188: Life Crafting 101 – Deviating From the Norm: The magic of incremental changes



Lisa Lewis

The art of life crafting.

Ever heard of it?

It’s about desining your life: defining what you want in your life, taking that vision, and prioritizing where you put your energy and effort to achieve those goals.

Simple enough, right?

You’d be surprised how many people don’t take advantage of the benefits that life crafting can bring into their lives.

Not only will it open doors to everything that is possible for you, but it will also provide a framework to get to the life you want.

Now, let’s take a moment and think about what it is that you would like to have in your life.

Think about it this way, in a perfect world, what does your life look like?

In terms of your career, where would you be working? What would you be doing? How does your work impact your personal life?

Life crafting allows you to design your career goals and manage how your career aligns with your overall life goals.

In order to get comfortable with the idea of life crafting, we’ll take a look at what may be holding you back from intentionally designing a life you’d be in love with and how to move forward in achieving your career goals to better fit that life you’ve designed.


Successful people don’t reach their goals by sitting back and letting life play out on its own. They may roll with the punches, but they don’t let the punches roll them. Successful people succeed in spite of their circumstances.

Here are a few examples of the types of barriers that hold people back from going after a life they love.


Rules. There is a time and place for them, but when it comes to reaching your dream career — shouldn’t you push beyond those boundaries?

Society has made us believe that the way to get a good job is through that traditional path of success by which we get a degree, score an internship, and work to the top of that corporate ladder.

But why does it have to be that way?

People have this fear that breaking the rules or stepping outside of what is normal won’t get them what is considered a successful career.

That fear stops them in their tracks and they continue down a path of unhappiness in an unfulfilling career. 


Many people can’t help but take into account what other people think. At times, other people’s feedback really weighs down on our ability to make a decision on whether or not we choose to pursue our goals.

On our last podcast, we met Rebecca Maddox who made the decision to leave her job and move across the country without a new position lined up because she knew she was ready for a career change. But, her decision was met with a handful of people that:

  1. Couldn’t believe she would leave such a great situation in a dream career
  2. Doubted that she would be able to pull off such a massive life change

Like it or not, it’s other people’s voices that begin to take over our thoughts and plant the seeds of doubt in our heads that create a lack of confidence within ourselves, which ultimately leads to us to staying in the same place in our career.


Yes, big life changes — especially those that concern your career and livelihood, bring a lot of unanswered questions to mind.

What if I really don’t have the skills I say I do?

What if I make a switch and the job ends up being exactly the same, or worse?

What if I don’t make a successful change into an entirely different industry?

All of the ‘what if’ scenarios that come into mind are just another distraction.

Life changes are scary because of the unknown results. That is understandable.

This fear of the unknown is common, but it shouldn’t be a big enough obstacle to completely stop you from designing your life and achieving your goals.


Reaching your career goals and having them align with what you value in life doesn’t happen by accident. You must be clear in your direction and intentional in your actions to achieve that career and life you dreamed.

You don’t need to dive straight into the deep-end in order to change your career trajectory.

You can begin to make small, incremental changes in the following areas to begin to move forward on your new career path.


Shifting your perspective on life from accepting the things that are given to you as is to an outlook that encourages you to take control of what is given to you and make things happen in the direction of your goals is the first step in creating momentum for your career change.

Don’t be the person that stands in your own way of achieving what you already know is possible for yourself.

Give yourself the permission you need to make adjustments where they are needed to better align your career to your values as you craft your life.


Be so intentional and clear on what matters to you, your priorities, and how you are willing to make changes to align to your values to earn the life you dream.

Living a life with intention as you move in the direction of your values will make achieving your goals that much easier.

Start with something small like dedicating 30 minutes of your day to creating your career to-do list and constantly updating it with new asks. As time goes on, you can grow that into something bigger and bigger, until you’ve reached your goal.


Making the decision to do things differently than others to find ways to make your career fit your life needs is a new experience in itself.

Continuing to push on different boundaries that you’ve previously set for yourself will help you advance more quickly toward that life you have designed.

As you experience new things in the career sphere, you are able to evaluate and help customize exactly what you need to create a better fit for your life.


Whatever it is that you want in your career, be more intentional about your actions to get it.

  • Go to your employer and ask — when you make an ask, make it about your employer and how it will benefit them
  • Start by asking for a trial period to test for the results.
  • Make sure you track your performance output and not mention it to any of your colleagues

If you follow these steps and prove to your employer that you’re capable, this little ask can turn into something more permanent.

If you want to get to a place where you feel like you are the master of your own destination or the captain of your own ship, you’ve got to be willing to start making asks, even if they’re small.

Lisa Lewis

When you take a step back and look at the big picture of what you define as a successful career and life, it looks like it may take FOREVER to get there.

But, when you shift the way you look at change, you’ll see that it doesn’t take one big move to achieve your successful end-result. That change actually consists of little tiny steps that you’ve taken in the direction of your goals and designing your life.

Each time you cross a task off your career change to-do list, you’ll have to make minor adjustments to better align with your values every step of the way.

You need to constantly make those incremental changes relative to where you need to be in your life.

If you’re ready to go in a direction that suits you, but are having trouble identifying where you need to make those incremental changes, we’ve got the resources for you. Check out the Career Change Bootcamp program as it was created to help guide you through changing your coordinates of where you need to go as it applies to your career change.

Read more about it here or visit our Career Coaching resource for a more personalized one-on-one career adviser to help you craft your life and plug in new coordinate if need be.

Scott Barlow: I’m Scott Anthony Barlow and you are listening to Happen to Your Career. This is the show that helps you figure out what work fits you by exploring other’s stories. We get to bring on experts like Emilie Wapnick that helps people that don’t have just one true calling and people with amazing stories like Kirby Verceles who found her ideal job by learning her strengths. These are people just like you that have gone from where they are to what they really want to be doing. As it turns out they are just like and have gone through what we are going to talk about today. We have something special today. We haven’t done this before or spent a lot of time talking about it. We are going to get deep into how to craft a life that fits you. We are calling this and a series of episodes over the next couple months life crafting 101. I have with me live, or as much as a recorded podcast can be, Lisa Lewis, our head career coach and career change bootcamp. Lisa welcome back.

Lisa Lewis: Thank you Scott and hey to the Happen to Your Career family. It’s so great to be back with you today.

Scott Barlow: I’m excited to have you here because I know this is near and dear to both of us for a variety of reasons. Where did you start thinking about taking agency and control and responsibility over not just what happens in your life but what the future can look like and how you want it to look like? I didn’t tell you we were going to talk about that, I’m totally springing it on you because I’m curious.

Lisa Lewis: I love it, it’s a big juicy question to dive in with. I think it's so befitting these big juicy questions of life. For me, the first moment I started to crack the nut open on life, crafting and defining my own desires and priorities for my time, started in incremental ways. Little baby steps that stack upon themselves over the past years. I have a funny anecdote to start. When I first started to think about designing your career and setting career goals to meet life goals: Back in college I was a student always looking for more experience, get the next internship, the next thing to be exposed to. I wanted to leave college with the most knowledge about the real world as I was walking out with academic knowledge.

Scott Barlow: I had a lot of the same experience. Keep going.

Lisa Lewis: I did this fabulous internship with a nonprofit in Colorado in between my sophomore and junior year. There was a group of interns that would have lunch together. I did this as an unpaid internship because I assumed that was all that was available. You do this to earn street cred to get paid one day. But then I learned another intern was getting paid. I thought whoa hold on. There was this sense of injustice, how could they? I’m a victim in this situation.

Scott Barlow: How dare you get paid for work.

Lisa Lewis: Exactly. Then I thought, I can’t change the fact that he is getting paid. He played the system well. How do I start to play that game? How do I look for opportunities to get paid? He wasn’t getting paid through our organization but through a sponsor organization that wrote him a grant to come do the work. I was all of a sudden looking at the whole intern game with a 1% shift in perspective. It made all the difference in what I thought was available to me. I had thought they said on the website it was unpaid so I had to take it that way. But now knowing it was possible to find ways to get paid for the work I wanted to do opened new possibilities for me, breaking the rules, doing things differently, finding a way to fit my needs, and also continuing to push boundaries that you would generally see people accept the rules and behavior or to see if there was room for negotiation or wiggle room to fit me better.

Scott Barlow: That is so interesting. I didn’t realize we had a lot of similarities. I had a similar experience. In college I had to go through an internship. I had to do it to graduate as part of the business program. I was forced, or I probably wouldn’t have looked at it. I was working at Staples and RadioShack at the time. I was pretty good at sales and making good money. But I have to go get an internship and make less money? It was my intolerance saying it was stupid that I started looking at how I could do it differently. I guess be careful what you wish for because I came home with a small business and all the earning potential and potential problems and learnings. That was my reaction as well. For me I had to solve the problem. I didn’t want to do it any other way.

After college for you, when you realized you could get paid other ways, what was your second big light bulb moment that opened up the possibilities that looked at it in the way to design it the way you wanted rather than accepting what comes to you?

Lisa Lewis: For another data point, if we are looking at a lot of moments in my life, you’ve heard me say this a bunch Scott, one thing I talk about all the time is Jim Rohn’s principle that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I think spending time with people who inspire, motivate and uplift you is so important. If I zoom back in time I got to spend time with an incredibly inspiring person when I was way too young to appreciate it. My mom started her own business when I was just a kid. She had a brick and mortar fabric and sewing store when I was maybe in first or second grade. She was an entrepreneur for decades of my life. It planted seeds in me of not having to accept the corporate world as the end all be all option for my own career. Zoom me forward twenty years and I am working in a corporate communications agency one of the most respected in the greater D.C. area. My best friend is working in a design capacity. She is doing this for the corporation but has also started her own business on the side to do design work for other clients that would not be a problem for non-compete because they would never afford the rates we were charging. They weren’t clients the company would want to pick up. Watching how she was able to prioritize her life to bring in a little bit more money and create flexibility and plant her own seeds for something that would eventually be her full time business, was so inspiring, motivating, and inspiring.

Another little funny piece of the story I thought man I don’t like the types of clients I work with on my projects. I’d love to work with clients more aligned with me and my passions and interests. I went to legalzoom and started my own LLC and thought I would do my own side communications consulting for those types of companies so I could align my work hours, brain power, and energy to what mattered most to me. I started a side consulting business or what I thought would be. It was a spectacular failure. A total waste of money, and time because I didn’t’ have the tools or resources, coaching, etc. to be able to know how to have conversations with prospective clients, market research, package and price my services, talk to people who were legitimate prospects. By all definitions it would look like a failure.

There were two things that made it a unique stepping stone for me. One I had the courage to do it. This person is running a side business, so can I. Just leaping and being brave. The other lesson was when I defacto failed I was not defeated. It didn’t crush me as a person. I think on some level I had a fear of not being successful and what that would say about me as a human being. I know what my risk tolerance is now and the amount of money I’m willing to sink into a project before I see a return. This was not the right way for me to enter into the entrepreneurship world. I had the courage and guts to potentially make it work under different circumstances and terms. When it comes to life crafting and choosing to intentionally do things differently from other people there can be a huge amount of fear that can hold you back whether you think of it as deviating from the norm or what will other people think or what if I’m not immediately successful. Three are a lot of big ifs that can pop up and keep you from taking action and mess with your mindset, keeping you from finding out answers to those questions.

Getting yourself to a position to where the fear of not giving yourself permission to find out the answer and explore it is greater than the fear of what might happen can be a huge turning point to taking back the reigns on your own life and career, instead of it happening to you with no control, into you saying I’m going to take control and if it fails then I’ll take responsibility for that, but if it succeeds I’ll take credit it for it too.

Scott Barlow: Your set of experiences is a perfect dovetail into what we want you to get out of today and what we are covering. We want to help lift the veil of what is possible for you. We have realized working with so many people that most of us aren’t achieving to our full potential, and most of us, myself included, we are what is standing in the way. It isn’t necessarily life or other circumstances, anyone successful by their own standards succeeds in spite of the circumstances. They get out of their own way.

I wanted Lisa to share her story because we want to expose you to different mindsets and provide exposure of what is holding you back. All the reasons we don’t go forward, and it being scary. If you listen to last week's episode of Rebecca Maddox she made a huge life change. Her friends and family. She had the sought after job in D.C. As an attorney. When she started talking about it she met with resistance but she saw what was possible for her and what success looked like in her own standards. What do you think are some of the things that people don’t realize when they are just getting into being interested in making big drastic changes and how it becomes possible?

Lisa Lewis: I think one big thing, while the changes look big on the outside, they are usually the product of lots of little baby steps in the direction of your values. They won’t happen by accident you have to be so intentional and clear on what matters to you and your priorities and how you are willing to make changes to your own life to align with your priorities and values to be able to earn your way into the life you want to craft and dream of. It can be something like asking something small from your current employer like say work from home after a doctor’s appt. something easy for them to say yes to. Continue to grow that to be bigger. There is a gal that works for a technology company called Sprinkler where she has got to a point with her boss that she can work abroad once a quarter. She was a full time employee but now part time because she started making smaller asks that would be helpful to her for workplace flexibility and aligning with her values. And showing how a happy and productive she would be helpful to the organization. She opened doors to get more of what she wanted while the company still got what they wanted. That never would have happened by accident. Her company would never come to here and say you know what....

Scott Barlow: You know what would be really cool if you could go ahead and fly across the world. That would be cool if you could do that and do work over there that would suit us. What do you say? Yeah right.

Lisa Lewis: If only it was that easy. If our bosses were mind readers that knew all we had contributed, saw the value of it, reward it and gave promotions without us asking for it and making a case for it. That is not the world we live in. If you want to be a master of your own destiny and captain of your own ship you have to make asks even if they are small. They are motivated by seeing people around you doing things differently. If you are listening to this now you can probably think of one person that is less smart than you, less talented, less capable, committed, or driven as you that is doing something in their life that you would love to do in your own world. Just seeing the examples of people that are less capable and qualified but making the asks and being intentional about how they design their lives can be such a motivation and inspiration of what can be possible for you.

Scott Barlow: I was thinking I might be that person for a bunch of people because many people we work with are far smarter than me. I don’t have a tolerance to spend very much time living a life that doesn’t align with what I am interested in and what I want to be doing. I think that a different mindset than what most people look at. They choose what they believe is available to them or what happens in their life that they are reacting to versus what is actually happening in my life. This isn’t the end goal because there isn’t one or a quote “you’ve made it” you’ve reached a destination. It is more like an airplane pilot not using autopilot. You are constantly making tweaks and adjustments as you head toward a destination versus straight line heading to one place or another.

Lisa Lewis: Being able to make incremental changes and adjustments is so important. Fun fact, my dad is an airplane pilot, or he is a private pilot now, but autopilot doesn’t put you on one perfect course and you never make a turn or adjustment but it is constantly checking your own position relative to where it needs you to be and making incremental slight changes to your course and direction.

Scott Barlow: I feel we are like the autopilot for crafting people's lives. We do that to a degree as a company. I think about coaching and career change bootcamp and we are constantly helping people make corrections, did you know you are going a little off course? Here is a boot to get you back on course.

Lisa Lewis: We help people program where the autopilot is set to land. Everyone has social norm autopilot. Everyone goes on vacation to Orlando or someplace. What if we changed your autopilot to vacation to Bali or Bora Bora or Fiji. What if you could change the coordinates and you had the grit and hustle to change your life like that?

Scott Barlow: It’s almost like the autopilot is set to go to Spokane, Washington. Nothing against there, I lived there. You are heading there and the coordinates are plugged in so you might as well go, but what if they just had a gas leak and it's not so desirable any more. That might be the equivalent of we just had kids and I want something different in my life. Or I looked around one day and realized I don’t want my boss's job and I’m not sure what I want. Do you want to keep going to Spokane or go to Bali? You are going there soon right?

Lisa Lewis: Not that long from now. We can talk about how to create a life that empowers you to go to Bali in one of our life crafting episodes. If you would be interested in hearing about that send us an email.

Scott Barlow: We are going to turn this into a series and our intention today is to talk about what some of the differences are. I’d encourage you to answer this question. Depending on what the answer is I’d suggest you take an action. Is your autopilot flying to where you want to go and when you land there will you be truly happy with it? If you hesitate or it is no then I think it is time to learn how to plug in different coordinates. That is what we want to teach you and achieve in the upcoming episodes. Every three to four weeks we will drop in a new episode to craft a life you love with your career and what can be possible. It is our intention to plug in those different coordinates and go a different direction that suits you. Maybe you want to go to Bali or maybe it’s Nevada. Whatever it is, is okay, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is interested in, just what you are. What do you think Lisa?

Lisa Lewis: I love it. If we take fantasy travel off the table. There are so many easy everyday things that can make huge differences in people’s lives. Maybe getting one work from home day every week or every two weeks or getting flexible hours to leave early and pick up your kids from daycare or it's getting an opportunity to work remotely for a week or month so you can go and travel and explore or do co-working. The possibilities for the ways you can make the life or your day to day reality closer to the life you have been imagining are endless if you give yourself permission to think about what could be possible. Equip yourself. The people can help make it happen and you can make it happen for yourself.

Scott Barlow: That is where we will leave you. I’ll share one quick story about how I started looking at this differently. For me, just like Lisa, I had a series of times that have influenced how I think about what I want and what is possible in my life. There are several points. One in particular, I worked at Target for a while doing HR. I was training an HR manager and we were in casual conversation because she was working with me for several weeks. She kept talking about her dad. She was really close with her dad. I just had a little girl at the time. I realized I wanted that. Her dad was around all of the time. She spoke very fondly of him. I wondered how he was around so much. He was there when she got home from school, helped with homework, and who she called when she needed advice. I wanted to be like her dad. That was mind flipping for me. I realized later he owned a series of apartment complexes that enabled him to live the lifestyle I wanted. I took that and almost dropped in a collection of things I wanted for my life. Nine years later this led down the path creating this type of business.

One of the first steps was negotiating flexibility and time off. Here is one thing you can put into action. If you want more flexibility, I first tried to figure out how it could be a great situation. Is there a universe where this could be a great situation for both me and my employer? As it turns out there was. By allowing me have work from home days each week I got a ton more done. I was more productive, plus I had extra time, that I didn’t have to commute or stay at work later. I got more done in less time. I went to them and made it about them and helping. How it could be a good situation. Asking my boss for a trial period. Not asking them to commit. I made it blatantly clear that I wasn’t going to talk about it to everyone because they were worried about people not performing as well wanting to do it too. I alleviated some of those concerns. Let’s try this for just one month. I asked for two days and we settled on one. I did that intentionally. We tried it and revisited it a month later. It was working. I kept things to track what performance output I was getting so they could see it was effective. It let me keep going. They could commit on a brief trial. Once we could see it was working we could turn it into permanent. If that is something that you potentially want you can use that.

Lisa thanks for coming back on the episode. If you want to learn more about Lisa you can go to episode 147 and hear her story. Thanks for being here and sharing some of the things I didn't know. Super cool.

Lisa Lewis: Of course, it’s always exciting to be here. If even one person listens and feels more empowered and excited and in control of possibilities we will have done a huge service. I can’t wait to hear what people think.

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