What do I want to be (should I ever)… grow up?

Sometimes it feels like I might never know what to call My Career. Not my job title, my recent freelance project or a batch of photos I’m currently editing. My actual career. More than often I’m asked ‘what IS it that you do?’ And out tumble a mix of words describing what it is that I think I do. Obviously there are variables within the mix of these words, depending who has asked me the question but also depending on which way the wind is blowing. In short, I feel that my ever-evolving digital creative existence is an odd-shaped object hurtling towards any swing door in its path…

Bearing in mind that only 27% of us think we’ve might have made the right job choices, it seems that I’m not really alone in this ‘what shall I do when I grow up’ confusion. And of course there’s no surprise that it takes a couple of marketers to spot the gap in this ‘marketing’ market – in steps the creative life planning duo Bill Burnett and Dave Evans and who immediately brand it *design thinking*.

Yes these ultra clever (ex-Apple designer/engineers) people are behind a course called The Design Programme at Stanford University where they do their utmost to prevent students from graduating without the personal design tools they need to plan their next move, as well as the next few years ahead.

I couldn’t wait to meet Bill and allow him to help me work out what’s next. In fact, the room was packed, full of high level, already successful execs looking for that same shining light.

But before Bill’s interactive session took us anywhere close to answers, he needed us to grasp some proper theory – here are my top 5 take-outs for you all to contemplate:

  1. Did you know that you can never deal with more than 4 or 5 choices?  Do you know about the jam story? Oh and by the way don’t ever keep that choice open once you’ve made it… our brains will constantly re-evaluate it, given half the chance causing ABSOLUTE confusion…
  1. Don’t be trapped in your own story. Such an interesting idea that you can trap yourself whilst trying to untangle your life plan.
  1. Talking of planning. Just don’t do it too much. Our lives can’t really be planned much at all.
  1. If you really want to do something. Anything. TELL someone.   Anyone. The moment you do, your relationship with that something will change.
  1. Do you appreciate which parts of your week leave you feeling energised and those which totally drain you? We plotted our own week graph before it all became that bit clearer. From there, Bill advised us to surround or sequence our negatives with positives eg a little watercolouring after a particularly soul-destroying, slightly toxic weekly client call…

We also discussed Bill’s Good Time Journals and forced ourselves (because it’s just not that easy) to fill out varying Odyssey plans. Bill and Dave’s book is well worth a purchase – I’m working through it already. Cliché, I know… but the course, the book, these men… they GET IT. They really do come at this wood/trees confusion with some sound logic and strong navigation.

Lastly (before you rehash your entire life) I’d suggest you Google: Bill. There are a number of youtube video he has recorded which also make a lot of sense. He focuses on our fear of novelty and ultimately how, if we master any new skills we need to create meaningful work, we can readdress at our goals, our purpose and understand what essentially gives us a happier balance.

 

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a man about a dog

Today I went to see a man about a dog. Not a real dog, but a man at least. We ate avo on toast at The Mae Deli and talked over a few ideas we had. The coffee could have been better but the rye toast reminded me how much I really don’t need to be eating so much wheat.

life of yablon

life of yablon

life of yablon

And then I walked and walked – #LondonbyLondoners, Instagram calls it. Discovering pretty doorways, a hidden mews, colourful brick walls and even a little roadside photography.

life of yablon

life of yablon

life of yablon

life of yablon
life of yablonlife of yablon

life of yablon

life of yablon

I resisted that instinctive temptation to use the phone as I walked, so instead a stream of images of this city I call home.

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oh Buoy…!

What is the definition of a holiday? To you. I mean, what are the ingredients that make you cry: Oh I’m really relaxed now! Oh I’m really having fun now! Oh oh ohhhh…!

You see, the thing is we only share a few of those crucial ingredients on each of our wish lists and – when booking a life-escape (or in fact choosing life partner for that matter), we need to cross-refer to our individual – as well as mutual – holiday checklist.

life of yablon sunsail

Casting my mind and slightly hazy memory back to those days when Pampers took up more space in our luggage than books, I remember my check list was centred around happy toddlers and SLEEP.   In fact, all I wanted was sleep.

 life of yablon sunsail

But then, once the Smalls were backpack-able, we rediscovered our travel bug. Then followed American and Asian adventures (plus a whole host of expeditions somewhere in between). This year He decided to take the wanderlust reins and off He went. Learning a new skill was high on both our lists as was visiting Greece for me as I’ve never been.

life of yablon sunsail

However, I did have an additional hunch on my checklist. It’s one that I am guessing many wouldn’t necessarily add to their holiday criteria. We all live in ridiculously comfortable homes and rarely push ourselves (nor our offspring) outside these ridiculously comfortable comfort zones. I suppose I was feeling the need to break down these boundaries and make sure that the 4 of us were able to live in slightly less comfortable conditions. On Holiday (because when else could we do this?)

life of yablon sunsail

He didn’t object. Quite the opposite, He booked the boat.

life of yablon sunsail

And so that’s how we found ourselves (after a couple day spent sightseeing in Athens) living on a 39 ft sailing boat learning how to be the most efficient competent crew possible.

 

life of yablon sunsail

We covered more than 100 miles, learnt sailing theory, nautical knots, maritime protocol and had the most insane amount of fun. Yes we did often wonder when we might next see a real toilet, whether we had enough water or gas in our tank for dinner, if we would sleep that evening (in a noisy marina or wind swept bay) like sardines in our cabin or would THAT shower be worth undressing for…

life of yablon sunsail

But seasickness and fatigue aside, the experience was unbeatable. The squad were honestly whinge-less. Heads in buckets, flip flops on in showers and some serious graft on deck.

life of yablon sunsail

Our surrounding scenery was genius; utterly BIG BLUE whichever way you looked. At least one night we simply dropped anchor and threw a bowline-knotted lasso over a rock so that we could sleep in the midst of it all.   Deserted islands and ones less so were explored and, while on board, we relished our lack of private space and spent evenings with David, our skipper, and Jane his girlfriend having all those conversations which never happen because real life continually gets in the way….

life of yablon sunsail

life of yablon sunsail

Back on dry land again, we’re clean and less sleep deprived. But you’ll find most of our mealtime conversations start: do you remember when…?

I think this trip might have ticked the boxes.

This sailing holiday/course was booked with Sunsail and made particularly special by our skipper David Mackenzie.  If you would like more detail, do email me.

life of yablon sunsail

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postcards from Athens

Athens Life of Yablon

Athens Life of Yablon
Athens Life of Yablon
Postcards are more than a dying form of snail mail. The Smalls always receive one (each) from journeying grandparents but I doubt many of us will agonise over those 50 or so words and lick that stamp this summer. Typically an email with a picture attached or a text saying that we’ve arrived safely is the only form of correspondence sent home.

Athens Life of Yablon

But there IS an art to postcard writing. I used to love choosing an image less predictable (than the Eiffel Tower) before filling the limited space with a quirkier message than ‘weather’s here, wish you were fine!’

Athens Life of Yablon

Athens Life of Yablon

Here are some new-age postcards from our 36 hours in Athens. And this is what I would have written if I’d bought and sent one:

This city is intense on every level: the heat, ancient ruins and vibrant layers of graffiti covering so many of the city walls. Steeped in history and godliness, we’re covering as much ground as possible during our limited time here, mostly fuelled by cool treats and delicious food. Our Greek adventure has certainly begun…

Athens Life of Yablon

Athens Life of Yablon

Athens Life of Yablon

Athens Life of Yablon

Athens Life of Yablon

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