Today was a good day. I got in a great state of flow and got nine solid hours of work done on the computer, plus a meeting and some exercise.
As I’ve written about on this blog, 2016 was pretty brutal for me. It was a whirlwind year, with lots of business travel and new experiences. As I emerged from the burnout, I began to get new clarity on my life and my business. My mind wasn’t foggy anymore, clarity leads to being engaged, engagement leads to productivity and less distractions.
The most important thing I decided after emerging from the fog, was to figure out what to focus on. I had a lot of confusion and anxiety at first. I lacked a clear head, and a clear purpose. I had experienced a lot and achieved a lot, but wasn’t sure what I was showing for it.
I needed to make a choice.
I realised at that moment that I needed to design my life and my business around my values. Five months into my daily study into Stoicism, and trying to create a meditation habit, I have absorbed enough to be more clear on what I want.
I value slow but high impact work, to focus on results for clients vs just doing billable hours because that’s what the contract says, to travel slow, to take a random Wednesday off, to meditate, to work from a cafe in the mountains, or the beach on a nice sunny day, to visit friends in countries far away when I want, to book flights with 3 days notice, to fly business sometimes just because “I can”.
I realised money didn’t matter as much as I thought it did before. And it only really mattered before because I had personal debts from when I was young and didn’t understand personal finance back then. However, I do enjoy identifying opportunities to generate significant value for others, and hence money for my business.
The reality is that my list of values eliminates me from so many paths:
- I can’t work a normal 9-5 job
- I can’t work in an office most of the time
- I can’t really do any in-person consulting jobs more than a few weeks or so at a time
- I can’t do overseas assignments longer than a few weeks
- I can’t just sign clients up to agreements that specify 20 billable hours a week
- I can’t schedule meetings and calls everyday of the week
- I can’t always get cheap flights, or hotels
- I won’t be able to earn as much at first, but that’s ok because my needs are not so great
If you’re reading this list thinking “that’s me!”, perhaps it is. I don’t doubt that most people reading this are locked into a certain path. Perhaps you have too many dependencies (financial, family, or other) to make a significant change, but maybe you can look at restructuring things slowly.
Rather what this enables me to do (the exciting list!) =)
- I can work with clients where the value I add is not brute force hours, but rather coming up with solutions to significant business problems, that when implemented can make significant differences in revenue. I can charge the clients based on the value I create, not based on the time I spend working for them.
- I can do calls and meetings on just two or three days per week, keeping the other days free time.
- I can create a platform to provide clarity and understanding to 1000s of SMEs, scale it up, systemise and sell it in a few years.
- I can go to conferences overseas to meet friends and develop my network and knowledge a few times a year.
- I can spend more time with my girlfriend in-person and reduce the distance in our current long distance relationship.
- I can work with people across Australia, Asia, Europe, and the US in different timezones using technology, and work with the best minds, not just those who happen to be in the same city, generating better value for clients.
- I can spend time on personal growth daily, and have a true balance in my life.
A few bloggers that I follow, meditation, and stoicism have helped me walk down this path. There are thousands of people out there living life and doing business on their own terms. While entrepreneurship is not for everyone, just being clear on the path has enabled me to remove the cognitive dissonance and anxiety that plagued me for much of last year. The reason I felt that way last year was because I felt my work at the time directly conflicting with my values, but I wasn’t in the headspace to understand what I actually wanted.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” – Albert Einstein