Why liminal spaces will help you level up in life, the omnipresence of work, and some Derek Sivers wisdom

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

Insight 1: Embrace liminal spaces

“Just like twilight is a liminal time between day and night, critical life stages and large societal shifts create liminal spaces that offer risks and opportunities, arenas that expand our perception of possibles.

​What happens in liminal spaces? Doubt, discomfort, unfamiliarity, anxiety. But also growth, change, and discovery. Liminal spaces offer all of the ingredients for creativity.”

​— Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Liminal spaces give you time to mentally transition from one role to another, from one way of living to another, and from one way of perceiving the world around us to another.

Because on the other side, you can look back at your previous situation and see it with clarity.

Your current situation may have been a daydream to your past self.

When I spent 40+ hours a week driving 90 minutes one-way to a rundown clinic in the middle of nowhere, required to wear khakis and a polo, and surrounded by people who didn’t accept me because I was an outsider…I daydreamed about “one day” being a writer, spending my days at home in pajamas and a fun robe, sipping coffee and helping people flourish.

Getting fired in 2020 created a liminal space I wasn’t prepared to face. It took me 30 seconds to read the email that told me I had 30 days to figure out the rest of my life.

It created a liminal space because I couldn’t be a therapist anymore, but didn’t know what I could be next.

But those 30 days gave me (despite incredible stress) the mental space to reevaluate my life trajectory and redefine who I wanted to be in my next chapter.

I didn’t have control over leaving my last space, but I did control the next space I entered.

It’s easy to avoid the discomfort that comes with liminal spaces.

But if you can embrace them, you’ll open yourself to possibilities you’ve only daydreamed about.

If you want some practical approaches to embracing “liminal creativity,” check out this Ness Labs article.

Insight 2: You’re not a machine

Modern technology has made it super convenient to stay connected with loved ones, access unlimited information, and work remotely.

But it’s also made it even easier to take work home with you (especially if you WFH).

This is what Lawrence Yeo calls the omnipresence of work.

Our brains are wired to constantly have ideas, observe patterns, and draw conclusions. This is usually a good thing—it’s helped us make incredible progress as a species.

But when we marry this wiring with technology, it’s easy to get stuck in an “always-on” mindset.

We can always be reached for a “quick call.” Slack and email notifications pop up on our screen all day long. We leave our home office only to sit on the living room couch and pull out our laptop to check a few things “real quick.”

There’s always more to do because there’s always more to be done (especially if you work for yourself).

But learning to unplug, build in rest, create liminal spaces, can give us the recharge we need to enjoy life and work more effectively.

Insight 3: If it’s not a hell yeah, it’s a no

“It’s better to do 5 big things with your life instead of 500 half-assed things.”

— Derek Sivers

​Of all the things you could do, how do you free up enough space on your calendar to take advantage of the few opportunities you absolutely have to do? Those seemingly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that fill you with energy?

Derek Sivers has a great rule of thumb:

If it’s not a “hell yeah,” it’s a “no.”

Here’s a short clip where he dives into his approach to defaulting to “no,” so he leaves plenty of room for the few things that matter.

Question for the Week

How can you carve out more time for what matters this week?

Coaching Corner

Here’s this week’s reader question:

“How can you tackle false beliefs that hold you back?”

— Briana

So you’ve already done one of the hardest parts—recognizing it’s a false belief.

Most people assume their beliefs are reality. But feelings aren’t facts.

Here are three simple strategies that can help you deconstruct false beliefs holding you back…

Look for evidence.

What evidence supports, or rejects, your belief?

For example, if you believe you’re not capable of succeeding, how many times (and in what way) have you succeeded in the past? How often have you overcome adversity? How many times have you figured it out, despite uncertainty?

You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for. The trick is finding evidence that outweighs your false beliefs.

Adding this to a gratitude journal practice can also be helpful in keeping this positive evidence top-of-mind.

Change your environment.

You’ve probably heard the idea that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Well, it’s fairly true.

If you surround yourself with negative people who constantly complain and see the world through shit-colored glasses, you’ll quickly adopt a similar outlook on life.

But if you surround yourself (in-person, online, or through consuming content like videos and books) with positive people who constantly explore their curiosity, embrace uncertainty, and overall see life as full of possibilities—you’ll quickly adopt a similar empowered mindset.

Rewrite your Personal Narratives.

Our Personal Narratives are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, our potential, what we deserve, and the world around us.

Some of us have empowered PNs where the stories we tell ourselves are that we’re capable, people are inherently good, and opportunities abound if we’re willing to look for them and put in the work.

But some of us inherited disempowering PNs where our stories say people can’t be trusted, people like us aren’t capable of success, or we’re somehow not good enough.

Learning to rewrite your own PNs to be more empowering is powerful, but it takes time and consistency (which is why deconstructing and rewriting PNs is a core component of Intentional Life Design).

These 3 strategies should get you started on your journey to deconstructing false beliefs holding you back.

It’s a process, and will take time. But it’s completely possible.

I hope they help.

Got a question you want me to answer here?

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​My goal is to help people be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with one other person who would find it valuable.

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Until next time—memento mori,
​Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Executive Coach


Founder: Intentional Life Design