What To Do When Lost, Creatively or Professionally

What to do when lost in the woods

Often as we curate content for Improvised Life, we’ll find that posts from different blogs and sites resonate with one another, as if finishing each other’s thoughts. Recently, an article in 99U about a driven entrepeneur feeling that his work was HIM seemed to echo what many people we know have struggled with: That their work defined them, and without it they are nothing. When the unexpected happened and either their work ended or failed, they were at sea, rudderless, feeling without an identity. The entrepeneur in the 99U piece finally realized that YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR WORK. “…you find out that your kids still love you. Your wife still loves you. Your friends still love you.”

Just as we were thinking about all those people we knew who feel lost when their professional identity changes, we stumbled on What to do when lost in the woods from U.S. Forest Service via Swiss-Miss via Brain Pickings. We couldn’t help but see much of it as good advice for what to do when lost, or stuck, creatively or in life. Here is our annotated list:

Finding oneself is the test of man person.

Merely being out of sight of others in a strange forest [can} gives a man person the creeps — a natural feeling but a dangerous one. Never yield to it.

Stop, sit down, and try to figure out where you are. Use your head, not your legs.

Build a fire in a safe place.

Don’t wander about. [We disagree; sometimes wandering about helps you to stumble upon a new answer.]

Don’t yell, don’t run, don’t worry, and above all, don’t quit.

A thinking man person is never lost for long. He knows that…he must remain where he is or push on to some definite objective, but not to the point of exhaustion…that someone  [or some idea] will be looking for him, and strength in that knowledge makes hardships easier.

“Above all, don’t quit”…

Related posts: e.o. wilson: make short imperfect experiments + try things out
the power of failure, doubt and stumbling
the question to ask when you make a mistake
brian eno on surrendering, noticing, imperfection
fear is a prison…and a creative force

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