Welcome brother! If this is your first time reading Woodshop Wisdom, this is a place where, every Monday, we answer a specific question from the men’s community. We give straight-forward answers to a variety of relationship problems and the challenges men face everyday as a provider, father and husband. And often we will challenge you to go much deeper in your understanding of the problem and how to think about it more effectively.
Let’s get started.
My wife said I need to find a hobby. I probably do. I hear the advice about taking care of yourself and staying in your lane. I see that I should find my own life, my own hobbies, and my own purpose, but I don’t know how to get started. How do I find this mission I am supposed to be on?
My wife said the same thing! More than once too. I didn’t quite get what she meant until a few years after our marriage ended.
Let me break it down for you.
(My) Wifespeak = “You need to find a hobby.”
(meaning: you need to stop looking to me for direction, motivation, and decisions. I need you to build a life for yourself that I can relax into and not be your caretaker. I want to be taken somewhere, anywhere, as long as I don’t have to decide where, what, and how. Find something that excites you and drives you forward.)
Translation/Manspeak – “Dude, you are boring.”
(meaning: dude, you are boring.)
This is a built-in hurdle that I still struggle with. I have quite a few days where I am uninspired and unmotivated. I try hard to find the energy to dig a little deeper to create something bigger and better for myself.
Towards the end of my marriage this struggle, in hindsight, was clearly evident.
I was boring.
It’s not like I wasn’t busy. I found plenty of projects to do. I would grind away at all the tasks a husband was supposed to accomplish.
I went to work and provided a paycheck. I came home and fixed the broken appliance and mowed the lawn or shoveled the snow in the driveway. I changed diapers, did the laundry, and bathed the kids.
I did what I was supposed to do.
When all the little things were taken care of, I would sit. I would watch TV or waste away my free time in some mind-numbing way and then complain about how I never had any time to do anything.
I was trapped in a self-installed minefield of mediocrity.
Each landmine representing a different fear keeping me trapped inside a boring, heart attack inducing, stress driven life.
“I don’t deserve better.”
“I don’t know enough to change.”
“What if I look silly doing that?”
Each fear representing a much larger false belief that I was “unworthy of the love and passion I truly yearned for.”
That fear kept me playing small.
So how does a man regain and relight the FIRE burning within him?
In my case, each fire begins small.
First, I must decide to burn something.
What in my life will be turned to ash to ignite this fire?
The old habits that were not serving me will need to go.
The pity I was getting by being a victim, the attention I was receiving from playing a martyr, and the comfort I was feeling by not risking anything needed to go up in smoke.
Those self-destructive benefits I was receiving by not moving forward must be used as the tinder and kindling necessary to light this fire.
Knowing that a fire must destroy (burn) something for it to give off heat and light is a conscious way of letting go of what is holding you back.
In a relationship, that kindling can be the need to argue, the need for external validation, and the need for someone else to change for me to feel better. Burn those habits to the ground. Consciously let go of those.
Secondly, I need to strike a match.
I clearly see the fear that is holding me back here. This is a no turning back now, it is about to get real, action step.
I must take this step to change my world. I must be committed, truly committed, to giving up the old habits for me to touch match to tinder. Any hesitancy and the wind will extinguish the match before the fire is lit.
In a relationship, the wind is like condescending disapproval from your spouse. It sounds like a snarky, off-hand, complaint, “You’re golfing with your buddies again this Sunday?”
This test is to see if you are committed to the change. The wind doesn’t require you to push back with stronger wind. It simply requires that you don’t take this personally and it looks like a hand in front of your burning match to block the gust. A simple boundary to keep your fire lit.
Third, an accelerant can be used.
If I am feeling courageous and committed, pour on some gasoline! This will get my fire going fast, hot, and strong.
In my case, this is the moment I initiate a friend or partner in what I want to accomplish. There is nothing like a friend or mentor to challenge me and keep me focused on the desire I crave.
If you are ready, which I know you are, build a fire with someone who knows how to do it.
The fear here is that you might get singed. You might lose an eyebrow or some arm hair when it explodes into this amazing fireball.
As a trusted fire-building coach, I am here to tell you – yes, that might happen, but you will be okay, most hair grows back. You will be okay. It might hurt at first, but the fire you build will be life-altering and exciting.
Did you think I was here to guarantee your safety? Remember, we are building a fire here, not simply roasting marshmallows (that comes later).
Finally, adding logs.
Once this new fire is lit, YOU get to decide if you want to feed the flames. If you want to fuel this fire, you can, just add more logs.
If you decide this fire is nice, but not awe-inspiring and bonfire worthy, you can let it go out.
If you feel a passion and desire for more, these are fires you tend to.
You will feed your attention and fuel to the fires you wish to see burn bright and hot.
What fires do you wish to light and burn hot inside of you?
How do you do it?
All fires start small.
What are you willing to let go of to light your fire?
Thoughts From The Woodshop
We have an outdoor wood boiler that heats our woodshop in the wintertime. We burn all our wood scraps as kindling to light the fire on each cold winter day. We also need to cut and split logs to supplement the supply.
Each of us takes a turn during the day to load the boiler with wood to keep the flames going. We work together to keep the heat on and the fire burning. It’s so much easier when we all work together on the same mission.
It’s much more difficult on a -15° below zero day to go out and tend that fire alone.
I guess I see men’s work the same way. When I surrounded myself with a group of men willing to travel the same direction with me, I could watch something burn brighter, hotter, and stronger because of the support and cooperation.
If you haven’t quite yet joined a group like this and found a tribe of brothers working towards the same desires as you, I encourage you to take that first step, light a match, and add yourself to Mentoring Men.
Where to go from here?
I see you man. I see that you are ready to engage, you are ready to create something new. I see that you are ready to pick up the tools we have available and get back to building something in your life that is beautiful, impactful, and meaningful. I look forward to seeing it.
It all starts with a question – what do you want to build?
Most of us men spend a lot of time in our heads. We have conversations with ourselves but never show that thinking and feeling side to anyone else. The question and answer example above is exactly like the wise conversations we have every day ALL day in the Mentoring Men Community. This is the smartest, strongest, most caring and courageous group of men I’ve ever known.
We meet weekly for group coaching calls and have deep conversations with men around the world 24/7. This online men’s group is like none other out there. This is what we hear.
“Thank you, Thank You, Thank You for reminding me of who I really am and helping me kill that annoying hummingbird. My wife has seen an immediate change in my attitude and outlook while she has struggled to make progress of her own. She has even made the statement that “I want to be where you are and want to find something that I can connect with and that will make me a better person.”
Join us and start changing your life faster than you ever thought possible.