The concept of a ‘body of work’ is central to expanding your life. Artists are not measured by being ‘one hit wonders’, they are measured by the extent and quality of their work over time. This is generally true of any profession or avocation. If you do your inventory and it includes a lot of brief experiences, jobs, and general dipping into subjects, you may have found the source of your discontent. You have not taken a deep dive into a subject.
Spending years getting better at something until you have a deep understanding of it can seem a very frustrating prospect to someone who wants a new life now! Yet the reality is that those who want to expand must accept that you are going to have to start as a beginner and learn the basics. You don’t start mountain climbing by applying for a permit to climb Mt. Everest. There are those who have and many of them pay the ultimate price- one in nine climbers of Everest dies in the attempt! And most of those are truly experts.
The good news is that being a beginner gives you wide latitude to screw up, make mistakes, ask dumb questions and get generous help from the experts. This is incredibly valuable. Most people who are good at something are very open to helping a newbie with advice, training, introductions, etc. Just be modest, understand what you don’t know and don’t be a nuisance. If you show respect and appreciation, skilled people will offer you amazing things.
Looking For A Thread Of Continuity
You may have a body of work and not think of it that way. When I look at a resume for a job opening or a LinkedIn Profile, I look for a thread of continuity in what the person has done. As an outsider perusing the pattern of their life, such a pattern may be obvious to me but not to them. If I see them continually challenging themselves, associating themselves with experts in their field and even changing jobs to continue with a greater challenge, they get my attention. If they seem to be drifting and I can’t find a thread that shows a body of work, they probably don’t capture my interest.
What is a thread? Mine is ‘communicator’. Blogging, writing books, marketing businesses, doing video and web sites, even playing music. Over 20 years, communication is my thread.
So when you assemble your personal inventory (or write that resume), look for a thread that indicates a body of work. If you find it, chances are this is a good indicator of who you are now. If you don’t, don’t despair: You’ve discovered why you want to expand your life and can start as a beginner and start building your new life. The next step is thinking through what you want to start building. And to think about the ultimate criteria for determining the change you are going to make: Making yourself happy.