How One Big Thing Changed My Business

I did a little hibernating over the holidays to de-stress and rethink my professional life.

After my TEDx talk in November, a tsunami hit me — extreme fatigue, anxiety, self-doubt, and genuine confusion about what I was supposed to do next in my life. Doing a TEDx talk is a tough act to follow.

I let this ride for a few weeks, just letting it be. I didn’t resist it, just fell into it like a trust exercise. I’ve lived long enough to know that these kinds of episodes usually result in epiphanies. A big “aha!” moment was coming, and it was being processed at the deepest level of my subconscious. All I can do at times like these is to wait patiently until the answers bubble up from within.

Well, did they ever.

The reality is that I’ve been working so very hard over these last few years, toiling in the mines, wrestling with bears, conquering fears and making mistakes. And you know what? Much of it just wasn’t fun anymore.

My deep, inner voice told me to relax and have faith. It assured me that I was going through the necessary self sculpting and chipping down to the essential me, a peeling off of layers and the unplugging from the matrix.

Letting that stuff go was painful. I was molting — shedding the outer shell to make room for new growth, Michelangelo at a block of marble, “chipping away all that wasn’t David.”

And that’s okay. Well worth the trouble, I’d say.

Another epiphany was, strangely, a productivity tip. All the business books I’ve read over the past two years said that “focus” was a common attribute among successful people. It meant staying with one task until it was complete, instead of doing what I usually do: make a to do list, check emails, start a project, go get coffee, clean up my desk, start a different task, check emails, check Facebook, do laundry, write down brilliant ideas, write a blog… and then, voila! It’s dark outside, and I haven’t made a single step toward my vision.

So here’s what I’m doing now, and it’s making a huge difference in what I’m accomplishing each day. Using my planner, I break down visions and goals into manageable tasks and schedule them out into daily sessions (or small bites). Then, I set the timer on my phone for one hour and give myself to work on that ONE thing for the next sixty minutes. I allow nothing to break the bubble. When the timer goes off, I can either keep going if I’m in the flow (which happens a lot if I’m writing), or move onto something else after a 15-minute break.

My favorite thing is I’ve allocated one hour every morning for reading. My second favorite thing is the most important things are getting done, better and faster.

What I’m saying is nothing new. This is simply my testimonial in praise of the method.

Surrendering to change, and focus. What an extraordinary, pleasant way to start the new year.