Living With Moxie : Life/Work Design With a Kick

MOXIE and How To Get It To Work!

As many know, Moxie is an addictive, bitter-tasting high sugar drink in an irresistible orange can!  Why would you want to be associated with that you might ask? Because it’s the kick not the can that has it going for it and people say they want to feel that kind of kick in their life and work, the kick of feeling connected focused commitment to something true and spirited for them! Through our life and work we express our skills, hopes, power, and art. Through work, we have the opportunity to recreate ourselves and experience a potential we may not have thought possible.

So, Kit Harrington Hayes (*), noted career counseling guru, and I have put together a program that focuses on the kick and how to get it.  We don’t talk about money or health matters because they can inhibit creative reflection and besides those matters are best left to  specialists in those respective fields. Instead, Kit and I are interested in getting at what is central to you, what are those acts, tasks, talents, dreams, connections that are central to your life and finding a way to put them into play!

Your story revealed and the imagination powering it

Your story revealed and the imagination powering it

Much of the information we need to design our futures is not available to us. Instead it is buried within these 7 Wily Categories:

  1. Known but “irrelevant” topics.  Family life before you were born; what you did on vacation; childhood memories of the dinner table; old regrets and losses; the mystery of weird Uncle Joe; grandma’s lust, etc.
  2. Known but avoided knowledge: neglected hopes, anxieties, habits of mind, people no longer in your life, dangerous daydreams, influential books and movies; submerged or latent aspects of self; saxophones not played…the list goes on.
  3. New interests and activities that are flying in our inbox every moment but are so new you don’t yet see their patterns.  Emerging tastes, potential interests, emerging skills, recycled talents, important but not yet urgent personal and world issues, changes in the communities around us…the list goes on.
  4. Physical, intellectual and emotions changes occuring and the opportunities they represent.
  5. Life-shaping experiences we’ve witnessed or experienced, and their residual impact on us, perhaps years later.
  6. Unfinished or unresolved relationships with people, talents, ideas, places and dreams.
  7. Shift in our responsibilities to family and work that open temporal, emotional and intellectual space to consider and engage in activities you might not have dreamed possible.

Kit’s and my task is to provide tools for accessing this knowledge and a framework for making sense of it. To wit, we have launched this program that through conversation, personal story telling, exercises using journal writing, objects and visual imagery, plus a commitment to undertake certain self-assigned projects, we move on into the rich terrain of the future.

Week #1: Opening Your Life and The Lenses With Which to See It.

  • To establish a base-line shape to your life, write your autobiography in 3 minutes! Think of the Twitter analogy–use phrases, keywords and idea bursts to sweep all your data into one string of 35 words or 140 characters long! 3 minutes
  • To see the context within which your current life has emerged, create a timeline of your life on which you plot 15 significant events or experiences in your work, personal and public life. Use colors and drawings to enhance the vividness of your memories. Give a title to your timeline. 30 minutes
  • Review your responses and decide what story or other information you want to convey to the group taking no more than 3 minutes per person.  In this way, you have to edit your story and perhaps see a new slant or interpretation on what you formerly thought to be THE interpretation of the pieces.

Assignment for #2: Orienting Towards the Future

Collect 15-20 images from newspapers, websites, journals and photos that appeal to you at this time in your life.  Ask what these images are telling you by being noticed by you.  Fundamental to our process in this program is paying attention to what you notice in the world around you.  That is to say, bringing the same attentiveness you bring to traveling to your everyday.

Week #2: Orienting Towards the Future

In our last meeting, we focused on the past–our life story, the major events that characterized it, and the experiences that may have current resonance. To help soften the landscape of the future, we renewed contact with our life story and tried to project forward some of the themes of our earlier lives through the aid of imagery and conversation.  Through the language of image, color and content we took the first step in discerning what may looking to be expressed in our lives.  More specifically, we pursued the following process:

  1. We did another 3 minute romp through our lives, capturing the content in 35 words, by following the Twitter model of life story writing. We then looked at those words, added a title to the whole–as through our writing were the Table of Contents–and then added the title.  Over time, with repeated writings of our life story in this way, we find key words and imagery that may offer alternate views of our “story” that allow us to inhabit a new framework through which to view the future. We looked at dozens of magazines and tore, cut and piled images that attracted our attention.  There was not time at this point to stop and question why people were pausing at some images, deciding to tear out others, and let most fly by.  so for 15 mintues we flipped pages, tore and stacked.
  2. We found tabletops to spread out our selected images, and each person tentatively arranged their pictures for review and comment by others.  We wandered, pen and paper in hand, with an eye to finding images that others had discovered that resonated for us. Then with participants divided into pairs and offered comments.
  3. Because we were looking for frameworks with which to look at the future, we then brainstormed a list of categories that emerged from our images that would help us reflect on the future.  Our list is long numbering in the 30s (see below).  At this point, we aren’t concerned about categories and subcategories and subjects that had the same content but were called by different names.  What is important is for each person to find their own language for reflecting on the future.

In conclusion: We ended by gathering up the images we’d displayed for others to look at and we will take them home, add to them during our interval and come back with a revisioned collage.  The collection of images can be enhanced by creating a narrative that includes drawing, photos and other means.

The topics for discernment are these and will be added to over time: (CONSUMER ALERT: don’t be overwhelmed by this list–scan it for words and concepts that seem relevant to you! The colors below are to keep you awake and are not highlighted to indicate priority!).

  • places to live and visit / contributions of time, energy and resources / Legacy and the intentional actions we want to take in fulfilling of our hopes for others and the wider world / Unfinished business / Enriching activities / Skill development /  Necessary conversations / Obstacles / Adventures  / Pilgrimages / Community / Family / Relationships /Forgiveness / Risk  and risk-taking / Security in various forms, concrete, abstract / Dreams and hopes / Connection / Intimacy / Friendships / Prosperity / Creativity / Making a  difference / Quality of life / Travel / Education / Personal Style /  Personal Philosophy or world  view / Spirituality / Adventure / Curiosity / Success / Embracing failure / Charity / No longer wasting resources / Appearances – looking good for self not others / Theater, Music &  Art / Political Activism / Moral Activism / Necessary  conversations /  Forgiveness / Anger towards individuals, groups,  plights, world concerns / What matters most / Knowing my  limits

For Meeting #3: Images of the Future

  • We ended Meeting 2 by gathering the images we’d displayed for others and will then take them home, add to them during our interval and come back with a new collage.  The collection of images can be enhanced by adding a narrative interpretation done using writing, drawing, photos and whatever other means that appeal to collage makers.
  • For newcomers, gather up 20+ images that seem to relate to the future–use a mix of play and thoughtfulness, impulsivity and reflection to choose these images.  Jockey the images into a format that feels right to you.  Take its picture so that if you change the images around, you can go back to the original setup in case you prefer it.
  • Then create a narrative or an interpretation of what you are being told by the images you have selected and seeing them in relationship to one another.
  • What we will do in our next meeting is discuss the idea categories that seem most useful for people to use for reflecting on their future and process the images further. The goal of these 3 meetings is to come away with a way of thinking about the future that can be used to create in informal “map” of ideas, hopes and intentions that make the road ahead feel lighter and more alive!

What may come of these 3 meetings? Groups may want to continue on their own and set soft goals for their future meetings–online and/or live. Kit and Kendall are available to lead your family, group or organization through a series of clarifying life design processes. Contact us through 



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