow-up projects. An inspired attendee may remix this event into new unexpected opportunities.

Whatever the outcome, Anchors to Rockets helps prime our mind to expect and recognize favorable opportunity; what psychologist call predictive encoding.

Before hurrying to her next session this designer looks up from her notes with a new energy and says;

Oh yes, I can totally do this.”


Anchors to Rockets is a drill by Future Partners and is nicely remixed for overcoming career challenges.

Get inspired by Austin Kleon and his book Steal Like An Artist.


Howdy, I’m Spencer. I started Best Monday Ever because career-ing should be more fun. Click the giant “Join Us” button to join a community using unconventional tactics to transform anchors and create gifts that invite serendipity into your career.