Crafting Your Future
This article was originally published by our buddies over at This Is Range.
“There are two ways to look at a blank sheet of paper. It can be the most frightening thing in the world because you have to make the first mark on it. Or it can be the greatest opportunity in the world because you get to make the first mark — you can let your imagination fly in any direction, and create whole new worlds.”
– Marty Sklar’s words to the Disney Imagineers, 1966
I often write letters to my future self and tuck them between the blank pages of my notebooks. I draw out my wild dreams and fold them up as reminders of the goals I’ve set for myself. I call it future crafting. It’s easy to lose direction when the first thing we do in the morning is scroll through everyone else’s lives. These self-addressed letters keep me focused.
Growing up in Tahoe was my first lesson in good design. Products are tools. The right gear disappears so you can focus on shredding. In the words of Dieter Rams, "good design is unobtrusive." The best ideas hit you on the approach since there aren’t many interruptions outside. Put simply, find quality gear and go outside. I had no idea what industrial design was when I moved to Seattle. I followed my friends into a design class and was stoked to find the discipline was everything I grew up doing: exploring, tinkering, building.
I learned objective thinking and grew a vocabulary to encourage what worked and what didn’t. Design is essentially collecting ideas through experience and working towards solutions.
"I was so distracted watching everyone else, I forgot to keep track of my own thoughts."
After college, I lost my creativity. Expectation stalled my output and I was caught up in the game of comparison. I was so distracted watching everyone else, I forgot to keep track of my own thoughts. If you’re reading this, I hope your creativity is alive and well. If not, you’ll get it back.
I retraced my steps back to when I was most creative. The kid inside me reminded me of a time when there were no expectations and I drank orange juice for breakfast instead of Instagram. I was free to do anything I wanted. Comparison. Expectation. Fear of failure. They devoured my creativity. And sometimes people won’t understand your brilliant ideas until you bring them to life. We can’t grow if we don’t learn from our mistakes. Even failure is growth.
These days, I brew coffee at sunrise and turn to a blank page in my notebook. Free of interruptions, distractions and expectations, I give myself an hour to explore whatever comes to mind. It’s usually a patchwork of checklists, rhymes, drawings and small circles. It’s mostly nonsense, but occasionally I find gold to build from. Give yourself the space to create. Illustrate what your path ahead looks like. Write yourself a letter of encouragement. Future you will thank present you. A blank page is the greatest opportunity because no one has put anything on it yet. [H]