Last week I was at a back-to-school cocktail “party” and some guy asked me a question I had already heard too many times that day…
GUY: “So, what do you do?”
(Side-note: I was at a conference earlier in the day and I was asked this over and over so I decided to have a little bit of fun with it)
ME: “I help people with HAM.”
GUY: “What are you in the food business or something?” he asked.
ME: “No, nothing like that. I help people become Happier, get more Accomplished, and wake up Motivated. HAM.”
(He looked at me with a blank stare for about 5 seconds.)
GUY: “Ummm…okay. I think my wife needs me, it was nice meeting you,” and walked away.
(I shook his hand and gave him a big smile because I had kind of cracked myself up…these events can be kind of brutal, right?)
I know, it sounds a little weird, but it’s an easy way for me to remember why I do what I do. You see, when I write, speak, or teach people, I focus on helping people with 3 main “goals”:
- Becoming a Happier person
- Getting more Accomplished (aka PRODUCTIVITY!)
- Waking up feeling Motivated and keeping that going through your day
And these the are usually the subjects that we talk about here on my blog…and what I interview people about on my podcast…and what I write my columns about for publications like Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, TIME and Entrepreneur.com.
You also might guess that these three topics – happiness, productivity, and motivation – are all kind of interrelated. And you’d be right!
But guess what?
I didn’t realize that they were connected in any way until a few years ago. To be honest, I had no clue.
And here’s something else you might not know about me…
My big wake-up call (when I finally started to “live my life”) came in the form of a piece of pizza.
Pretty glamorous, huh? Some people get burning bushes and “white light” experiences — I got a piece of pizza :P
Actually, it goes back a bit farther than that…
…but it came to a head with the pizza. Cheese, if I recall correctly. New York style, not deep dish Chicago (but more on that in a minute…)
First, I want to revisit an important question: WHY?
I learned from Friedrich Nietzsche (famed German philosopher), that this one of THE most important questions you can ever ask…or as he put it:
“If you know the why, you can live any how.”
So let’s start there.
> WHY do you do what you do?
>> WHY do you get up in the morning?
>>> WHY do you want to be happier/become more productive/feel motivated?
Or maybe it’s WHAT?
> WHAT would make you happier?
>> WHAT would make you jump out of bed with excitement each morning?
>> WHAT would be different about your life if you achieved your goals each year?
Would you even notice?
For me and my WHY, I have to go back to the “pizza story”…
For most of my adult life, I spent most of my waking hours “working” (quick side-note: I put “working” in quotes because a lot of my working time was so unproductive and spent constantly checking email/social media/in useless meetings/etc!)
I was always SO BUSY and I wore this like a badge of honor on the outside — when people would ask me “Hey Chris, how are you doing?”
I loved telling them “I’M SO BUSY!” (in a humble-brag sort of way. You probably know a bunch of people like this, right? :)
But on the inside, I was a mess…
I was NOT focused.
I did NOT feel successful.
No matter how much I tried, I NEVER felt productive.
And I was certainly NOT happy! Not even close…
I felt like I was ALWAYS working. (I didn’t know it then — but I had a sense — that I wasn’t getting too much done. Sure, I was “busy” but I wasn’t really doing the stuff I needed to do to move the ball forward.)
I was always STRESSED, and guilt was my constant companion (guilt because I was working so much and not doing other things that I wished I was doing…guilt if I ever did anything other than work because I knew I “should be working”…ahhhh!)
On the outside things looked pretty darn good — but the truth was…
I was on the “treadmill to nowhere”.
Do you follow me so far? Maybe you can relate…
Now…it would have been bad enough if all of this was just impacting me, but I had a (very patient) wife and a (very precious) young daughter who wanted “more” of me, and who I wanted to be present for.
But I also felt this need to work more so I could “PROVIDE” for them (at least that’s what I told myself).
As it was, I was working virtually every waking hour and barely keeping my head above water trying to keep up with everything.
And…if I ever slowed down to actually “relax” or have a life, who knew what would happen?
It kind of felt like this “boulder” (of unmet goals and unfinished projects) that I was holding on my shoulders, would come crashing down.
And one day it did. And it was my daughter (and that slice of pizza) that gave me a proverbial kick in the butt and changed everything. Here’s how it went down…
I was working (like always) on a Saturday afternoon. A business I’d been involved in was “imploding”, and it seemed like every hour brought new problems. I was standing in my kitchen — in the midst of the “World’s Most Important Phone Call” — when my daughter walked in…
She started to ask me something but picked up on the “Not now, I’m busy” vibe that I always seemed to exude. And instead of asking me, she went over to the refrigerator, got out a cold piece of pizza, and moved a chair from the table over to the counter so she could climb up and warm up her own meal in the microwave.
She was just 3-years-old at the time.
Now, I’m not an expert in child psychology, but I do know that learning that your dad is too preoccupied with his own world to feed you when you’re hungry is NOT one of Dr. Spock’s recommended milestones for healthy child development.
I watched all of this in stunned disbelief. Not because it was some amazing feat but rather because something hit me like a punch to the gut…
My little girl thought that my “work” was more important to me than she was. What the hell had happened to my life?
I hung up the phone in the middle of my conversation and sat down on the cold kitchen tile.
It was in that moment that I realized, it didn’t matter how “busy” I was, or how much I was “working,” if I was failing the people that I cared the most about — and ultimately, failing myself — at the most basic of levels. Right then I knew that…
Something had to change.
That day, and that slice of pizza, marked the start of a new chapter in my life me, one where I committed to myself and to my family to finally get my workload, my productivity, and MY LIFE under control.
I was scared. I had no idea how I was going to it. But I knew I needed to simply take a chance and take a step in the right direction. So I did. I took a “tiny” step and…
I spent the next 6 months on a “journey”…
It wasn’t easy — in fact, a lot of the times it was really challenging. I had to unlearn things I’d held as fact, break and reform habits, and fall flat on my face more times than I care to admit — but my WHY (thanks, Nietzsche!) was so big at this point that none of that mattered.
This was my do-or-die moment, my Rubicon, my “burning the boats”, my bottom-of-the-ninth, two-outs, man-on-third…ummm, in other words:
I was going to make this happen.
Before we go any further, I want to talk about you for a moment…
I’m going to bet that — since you read my blog posts, or listen to my podcast, or read my articles, or open my emails — maybe you’re suffering a bit (or a lot) because of your perceived lack of productivity.
You have this underlying sense of guilt…a lot.
You feel guilty when you’re working because you’re not spending time with your family or doing things for yourself (friends, exercise, hobbies) and then…
You feel guilty when you’re with your family (or actually doing things for YOU) because you’re not working!
So you spend that time checking your phone, running through your never-ending to-do list in your mind, mindlessly scanning social media post and looking at everyone living these great lives…and so on and so on.
Day after day. Week after week. Year after year.
And maybe you’ve already had your own “pizza” moment — or maybe you have the sense it’s on its way, and it’s just a matter of time…
If any of this sounds familiar, then I have one thing to say:
WELCOME. You’re in the right place.
I know exactly how it feels to be where you are right now.
As a result of the struggles I went through during that very difficult 6-month journey (and all of the testing/experimenting/trying new things/etc in the subsequent years), I’ve learned a lot…and life has gotten pretty darn amazing (way beyond what I ever could have imagined).
Don’t get me wrong…
I’m a regular person so I still have times when I struggle, days when I get less done than I’d like to, moments when my professional life encroaches on my personal life (and vice-versa), BUT overall, things are so MUCH better than they were three and half years ago. And VASTLY better than they were six or ten years ago.
But the truth is…
These days, I work a fraction of what I used to. I’m no longer a “walking ball” of stress, quite the opposite, in fact. I feel motivated when I wake up (about 98% of the time)…and I’m so much more comfortable in my own skin and with what I’m doing…
And my family is happier, MUCH happier. Heck, this is what “quality time” with my daughter looks like these days:
Pretty big difference, huh?
And here’s the good news…
The lessons I’ve learned and systems I’ve developed along the way can work for you, too.
In fact, every single day I get updates (like this one below) from people who let me know that my articles, podcasts, or courses have helped them finally achieve that elusive feeling of being in control of their life, instead of a victim of the clock.
Personally, I don’t like making mistakes if I don’t have to…and I hate wasting time. I bet you’re the same way. That’s why my commitment to you is to only ever share the stuff that I know actually WORKS.
Here are some of the types of people that have successfully applied my ideas and systems:
- Overworked professionals with demanding bosses (and kids!)
- Small business owners trying to juggle a million responsibilities
- Sales consultants, financial advisors, accountants
- Writers, artists, and other creative professionals
- Busy Fortune 1000 executives
- Stressed online entrepreneurs
- Working parents and stay-at-home mom & dads
- Life coaches, therapists and advisors
- Apprehensive millennials just starting out in their careers
- People trying to balance a full-time job, a side business and a family
- And countless others…
As a result of working with all of these different folks (from around the world), I’ve been able to discover patterns and behaviors — the things that are really holding them back — and the things that work to help them overcome them and make lasting changes.
So, tomorrow, I’m going to publish another blog post and share some of these things with you (because this one is already pretty darn long and I know you’ve got a lot to do today!)
I’ll let you know what some of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to productivity and time management (Some of these are going to really surprise you).
And just so you don’t feel bad if you are making any of these mistakes yourself…don’t worry — I’m pretty sure I’ve made them all myself at one time or another! :)
Bottom line is this, I truly believe that if someone like me could become more productive and happier, than ANYONE can. And I’ve been lucky enough to see it happen time and time again.
ANSWER THIS SIMPLE QUESTION RIGHT NOW
October 1st marked the beginning of Q4 and the last three months of 2016! And I want to help you finish this year strong. So, here’s something I want you to do right now.
(By the way, if you’re thinking “But Chris I thought you were going to show me how to do LESS, not give me MORE work to do!” Don’t worry — we’ll get to all of that. But trust me, this is important.)
Answer this question right now with whatever comes to your mind first:
What would you do if you had two “free” hours each day?
Don’t overanalyze your answer. Don’t judge it. And please, don’t hold back. There are no wrong answers.
(By the way, this is a “judgment-free zone” — I don’t care if say you’d spend it reading, taking a new class or binge-watching Netflix…or if you’d use it to work on more important projects that will increase your income..or doing something fun with your family and friends each day …or all of these…or whatever! It’s up to you.)
If you’re willing to take this first “tiny step” right now and answer this question, you’ve got my respect. I’m going to make it even simpler…here’s all you need to do:
- Leave a comment below
- Finish this sentence -> If I had two “free” hours each day I would… Write down whatever came to your mind first (don’t judge, don’t worry, just write)
- That’s it! (There is no step three :)
This will only take you about a minute to do and you’ll feel better for the rest of the day. So…
Do it now. (<– Free productivity advice & motivational coaching in three words! :-)