Make Your Life Into Art

A lot of people will try to stop you.

“It’s competitive out there,” come the words. Often from those you least expect. Close friends. Colleagues. Family.

Run a design studio? With your spouse? Who are you kidding?

But with care and tending, anything is possible.

“My father lived his life as if it were a poem,” wrote the son of Rabindranath Tagore, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

But you don’t have to write a work as brilliant as Gitanjali in order to live the creative life. You can do anything, if you know how to create value for others. It isn’t easy to discern this at the start of our lives, of course.

Life’s like a creative process. Nowhere as much as the start do we most need room and time to play and discover.

Where are we going, what are we looking for, how will we know when we get there—these are the big questions we can only explore our way into, with our hearts leading the way.

Eight years after I joined my husband, Akira Morita, at a shiny office space in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, our studio has morphed in bunches of ways. Like any business, you try some things, they flop. You try some other things, and people start to notice. So you migrate to what works and slough what doesn’t.

The hard part is starting, especially with all those negative voices around. A man claiming to be a ex-NBA player I met walking in my neighborhood the other day confirmed the artist’s conundrum: “People don’t want to see you make it. That’s been the case for centuries.”

After you get past them, though, you can hit a stride. Once you find that groove, you get better faster. Business investor Warren Buffett advises people not to veer outside of the bounds of the stuff they’re best at. Instead, we need to concentrate our efforts doing what we’re good at and what comes naturally to us. Do that, and that only. He calls this your “Circle of Competence.”

Sometimes, what makes you effective is your ability to define your edge, and say no to things outside it.

Knowing when to pull away or persevere, that’s important. You want to surround yourself with people who value you. [Check out Eliot Rausch’s video, “What I have to Offer” (5 min)]

Once you’ve identified what you can contribute and the people who care about that, specifically, you’re ready for the next step. Work. Time to refine what you can offer the set of people who will care. Master it. Only then can you make great art.

Discovering who we each are, truly, at heart, and then expressing our true selves–that is the important work of creatives of our time.

Did you know every seven to ten years our body’s cells replace themselves? That means it’s never too late to start again, to realize our greatest potential. Our entire selves are physically refashioned. Every decade, we are entirely new compositions.

Featured image: Design your life copyrighted by Dipika Kohli

Article by Dipika Kohli

Dipika Kohli created Design Kompany with her partner in life and business, Akira Morita.