Rebuilding the House While Living in It

Last week, at the B2B Intensive, as some of you saw, I sat in the back of the room, furiously typing away much of the time. I was multitasking. I tried to write for a client and take notes on the sessions at the same time.

I was having to bounce back and forth, from one priority to another, from one task to another, and often my writing interfered with my learning. I was making hard choices to accomplish two things at the same time.

It felt a bit like rebuilding a house while living in it. Have you ever renovated a house you’re living in? Doing that is on my mind this week. My wife and I are in talks to replace the baseboards and carpet in our house while knocking down a couple of walls and painting everything. We’ll be transforming our home while trying to live in it.

When you do that, you spend money and other resources on renovating you could spend elsewhere. Instead of going on vacation, you’re buying drywall. Rather than hiring a personal trainer, you’re hiring painters.

You also take up energy you’d normally use elsewhere. My wife and I are planning to shut down many of our hobbies for a month – after all, cake decorating and drywall dust don’t really mix.

You disrupt your home life, ruin your comfort, and make the place ugly. You make hard compromises that you really won’t like.

But those compromises are temporary and there’s a larger goal in mind — a more beautiful home with sustained property values.

And that’s what pursuing the writer’s life is like. You’ve chosen to change yourself while living your life.

We’re each building new work lives in some way. Some of us have lost jobs. Some of us have been knocked down by illness or by losing loved ones. Some have just decided to expand our value to the world or spend more time with our kids. But we’re each building something new on the foundations of our past.

Like renovating your house, you have some choices on how you want to drive change. I see three steps for making orderly, effective progress, which are similar to the steps you take for renovating your home.

  1. Assess where you are. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you want to change? What do you want to keep? What parts will you knock down or repaint?
  2. Make a plan. Anyone will tell you to make a business plan. In our case, these are partially business plans, and partially life plans. What goals do you want to pursue? How do you want your work life to look? How will you get there? How long will it take?
  3. Do you need help? Do you need more information, like a course? Or do you need someone to help you, like a mentor or web developer?

So I’m going to ask a basic question. How can I better support you in the hard changes you’re making? Do you need me to write about tactics? Do you want me to continue in the ‘big picture,’ more philosophical vein I’ve been following lately? Do you need to talk with me directly? What can I do to help you?

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Published: July 5, 2012

2 Responses to “Rebuilding the House While Living in It”

  1. Hi Brian,

    Reading this article for the first time today and if your offer of speaking to you personally is still open I would love to take you up on it.

    Great article too, I like it.

    Guest (Tasia)December 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm


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