Live Unbalanced

We have this idea that we should live balanced lives. Half work, half play. Yesterday I made a rant (or two) about how we as a society champion the weekend. This ties perfectly into a work/life balance. I'm a firm believer that living a balanced life is one of the biggest lies society has told us.

If your goal is balance, how do you really give something 100%? Have you ever thought about that? In order to make great ideas and dreams happen you have to be all in, right? I can't be all in if I turn off that idea after 5P? Let me put a disclaimer on this for those out there that would fuss at me – you need downtown, this isn't what I'm addressing. Anyways, back to the post.

I believe you should be 100% present where ever you're at. If that's at work, be there. If that's at home, be there. Be 100%. 50% at work and 50% at home doesn't cut it when you're trying to get an idea off the ground. Be present.

Be present. Click To Tweet

So how is this possible? It's time for a list and a few practical tips to living an unbalanced life!

Tip #1 - Have The Guts to Say No.

We as humans are bad at this. Myself in particular because I'm a people pleaser. When I know I'm about to pursue something big, I tend to say no to more things. This allows me to be more aware and present on the important tasks I'm pursuing.

Tip #2 - Step Away From Social Media

Nothing eats away at time like social media. I find that this is the number one cause of interruption when trying to be focused and aware. To combat this, I have every notification turned off on my phone. The only notifications I receive are text messages and phone calls. Everything else can wait.

Tip #3 - Slow Down, Focus, and Think

You'll be amazed at what happens when we slow down, breath, and think about what we're trying to focus on. Clearing your head to be able to handle the current task is important. Understanding full circle where you're headed on the project at hand is key as well. This cannot happen with a cluttered mind. Slow down, focus, and think.

Tip #4 - Change Perspective

Step away from your desk, go to a coffee shop, an airport, somewhere you can feel challenged to create via the environment you're in. Changing perspective doesn't always just mean location either. When I can't fully grasp a concept or I'm working on something I'm new to, I always ask for help. I ask those around me and those who know more to help open my perspective to things.

Tip #5 - Be Present

The key to being present is not being somewhere else. It is so easy to be somewhere else. Whether that is digitally or mentally. It will shock you how much you remember and absorb when you're simply present. This is something I've always struggled with. As I tried to be in so many places at once, I got nothing accomplished.


Be all in, no matter where you are. Living like this is easier said than done. Once you start it, you'll realize living unbalanced is the only way to get the most out of life.

Happy Tuesday! Today is the cheapest day to find airline tickets, go fly somewhere!

Mason


Working For The Weekend?

We're all familiar with Loverboy's Working for the Weekend.  We're also so familiar with T.G.I.F. My question is why? One of my favorite parts about being a Millennial is realizing that my education, career, and life is in my own hands.

If your Monday through Friday consists of looking forward to the weekend, you aren't living life to the fullest. I feel like this post will turn into more of a rant than it will a narrative with cohesive information. Regardless, this post isn't for those who are happy with the mundane. I'm writing this for those who have always wanted to take a chance on your dreams, but have never had the courage to do it.

In my last post I mentioned that effort NOT passion determines whether or not you accomplish your dreams. It's great to be passionate about something, but if you aren't good at it and there isn't effort behind it, you probably will never accomplish it. That brings me to the weekend. Personally, I get about 90% of my dreams accomplished on the weekend and during the week from 6P-10P. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big believer in playing hard, but working hard is a prerequisite. In our ever changing 24/7 access world, time is money. As a 24 year old, I have a lot I want to accomplish in life. With two full-time jobs my personal life and personal dreams suffer sometimes. Monday's are days when I come into the office, get focused for the week (Mon-Sun), and get a game plan together. I'm fortunate enough to be in an industry that allows me to fall in love with what I do. Yes, there are times when breaks are needed. Times to refresh and rejuvenate. Those times unfortunately are not real life.

So what am I trying to say? If you live your life for the weekend, you haven't really found your true calling yet. Keep pursing, keep learning, keep inquiring. I live for Mondays. It means I get to step into the realm of work that I love. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Quit what you suck at, pursue what you're good at. Thanks for listening, I think my rant is over now.

Happy Monday!

Mason

P.S. Don't be this guy:


It Might Not Work

Have the guts to say, “it might not work,” but also the courage to bring it forward and try. Click To Tweet

For most in the U.S. it's finals week. I've been getting texts and seeing tweets about how stressed my friends are. From lost notes to people just admitting they're going to bomb the test, the pressure of finals week takes a toll. What about next week? All of the information that was crammed in at the last moment, where does that go?

I was never exposed to this monster called "finals," I mean, I was in high school but not in college. After I completed a bible program in 2011 I decided to enroll myself in college. I love learning. Actually, I'm passionate about learning. I'll make a bold statement and say most my age are. We like finding out new ways of doing things and learning how to make ourselves and our work better. However, I believe that most of us hate our education system. Needless to say I got through one semester of college. It was not only boring and uninformative, but I wasn't learning. Now before anyone gets upset, there are balances to all of this. I had already been through a few years of alternative education developing skills that most learn during their college days. My point to this is that in my world, the creative industry, there are few things that colleges know that you can't find on the internet. My money, time, investment, was better spent on experiencing and learning vs. paying for mediocre education taught by professors who wouldn't take their own class.

Our society, our education system, our culture, gives us a handbook of what success looks like. If you want to have X amount of instagram followers, here's the photos you have to post. If you want to run a successful agency you have to this type of creative space. If you want to be a successful creative, you must have  this or that type of bag/journal/pen. Our world has changed. The education system doesn't work, even our system of following your dreams doesn't work.

Do what you’re passionate about…as long as you’re good at it. Click To Tweet

My generation, the millennials and Gen Z have always been told we can do and be whatever we want to be. If we just follow our passion, our hearts, we can be whatever we set our mind to. But what if we aren't good at what we're passionate about? 

Here is the tie-in to all everything I've mentioned above. I started pursuing the interest of photography when I was 16. I learned that I was passionate about it, but I also realized I was good at it. That passion developed into a business which has now scaled to a career. Because of the internet and the ability to get out and practice the skills I was learning, I've had some great successes. I've also had some failures. I've failed more than I've succeeded. I have learned to be ok with saying, "it might not work, but let's go for it." 

What should you stop doing this morning in order to start your dreams tonight? Don't let society dictate what you do with your life. Your story is unique only to you. You are doing the world a disservice if you try and be someone else. (I have to remind myself everyday of this.) I'm a college dropout. By no means am I advocating dropping out or not going to college. It worked for me, but it might not work for you. I am advocating quitting things you aren't good at for something that only you are capable of.

Have the guts to say, “it might not work,” but also the courage to bring it forward and try."

Good luck on finals everyone.

- Mason

 


What I Want

Too many smart people are pursuing boring stuff. Click To Tweet

Have you ever thought about what you really want out of life? This isn't your typical "life goals" conversation. It's a conversation about what you personally want out of life. In the words of Elon Musk, "The greatest minds of my generation are figuring out how to make people click ads...that sucks." We are a brilliant group of people yet everyday we fall short of what we could be. Why is that? Are we just not focused? Are we forced into circumstances beyond our control?

I believe that we do not address what we want out of life enough. I'm not talking about, "I see pizza, I want pizza" type of want. I'm talking about the deep rooted things that if we don't do them we will feel as though we have failed. Have you ever thought about achieving the things you want out of life? Sometimes that can be a bit scary to look at. What if we looked not at things as this massive list that is impossible; but as trying to expand the reality box and the list of things that are possible.

I've heard it said that, "If your dreams seem obtainable, you're probably not dreaming big enough.

If your dream seems obtainable, you're probably not dreaming big enough. Click To Tweet

I subscribe to this type of thinking. If the path ahead isn't rocky, unstable, and unknowing, it's probably not worth pursing. Most of the time we are just too scared to jump out of the box and create our own path. So how do we do this? How do we take a leap and pursue those things?

I keep a list. This list has just a few statements on it about what I want out of life. It sits by my desk, in my house, and on my phone. Looking at these statements daily helps me focus on pursing my purpose in this world. Here is my list, I want to do something that:

  • changes lives on a mass scale.
  • serves a purpose to change the world and touches hearts.
  • leads others to find their purpose.
  • helps others get from point A to point B.

These four simple statements can be applied to almost every area of my life and anyone I come in contact with. Whether this is at work, home, or just simply passing someone on the street. These are my filters. The purpose of everything I do gets siphoned through these statements. I challenge you to create a few filter statements to help you get what you want out of life. This radically changed the way I look at opportunity and circumstances in my life.

Do something that matters today,

Cheers!


12 Secrets to Unlocking Your Most Creative Work

One of my favorite bloggers/photographers/creatives is Chase Jarvis. When I started working in the "creative field" he was my go to guy for advice, mentorship, and solutions to a lot of problems. Chase posted a blog in August that I've help shape the way I'm living my life in the season I'm currently in. I wanted to repost it in hopes that it may help someone else who struggles with the ADD/ADHD/OCD/ABCDEFG lifestyle. If you have a spare 15min, give it a read.


A lot of my breakthrough creative thoughts come to me when least expected. I’ve talked about “finding creativity” and “creative inspiration” all over the damn place… on podcasts like this and this (twice for example) or given a keynote on it here at SWSW.

That said, I’ve also learned from an entire life in the trenches as an artist what DOESN’T contribute to them (abusing myself, bad head space, partying too much), but more importantly, what does… I’ve learned that creative inspiration is something that can be directly CULTIVATED by putting yourself in a fertile environment. So I’m going to let ‘em rip. Here’s MY personal recipe — my day to day list — of things, states, and activities for cultivating maximum creative inspiration… and I’m guessing it’s different (and more achievable) than you think it is…

1. Keep a Schedule
This one is super counter intuitive to most — and why I’m leading with it here… For nearly my entire life I thought that schedules were meant to keep my creative self DOWN… that a schedule was the devil. That you had to live a life like Jim Morrison from the Doors to find creative inspiration. Come to find out that doing what you can to keep a schedule is supremely helpful for your creative brain. And I don’t mean 9-5… but I do mean some semblance of a schedule. Taking photos every day, writing first thing every morning, headphones on and painting from midnight to 2am every day…whatever works for YOU is what I mean. But the more you can schedule worktime, the better. Science tells us this, but so does my own lifetime of experience. The funny part? To this day it’s still my biggest challenge. 

2. Meditation
I spoke briefly about this with Austin Kleon on cjLIVE and with Tim Ferriss recently, but trust me: it’s a doozy. Every day, I put 20 minutes aside when I wake up in the morning and before dinner at night to sit quietly and just be still. I practice Transcendental Mediation (TM), but I’m not recommending a particular kind in this post here… I’m just saying that meditation works. It’s made the single biggest difference in my life’s ability to perform at a high level and run the kind of gnarly schedule that I run. What’s the effect? Clarity. My ideas are more clear than ever before. You’ve heard athletes like Michael Jordan talk about seeing the game around them develop seemingly in slow motion? Well that’s what happens to the chaos of a packed life when one meditates. This are infinitely more manageable, things are less prone to get me off my game — and … here’s the kicker… my creative thoughts come more freely. I find it 100x easier to get into that creative “flow state” I’ve talked about before and that science backs me on

3. Regular Exercise
Just like I thought schedules use to suck, I had no idea that being active contributes a huge amount to my ability to kick ass as a professional artist. Staying fit and getting your heart rate up during the day has even been shown in studies to increase creative connections and cognitive ability. When I’m in Seattle I go to this gym. When in SF, I see this guy. But given that I’m on the road about half the time, I’ll sneak in this 7-minute workout every day. Turns out that even just a daily 10 minute run can change my headspace. 

3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Like a lot of creative types, I’ve had a tendency in life to do a lot of my work late at night, or to forego sleep in favor of staying out or waking up early to get a head start on the day. I used to be proud of operating on 4 hours of sleep — and I did that for more than 10 years — with gusto. I thought it was my tool for getting ahead. But, while there’s no substitute for hard work, sleep is nearly just as effective. This is something I’ve learned very recently. Sleep is like the wonder drug. And I use it as such. In the same way I use (but don’t abuse) caffeine, when things start getting sloppy in my life, I go to sleep. Seriously. I will carve out a couple nights for 10 hours of sleep… and voila. I’m back on my creative game. (This is an other subject I touched on with Tim Ferriss on his podcast.)

4. Take Breaks During Your Day — and Take a Walk
It’s been shown scientifically that there is a link between talking walks and creative boosts, and I’ve found this to be true in my own life, too. Although TBCITOTWY, I occasionally take walks without my phone/camera & think about photographs that I would take (saying to myself “that’s a photograph, that’s a photograph” while imagining what scenes might look like if I shot them.) But it’s even more important for me to take a walk and do nothing but observe. Observe the light. Observe other people, observe the world. Walking is also a kind of kinetic meditation, without pressure of having to produce. Talk a walk.

5. Get Away
I try to take small steps far away from work as often as possible. I’ll hit up the family cabin for a night, take a road trip, get out on our little boat for a few hours, etc., as often as possible. Sure BIG travel counts… like getting away on vacation, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about just a few hours, or an overnight… something to get you some physical separation from your stressors. For example, I got the idea for the Seattle 100 portrait project while lying in my hammock (on a break from work – where I went home for lunch and to chill out). I got the idea for doing the Best Camera app while up at our family cabin on Camano Island. Get some separation if you can, even if just for a couple hours.

6. Read More Books
As mentioned above, I spend a crazy stupid amount of time on planes, so I got into this habit of reading a LOT about 10 years ago. And I haven’t stopped. I intend to publish a reading list soon, so I’ll avoid going deep on titles here. But the point is to read… Get inspiration from others. My favorite genres are artist biographies. Second favorite = deep dives on any topic that I’m fascinated with at the time. Whether that’s the history of the internet or the psychology of creativity. Third favorite? New school books on business, and connecting your work with your life in a meaningful way. (Business wasn’t innate to me – everything I know, I read about or learned the hard way). Oh… one more genre….books that my friends write. I’m fortunate to have a wealth of friends who best selling authors and writers of great books. Couple recent examples = David duChemin’sRyan Holiday’s, and Adam Braun’s most recent books. I’ve also listed several books before that will recharge your creativity. More to come on this topic in future posts….

7. Learn to Teach Yourself / Hack Your Learning / Learn Online
It’s no secret that I got my start by teaching myself how to do what I do, but to this day, I’m an avid proponent of self-learning. Learning is not passive. It’s insanely active. In truth, that was a big motivation for starting CreativeLive, then taking that even bigger, so that YOU can have the opportunity to teach yourself -while following along with the top teachers and “do’er’s” and a worldwide community all your own.

8. Visualize Success
One of the best ways to stay creatively pumped is to do some visualization. It doesn’t have to be rigorous. I can be like letting yourself daydream. But it just so happens I do this with intention. I like to actively Remember why I started and think of what you want the end product to look like. One of my recent successful gigs — a campaign shoot for Samsung — was a literal visualization that came to me in a recurring dream. I kept picturing what this image from my mind would look like in real life (as you see in the video) and by the end of the shoot we’d made it happen. The point isn’t really about creating your dreams, it’s about believing you can be successful at whatever you choose to imagine. 

9. Immersion in Other Forms of Art
This is a big one: it’s crucial to get perspectives outside your chosen career/hobby/job/etc. This is one of my biggest “secrets” (but that I’ve been sharing for a decade.) Most of the things I applied to my own career that set me apart, came from thinking about / using influences from things outside of photography. To learn light? I took up oil painting. To learn how to shoot sports, I looked at fashion. And the list is a mile long… One of the reasons doing #cjLIVE is so essential to me is that I get so much interdisciplinary input. I’ve had musicians, artists, designers, writers, speakers, travelers, entrepreneurs, business titans, and more — all sitting right on my couch to chat for an hour or more at a time. These are my friends. This is where I get my inspiration. Talking to people in other disciplines informs my art, my work, and my side projects. Not only that, but it inspires me to do things outside of my comfort zone… and things that are completely unexpected in MY profession. It helps me be different, not better.

10. Make Things Every Day
Science says it, and I experience it. When I’m making things everyday — whether it’s writing or taking a photo or doing some — ANY creative craft… your brain pushes into new neural pathways. Quite literally creativity creates more creativity. The rote act of doing your craft — or ANY craft — is a primer for more creative mojo. Do not underestimate this. (My keynote on that topic here.)

11. Find Adventure
Put simply, I live in 2 modes: the adventure mode and the quiet mode. Adventure — whether that’s travel or putting myself in danger, or “living large” or whatever floats your boat… Putting yourself in the mode where you’re being stimulated and taking information IN is a critical mode for me. And I’d be it will be for you. Get into adventures. And…. then see #12.

12. Find Quiet
In contrast to #11 above, great ideas do NOT come in the heat of battle. Science says this as does my own personal experience. When you’re out in the world seeking inspiration and adventure, you’re most certainly “getting ideas.” But it’s actually the synthesis of the inspiration and ideas of others that makes the real difference in what you OR your ideas can become happens in synthesis. It’s the connecting of ideas into new ones where your greatest accelerants will happen. And this requires some calm after the storm. It requires quiet. It’s why your best ideas happen in the shower or before bed or when you wake early… because there’s less noise in your world at that moment. Find more time like that. Trust me.

So, there you have it! Those are a few creative tactics that’ll up your creative game. I talk about this stuff a lot (and here’s another post on “creative habits” right here if you dig this stuff). As always, I’m sure you have dozens of your own tricks and experiences too. Of course feel free to share them in the comments below or on Twitter/Fbook/G+. I’d be all about learning some more creative ninja mojo from you as well.