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Flow / Fiero > Reinventing Yourself [May 2022]

Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta
Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta
👋 Hey there,
What’s good on your side? Everything is flowing over here. And it just feels like the perfect timing to write about what has changed in my life over the past two years or so.
No, this is not an ego exercise. The trigger to share my experience was being aware that many people are going through similar processes. I hope this may be helpful for some of you.
That said, read it at your peril; it’s risky and most suitable for people who see life as an infinite game. People that don’t play to win, but to play better games. Also, never forget that what works for one person may not necessarily work for another.
All set? Buckle up, and enjoy the ride.
Two years ago, my life changed radically, both at the personal and professional levels. A long and deeply meaningful relationship had ended, and my design agency didn’t survive the pandemic.
As someone influenced by Stoic philosophy, I soon realized that the obstacle was the way. It was time for a new beginning.
So I took a sabbatical to reflect on my life so far. It was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. Not only did I unlock many repressed memories from the past, but I also decided to fully embrace my purpose (helping people to grow), weirdness, and an endless hunger for new challenges.
That led to working as an independent consultant, not accepting long-term commitments for some time, and not following any conventions about what a professional identity should be.
Being both a proud generalist and a creator, the so-called creator economy seemed like a good place to start — but I soon began to feel a bitter-sweet taste.
On one side, I buy the idea of providing different services and having a diversified set of revenue streams; on the other, the “magic creators formula” to focus on one niche clashed with my identity and drive. I feed off of diversity, and just the thought of exclusively working on a narrow area bores me to death.
Also, I had one big problem to solve first; my personal and professional connections see me through different lenses — the product guy, the learning guy, the collaboration guy, and even the tech guy. I needed to center myself.
After many hours of reflection and long conversations, the result can be summed up in a simple diagram.
As you can see, it’s still impossible to put me in a box, which can be a problem in a society that needs to place people in boxes. But identifying my main “anchors”, which are also the areas where I have more track record, was a big step forward.
And it was that step that made me realize that I love to work in uncertain environments where collaboration is key, and there is no place for ego or silos.
However, a clear purpose and a defined area of action are not enough to make things happen. I had to build a system that I could trust to act on my life decisions. So I created purpose to action — a system that connects purpose with day-to-day actions.
All of this has been done in the open — with continuous feedback loops from many people. It started two years ago with a simple webpage that I’ve been tweaking as I uncover my professional identity — experiment after experiment.
Being able to do all of this is another sign of how privileged I have been all my life, and I’m not even talking about the financial side. I’m talking about my inner circle, “next-in-line-circle,” and the communities I belong to. I feel their love and support all the time.
What I’ve shared with you is far from a success story. I’m not very intelligent, I’m dyslexic and clumsy, and I have some heavy childhood baggage. What I wanted to highlight here is the importance of finding your North Star and acting on it.
People around you will feel the authenticity, and great opportunities will appear. Then you just need to show up every day and do the work.
I am perfectly aware that this big experiment can go sideways, but just the thrill of it is worth a lifetime.
Thank you all for supporting me along the way.
Project Spotlight is a non-profit live experiment aimed at helping people reinvent themselves.
We believe the best way to help people reinvent themselves is to share life stories of people with different backgrounds and mindsets.
When I had the idea for the project, it was meant to be something different — a learning hub to help people continuously adapt to this brave new world.
After talking with many people, the idea started to gain traction, but I needed to learn more before moving forward. Also, being back in the startup game as a founder didn’t attract me at the time. But the spirit of didn’t die.
Back in 2020, I created a publication on Medium and started writing articles on learning, but soon I decided to open the space to other voices.
Getting to know Chris was the main reason for this change of plans; her life story is so rich and intense that it had to be shared. And from one day to the other, I started interviewing other inspiring people.
I’m going to share a secret with you. You’ll learn a lot more about reinvention with the multitude of life paths you’ll find there than from the story I just told in the previous section. Diversity is (always) the key.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique was a game-changer for me when I discovered it many years ago. My productivity skyrocketed after starting to use it regularly.
Its “mechanics” are pretty simple — splitting your time into 25-minute long sessions, followed by a 5-minute break. In each session, you only work on one task, and you shut down all possible sources of distractions.
I use it when I sense my mind is wandering through a thousand topics, which often happens. Sometimes, it works as an initial framing for deep work sessions where I forget about time.
Luca Rossi — How to Manage Your Time ⏱️
Luca Rossi — How to Manage Your Time ⏱️
Five prompts for Leonor
Leonor Graça Moura
A question you ask frequently
I often ask myself, “What is the right thing to do in this situation? That might mean doing something difficult or saying something uncomfortable to the person or group that is with me in that circumstance. It may also mean knowing when not to do something. There are moments when my awareness becomes extra sharp and my intuition speaks very loud. I know right there, in those moments, that is the question to ask myself, and usually, when I take the right action and do the right thing, something shivers inside me or touches the other person deeply.
A learning journey that made the difference
I left my marriage and my job and became sort of an orphan in a city where I barely knew anyone. For more than two years I was broke, lonely and with a one-year-old in my arms living in a place, I hated. That changed everything for me. I learned to hold myself, to nurture my presence, and to trust that whatever direction I choose in life I have the will and power to make it work. After that period of introspection I became a new version of myself. I painted almost every day - my dreams, my wounds, my longings… Suddenly, my internal world was blooming with fireworks and creativity! So much joy and freedom came from that decision.
A quote worth reflecting on
“What you seek is seeking you” by Rumi has been my motto for as long as I can remember. With one foot in gratitude and one foot in desire, I always know deep down that what I desire is already on its way to me.
A concept that simplifies your life
Integrity. When my mind, my heart, my actions, and my words are aligned I am integral, thus I am whole. That means I don’t waste energy on superficial things and that I am kind to myself and others. When I am a whole human being I am in alignment with higher values, it simplifies everything.
A piece of advice worth sharing
I learned this from my mentor - “It is not what you do that matters, but who you are when you do it”
Awareness is the book that has most impacted my life in the past few years.
Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who combined the Judeo-Christian Tradition with Buddhism. The way he swings through these traditions without questioning his own religious beliefs is almost magic.
In Awareness, he uncovers how to wake up and become aware.
Word of caution though; you probably won’t be the same after reading this.
Quotes worth pondering
“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.” — Alice Walker
On Repeat
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Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta
Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta @gustavocpimenta

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