A Balancing Act

Balancing_Act

Note: This is a transcript based on my April 2nd, 2013 WAKE UP! podcast

Life is a balancing act.

Let’s start by talking about what I call your “financial thermostat”.

What is your personal financial identity?

Your person financial identity comes down to association and your environment. For online entrepreneurs, this is an especially important element to control in your life because, unlike brick-and-mortar entrepreneurs who interact with their clients, vendors, etc., in person every day, you can’t just meet your prospect at Starbucks in 15 minutes to talk business. That connection is really important though, and so you’ve got to mastermind virtually on a weekly basis with like-minded people.

I live this principle. I just got back from San Diego where I was hanging with Stuart, shooting videos and enjoying some down time. It is incredible what happens when you put yourself in the presence of like-minded people on a similar mission.

You create your environment by associating with other people who make you want to grow and help you define your purpose in a bigger way. About a year ago, I stayed with my good friend Jim Bunch for a couple of weeks, and his lifestyle is just incredible because he builds his work AROUND it. At the end of the day, what matters is living a balanced life, and I saw Jim living a great balance that I wanted to emulate. (I’ve done really well with this over the last year, but if I had the last ten years to do over I would definitely change the last 8 or 9 to be more like this last year!)

At the end of the day nothing matters unless you’re living a balanced life.

It takes three things to be balanced. Unfortunately, for most people in society today, working a traditional job does not support all these things. Personally, the primary motivator that was driving me to take more action wasn’t money. I can drink a $10 bottle of wine with dinner and be just as happy as if it cost $100. (I’m not judging that; it’s just not me.) For me, the biggest thing was CONTROL. I want to have control of my life and for a long time I just didn’t feel like I had the control that I wanted.

I think that’s one thing every entrepreneur has in common. Take all the different interests, passions, and motivations for being an entrepreneur out of it, and what you are always left with is that they want control over their own destiny.

Think about this. We all have 24 hours in a day (if you have more than this, tell me how you did it) and most people work 8 to 10 hours. Another busy weekend. I ended up spending an extra 4 or 5 hours with my kids on Sunday afternoon. Here I am at 9:30 PM Sunday night, feeling wiped out. I didn’t get done all the work I wanted to do. How easy would it be to just say: “Screw it Jay, it’s Sunday night, there’s lots of good shows on, just mail it in and relax. This is what you work for.” I had that choice, that control over what I did next, like how I chose to spend those extra hours with my kids earlier in the day. I still have to get the work done eventually, but because of the control over my life that I have, I can do it my way.

I learned it from Jim: Design your work around your life.

How does Jim do it? The first thing he books for the year is his vacation time. Then he pencils in the holidays, birthdays, places that we have to be. Lock those dates down. What’s next is the work events that are locked down on specific dates. Then, he designs his work schedule around all that. For example, at 4 PM every day, that’s prime time for surfing on the West Coast, and you better believe Jim Bunch is booked out on the water from 4 to 5. It’s not about slacking off and surfing, it’s about designing a lifestyle that is balanced and what works for you.

Across the board, one thing that every entrepreneur I’ve ever worked with has in common is that they want control of their life.

I’ve always felt that my most creative times are after midnight, so I’m often up working until 4 AM. Sound crazy? It’s not, because it works for me. And that’s the big takeaway here: you get to choose.

Let’s get back to those three things you need to have balance in your life: work, time for building relationships with others, and time for yourself. You’ve got to have all three of these in a day. Time for yourself can be anything you can do that’s just for you: hitting the gym, going for a walk, riding a bike somewhere. Personally, I like to disconnect during my Jay time and not have my phone on me at all. We are absolutely bombarded by our computers, phones, and stuff with messages and notifications and this and that hundreds of times a day. We weren’t built to be on call 24/7 like that! I know it wears me down. You do NOT need to be accessible all day every day. If you try to be, it’s just too much duress to take. I know that when I’m feeling frazzled by everything like that, I haven’t had my Jay time. That’s why it is so important.

The wake up call for me about all of this came in about 2005 or 2006. It’s subtle: take some time for you every day. Did you know the best chocolate chip cookies need a little salt? That ingredient doesn’t seem to make sense, but it’s when you add in little things that don’t make sense that you get the best results sometimes in life. It’s about having that balance and making it work for you.

The bike will fall over if it’s not moving.

When you are in balance, life gets so much easier. It takes a LOT less effort. It’s like learning how to ride a bike or swim: it can be tough to learn at first, but once it becomes natural, it seems so much easier. That’s when muscle memory takes over, where you have done something so much that you become programmed to do it. Then, your programming takes over. It becomes unconscious. It doesn’t require conscious use of your mental resources anymore. As you do this, you are changing the way your brain works.

Think about a spinning top. It takes a lot to get it spinning at first. But once it is spinning, it takes very little to keep it spinning. It can spin for a long time with very little energy put into it, as long as it’s in balance. That is ultimately where you want to get to.

It takes a conscious effort to sit down and figure out what the hell you want your life to look like. What do you want from it? You better figure it out, because if you don’t you’ll just be drifting along and taking life as it comes. It will always be happening TO you, not as you are directing. You’ll find yourself always be in “reactive mode”, and that’s when the top stops spinning. You have to have direction.

Being in balance means being between two ends of the spectrum: one end being service to the self, and the other being service to others.

Having a “why” gives you direction.That’s where lifestyle comes in it for me. It’s not just money; the money is a by-product of doing what you do well while you’re in balance. Being in balance means being between two ends of the spectrum: one end being service to the self, and the other being service to others. To me, I think the goal should be to strike that balance and be right in the middle.

We all exist somewhere on that spectrum. Believe it or not, most people are closer to the service side than they should be. Think about it: if you’re working for someone else for 40, 50, 60 hours a week, you are spending all that time helping them to build their dream. That’s not a bad thing unless it’s not paying you the way you want to be paid. If you’re serving someone else, make damn sure you’re getting paid for it!

That’s exactly where I was at in 2004, busting my ass just to get that next raise and make our sales quota at Midas. I don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard as an entrepreneur than I did back then! Because that’s the thing: when you’re working for yourself, you’re building your own dream, and you can do it your own way. You can have that balance. That’s what makes it feel more effortless.

You’ve got to find the balance between self and service that works for you. The financial thermostat idea I started this off with is your default setting along that spectrum between self service and service of others. That’s where you feel like your life is in balance.

When you’re in balance, it’s not that life becomes any easier, no; however balance makes life more effortless as you are stronger and more centered. As you make adjustments in your daily plan to implement these vital energy investments into your schedule, it also means you’ll be reprogramming to create new brain patterning.

We all have a default financial thermostat setting. (If you don’t have one, take your average income over the last five years. That’s your number.) There’s no right or wrong number because money is not the measure of happiness. Success isn’t even defined as how much money you have, at least not to me. The point is to align what you want with what you are getting.

For me, I realized that I am worth way more than what anyone else could afford to pay me. I had no choice but to work for myself. I also knew no one else could give me the control I desired over my life except me. It bothered the hell out of me to be working so many hours for someone else and not be getting what I wanted out of it! I was a piece in someone else’s puzzle, instead of building my own. Why can’t I be the one who gets to have their dream built?

“You can’t do that. You don’t have the money. You don’t have the experience. What are you going to do? That internet thing? Oh, that’s a scam.”

Ever hear words like that before? As soon as you step out and proclaim you’re worth more than you are getting, you make people who settle for less than that in their own lives very uncomfortable. The minute you dare to want your own dream, other people who don’t have the balls to do the same thing push back against you doing it.

Why?

Quite simply, it’s because for them to accept that you’re no longer settling for a lesser life they have to accept that they’re not willing to do what you are doing. They will justify it as you being greedy. This then is where it gets scary for most people, because as soon as you dare to stand up and say “I want to live on my own terms”, the people who are too scared to live like that are going to want to bring you down. They HAVE to, so that they can feel better about not doing it themselves! You’ll feel the bullets flying around over your head when you try to stand up, and this will scare most people right back into the foxhole. Back into line.

After a few times of doing this, you can get awful fond of that foxhole. Even though it’s not nice, it’s safe. You can survive down there. That’s ALL you can do down there, because you’ll never win the war lying down in the hole. Eventually, you might be one of the few who gets so tired of all that bullshit that you just get up and make a run for it. This is where you see what you’re made of, when you’re running across no-man’s-land with bullets flying all around and failure all around you. Do you have the courage to keep going?

The only thing different between most entrepreneurs and most other people is one thing: guts. This isn’t “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” fluff here. This is making that call to your employer telling them that you’re moving on to work for yourself, or skipping a payment somewhere because you need to invest in you more. That takes f***ing GUTS.

It takes guts to take that run across the battlefield and go all in. It’s hard, and it’s not going to get easy. You might get some support from your friends in the foxholes behind you, but they’re not running across that field with you. Only you are.

I remember this moment for me. Years ago, I had decided to quit my job because I was within a month of getting my business to the point where it was self sustaining. I was making a couple of grand a month for a couple of months. When I finally decided to quit, it was a euphoric feeling, like “Wow, I’m finally going to do it!” But it took me two weeks after deciding to buck up the courage to verbalize it. I walked into a coffee shop with some of my friends there, and said “Hey, I am quitting my…” and the words wouldn’t come out. I finally choked it out that I was quitting my job, and they looked at me like I had eight heads. I could hardly say it to myself; how was I going to say it to other people? That took courage. But to actually go and do it? That takes a lot more. That takes guts.

However, the reward of following through was worth it. I got to choose how I spent my time. I got to control my own life.

That control is what I wanted. That was the end I always had in mind. Always start with the end in mind.

We weren’t designed to be under constant duress by being accessible and on-call all the time as evidenced by how frazzled we feel at times.

Now we’re past the first quarter; how’s your game plan for this year stacking up so far? Weren’t we just talking about New Years Day? Now that the first quarter has come and gone, let’s check in and see how we are progressing on our goals. I am calling everyone out here; both you, and myself. I set huge ambitious goals that I am not near to hitting yet. Mind you, I am having a blast in all the three areas I wanted balance in: personal, family, and business. Life’s awesome! Did I hit my numbers? No way.

So what? Don’t let time just happen to you. Don’t get discouraged now just because you’re not hitting everything you set out to hit so far. No game is ever won or lost in the first quarter. You know we like to do this on the WAKE UP! podcast: map out how you want your quarter to go. We’re going to have this conversation every quarter.

Put it in front of you: what do you want for yourself financially, fitness wise, relationship wise? Without setting those targets life will just come and go. Life is so much better when you’re shooting proactively for specific targets and not just going with the flow. Plan your life around the things that are important to you.

If you’ve missed goals, that’s not the worst thing in the world. Let me tell you what is: feeling bad about missing them. Stop it with the guilt! That! is the WORST emotion in all of humanity. Who cares if you missed a target last quarter? Aim and fire again this quarter. Beating yourself up changes nothing for the better. The best coaches use carrots, not sticks, to motivate. Put that principle to use for yourself. That approach rewards the right behavior.

I love whiteboards for this purpose. Map out what you want to have happen with your family, your business, and yourself (personal time). Block out what you want to be at, and plan your work around your life. (This is the Jim Bunch approach that I love and use myself.) If you don’t do that, you are going to fill everything with work and that is not a happy way to live. Not only that, you won’t be as productive as you could be. You won’t be fulfilled working all the time like that; It’s not sustainable.

You’ve got to be balanced to be fulfilled.

You’ve got to be balanced to be fulfilled, and that’s where the efficiency and profit come from in your work. If you want to start off every day with five things you want to accomplish that day, that’s fine, but beforehand, make sure you block off the big days for other things besides work.

You can have a life by design, but it’ll take a conscious effort to sit down and figure out what you want it to look like.

Jim Bunch schedules a “Board Meeting” every day where he stops work at 4 PM, picks up a surfboard, and goes shredding some water for an hour. How awesome is that? He’s got something he is looking forward to all day, waiting for him, which helps him work better. There is no better feeling than feeling productive, cranking out your best stuff, and just dropping everything to go do something you love like that. You come back from it and are twice as productive because you just reminded yourself why you do what you do. You’re really enjoying your life instead of letting time just tick by.

That’s what a digital life is designed to be like. It’s designed to be life on your terms, in balance. It doesn’t mean you are lazy or working less; it just means you get work done YOUR way and when you work like that, it does not feel like work. Instead it feels like another beautiful part of the balance. It’s not tiresome or boring. You really enjoy it!

Know what you want, find balance and money will be a by-product of these choices. 

Try it! Get into balance and see how you feel about your work, yourself, and your life. You’re going to LOVE your life when you live it like this. That! is what it’s all about!