When you’re in possibility, options are limitless.
When you’re outside of possibility, everything looks hopeless.
It would be unreasonable to expect that you will always be in possibility. And it’s importance to notice when you’re not. Because it’s easy to give up in those moments. But giving up will not serve you when being in possibility would present you with new, worthwhile options. Jumping to conclusions is dangerous.
When you are in possibility, take full advantage. Notice. And generate as many possibilities as you can. You could use them on a rainy day.
But whether you see it now or not, remember that you are in a world of possibility. And you just need to be in a state to be able to see it for it to be true. It’s always true, it’s just that you’re not always in a state to be able to see it.
We’ve been trying to do the same things with greater intensity and rigidity this past year, and it’s still not working. It’s exactly what’s been happening politically. This year let’s follow a different path. Let’s do new things in a new way.
My friend echoed and cemented the thoughts that had already been swirling around in my mind.
One of the things I’ve been starting to see in my yearlong leadership program is to not get your identity wrapped up in your work.
Experts often say, “don’t fall in love with an idea.” But this is what they really mean:
When your identity is tied into your projects or ventures, you have a tougher time giving it up when it’s not working. Loss aversion sets in, and you start to believe that you have more to lose giving something up than you can possibly gain from it.
That’s a dangerous way of thinking. Because deadweight is deadweight, and like a boat anchor, it can only weigh you down. Letting go of troublesome clients, purging business units that are only taking up time, and giving up “means to an end” projects is word to the wise. What you free up in terms of mental and emotional space alone makes the temporary loss of revenue far less of a concern.
When is the right time to move onto the next thing? Not even author Seth Godin can say, though he addresses the issue from multiple angles in The Dip.
But some part of you already knows. It gnaws at you and keeps gnawing at you. It’s almost as if the universe is granting you an opening to say, “here’s your opportunity to get out – take it.”
If you get your identity wrapped up in your work, you’ll find yourself in love with an idea who doesn’t love you back.
The idea you had is somewhere back there, in the past. Meanwhile, you’re right here, in the present. In a difference space and time than when and where the idea was originally created. You were a different person then. And that gap can be too huge to overcome. Repairing a foundation is difficult and expensive. It’s always best to build on a solid foundation, even if it takes longer.
We need to be able to give something up when it’s not working.
“Ready, fire, aim” might seem like wisdom for the ages in a fast-moving world. There’s something to be said for first mover’s advantage, but is there any long-term benefit to it? Only if others don’t come along and do what we’re doing better than we can. And that always happens in hot markets.
Move with speed when you know what you’re doing. Move slowly when there are too many unknowns left unaddressed. And accept that there will always be blind spots, no matter how well you cover for them. We can’t know everything. But we can start with a foundation that facilitates success.
On any given day, there’s a choice.
A choice between giving into our feelings, physical state, overwhelm…
Or being our commitment, regardless of what comes up.
The former is easy. The latter takes something.
The former is common and ordinary. The latter is uncommon and extraordinary.
When the unwanted and unexpected does arise, the temptation is to want to escape. But escaping isn’t going to solve anything. The breakdown will still be there when you get back. No matter how well you ignore it or avoid it, the breakdown will keep gnawing at you.
Most breakdowns go unacknowledged and undeclared. And there’s no power in that.
When you have a breakdown, declare a breakdown. That will get you back into power, and you can continue to be your commitment.
Breakthroughs and breakdowns are different sides of the same coin.
Whenever and wherever, there is a breakdown, there is always the seed of equal or greater breakthrough waiting to sprout.
Breakdowns precede breakthroughs. And breakthroughs come after breakdowns.
We often put ourselves in situations where breakdowns can’t jump out of nowhere to harm us. We actively protect ourselves. Or, more accurately, we attempt to protect ourselves.
The universe surely has a sense of humor. Because you will encounter breakdowns, no matter the time, energy, or resources invested in their prevention. They will occur, seemingly at the least opportune moments.
And when breakdowns do arise, we usually seek comfort in addictions, be it complaining, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or anything else that might take our minds off the breakdown, even for a fleeting moment.
And the only thing to do is to be with it and remember that there is a breakthrough waiting on the other side. No need to find comfort in that thought. That’s just escapism all over. Simply be with your breakdown and don’t resist it.
And in time, no matter the extent of the breakdown, you will come to embrace it, because the size of the breakdown is foretelling the size of the breakthrough you will experience.
“Don’t multitask – it makes you unproductive.”
“Everything needs to be done one step at a time.”
“If you’re suffering from project overload, it’s time to purge.”
Most productivity advice originating from the mainstream and even the gurus are thoroughly unhelpful or plainly bunk, as they seem to be under the mistaken impression that all of us only have one job, freelancing career, business, or client.
If you find yourself in a position where you can freely choose what you want to work on, and for how long, discard this – it’s not for you.
For most of us, the reality will be moving multiple projects forward simultaneously. Once you’ve accepted this, and I stress this – once you’ve accepted this – you will be ready to move multiple projects forward powerfully.
Project Management is the Bottleneck
At the risk of beating a dead horse, there are no textbooks on project management, as people lucky enough to be tasked with the responsibility, unless especially talented or experienced, find themselves needing to invent a system in a company that’s reluctant to set forth the necessary resources for a new initiative, and want to do everything by the book.
I’m a champion of artistic success, and as such I’m aware that I’m speaking to creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
But understand – even if you’re mostly a one-man or one-woman show, having no structures in place will be the downfall of your success in moving multiple projects forward. Without structures, you will drop the ball on projects, experience major cash flow problems or lose income to prolonged silence and neglect. And no whiz-bang invoicing system will save you the trouble. Read this paragraph again.
We need structures, though complexity is unnecessary. A simple written list of projects can serve as a good reminder (just beware of it blending into your environment so you don’t even notice it anymore). As well, there are tools plentiful enough to satisfy most personalities and inclinations – Evernote, Google Drive, ClickUp, Asana, or the now trendy Notion. Pick something, commit to its mastery, and make it your own. Start simply and don’t second guess.
Crack the Whip on Your Time
As a passionate adventurer, I take it upon myself to dig for the gold in countless resources, whether books, courses, mastermind groups, coaching programs, or otherwise.
No one can give you the tough love you need like author Dan Kennedy, especially in his timeless book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs. And while his methodology may appear draconian to the microwave success crowd, it’s worth reading for the mindset alone. Let it impact your workflow, and you will expand beyond any level of productivity previously imagined. Anything else I could say in this regard would be redundant or a pale imitation.
Nir Eyal’s timeboxing process would also merit a look, as I have personally experienced great success taking on blogging daily, a yearlong intensive leadership program, community projects, staff writing duties, freelance and ghostwriting clients, and multiple business projects simultaneously. And I still workout at least three times per week, meditate most days and have time enough to wind down for a couple of hours each night.
Act with Great Urgency
There is no time to sit around waxing eloquent about the theoretical. You’ve committed to multiple projects, and now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Don’t wait to get started. Don’t expend more time and energy on planning and project management. Don’t try to fine-tune your routine or time management processes. It’s time to act with urgency.
As actor Will Smith says:
Bite off more than you can chew… Then chew it!
Start chewing now. Don’t wait until later. Adopt the mantra “do it now” and have it lived in your life.
And as you get into motion, you will recognize that there isn’t time enough to be tired or sick. There isn’t time enough for excuses. Only time to do and restore integrity when and where you are out of it.
Create a start and end time for every activity, and unless completely impossible, move every project forward every single week.
Create Margin for Hired Help
If your fees are barely enough (or not enough) to keep you afloat financially, increase them immediately. Your personal solvency is paramount to your initiative’s future success.
In most projects, there will be opportunities to outsource the workload, if not in whole then in part, and that will bring some relief to the project load. Over time, you can create even more leeway.
Smart entrepreneurs won’t outsource everything, though, and will instead discover and feed their passion for marketing and continue to sign paychecks and monitor staff activity.
My book, The Music Entrepreneur Code, introduces several real productivity techniques I use to get results. It was written for musicians, but freelancers and entrepreneurs alike have benefited from the read.
Let go of the need to fight against multiple projects and instead embrace it as a way of life. Get good at advancing every project every week of your life.