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Awareness, Creativity, Self-Help Hokum, and Books for Writers

A more fluid approach to making changes in 2024

Hello friends and welcome back to Life Reimagined, a free weekly elixir designed to make you feel good and live better.

Happy New Year to everyone who celebrates. 🙃

📖 I. Book I’m re-reading

To kick off 2024 in style, I’m reading Awareness by Anthony de Mello for the third time. This short book is certified nourishment for the soul that has helped me think more clearly and productively about myself and the world. Check out my notes from the first read to get a preview.

If you decide to read it, my advice is to commit to getting through at least half of the book. It takes some time to warm up to the weird style and tone, but if you can get over the hump that flattens about 25 percent in, there’s a lot of gold that may help you see yourself and the world in life-enhancing ways.

🍷 II. Bukowski on Writing, Creativity, and Living 

If you’ve been around for a while, it will be no surprise that I’ve become a little bit of a Charles Bukowski fan. The work that hooked me on Bukowski is On Writing, a posthumously published collection of letters that Bukowski wrote to publishers, agents, writers, and friends from 1945 to 1993.

This week, I collected everything I found interesting from that book and wrote about what we can learn from Bukowski about writing, art, and life. If you’re curious, you can read the full piece here:

P.S. This piece is an extension of a podcast Steph and I recorded last year about Bukowski and his unconventional approach to creating.

✍️ III. Books for Writers

I fancy myself a writer, and over the years, I’ve become a little bit of a junkie for books about the craft of writing and the pangs and joys of the writer’s life.

While these types of books can be a sneaky form of procrastination that stops you from actually sitting down and putting words on the blank page, I still think that they have value. Not only can they help you learn the nuances of the craft and overcome blocks, but they can also make you feel understood.

And because writing can be a difficult and lonely pursuit, feeling understood by the likes of other writers is a nice bonus on top of any practical knowledge you absorb.

Anyways, if you write or love procrastinating by reading about writing, I put together a short list of my favorite books about writing and creativity here:

P.S. If you read these types of books, I think it’s best to read widely and then select the 3-5 books that you find most helpful. Then when you feel stuck, re-read your favorite books or revisit your highlights instead of seeking out new books. This approach can help you avoid the trap of constantly looking for more information to solve whatever problem you’re facing.

🧠 IV. Something I’m Thinking About

2024 is here and you may have been thinking about the many different changes you want to make and goals you want to pursue.

In previous years, I’ve shared a structured goal-setting framework that I used for nearly a decade to direct my life. That methodology served its purpose, but these days, structured approaches to life satisfaction no longer resonate.

While I have not abandoned goal setting entirely, I am no longer trying to optimize all of the areas of my life with OKRs, frameworks, and tracking. In the place of structure, I’ve adopted a more fluid approach to living.

In part, this fluid approach now works because I have a good sense of what I want and enjoy after experimenting a lot over the last decade. And now that I spend most of my days doing stuff I enjoy, my life feels pretty complete by just leaning into those areas. For me, that roughly maps to goals that look like:

  • Improve as a surfer

  • Increase creative output

  • Spend time with people I love

These broad objectives inform the overall structure of my life, including the work I do, my health routines, where I travel, etc. And at least for now, this simple orientation is “enough.” Perhaps that will change at some point.

So today and for the rest of this year, my challenge to you is to consider spending more time on activities you enjoy. Forget about maximizing productivity, money, spirituality, or health for a minute and think about what your life would look like if you focused on stuff that lights you up.

Of course, we all need to pay the bills, take care of responsibilities, and so on. Adulthood isn’t all fun and games. But perhaps your life could feel more like fun and games than you imagine or than you’ve experienced so far. I’m not sure.

And if you decide to tinker with this fluid approach to living, you may realize that you don’t know what you like. That’s normal and has a simple solution: experiment a bunch.

Try five new things every month and pay attention to where your energy flows. Double down on the good stuff; drop the bad and “meh” stuff. See if you can find a hobby, pursuit of mastery, or people who make your life more enjoyable.

Or if all of this sounds like woo woo childlike nonsense, stick to being a serious person with serious goals and serious focus. That can work too. Just depends on what you want and where you’re at in life.

That's all for now. See you next Sunday.

— Cal

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