It’s always a struggle to write the first blog post. I’ve done it a few times. The pressure is on. What will the blog become? What are you going to create? The initial compass direction is set by this single introductory blog post.
Here we go…
Does action follow motivation or does motivation follow action?
Have you ever sat in an art class and been given a large, blank sheet of paper and a black marker. It is one of the most anxiety-ridden moments. The black marker means that whatever you draw, from the first stroke, is permanent. You have to begin with end in mind. Your actions end up having to follow the motivation of what you ultimately want to draw… or do they?
In my first architecture studio, we started every class with 10 minute sketches… sometimes pencil, sometimes pen. One day, our professor instructed us to use only pen and, before even showing us what we were going to draw, instructed us to make a large scribble on the page with the pen. It was terrifying… and yet, it was incredibly freeing. The big fear in making that first mark is a potential mistake. By making the mistake right out of the gate… taking action, it was easy to complete the sketch. You had to find a way to incorporate the mistake. As Bob Ross used to say, “There are no mistakes, only happy little accidents.” We ended up drawing the Leaning Tower of Pisa that day, and it’s one of my favorite sketches from that first year of architecture school.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately as I struggle with my current, unproductive lifestyle. I am waiting for that perfect job posting from the employer I want to work for. I finished the required education, I diligently researched all the firms I want to work for, I signed up for job updates from all of those firms, and now I’m spinning my wheels. It’s frustrating and depressing to wait around for something to happen and I’m often tempted to just go out and apply to some of the firms I didn’t really like, just because I know they are hiring. They don’t offer the benefits, the future opportunities or the firm culture I’m seeking, but they’re looking; and I could get a job now and be working by next week. It’s the ultimate motivation (money) and I find myself drawn to take action; especially since I’m not doing a lot more than sitting around in a holding pattern right now. Yet, I look to the Leaning Tower exercise and I wonder if it might be better to scribble on the paper first and then draw.
I’ve decided to do just that. I’m working on other areas of my life right now to keep me busy while I wait. There are a lot of things I’ve lost focus of while in school and I’d become very one-dimensional… all architecture, all the time. As I start to really look at and assess the rest of my life, I realize that there are a lot of places I need to pay a little attention to before I dive right into a new job. To help me focus, I completed a Level 10 Life assessment spreadsheet in my bullet journal. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this process, it is an exercise from Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning. The process involves identifying where you are at (on a scale of 1-10) in 10 areas of life, compared to where you want to be. The categories are:
- Friends & Family
- Personal Development
- Fun & Recreation
- Giving & Contribution
- Physical Environment
- Health & Fitness
Then you create a goal (or up to 10, depending on which journal spread you follow) to improve your life to the next level in each category. These aren’t wishes, they are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time sensitive) goals. I opted for 3 goals in each category and you will likely hear me talk about them a lot. The process helped me focus on other things I can (and should) work on while I’m waiting for those job openings I’m really interested in. It also helps get me active again, which may cause me to accidentally find new opportunities I didn’t even know to consider before. By getting active, I am motivating myself to become a better person and, by extension, a better candidate for whatever job I apply for.
I guess the takaway is this: if you can’t find the motivation to take action, don’t despair. Take action in some direction and look for the motivation to follow. There is not only one way to sketch a tower.