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2×4: An Interview with Patrick Rhone

2×4: An Interview with Patrick Rhone

    Patrick Rhone has a gift. He takes things that seem ordinary, things that are so easily overlooked and helps you to see the opportunity in them. He doesn’t tell you how to do this. He doesn’t give you the paint by numbers. He makes you do the work, but shares how he goes about doing it himself. As I said in my review of his latest book, enough, “Rather than providing a checklist for being more mindful, it felt as if I was allowed to examine the benefits from a more mindful existence.”

    Patrick shows you the potential in the ordinary and the ability to make everything, especially yourself, better. He’s also a voice of reason for needing less rather than more stuff to achieve that better self.

    Without further ado, here’s a look at how Patrick Rhone, the creator of Minimal Mac and the thinker behind the enough book and podcast approaches his creative and productive pursuits.

    Creativity

    Have you always considered yourself a creative person?

    Yes. I come from a family of creatives. My mother is an actress and director. Her mother was a world class concert pianist. So, it is in the genetics I guess.

    What mediums and inspirations do you gravitate toward to realize your creative goals?

    Well, as a writer I’m inspired by nearly everything in life. I’m in near constant search for an interesting story to tell and those can be had almost anywhere. Example:

    The magnolias, having suffered a few years of neglect, were beginning to look more bush than tree. Renegade shoots and leaves covered the bottom blocking the sun from the other plants below. Therefore, loppers in hand, I set out to shape them back into a more beguiling form fitting their true nature.

    That is simply the beginning of a story about my yard work from this afternoon. But, I also look for the often unseen connections between the mundane and the extraordinary.

    For instance, the story of trimming a tree in order to shape it and help it grow could easily be a metaphor for our lives and a possible path to self-improvement. Trimming the excess that is sucking energy from the trunk is a pretty good idea for our lives as well.

    As for mediums? Well, I like a saying a friend recently spoke to me which is “Paper is never passive”. I find much truth in this.

    If you had to point to one thing, what specific posts or creations are you most proud of and why?

    My two books — Keeping It Straight and Enough (note: please link to these???). Mainly because, well, writing books is a very hard thing. Writing a book one is proud of and that one believes can really make a difference is even harder. These two items represent the best of my work released thus far.

    Any suggestions for those who feel they may not be creative enough to unlock their inner artist?

    Sure. Stop lying to yourself. Sit down. Do the work. Seek constant improvement. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to those in the field you admire and ask for their suggestions. Take them to heart. Put them to practice. Then, sit down and do the work.

    Creativity is not a blessing, it is a habit.

    Productivity

    Can you describe your current personal and professional responsibilities?

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    There is not enough space for this but let’s try…

    Writer.  Podcaster. Blogger. Author. Essayist. Speaker. Technology Consultant. Father (of three, two are adults). Husband. Homeowner (of 3 houses). Lover. Fighter. Buddhist.

    How do you go about balancing the personal, professional and digital?

    With great care, some skill, and not nearly as much success as I would like. This is simply life and I do the best I can.

    What tools and techniques do you find yourself counting on to get through your workload?

    Pen and paper is essential. I always have both at hand.

    OmniFocus for when things get to big for even pen and paper to manage.

    I try not to remember life before my iPhone.

    What is the best starting point for the unproductive amongst us, who are looking to get more organized?

    Quantify everything that has your attention (or deserves it), decide what you need to do about it, then do it. That is the basis of every successful productivity method ever written.

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

      5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

      In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

      Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

      How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

      • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
      • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
      • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
      • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
      • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
      • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

      When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

      Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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      1. Realize You’re Not Alone

      Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

      Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

      2. Find What Inspires You

      Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

      What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

      On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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      If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

      3. Give Yourself a Break

      When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

      Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

      Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

      These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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      4. Shake up Your Routines

      Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

      Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

      When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

      5. Start with a Small Step

      Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

      Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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      Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

      On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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      Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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