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Deep breath. I'm nervous about posting this article because I really want what I'm sharing to be of benefit to you, but it's not something that brings quick answers. Oh, and because it has nothing remotely to do with bags.

This is, however, part of the story of how I came to start up Baxley. The exercise that you'll find below changed my life.

A quick bit of background. I spent well over a decade exclusively working in design, ending in digital product design. It's a realm of design that merges visuals with an analysis and understanding of user behaviours and motivations.

But I was feeling unfulfilled. I couldn't find work nearby, and didn't really know where I wanted my career to head anyway.

And so I decided to run a workshop — on myself. I ran through it countless times on my own, and then with my partner, and then for other individuals, and even gave a talk on it.

Running this workshop on myself immediately made me feel more confident in knowing what to look for, but it was a few months before all the puzzle pieces came together. But when they did — I knew it immediately and was fist pumping the air. Baxley was born.

The Workshop

You'll need a stack of sticky notes and markers. (I also recommend wine-or-beverage-of-your-choice + nibbles to make the atmosphere as enjoyable as possible, but hey — your call.)

You can run this solo, but it's best to do it with someone you trust and are comfortable being open with. They might see connections, or be better able to describe you, than you can yourself at times.

There are two rules:

  • be as honest as you possibly can
  • include all the big, crazy thoughts/dreams/solutions at every stage

There are six categories.

Place one category in front of you, get out your sticky notes, and write down as many responses you can think of within the time limit. Repeat.

Ready?

 

1. Objectives (2 min)
what do you want to get out of this exercise? is this to help discover a project to embark upon? large-scale career redirection? a focus within an existing business?

2. What success looks like (5 min)
achievements, physical location, experiences, anything!

3. Needs (5 min)
what do you feel is essential for your happiness? time alone? time with others? a dedicated creative space? access to a garden?

4. Weaknesses + De-stimulators (5 min)
what are you just not good at (and uninterested in particularly developing)? what drains your energy?

5. Skills + Assets (8 min)
what can you rely upon, even if it isn't a primary interest? are you good at cold calls? know a wealthy potential investor? juggle screaming kids and dinner-prep with ease?

6. Passions (8 min)
what gets you all revved up? what creates those moments for you when you feel completely ON? what types of articles do you share?

 

Bringing it together

Now you could just end here, and let all these verbalised parts of yourself just kind of steep and come together over time. 

Or, if you're keen to work towards possible solutions more quickly, then read on. (But have patience with yourself. It took me a while before everything clicked in place.)

Cross-pairing. Look at categories 5 and 6. How many items from each of these two categories might pair well together to create something exciting? Write down all possible outcomes (as crazy as they sound) in a new set of sticky notes. (Having a partner will help greatly in this step. Also, the more bizarre the ideas you write down, the easier this step is.)

For example, if 'accountancy' were a skill, and 'gender equality' were a passion, together that could result in, say, 'working at a female-led business' or 'supporting a microcredit non-profit'.

Now, how does your new list of ideas match up with categories 1-3? Building towards something you want over time — having a vision, with this being the path towards it — is pretty darn important. Without having a destination, it's pretty hard to keep peddling no matter how fun it is at the start.

Lastly, with the remaining pairings, check that you're avoiding category 4 as much as possible — or that you can see a way of outsourcing those elements. 

What crazy ideas has this revealed for you? Was it useful? Do you feel closer to what you're looking for? I'd love to know.

 

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This piece was written in conjunction with the newsletter I write for Baxley each week. Sign up here to know what's happening behind the scenes, give input in the creative process and know first when products are announced. Click here to read the newsletter that it was linked to.

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