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Maxi Fleischmann: And Suddenly There is Clarity

“The DYL digital journey is a perfect composition of 3 bi-weekly live sessions, a well-thought through workbook and app, and an extremely well-composed community, plus a bonus session.  I had time to breathe and reflect between the sessions, with the DYL App and the workbook keeping me accountable.”

Feeling Stuck

Before the Designing Your Life (DYL) Digital Journey workshop series, facilitated by Fieldbrook Advising, I was feeling stuck, professionally and privately. I felt limited in living my life to its fullest potential; I felt imprisoned – in a golden cage with my mind stuck in it, unable to get out despite its doors being open.

I came to the workshop wishing to gain bravery. I wanted to focus on my truest self when engaging with others as opposed to me trying to impress others.  I wanted to live life to the fullest!  But all those aspirations were exactly that – a vision rather than reality.

When my dad passed away in 2018, fighting cancer for 2.5 years, he did not want to leave.  He was not ready.  It felt like he was missing something in order to let go in peace.  I was shaken by seeing the person, whom I admired so much, struggle so intensely in face of death.  It shaped me in an unexpected way. After my dad died, my mind was not shifted in a YOLO (you only love once) kind of way – and I wasn’t getting it.

Angst, a sense of responsibility, shame, and guilt came into play.  All these emotions were holding me back big time.  Those were the feelings that created the invisible door of the golden cage.  And I couldn’t see anything else but the invisible door.

Define the Problem You Want to Solve – The First, Hard Step in Design Thinking

When I started the DYL workshop, my first struggle was defining my goal(s).  The self assessments, the DYL App (which I found amazing), and the customized workbook were really helpful, but the exchanges with the other participants were so valuable.  I felt hugely supported by the DYL community. Let me dive a little bit deeper here.  During the live sessions we had several breakouts with one to two other participants.  In each of those sessions it felt like a higher power was playing matchmaker; the people who showed up helped me structure my thoughts, reflect and move into action.

I remember the first breakout.  I was still in a very performance-driven mindset and would get upset when the other participants would not be as prepared or committed as I was.  Then I realized you can change it, love it, or leave it.  And because I could not control how the others were working, I needed to do a shift and be more supportive of different work styles.  This is crucial for me.  I became more open-minded and hence, ready for the path that was lying ahead of me.

Radical Collaboration Makes a Huge Difference

Every upcoming breakout, I met someone who was facing similar issues and in a similar work environment. Every session taught me valuable lessons. They filled my heart, they motivated me, and they uplifted me.  The feeling of getting into the ‘real’ stuff with a kind stranger was incredibly important. Opening up to give and take advice, to ask questions and receive feedback is a mind-blowing journey that gave me a lot of courage – I gained the bravery I was hoping for.  In the design process this is called “radical collaboration” and it was a radical new way for me to gain insights.

And even though I always considered myself a rather lone rider, I understood that this had more to do with self-protection than actual reality.  So, I ended up planning a house swap with one of the participants for the time after the pandemic.  Beyond the sessions together, many of us will continue with regular engagements in mastermind groups.

In addition to the community, the facilitators were a crucial component to the success of this experience.  They completely immersed themselves into the journey – they are vulnerable, authentic, and accepting – and paved the way for getting ‘real.’  I was really impressed by their kindness and charisma and their ability to create this place of belonging even via Zoom.  Words can’t really express how much I appreciated them.

Prototyping Helps You Build Your Way into New Possibilities

When we defined three prototypes of the lives we could envision for ourselves, it felt very abstract to me.  I had a hard time defining even the first one. Surprisingly, however, when it came to the 3rd prototype, I had something like a calling – it just appeared to me how I wanted to live my life.  At this point, things started to change rapidly.

My goal was to gain enough flexibility in life, so I can both work in the job I love and travel the world.  Who came up with the phrase ‘you can’t have the cake and eat it too?  My reframe is “pick a cake you’d love to try and enjoy it”!

The hardest part for me was to overcome external expectations.  Ironically, the pandemic helped.  While in the program, I went to Spain for 3 weeks and worked from there.  I was starting to live the life I envisioned.  Small prototypes, baby steps, building my way forward, and it worked!  Nothing bad happened but quite the opposite!  My body and my mind started to heal.  I was able again to inspire others.  I could see clearer; the invisible doors became invisible!  I stepped out of my golden cage.

I now want to take the next steps.  I want to spend a month in Costa Rica, and see how working in a different time zone works out for me.  After that I will hopefully spend a month in Hawaii at the house of the DYL participant, who continues to be a friend, a mentor, a peer.

The DYL Digital Journey Helps You Take Action

The DYL digital journey is a perfect composition of 3 bi-weekly live sessions, a well-thought through workbook and app, and an extremely well composed community, plus a bonus session.  I had time to breathe and reflect between the sessions, but the app and the workbook kept me accountable.  As I live in Germany, the live sessions were on Friday nights. I could have not imagined a better Friday night date!

I cannot express my thanks in words to all the people who made this DYL experience so remarkable!  So much has changed for me.  I have shifted from a mindset that only saw limits to a mindset where everything is possible, and guilt does not have to accompany that limitless possibility.

Maxi is from Berlin, Germany. She lives with her dachshund, Paul in a beautiful space on the river Spree.  She works as the CEO of her family business, Business Trends Academy, dedicated to furthering education for adults.