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Note: This is the second post in a five-part series designed to help you CRAFT a life you love. The first is about getting clear on your dreams.

Craft a Life You Love: Gather Resources, Create a Roadmap and Develop a Routine

Each Wednesday during the summer months the Arctic Orienteering Club sets up orienteering courses at a different location around Anchorage. They place “controls” on the trails and in the woods for participants to find using map and compass skills. The difficulty ranges from easy enough so families with small children can walk along the trails from control to control to very difficult requring a combination of a taking a compass bearing, counting your paces, and reading terrain features. 

The goal is find each of the controls (shown below), punch your scorecard, and return to the start as quickly as possible. The easier courses might take 30 minutes whereas the longer course can take several hours. 

CRAFT a life you love: Gather Resources, Create a Roadmap, Develop a Routine

I love orienteering and I’m kind of a geek about it. Sometimes I’m even the top female finisher. Not because I’m all that fast (my time can often be an hour or more slower than the top male finishers) but because I’m the only woman doing the most difficult course.

I have a friend as competitive as I am (I know, hard to believe…) and when we meet at the start, we barely exchange hello’s before registering, dousing ourselves with bug repellent and tossing our car keys into a communal bucket (one of the ways the club ensures everyone has returned at the end of the night).  At our assigned start time, we’re handed a map and we make a plan for navigating to the first control. Here’s a map from a few weeks ago: 

CRAFT a life you love: Gather Resources, Create a Roadmap, and Develop a Routine

The pink circles are the controls. The grid indicates a terrain feature and the control’s number to ensure you’ve found the correct one.

After my Dad died, I knew I didn’t want to waste a moment of my wild and precious life. This, plus the daily reminder I get while flying a medevac helicopter that we never know when our life might end, makes me passionate about helping people achieve their dreams and accomplish the things they’ve been putting off for “someday”.

Often people feel stuck and unable to take action for a variety of reasons. This is why I developed the C.R.A.F.T method (Clarity, the 3 R’s: Resources, Roadmap and Routines, Action & Accountability, Focus, and Tuning, the steps needed to accomplish your dreams).

Knowing where you have a tendency to lose momentum will help you overcome obstacles, move through your fears, and take action to create a life you love.  Everyone gets stuck for different reasons, but using the CRAFT method to think through the differnt steps will allow you to plan for these pitfalls and help you navigate your way through or around them.

Disorganization is often the first stumbling block. (If this is your challenge, subscribe my six part email series, Ditch the Overwhelm) Clearing clutter and freeing up mental and physical “white space” allows you to move from surviving to thriving. Once you’ve moved out of overwhelm you are able to go from being reactive to proactive.

Orienteering is a perfect metaphor for the 3 Rs in CRAFT. Once you have Clarity (the first step), you can focus on gathering resources, creating a roadmap and developing a routine.

The 3 R’s: Gather Resources, Create a Roadmap and Develop a Routine

The first R of the 3 R’s of CRAFT is gathering resources.

Gather Resources

You’ll need a variety of resources to help you along your journey to reaching your goals. These will include both external and internal resources.

External Resources:

These are the things outside of yourself that you’ll need to achieve your dreams. For now, don’t worry about how you’ll get these resources, just create a list of what you’ll need.

  • People: Who has experience in this area? Who can support you?
  • Products/Objects: What physical items will you need?
  • Finances: What financial resources, if any, will you need?
  • Information/Knowledge: What information do you need? What must you learn?
  • Organization: What do you need to set up to have the time and energy to pursue your goal?

Internal Resources:

You’ll also need internal resources to complete your dreams. Thinking about how you’ll handle difficulties prior to encountering it will help you have a plan in place to overcome the challenges. Visualize yourself reacting effectively when you’re struggling.

  • Mental Toughness: What are you going to do when it feels too difficult? What are you going to say to yourself when you are discouraged? How are you going to know when it is time to ask for help?
  • Willpower: How can you structure your day to best utilize your willpower?
  • Fear: What are you most afraid of happening? How does fear stop you? What helps ease the fear?
  • Procrastination:Why do you procrastinate? How will you know when you are procrastinating? Setting a time frame can help you detect the difference between useful pondering and stuck in the mire ruminating about something.

Once you’ve created a list of resources, then create your roadmap.

Create a Roadmap

When we travel through the woods from one orienteering control to another, we’re usually crossing terrain we’ve never seen before. We don’t know everything we’ll see along the way. Using the map, we pick out major features along the route. It might be a hill, a trail intersection, or a marshy area. These features help us assess how far we’ve come and help ensure we’re on the right track.

More than once someone has asked me if they should learn to fly airplanes before they learn to fly helicopters.  I always recommend taking the most direct route: if you want to fly helicopters, start flying helicopters. Don’t plan to take a circuitous route. Take the most direct path to your dreams. Later, if the direct route isn’t possible, you can find another way.

Backwards planning can help determine your waypoints or intermediate steps. What would need to be accomplished right before you accomplish your dream? And prior to that? Keep working backwards to create a list of major waypoints. Breaking these into smaller and smaller steps or actions will help your big goal feel manageable and doable.

Think of your dreams like an epic journey. Have fun with them. The more you can make your pursuing dreams into an adventure-filled game, the more your self-worth and identity will be separated from the outcome.

Now that you have resources and a roadmap, it’s time to develop a routine.

Develop Routines

Routines are powerful and make things easier. Creating a routine will help preserve your willpower because you won’t need to think about what to do next. Repeating a routine over and over will make it a habit.

A routine is essentially a checklist of steps. In the helicopter, there is a checklist for many different phases of flight (start-up, pre-takeoff, pre-landing, shut down). I have most of the checklists are memorized but I still verify the steps after I complete them to ensure I haven’t missed any.

The best place to create a routine is in areas where you feel overwhelmed and areas where you’d like to create a new habit or break a bad habit. The routine will help move you through your daily tasks more efficiently so you have more mental energy to take action on your dreams. You can also create a routine around your dream itself. What daily actions would move you closer to your dream?

Write down the steps. Be explicit. What will happen first? Next? After that? Then implement your routine. It won’t be perfect. You’ll need to adjust it to make it work for you. Routines need periodic refinement to be efficient and effective.

Here’s our orienteering routine: look at the map and make a plan, take a compass bearing, run as much as possible to the first major waypoint, check the course, adjust as needed. We modify as needed. Like the time a mama moose was standing alongside her day-old, wobbly legged baby ten feet from the control. Improvisation was required. It involved me telling the mama about how much, “I like your baby” while we walked slowly to the control. Only after we finished did we learn some people skipped the stopping at the control once they saw the moose. (Did I mention I was competitive?)

Dripping with sweat, marked with scratches, and sprinkled with leaf-debris, we sprint to the finish, elated. We high-five, gulp water and try to restore our blood sugar with the “finisher muffins”. Though my friend and I are often the slowest team on the most difficult course, there’s no way we’re stepping down to an easier course.  No one celebrates easy.  The most rewarding things are often the most difficult. That’s true of your dreams and true of CRAFTing a life you love. 

What are your big dreams? What helps you stay on course? Share in the comments. 

clarityThere’s a lot of talk in today’s culture about finding your passion and knowing your life’s purpose. Consider it a luxury of modern times. Until quite recently our ancestors worried about survival, not how they were going to make an impact on the world. In that regard, worrying about your life’s purpose is a good problem to have. The downside is it’s one more angst-producing thing to worry about. If you aren’t clear about your passions or your life’s purpose, you can feel lost and confused or empty and unfulfilled. There are two types of people in this situation.

The Passion Problem

The first type of person in this situation is passionate about everything. They move from one exciting bright shiny opportunity to the next bright shiny experience, without committing to anything for long. These people see the potential in everything. Everything is enchanting. Or at least it until it becomes difficult. Then they move to their next “big” thing. They have the mistaken belief that if you’re passionate about something, it should feel easy and empowering. If this is you, you might say something like, “There are so many things I want to do, I can’t decide” or “I’ve found my new thing!”.

The second type of people who don’t have any clarity about their purpose are those who don’t feel particularly excited about anything. Everything is fine. But fine feels ho-hum and no one wants a ho-hum life. If this is you, you might say, “If I could only find my passion, then I’d pursue it.”

Both of these individuals need clarity. They’re stuck, either in motion, flitting from thing to thing, or in a rut and are unable to craft a life they love.

The real problem is a misunderstanding of passion. People often expect to have a clear vision of their purpose. There aren’t many of us who get their passion and purpose delivered as a revelation. Purpose and passion become clear with deliberate action in the right direction. But what is the right direction?

Find Your Why

We all have a fear that our lives won’t matter. And if our lives don’t matter, than maybe we don’t matter. Knowing your “why” fills that need.

Your why is your passion, over-arching theme, big picture, and higher level view of your life. 

Four years ago a dear friend and neighbor created a video to show at my Dad’s celebration of life. Recently she added footage of people sharing their favorite memories of my Dad and photos from the day. She asked us for feedback. I hadn’t watched the video since the celebration because even though I love the tribute we made for my Dad, it hurts to watch.  This viewing wasn’t any easier. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I had a hard time making eye contact with my Mom, but through the tears, I noticed a common theme people used when describing my Dad: adventurous.

Your Why is Your Passion

My Dad loved going on adventures and sharing stories of them when he got home. I’d say he’d loved planning adventures, but honestly, that part was stressful for him. Once the adventure started though, he was fully present enjoying every moment to the fullest. My Dad’s “why” in life was living life with a sense of adventure. He wasn’t the hard-core National Geographic type adventurer (thank goodness because he’d probably wouldn’t have been home much), but a sense of adventure permeated everything he did.

My why is to inspire others. Yes, I love adventure too, that part is obvious, but I find the most fulfillment when I see people do things they might not have otherwise done. Witnessing someone’s courage as they take on and succeed at difficult things has me beam and want to pick them up and swing them around cheering with joy, “You did it! You did it! I knew you could!”

How to Discover Your Why

Simon Sinek is the go-to guy for finding your why. If you haven’t watched his TED talk, start here.

Next, think of a problem you care about. It doesn’t have to be world-changing. Sometimes naming your passion is about reframing what you do in the context of a bigger vision. Imagine you enjoy great interior design. What if you were able to provide a work environment that wasn’t a sterile of box of cubicles with flourescent lighting? Imagine how much happier this could make people. Happier people who are then more able to make their own difference in the world.

Or maybe you enjoy cutting hair. My hair dresser is clear he’s an artist (and a bit of a diva). What if your gift is to give people confidence that they look great? Your why might be to allow others to look great and live confidently.

Questions to Clarify Your Why

Your why will be short. Simple. It could be a word or a phrase. Here are some questions to ask yourself to get you started in the right direction:

  1. What can I do with my time that is important?
  2. How do I want people to feel around me?
  3. What do I want to be remembered for?

I’m skeptical when someone tells me know they know exactly what they want to do. We all crave clarity but I don’t think our life’s path is ever perfectly clear. Your why is something that emerges. It doesn’t come fully formed. You won’t discover your passion by wondering or worrying about it. You’ll discover it by taking action. Pay attention to your gut. Align your internal compass and your external heading.

Find Your Purpose or Finding Your What

Once you determine your why, then you can find your what or your purpose. Your what is the day-to-day expression of your why.

Your purpose is your passion in action. 

The feeling of making a difference is what gives us purpose. Your purpose might be to inspire children to read, have others enjoy the beauty of their homes, or help people have more tomorrows.

Dreams are non-linear. It is only by looking backwards that we are able to see the connections and patterns in our life. Your experiences might seem as haphazard as bugs splattered on the nose of the helicopter. But looking at them all together shows progress in a particular direction.

Sometimes You Have the Why but Not the What

Prior to flying professionally, I was an elementary school teacher. I enjoyed teaching because it was in alignment with my passion to inspire others. The problem was teaching elementary school also included a lot of things I didn’t love. I hated knowing how to help a student but not feeling like I had the time or resources to be able to do it. I didn’t like waiting for kids to line up. I didn’t like standardized testing. The passion was there but the day-to-day expression of it wasn’t correct. The what I was doing was wrong even though they why was right.

Now with flying and coaching, my passion and purpose are in alignment.

My purpose as a coach is to help clients craft a life they love. The first stage in my CRAFT coaching method is clarity. The CRAFT method moves clients from stuck and unhappy to taking action and fulfilled. It is inspiring work and I get as much from it as my clients.

My Dad’s why of adventure was expressed as many different things: exploring new places as a family, taking his grandson’s flying, riding his motorcycle around Alaska. What people didn’t talk about during the celebration of life was my Dad’s skills as an engineer or project manager. But you can see that each new building he worked on whether it was a bridge in Nenana, a terminal in Barrow, or a clinic in Kotlik appealed to his sense of adventure. How can I the materials there? How can I make this work efficiently as possible? It was a game he loved to play.

Questions to Clarify Your What

Sometimes we resist sharing or even thinking about our what because we’re afraid of being disappointed if we don’t get it. You might think, I have a clear vision but I’m not sure I’m worthy of having all that. This is your inner critic. Don’t worry about how it will be put it into practice. We’ll look at the other steps for CRAFTing a life you love in upcoming posts. For now, allow yourself to dream big. Here are some questions to help determine your what or purpose in life:

  1. What do I care about?
  2. When am I/was I the happiest? What was working?
  3. How do I enjoy helping people?
  4. When did I make a difference in someone’s life?
  5. When am I/was I most unhappy? What wasn’t working?
  6. What feels like play?
  7. What do you love about your life? What are you not loving?

Your purpose in life is to do the things that make you smile, laugh and forget time.  Even if you aren’t sure, move into the exploration and experimentation. By looking at what is working and what isn’t, you can align yourself with your why and what or the passion and purpose for your life. Clarity is the first step to crafting a life you love. You are worthy. You can create it.

What is your purpose and passion in life? What helped you discover it? Share in the comments.

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