"What we need in life, in the arts, in sports, is to loosen up, to become flexible, to get to a place where there is nothing in our way—including our own obsession with certain outcomes." (Stillness is the Key, Ryan Holiday)
During childhood and young adulthood, I had a vision for my future. There were outcomes I was after, and each step was part of a plan to get there. According to my mother, at about age five or six, I hoped to own a station wagon and have seven kids. Don't ask. I have no idea. As I grew up, my vision evolved; touring full-time as a musician, teaching high school art, owning a design studio with my wife, Dana.
Here I am, years later, and in terms of a career, none of these have come true. Am I any less happy with my path? No.
In May 2017, just four years ago, I was offered the partner role at Barrel. It was a pivotal moment in my career. In my mind, I had a choice. Either I seize the opportunity in front of me. Or, I give it all up to go after my vision of opening a design studio purely because it had always been my plan. I knew that if I went after the former while aspiring to do the latter, I'd give neither the attention they deserved.
As I deliberated over my decision, I realized that I was no longer chasing an outcome. I was enjoying the ride. My path at Barrel was not one I would have predicted. I came in every day focused on doing my best and welcomed every new opportunity with open arms. It was invigorating, and the challenge of becoming a partner was no different. Why walk away?
This experience forever changed my outlook. We cannot predict what life will throw our way. If we get too attached to our plan or outcomes, we risk missing the possibilities right in front of us.
My future is no longer about a specific outcome or plan. Instead, I'm focused on creating a future I want to live in, at work and at home. I have learned to be flexible in how I get there, and what I value most is feeling good along the way.