This weekend, I posted a video on Instagram explaining why I was working on a Saturday.
It was not because I had to.
It was not because I had a million things on my to-do list.
It was for two reasons and two reasons only:
- I felt inspired.
- I wanted to.
I have heard so many entrepreneur stories about how to make it to the top you have to put in more work than the other guys and sacrifice everything in order to make it. That may work for some, but for me, with two young kids at home, plus a spouse who has a full-time military obligation, plus navigating life with my heart condition, sacrificing everything and working all the time simply doesn’t work for me. Besides, even if I did not have all of these factors influencing my life, why would I work ten times longer than I need to?
As I am writing this, it is Labor Day. The rest of the world is “off for the day,” and I am sitting here writing this. I am working on a holiday. And I still stand behind what I just said in that last paragraph.
You see, though I sometimes choose to work while everyone else isn’t, I’m often “off” during the week when everyone else is busy putting in their 40 hours or more (whether or not they actually get anything done in that time!). In order to focus and bring all the energy I want to bring to my kiddos, I do not really work during the week. I may have a few client meetings with some really cool business owners that inspire me, but for the most part, while everyone is putting in their time at work, I am sharing time with my family.
Does this make me less productive? Do I accomplish less than those who work longer hours? Not at all. Instead of measuring success by the amount of time I put into my work, I focus on energy. With my clients, I deliver energy. I deliver outcomes. I deliver solutions to business owners and their teams who feel like their lives are totally out of control, who feel they have lost their sanity. I point them in the right direction. I cannot wave a magic wand and return lost time to them, but I can help ensure the way they use their energy going forward wastes no more time. I can help them become more focused and efficient.
Even if I were magical, I wouldn’t give my clients more time. For most of us, more time just means more time wasted. Nobody needs more of that.
What it really comes down to is the fact that energy is so much more powerful when focused than when divided and spread out. For example, instead of spreading my work out over a long work week, I try to take advantage of moments of inspiration. When I am inspired to write a blog like this one, and I have this passion for the topic, I either record my thoughts on my phone, or I take out an old-fashioned pen and paper and brain-dump the post right away. I do not put it on a to-do list. I do not sit and think about it. I do it. When I tell my clients I am there for them, I actually show up. I share my energy and inspiration with them, often in real time. They feel what I am feeling because it is authentic and real, not scheduled and planned.
After a full day of love and play with my littles, and maybe a client conversation or two, once it is finally quiet, I reflect, and I focus. Focusing is easy then because I know my kids’ love tanks are full, my clients have received the best of me, and I’m feeling relaxed. I pour the rest of my inspiration and energy into whatever it is that I want to accomplish before the end of my day. On evenings and weekends, I can fully focus on my projects and ideas without coworkers knocking on my door, without kids interrupting me, and without anyone wanting to talk to me. (Worth noting I am also an introvert, so I get my energy from being alone.)
Because my energy is not pulled in a million directions, I have the focus and ability to outwit the competition rather than outrun them. This is what Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne talk about with their Blue Ocean Strategy. I can easily get more done by swimming in my own sea, at my own time, than trying to beat the crowd.
If you’ve been pouring time into your business or your work, and you’re not sure how much longer you can keep up the fight, it’s time for a change. Burnout is a real thing, so make sure you are not doing just for the sake of doing. Instead, put your energy into the work that you are meant to be doing, when you are called to do it. You’ll work far less, and your results will speak for themselves.