You Don’t Have to do Everything

You Don’t Have to do Everything

That’s what I’m realizing.

And I’m also starting to get a better sense of things I want to do and things I don’t want to be so involved in. Some of this surprised me. Just today I realized I may not want to be the one doing interviews on my podcast.

But that doesn’t mean I plan to stop podcasting. It means there are shoes to fill. I would love to collaborate with a sharp interviewer on future episodes.

I can now see I didn’t have much access or a perspective on this (and other matters) before, and I’m not sure I would if 1) I hadn’t taken a break earlier this month, and 2) I didn’t opt to take a yearlong leadership and management program beginning June 11.

The key priorities in my life have automatically risen to the top of my list, while the lesser priorities have automatically fallen to the bottom. To be honest, if it doesn’t make my top five to 10, I’m probably not even looking at it right now.

Now, there are promises to be kept, and I know there are several of those in my email. They are on my to-do list as well. Be patient – I will get to you as soon as I can. I’m not looking to escape responsibility – I’m looking to expand. I just haven’t figured out what that’s going to look like in the new reality I’m creating.

But at this point, I could see myself deleting more emails than not, at least until I have people in place to handle different responsibilities in my business. And, by the way, I’m deciding whether to put the call out on my blog. I will have a better idea of whether this is something I want to do once I’ve had a better night’s sleep.

If there’s a moral to all this, it’s that:

Possibilities are nearly unlimited when you’re working with other sharp, ambitious people. It’s capped when you’re busy trying to be a superhero.

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Expansion

Expansion

I ended up spending about seven and a half hours on calls and meetings yesterday. Today, I shared this with the leader in one of my groups.

(The leadership and management program I’m a part of tosses you into a bunch of groups and pods straightaway.)

When I shared what I saw unfolding, she said, “it sounds like you’re expanding.”

I like how she put it.

And it made me realize something.

Expansion isn’t necessarily easy, even if it’s something you ultimately want.

It sounds good in theory, sure, but when push comes to shove, it means taking on more, being accountable to others, fulfilling on commitments, and leaning on others for support. Not trying to do everything yourself. There’s a limit to how much you can realistically take on.

Because expansion can be difficult, we often resist it. We don’t rise to the challenges staring back at us. And sometimes we aren’t even present to those challenges.

But fundamentally, if you want to keep growing, you need to keep expanding.

What are you resisting? In what areas are you failing to rise to the challenge? What responsibilities are you avoiding because you just don’t feel like taking them on?

These are the areas in which expansion is asking you to meet it.

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Doing Your Taxes is Just Data Entry & Patience

Doing Your Taxes is Just Data Entry & Patience

Care to take a wild guess at what I’ve been doing today?

Yep.

Sorting documents. Filing them away. Throwing out receipts no one with a 20/20 vision could possibly read. Putting all relevant and applicable information into spreadsheets.

It’s not glamorous. It’s not fun. And with the government consistently overpromising, underdelivering, and stumbling into disaster after disaster – like they were Greg Focker (Ben Stiller’s character in Meet the Parents) – you honestly wonder why you would even hand over a percentage of your hard-earned money to incompetent goons.

But this is not a political comment.

No, there are a couple of things I see about this “doing taxes” business.

There Are Opportunities in Numbers

I don’t think I would be going out on a limb to say most creatives are right-brained and either hate math, aren’t good at it, just tolerate it, or only got better at it as they exercised their creative muscle.

That’s how it was for me. I got slightly better at math in relation to my growth as a musician.

But what I see now is that there are opportunities in numbers.

Sometimes there are unauthorized charges on your credit cards – good idea to dig into those.

Sometimes there are expenses you can cut – subscriptions you’re still paying for that have no bearing on your creativity or business whatsoever.

And, although we don’t always think this way as creatives, there are times to increase your expenses too – such as when goods and services are available at a discount.

I get that staring at numbers probably isn’t your idea of a double cheeseburger picnic at the park on a sunny day.

But perhaps it would be worth checking in with those numbers more than once per year – maybe monthly, quarterly at minimum.

You’ll become present to more opportunities.

You’ve Got More Time Than You Realize

I don’t see the need to regurgitate all the points I covered in a previous blog post.

But what I’ve started seeing for myself is that time is available in abundance.

Despite being on multiple Zoom and phone calls today, I was still able to put together the most extensive of ledgers (income, expenses, auto), create a to-do list for the near term and immediate future, log worthy ideas into my freshly created master documents (might have to blog about this at some point), and even sort my documents and receipts.

Having more in your schedule forces you to triage – consider what matters most on your to-do list and prioritize. When you have less to do, the tendency might be to slack off or allow work to expand the time available (Parkinson’s law).

What I’m also starting to see is that some tasks just don’t matter that much. They might matter to the extent that I’ve insisted on being consistent with them over the long haul, but I would probably have better results in other channels if I approached them more experimentally. I was quick to jump into long-term commitments (as with my podcast, for example).

To take it a step further, I’m seeing that I’ve already reached my limits as a solopreneur in my specific niche(s). Taking it to the next level would mean letting others contribute to my projects.

Final Thoughts

All this from taxes?

Hell, even I was impressed.

A lot of my assumptions are being challenged in the leadership and management program I’m currently taking, and the lessons are showing up in my experience. It’s magical.

But I do need my rest. Good night, kids. See you tomorrow.

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“I’m Done Trying to be Great”

“I’m Done Trying to be Great”

I’m done trying to be great.

These were the words that came to mind as I sought to complete an item on my to-do list today.

I’d put together a short to-do list before going on break. Nothing crazy, just a few things to help me get organized and prepare for the next six months, which will likely be just as intense as the last.

But running errands wasn’t going exactly as expected. So, I stopped and asked myself: “Is this something I really need to do right now?”

And I soon realized it wasn’t.

“I’m on break. My priority is to disconnect, rest, exercise, and get some sun.”

What I Realized

On my walk, I took some time to think about why my mind was feeding me those words: “I’m done trying to be great.”

And the answer was forthcoming, and much simpler than expected.

I need more rest, and my resilience isn’t at its best. That’s it!

It’s funny how much tiredness and fatigue can affect your mood and state of mind. Sometimes, it isn’t deeply seated trauma from childhood or an all-out spiritual battle. Sometimes it’s just that you’ve had too much caffeine!

What I’m saying is:

It’s altogether too easy to overthink and over-intellectualize everything. Sometimes the answers are right under your nose.

Is This Something I Need to do Right Now?

While reflecting, I also recognized the value of this question.

If you’re an ambitious creative or creator, chances are you have a to-do list a mile long already. Although everyone says to prioritize, this can be tough when you have so many tasks and projects to consider.

What I’m beginning to discover, though, is that about 80% of my list either doesn’t need to be done now or doesn’t need to be done at all.

By that logic, you should only be left with 20% of your list, which you should find easier to prioritize.

If you want to take it a step further, then do as Tim Ferriss does and find the one decision that removes 100. Find and focus on the one thing that will make most if not all others a mere triviality.

But if you do choose this path, know one thing – it may take days, weeks, or even months of thinking and reflection to uncover what that one thing is.

So, Am I Done Trying to be Great?

Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.

I’m done trying to be great when I can’t even be expected to be at, or give, my best.

Those hours are best spent in a cocoon – getting away from electronics, resting, getting some exercise, and bathing in the sun. If the world permits, travel, and pool as well.

This can also be a good time to think and reflect. But only if I’m ready. If I need to give my mind a rest too, I will.

It’s one thing to try to be Superman when you’re at your best, but you’ve got to switch that off while you’re on break. Expectations should be loosed. Surrender and let go. Don’t be hard on yourself.

This seems to create more flow in life, anyway. Things come easier when you aren’t trying so hard. And maybe it’s the best way to live.

Leave greatness to superheroes. Be you because that’s what people are going to be attracted to. Being you is how you will find your unique purpose, voice, and calling. Being you is the magic that attracts all you desire in life.

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Average People Argue Over Stupid Sh*t That Will NEVER Matter

Average People Argue Over Stupid Sh*t That Will NEVER Matter

Let’s face it – most of us feel justified in our opinions and beliefs, faulty or not.

We worry more about being right than in preserving the integrity of a relationship.

We’re quick to point out the speck in another’s eye, not noticing the plank lodged in our own.

Which can only mean one thing – we value our rightness over the quality of our relationships. This is reflected in our actions.

If we want to create amazing relationships, first, we need to drop our need to be right about everything.

“They’re the Ones Doing it Wrong”

Our obsession with right and wrong is misplaced. We often fail to recognize that our thoughts or feelings are a value or qualitative judgment, not an objective reality.

We see someone eating a McDonald’s burger for lunch, and say, that’s “wrong.”

No, it’s not wrong. It may not be the healthiest choice. It may not be made of the freshest, high-quality ingredients available. But it’s a valid choice, given that McDonald’s locations are everywhere, and as a culture, we’ve embraced it.

You may not value McDonald’s or making unhealthy choices in general. But that doesn’t make the choice “wrong.”

The reason you feel so guilty when you fail to live up to your own standards, is because you’ve labelled something “wrong” in the first place. This implies that in every situation there’s always a right and a wrong, and that restricts you to a set of actions and behaviors that will either leave you feeling like a Rockstar or a complete loser.

You set your own rules in life, and if you’re not doing this consciously, you’re setting yourself up to lose more often than you care to admit.

Whenever you are triggered, the offense lies with you, not with another. You allowed someone else’s words or actions dictate your mood or emotions. You gave your power over to them.

Your Resentments Are Yours

Your resentments are your own. You cannot, and should not, hold anyone else responsible for the offense you’ve felt.

What most of us do is try to pin someone else’s words or actions to their character, when all this amounts to is confirmation bias. You saw someone in a specific situation act consistently in a certain way several times, so you assume that this is who they are. You’ve got these habits tied to their identity, so you resort to attacking their identity as well.

But who among us can say we’ve never misspoken? Who among us can say we’ve always chosen the best course of action? No one.

Yes, one’s character reflects the words and actions they’ve chosen consistently over time, but that doesn’t automatically make someone a certain way, rigid and inflexible.

People do change and are typically wildly inconsistent unless especially disciplined or presented with a set of circumstances that forces them to be.

Moreover, if someone consistently chooses a specific action in a specific circumstance, who’s to say they aren’t making the choice they want to make? Who’s to say they aren’t making the best choice they know to make? Who’s to say their choice is “wrong?”

We assume too much and ask too little. We judge too much and listen too little. We attack too much and praise too little.

If you want to see someone rise to new levels, talk about the amazing potential and future you see for them, not the “flaws” you wish they would correct.

Unexpressed Expectations Are Premeditated Resentment

Resentment builds up because we refuse to cause completion in our lives.

We refuse to cause completion in our lives because we were never taught how and don’t have the skills necessary to do it in a way that respects and honors others. So, it feels too risky. Too scary. Too confrontational.

Again, your resentment is your own. You must take ownership of your own feelings if you want to come out of an argument better off. If you care about the integrity of the relationship, you won’t argue to be right, you will argue for actions and structures that make the relationship better.

Don’t hold onto unexpressed expectations. Expectations not expressed quickly turn into resentment. How do you know your expectations are unexpressed? The words never left your mouth.

When you’re looking to cause completion, don’t accuse another of something that offended you. Instead say, “When you said X, it made me feel Y, and I take ownership for making Y mean Z.”

If you can say this and mean it, you’ll have successfully put the onus on yourself instead of outsourcing your emotional responsibility to another. Remember – your emotions are not their responsibility. Offense originated with you.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (& it’s All Small Stuff)

What good does it do to argue over things that are of little consequence?

Most people feel entitled, and even qualified to point out another’s flaw. This doesn’t just leave them blind to their own shortcomings – it’s also another way of shirking responsibility. If you’re seeing something in another person, and it annoys you, the truth is, it’s something that annoys you about yourself too.

Can you honestly say that arguing over who picked up the bill, who farted, or who went digging for gold in their nose is going to make one bit of difference a year from now?

I can assure you it won’t, but this is exactly the type of hollow sh*t people argue endlessly over.

People sometimes call me “passive,” but the truth is I’ve learned to let go of things I know won’t make one iota of difference a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade from now.

Picking my battles means putting my energies toward things that will move the needle in my life:

  • My spirituality
  • My health
  • My business, investments, and financial wellbeing
  • My family
  • My friendships
  • My relationship

These things are worth giving 100% to. Whether or not someone cut me off on the road today will be quickly forgotten and will not matter one bit in day, let alone a few hours.

I will have more of myself to give to the things that matter if I don’t spend so much time and energy on petty nonsense that doesn’t enrich my life.

Final Thoughts

We’ve all argued over stupid sh*t. It would be silly to think we haven’t.

The trick is to pick your battles. Fight for the things that matter to you in life. Not for the privilege of being right.

Think of it this way – the more you insist on being right, the more you’re probably hurting others and your relationship to them.

Ask yourself:

  • What are you willing to drop or give up?
  • Are you taking ownership of your own offense and resentment?
  • Do you have the skills necessary to cause completion in your life instead of carrying unnecessary baggage for years and decades?
  • What is worth fighting for in your life?

Thanks for reading, champ!

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The Value of 365-Day Experiments

The Value of 365-Day Experiments

Online personal development guru Steve Pavlina is famous for having conducted a variety of 30-day experiments, be it learning the guitar, intermittent fasting, or sustaining a raw diet. To this day, he still engages in these types of experiments and blogs about them.

I discovered Pavlina’s work in 2007, and soon began the process of starting my own 30-day experiments – things like learning the mandolin or Joomla – and blogging about the experience.

Earlier that same year, though, I had already started what I called Project 365, and my aim was to write a song, every single day, for a full year.

Although I hadn’t given much thought to it until recently, since then, I’ve engaged in several 365-day experiments, each of which have brought untold blessings into my life.

These challenges are incredibly helpful in developing discipline and making massive progress in a chosen area.

But I’ll talk more about the benefits as we go. I’d like to start by sharing with you an overview of the experiments I’ve completed, and the results derived from each.

365-Day Experiments I’ve Completed

Here are the 365-day experiments I’ve completed so far:

  • 2007: Wrote 365 songs in a year (and succeeded)
  • 2008: Practiced guitar for three hours per day (and failed)
  • 2009: Practiced guitar for three hours per day (and succeeded)
  • 2015: Read 52 books in a year (and succeeded)
  • 2016: Read 52 books in a year (and succeeded a second time)
  • 2020 – 2021: Published daily for a full year (in progress)

Now for some of the results these experiments produced:

  • In 2007, I ended up writing two fan favorite originals: “Wonderfully Dysfunctional” and “Too Late.”
  • In 2008, after a brief stint as a solo artist, I joined a band again, and it went onto become one of the most successful acts I’ve been a part of to date.
  • In 2015, I wrote a book review for Dr. Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, and to this day, it’s my highest trafficked blog post by a huge margin.
  • It remains to be seen exactly all that will come out of publishing daily, but so far, I’ve gained about 1,100 Medium followers. I’ve also been invited to write for several new publications, started earning money writing on News Break, landed a five-figure ghostwriting contract, and more.

Fascinatingly and coincidentally, Pavlina also published daily in 2020, and his post on the topic is insightful.

Why Start a 365-Day Challenge?

A full year of dedicated hard work might not transform a flabby body into a ripped and cut one. It might not turn a mediocre guitarist into a phenomenal instrumentalist, or convert a lazy, broke entrepreneur into a productive, high income earner.

But you can leapfrog in a chosen area if you’re committed to the task. And whatever progress you make can act as a springboard onto greater progress and improvement.

I certainly don’t think I would be half the guitarist I am today without the effort I put into my instrument in the early days, especially in 2008 and 2009. Trying to figure out how to fit three hours of practice into my day now would be like trying to navigate uncharted waters without a compass (these days, 30 minutes per day is more than enough for ongoing maintenance and improvement).

Similarly, I wouldn’t have momentum in my book reading discipline if I hadn’t chosen to adopt the CEO habit of reading 52 books per year in 2015 and 2016. And that would not have come about without the core disciplines I picked up in network marketing from 2011 to 2015.

So, the best way to think about a 365-day challenge is as foundation-setting. Working on a specific discipline or area of life where you want to create expanded results. You can’t expect to make quantum leaps, but you can create momentum as you never have before.

Despite the benefits, a 365-day experiment will prove a challenge if:

  • You’ve never done it before
  • You’ve never kept a discipline for longer than a month or two
  • You aren’t self-motivated
  • You aren’t clear on your motivation for starting an experiment
  • You overestimate what you can accomplish in a year
  • You set unrealistic expectations
  • You already feel overwhelmed with various commitments

These aren’t reasons not to take on the challenge. If anything, they might be good reasons to take it on. But you can’t assume or take success for granted. You will need to orient your life around the experiment and make it a priority, or there’s a good chance you’ll lose momentum and fail.

Benefits of Engaging in a Yearlong Experiment

The benefits you can gain from engaging in a yearlong experiment are many and varied and will depend a lot on the type of challenge you take on.

But in my experience, here are some of the greatest benefits you can expect to glean from a 365-day challenge:

You Can Create Breakthroughs in Your Life

Want to get more people listening to your music? Instead of relying on fancy tactics and whiz-bang funnels, what if you committed to the hard work of promoting your music daily for a full year? What difference would that make in your career? Could you create a breakthrough result?

Whether you want to get in better shape, improve as a blogger, or grow your YouTube channel, if you were fully present and dedicated to the cause for a full year, I can almost promise you that you could have a breakthrough.

Just look at some of the results I was able to create – writing some great music, publishing my most read blog post, landing a five-figure ghostwriting contract, and more.

You Can Build Confidence & Belief in Yourself

When you start a 365-day challenge, it will begin to dominate your thoughts, behavior, and conversations. Your family and friends will start asking you, “how’s that 365-day thing going?”

If, at the end of the experiment, you can say with pride, “I completed the experiment and fulfilled on all the deliverables,” it will build massive confidence and belief in yourself.

So, you start thinking to yourself, “if I could stick with a single discipline for a full year, what more could I accomplish?” And what’s waiting on the other side of that question might be well beyond your wildest imagination.

You Can Have Your Best Year Ever

Looking back, I can see that some of the best years of my life also overlap with years I was engaged in 365-day experiments. This might be obvious from some of the results I shared earlier.

One must still ask “at what cost?” Especially given that the best part of your day is probably going to be going towards fulfilling on the promises you’ve made to yourself. This is creative energy that could be dedicated to other areas of life you deem important (more on this later).

The point being – you’ve got to ensure you’re spending time on something that matters to you, or it may seem as though valuable time is being eroded away.

What Specific Challenges Can I Expect to Face During a Yearlong Experiment?

Naturally, 365-day challenges aren’t all unicorns farting rainbows. You will have your ups and downs, and if you’re engaged in creative work, you will have your good days and bad days.

Take my Project 365 experiment example from earlier. Out of 365 songs, only two were even worth committing to memory and repeating in front of an audience. That’s kind of crazy.

Here are some of the challenges I’ve encountered during yearlong experiments:

You Will Want to Compromise

You’ll need to find your footing with your challenges, so compromising isn’t necessarily good or bad. But you must accept that challenges may not go exactly as imagined or planned, which means that you’ll need to let go of any sense of perfectionism you might have around completing your challenge.

When I engaged in Project 365, even though I finished the experiment early, I ended up having to bulk write songs after longer stretches of not writing anything.

The first time I read 52 books in a year, I had to finish the year with several shorter books, some of which I’d already read in a previous year.

While publishing daily, not all my posts have been of the utmost quality.

And so on.

Again, compromise isn’t necessarily bad. But your experiment probably won’t progress exactly as you expect it to.

You’ll Need to Orient Your Life Around the Challenge

I alluded to this earlier, but as the days pass, you’ll find that you become consumed by the challenge. Even if the experiment only requires an hour or so out of your day, you may find that engaging in the activity takes everything you’ve got, becomes less pleasurable, and even turns into a source of concern or stress (especially if you’re trying to balance it with other commitments like work).

I’m nearing the completion of my daily publishing experiment, and for the most part, it has been a rewarding, fulfilling experience. I would be lying if I said there weren’t days I didn’t feel like writing or publishing anything though.

You Will Need to Sacrifice

If you make your challenge a priority, you will need to sacrifice. While you’re busy obsessing over one thing, you’ll find yourself unable to tend to others. Inevitably, you will end up having to sacrifice lesser priorities to keep up with the challenge.

Publishing daily has been great. But if I were to say that publishing daily, on average, took an hour, that’s 365 hours I could have spent doing something else (writing a book, working on music, developing a product, building a membership, pursuing other writing contracts, etc.). Looking at it that way can be sobering.

When you say “yes” to one thing, you are always saying “no” to something else.

When you say “yes” to one thing, you are always saying “no” to something else. Click To Tweet

I will not look back on publishing daily in regret. But as with Pavlina, I have no intention of repeating that experience. I would like to take those creative energies and channel them elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

If any aspect of your creative career seems stagnant, a 365-day experiment can reinvigorate your passion and produce massive results in an area that matters to you.

But we can’t forget that it’s going to take discipline and work. You may need to carry out tasks on days when you don’t feel like doing anything. And even if you’re working on something you love and care about, some days it will just feel like work.

A 365-day experiment is a tool. And like any other tool, it’s meant to be applied in specific situations. It’s a hammer, if you will, and hammers are best used for pounding nails – not for sawing wood or tightening screws.

There are times to take on a challenge, and there are times to remain steady and consistent, doing exactly what you’re already doing.

Is it time for you to take on a new challenge? What area of your career or life would you work on? Are you committed to following through on your goals? What are you willing to sacrifice to get to your chosen destination? Do you know anyone that can keep you accountable? Would they be willing or interested in joining you in their own 365-day journey? What’s one thing you will take away from this post?

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