I was out walking home the other day, thinking about some things I had tried in my work and life over the last few weeks. Nothing major, but I had run some small experiments with myself, looked at different ways for organising my week and tried a couple of new ways of handing difficult or tricky conversations. Some succeeded, some not – and the jury’s still out on a couple.

What struck me was how relaxed I was in doing things this way, how much I now live and work from the perspective that ‘life is a series of experiments’. It’s been a big shift for me over the last decade or two.

I lived the first part of my life trapped inside a paradigm that said that life was an unfathomable game, with rules that changed frequently (and always when I got close to figuring them out). I had to play the game alone, and there was no way to stop it. Not much fun.

But then I grew up. I decided that I was going to change my life metaphor, to something more useful. I decided to live as if life was a series of experiments and adventures, so trial and error was the go, failures were fine – and I was in charge of the rules! It took a while to really believe it and live accordingly, but once I did, my life changed. I have fun.

So, how do you see your work (and your life)? Is it:

A game

A struggle

A blank page

A kid’s playground

A snakes and ladders game

A jungle

A battlefield

A journey

An adventure

A race

A waiting room (for the hereafter, or until your prince(ss) shows up…)

A meaningless exercise

A riddle

Something else?

Once you have your metaphor, think about it in some detail. For example, if it is a game, what kind? Who is playing? Are you good at it? Do you know the rules? Are you having fun? Are you learning a lot? Do the rules change? Can you change the rules? Can you stop playing (would you like to stop playing?)

What other metaphor might work better for you? Pick one now…and next time you are facing a challenge, ask yourself: How would I see this differently if life really was a kids’ playground / adventure / fairytale?

What’s your metaphor?

Joanna Maxwell


Signup to have my occasional newsletters delivered to your inbox