The amount of business specific projects we can work on is already a lot, let alone widening the scope to the amount of things we want to work on in our lives. With so many things, how can we choose the ones most impactful?
Well let’s start with what not to do. What we shouldn’t do is sit back and not care because with this approach we’ll just end up with life controlling us instead of the other way around.
A widely known universal truth is “balance is the key to life”, and I think that piece of wisdom is a good place to start. In a general sense there are four areas in our lives that we are constantly balancing: health, relational, spiritual, and financial. You could get deeper into categorizing these areas, for example, relational can be categorized into family, friends, acquaintances, romance etc. But I’m not going to get into that.
Basically, a holistic life includes a balance of the four areas, and an average person can do well setting an equilibrium of 25% health, 25% relational, 25% spiritual, and 25% financial. Of course in the real world no one has it balanced like this, and definitely not all the time. I think, as we’re choosing what projects to work on, we should be keenly aware of what areas of life we want to work on first and be deliberate about skewing the percentage of that area higher than other areas.
So, for a while I was in finance mode, and really just heads-down carrying out tasks day after day to try to get business moving forward. Then I read Gateless by Sebastian Marshall where he says there’s no difference between biology and cognition. At the same time I was really interested in biohacking and following Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof stuff. So I deliberately skewed back on working on finances and skewed up on health knowing that if I increased my health I would increase my productivity in the long term leading to more finances.
The thing to remember is that it’s a balance. So I know whatever area I’m focusing on, there will be a time when I no longer focus on that and balance back by focusing on other areas of my life.
When you’re consuming content, you typically value the practical stuff more. Stuff that teaches you how to do things, or gives you techniques on improving things you’re already doing. We value this stuff because its applicable..
But you hear people tell you that you shouldn’t focus on tactics, you should focus on strategy. Personally, I agree and I think we’re trying too hard to look for the implemental things. Really, its not just tactics vs. strategy, there are a lot of different levels.
From philosophy to mindset to habits and theory to strategy all the way to tactics, we should aim to consume the entire spectrum of content. Each level is important and learning from each level helps you understand the whole picture.
I run a video production agency. What I would like is an action guide on doing Linkedin lead generation or google adwords. These things would benefit me right away, but I would be missing out if I didn’t read Built to Sell and learned to productize my services. I would be missing out if I didn’t attend a mastermind about systems and scaling. It doesn’t stop there. I could take it a step higher and listen to Tony Robbins talk about mindset. I would be missing out, yet still, if I didn’t watch Tristan’s videos on Purpose and Spiritual balance.
Each piece of content has merit on its own level. Knowing this, the best way to consume content is to think about where you are in your trajectory and what pieces of information you’re missing, then fill in the gaps in that information. Funny enough, the only way to realize which info is missing is to consume content on life balance from a woo-woo life coach guru (I’m being slightly facetious). What I mean is to pull back to a hyper birds-eye-view of your life and understand what true balance is. Only then can you zone in on your business and know that the actions you’re taking today will benefit you the most long-term.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about focus. I realized it’s something that I always heard people telling me to do, but not something I ever took time aside (in school or in life) to really learn how to do. In fact, for some time I even shunned the idea. I purposely joined as many clubs, bands, projects, etc. because I was interested in so many things. I equated busyness with success. I was skipping the “being effective” part. So I’ve been trying some things.
I quickly realized that one culprit of why I was having difficulty focusing was likely space. I’ve pretty much always had three lanes moving in my life. 1)Music, 2)Work, 3)Personal Life. When I was in school, work was replaced with school (barely). The second half of 2012 I was able for the first time to create a life/art/work balance as it relates to space that I hadn’t had up until that point. The company I started got its first NY office, I started renting a studio to go to when working on music, and suddenly my apartment became…just home. In cycling between the three locations, I built up a response where I would arrive to the studio, and feel, “Now I just work on music”. I’d get to the office and think, “I’m going to knock out my DecisionDesk work”. And when I arrive home I actually immediately relax a lot more than I used to. Home used to be where I would shuffle between chilling out with my girlfriend, work on that new song, and send a thousand emails. The separate spaces concept was really helping my focus on each track of my life.
The other side of the coin though is that there is a part of me that firmly believes that you can accomplish what you need to accomplish pretty much anywhere if you know how to focus. If you have the tools you need (for me, a laptop, some headphones, and ideally some sort of instrument to write on) it literally didn’t matter. I even got deeper into this headspace after reading a book by Josh Waitzkin (the Searching for Bobby Fischer kid), a chess Grandmaster where he talked about having trouble focusing on chess when playing in Washington Square Park in NYC. He would hear a song and be distracted, someone would be talking over him, etc. So he trained himself to be able to focus (and win) in practically any environment. He would purposely play with loud music on, have his little sister screaming behind him, etc. Eventually, it didn’t matter where he was, his focus was unwavering and you wouldn’t beat him even if you were jackhammering in his ear.
A goal of 2013 for me is to be able to operate well in both the “Separate Spaces” arrangement, as well as the “Grandmaster” arrangement. I could see wanting to continue with separate spaces as a trigger to know what I should be focusing on in each space, however I’d like to be able to be thrown for a loop, “today you have to finish your work with tons of people around you talking about different things” and still retain focus. Right now I do not have the Grandmaster method down. One way I think I can try to build that muscle is by roughly maintaining my daily habit (it’s 2pm, you should be focusing on X) even when my schedule has changed my normal location (a meeting took me to the other side of town, or I’m in a different city visiting friends).