5 Simple Ways to Help You Step Back and See the Big Picture

Evolving Architect // "5 Simple Ways to Help You Step Back and See the Big Picture"
Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward.
Erika Taylor


Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our daily lives (I know I do), that it's hard for us to see what isn't working until it's too late. Even then, when it seems like all we can do is give in to our grind, we have the potential bring everything back around and reset ourselves.

It's imperative for the success of whatever you're after - career development, passing an exam, or personal growth - that you take action and correct your heading before you become lost and unable to remember why you started.

I recently had a reset of my own. This is how I found balance and pulled myself back on course.


Throughout the month of January 2016, I focused intensely on creating content around a single theme - the Architect Registration Exam (A.R.E.). As I planned the next month or so worth of posts, I began to consider what the next 6 or even 12 months might look like if I dedicated each of them to a new and engaging theme.

The plan was set. In that moment I decided to focus February on the theme "Finding a Job." I developed a badass set list of post ideas, prepared to create some amazing content, and told the world of my intentions.

Then there was #Architalks.

Literally within hours of posting my intentions for February, I had been invited to participate in Architalks - A monthly post series organized by Bob Borson of Life of An Architect in which the idea is to "take a singular word of phrase and distribute it to a group of architectural bloggers, and let them take it in whatever direction they interpret. The intent is to highlight diversity within the profession..."

I knew then that based on the schedule of what I had planned and what it would take to create a fantastic piece for my first #Architalks, something had to give. A choice had to be made.

In the end, I chose #Architalks. I chose it hands down.

I did it because I saw a genuine opportunity to establish greater connections with people who I respected. I've read several of their blogs before - blogs that spoke to me. I wanted to participate in the community at large.

As I began coming up with ideas, I could tell right away that #Architalks had deeply inspired me to write from my soul. I could feel it. I could hear the words pour out of my mind and onto the page.

I think the resulting piece, "Why an Architect's Voice is Their Most Important Tool," conveys that passion.


It wasn't until after the piece had been published, gracious comments had been made, and I had some time to reflect, that I realized a simple truth. Architalks had saved me from myself.

I recalled the previous month and realized that, while helpful, some of the posts I had written were missing the spontaneity that had pushed me before to excel. I took this to heart and began to re-evaluate the path I was on.

Before #Architalks, I had planned out 12 months of posts, about 50 in total. I don't know about you, but to me, that's a little daunting. Planning is good, but understanding how to pivot while still achieving your goal is more important.

Grinding is simply doing something because it 'needs to be done.' Evolving is doing something because it will help you reach higher levels of being.


If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you have to self audit from time to time. We can easily get caught up in just making each day work on its own, that we fail to remember our goal, our purpose, our reasons for why it is we do what we do.

Here are some tactics to help you get back into the game.


We all have natural bull$#!t radars. Some of us are better at reading them than others, but we all can recognize when we're playing ourselves. We may not care to recognize that we're doing it, but we know.

Pro-Tip: Next time you know that you're feeding yourself bull$#!t, take a moment, slap yourself in the face, and pull yourself together.



Take a long, hard look at why it is you do what you do. The only thing that matters here is your "why." If you don't understand your why, your purpose for being, you'll never be able to execute on what it is your after with any true meaning behind you.

Pro-Tip: Go hang out with Thought Guru Simon Sinek for a while. His TEDTalk "Start with Why" will change your life.



You may think that being busy is the same as thing as being productive. Trust me, it's not. You're either grinding or evolving. You can't being doing both at the same time. Grinding is simply doing something because it 'needs to be done.' Evolving is doing something because it will help you reach higher levels of being.

You can grind away at something forever and effectively never amount to much more than being a pro at a mundane activity. OR you can use each experience as a stepping stone in the personal development that will take you anywhere in the world you want to go.

Pro-Tip: Ask yourself if what you're doing is helping you grow or just work. If it's just work.... LET... IT... GO.



Try to keep in mind the fact that what you're doing right now towards your goal is a task towards your goal, but not your actual goal. If you can imagine your goal as a result of many different tasks that could take a long period of time collectively, you'll begin to realize that each task, while important, is only a part of a larger whole.

You have to see the forest through the trees. Focusing on each task, without a vision for the overall intention, will lead you down a path where you'll find nothing but more tasks.

There is no forest without trees. You still have to do the work. But each new tree adds to the life of the forest. If you plant the wrong tress though, you'll end up with oak trees in the jungle or cacti in the mountains.

Pro-Tip: Write down your goal. Now write down the steps you think it will take to achieve it. Now edit that list like your life depends on it - cross off anything that is not essential, and only do the tasks that are left.



If you sense that something you're about to do won't jive with the person you want to be, don't do it. It's that simple. You can't be that person you strive for if you're slowly undermining your own foundation. Don't sacrifice who you are to make something happen. After it does, you still need to live with who you've become.

When you feel like you're doing something unsavory, change the flavor. There are many ways to achieve almost any goal. It's better to follow the path that will actually lead you success you're proud of than to reach your goal and only feel slimy.

Pro-Tip: If you sense that what you're doing may be a bit off, ask someone you trust to kick you in the ass. Sometimes our loved ones can be the best sources of criticism we have.


Today, take a moment for yourself. Use that time to look at what you're doing in your life right now. Focus on something specific and think about whether or not that one thing is working in the overall plan you've made for yourself.

  • What is your goal?
  • Why are you doing this?
  • How will you know you've achieved it?
  • How are you keeping yourself accountable?

If you don't have a goal, now is the time you should figure out what that is. Use the tactics above to keep yourself in check and achieve the goal you come up with.

We all get distracted. We let the world in and distract us.

Use your best judgement and intuition to self-audit your life.

If you do, you'll be more successful and get more done than you ever imagined.

CareerMichael LaValley