Sometimes living a better story requires making a big, hairy, scary change. Like moving across the country or taking a pay cut to do what you love. But most of the time we just need to be open to the art of tinkering.

The dictionary says that to tinker is “to repair, adjust, or work with something in an unskilled or experimental manner.”

Take special note of those words “unskilled” and “experimental.” For some reason, we grown-ups think we have to master something on our first attempt. Naturally, that’s impossible, so we don’t even try. Kids are under no such illusions. They tinker all day long.

And when you were a kid, so did you.

If you’re serious about improving your story, just try small things and see what happens. If your inner child whispers something that sounds fun but feels a bit outrageous, commit to trying it just once. Or for a few days.

  • Order something off the menu that you normally wouldn’t. Maybe it’ll open up a whole new culinary adventure. Or maybe not. No big deal.
  • Get rid of a small box of things. Maybe you’ll appreciate the freedom so much that you’ll give away half your things to Goodwill. Maybe not. No big deal.
  • Submit your resumé for that dream job. Maybe they’ll call you for an interview. Maybe not. No big deal.
  • Invite that guy out for coffee. Maybe he’ll say yes and it will lead to dinner. Or maybe he doesn’t and it won’t. No big deal.
  • Run around the block today. Maybe you’ll be so invigorated that you’ll set the goal of running a marathon in six months. Maybe not. No big deal.

Don’t worry about doing everything perfectly, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Just do a little of this, a little of that. Cut a little here, a little there. These small actions may lead to big things, sure, but don’t be paralyzed by the belief that in order to make your story better you have to go all nuclear.


[ About the Art: I did this one well over a year ago and never had a chance to post it. I was thinking about our favorite toys and how they often have their own personalities, especially when our imaginations are in full swing. Painted with real acrylic paint on real brown kraft paper. I love the tactile nature of doing it this way, but right now I love the way digital helps me go so much faster, especially with ideas coming fast and furious these days. --Jason]

Want more good stuff like this? Sign up to get free weekly tips for fighting Adultitis. It's like milk and cookies for your inbox!


  1. I like it a lot, the art and words, and the bit in brackets at the end. :)

  2. Great post. I love the notion of “tinkering”.

  3. I love the art! Thanks for the inspiring words.

  4. Just wanted to share this awesome comment I got via email from Rebecca David. She wrote:

    “This year was designated my year of adventure (or ‘tinkering’). I have to try something new every day this year and so far it has been great. My girlfriend even joined in and now she has her dream job and I have a place at university as a mature student to study for my dream job! Tinkering really works :)

    Oh, and I also realised I LOVE spicy foods, especially Thai.”

    Rock on, Rebecca…hooray for tinkering!


  1. [...] keep going. Keep tinkering. Don’t give [...]