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Making Big Changes by Addressing the Smallest Problems: Lessons from ‘Life Kerning’

Justin Ahrens|Author of "Life Kerning"
Friday, 9 Dec 2011 | 1:35 PM ET

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG by Justin Ahrens is the author of "Life Kerning: Creative Ways to Fine Tune Your Perspective on Career and Life."

There are so many books and tools out there claiming to help you reach that elusive balance, that desired nirvana of life and work mastery.

Is it possible? Should we even care? We explore these themes in "Life Kerning."

Life Kerning
Life Kerning

What is Life Kerning, you ask?

In graphic design, kerning is the fine-tuning or adjustment of the space between letterforms (type). The changes may be small, but they make a big difference. A designer can go in and finely tune the space within a headline or a placement of a title so that a presentation is more enjoyable and downright beautiful to the reader. Alternatively, a designer can alter the aesthetic part of a presentation to ensure that the material has the desired effect visually, beautiful or not.

In our business careers, we tend to think sweeping or wholesale changes are required to enable us to more deeply appreciate our lives or our jobs. We believe that balance, whatever that actually means, is the key to feeling more fulfilled in our day-to-day. Yet it’s often the fine adjustments between the smaller details of our lives that we neglect or do not revisit often enough that tend to make the headlines of our lives seem uncomfortable, not as harmonious as they could be, or just hard to read.

This perspective applies to individuals in all careers, without question. From time to time, all of us need to assess our personal and work lives to see whether they are feeding each other or fighting each other. That’s what this book is about. It's about you: the business owner, creative director, worker bee, cookie monster, creative problem solver, or just the person whose life is a little out of whack and needs a nice realignment.

Regardless of how you’ve gotten to this point in your life, you're hopefully doing what you were designed to do. When you were growing up, you doodled on your Trapper Keepers or on lined paper during math class and dreamed about creating or being a part of something that would be recognized and admired worldwide. Perhaps you haven't quite arrived there yet…or maybe you've made it, but "there" is not quite as fulfilling as you thought it would be. Perhaps you've even questioned whether pursuing that early dream was worth it. Was it really what you wanted? Did it really matter?

My guess is that the answer to all those questions is yes, but that's what you can expect to explore in the pages of Life Kerning.

This book covers twenty-nine key thoughts, including:

  • Determining what you're passionate about, and how to keep those passions in the forefront of your life and career
  • How to create work that stands out
  • How to cultivate and maintain a group of wise mentors
  • Reaching out to others strategically and trusting the collaboration process
  • Creating space in your life and adding enjoyment to your day-to-day existence
  • Establishing an inspiring and motivating workplace environment
  • Learning how and when to ask for more
  • Embracing your curiosity, and becoming a catalyst for positive change

In Life Kerning, I share some insights from my own experiences, along with some wonderful perspectives from others, and when you're finished, I hope you'll have gained some perspective on “balancing” the important things in your life or, at the very least, start looking at them differently.

Justin Ahrens is the author of Life Kerning: Creative Ways to Fine Tune Your Perspective on Career and Life (Wiley) and the founder, principal, and creative director of Rule29, one of Chicago's top creative studios, which focuses on making creative matter for their clients in print, spatial, and online environments. His clients range from nonprofit organizations to Fortune 500 corporations, including Allstate Insurance, Life In Abundance, Team Red White and Blue, rock legend Alice Cooper, Invesco PowerShares, and DC Comics, to name a few. He and his work have been recognized by AIGA, the Professional Association of Design, Communication Arts and HOW, the go-to magazines for graphic designers.

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks

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