Elizabeth Wolf has lived a life of adventure, from serving in the Peace Corp in Vanuatu, to traveling the world, to becoming a Montessori teacher. Now starting a career as an artist, she is beginning the next exciting chapter, and has taken a few minutes to share with us her views on using (and investing) time.
Enjoy our Q+A with Liz below, and be sure to check out her spotlight feature in this month's issue of En Root.
This month's theme is all about the gift of time. Tell us about how time (finding it, using it etc.) has played a role in your personal or professional life, pre- or post-pandemic.
Here is a hard, but true lesson about time. If you don't decide HOW you want to spend it, time keeps going anyway. You might as well have some choice in the matter, and keep those choices up your sleeve. We are all busy, but I bet once in a while you find yourself with a spare 8-10 minutes in a situation where really, all you can do is wait. Maybe it's waiting for everyone to sign in on Zoom, or waiting for others in the house to be ready. For me personally, because it isn't long enough for a larger task, I default to my phone. Before I know it, I've fallen down a spiral of hypnotizing tricks for decorating cakes on Instagram.
Try this instead: Create a Google Doc of things you WANT to do with a spare 10 minutes. Whenever you think of one, add it to the list. If you feel comfortable, share the Google Doc with friends or family and let them add to your list. Mine aren't the BEST uses of my time - but they are things I enjoy doing and they certainly leave me feeling more refreshed than a social media dive.
Most importantly, because I feel more refreshed, I am more prepared to tackle the larger things that are next. This isn't to say that you need to stay off your phone or off social media. That's not realistic. But let it be your choice, not your default. Once you find a quick task that you love, those little pockets of time become mini getaways. You don't necessarily need the Google Doc anymore, however it doesn't hurt to check in on it once in a while. My mini getaway, for example, is to use my kindle app to read on my phone. No matter where I am, I usually have my phone on me, so it's easy enough. But on the off chance that I don't have my phone on me or I'm just not in the mood to read, I need to have something else up my sleeve. This way, my spare time isn't spent thinking about WHAT to do, it's spent doing what I enjoy.
My back-up at the moment is thinking of the people that I haven't spoken to in a bit - for pandemic reasons or busy life reasons, then making a note to myself text them. This isn't a being-on-top-of-it chore for me. I truly enjoy it, and that is important. Don't use your mini getaways on things you think you SHOULD be doing. Think about what you WANT to do with those spare minutes. They are yours after all. My guess is once this becomes a habit, it will change how both personal AND professional life work for you. I am always willing to bet that you will find more pockets than you think.
At OutGrowth, we believe in designing the space and time to reimagine the path forward. What are your tips on using the time we are given to make small steps toward growth?
I don't know why I always thought of growth as linear. Maybe a lot of us do? But it's really not. There are always deceptive highs and deceptive lows. Whenever I'm imagining my path forward, I have to remind myself constantly of OVERALL growth. Where you want to go matters, but so does where you started. As an artist, I am constantly overwhelmed with how many ideas I have vs. how quickly I can produce these ideas. Breaking them down into small steps has been the only way forward - because I sure remember staying stagnant in fear at the beginning.
Tell us about your most significant professional moment since the start of the pandemic. The pandemic has been a time of intense reflection. I don't think I'm alone in that. Professionally, it's just me. I don't report to anyone, but that also means everything is on my shoulders. So in a way, I report to myself. And frankly, that is not my strength. A significant moment was the moment in which I committed to starting my own career as an artist. It is terrifying. But of course, so is not doing what you want with your life.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook from pre-pandemic times.
I've essentially allowed myself to think of the absolute worst case scenario, and think of how I would deal with that. My mom used to play that game with me as a kid, and it reminds me that even a bad outcome isn't a good reason not to try. So I've made the career switch from a teacher to an artist. I loved being a teacher, but I also love being an artist. At some point in life, I had to make a poster of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I couldn't decide and ended up with a poster of a teacher, an artist, and a lawyer. Let your career be what you want it to be and that doesn't mean that it can't change later.
What is one competency or skill you hope to develop in 2022?
In 2022, I would love to dive into the digital arts world. I will be like a toddler learning to walk.
What inspires you these days?
It's good to know what inspires you. For me, it will never not be nature.
At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource (book, podcast, article, anything!) you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in 2022?
I can't recommend the Before Breakfast podcast enough. They are usually around 5 minutes long and give quick easy tips for saving time or using time efficiently.
What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2022?
In 2022, I will be launching my website and applying for opportunities to showcase my art, all in the hopes of sharing my message as an artist.
Elizabeth is an artist, teacher, and interior designer who enjoys reusing materials that might otherwise be tossed, to curate beautiful spaces. She and her wife enjoy walks in nature with their pup, Shadow. Their most recent project is cleaning out a 600 sq.ft. house that was filled from floor to ceiling, researching the items and discovering the life the family left behind. She reuses some of these materials in her art.