I was lounging on my back deck this morning in my pajamas with a cup of delicious coffee when I read a blog by my friend and fellow writer Todd Schnick. Todd is owner of Intrepid LLC, as well as an excellent writer and keen observer of life, marketing, and the business world. I often wonder if he has a brainwave monitoring chip planted in my head. Seems like he frequently has some of the same random (but critical) business questions rolling around in his head that I have in mine. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
In any case, as I read Todd’s post, which he wrote while waiting out a tedious flight delay, I thought: “Hey! Great use of otherwise “dead” time, Todd! You captured a platinum nugget of inspiration from the potentially sucky situation you were stuck in. And you did it while enjoying a beer. I love that!”
I also thoughtfully considered Todd’s key point: The world is moving. Get in the game and play! Quit farting around, wasting time, stalling, etc. or it will be too late. You will fall behind and lose your Golden Moment of Opportunity, whatever it is. You. Will. Fall. Behind.
And then… I thought of why Todd’s post might be over simplifying things, even just a bit.
At this point, it’s important for you to know that I was born and raised in the Midwest where being productive is not only recommended, it’s practically a requirement. I vividly remember blurting out the phrase “I’m bored” ONE TIME in front of my mother when I was at the cheeky age of 12. Her response to my glib little pre-teen wisecrack was to give me the longest, most incredibly heinous chore list ever devised by any human ever. It included really fun activities like picking all the moss out from between several hundred patio stones (with an old dull butter knife), raking leaves, washing windows, pulling weeds, painting the porch, hauling wood, digging up rocks from the garden, etc. I don’t think she made me scrub garbage cans, but I knew she’d get to that eventually if I didn’t hop-to. Mom knew in order to keep things looking good around the house and garden, you had to get busy or the chaos took over.
All that is to support the idea that I, the Recovering Midwesterner, know the importance of getting moving and being productive. I want to definitely offer my support for Todd’s thoughts. He who hesitates can indeed be lost or left behind. But I also want to add a few caveats as well. Here they are:
- If you’re going to fire up the engines and be ambitious and productive, great! But don’t just get busy to look busy. Be intentional as well. Have at least a vague idea of what you want and where you’re trying to go. Otherwise you’re just kicking up sand.
- Do the work, certainly. But allow God / The Universe / Forces-Much-Stronger-and-Smarter-Than-You to help.
- While you’re at it, think about who in your network can help you do it better or make it more fun. You don’t have to be a hero, martyr, or control freak about what you’re trying to get done. There are people in your world (and if there aren’t there should be) who are smarter, savvier, and more in tune to how to get ‘er done than you. And quite likely they’d be thrilled to help.
- Make it fun. If having a well-timed beer or glass of Pinot Noir makes working into the evening better for you, go for it. And a kick-butt playlist doesn’t hurt.
- Are you experiencing straight-up stalling / procrastination/ resistance? If so, what’s up with that? It’s helpful to have an idea of the forces behind your resistance.
- If you think it’s just a lack of momentum and you need something to fire you up, read Do the Work . It will take about 30 – 40 minutes. I read the whole thing on the elliptical at the gym one morning. Changed my thinking big time.
- Take a look at the other books and thoughts by Do the Work author Steven Pressfield.
- Did I mention the importance of a good playlist?
- Consider that you might be in an extremely stressful situation (physical, emotional, mental) or a state of extended exhaustion or burnout. This could mean you need to take it easy in order to recover. Sometimes we try to be super heroes 24/7/365 and it catches up with us.
- It’s okay to take time for thoughtful pauses or times of zero activity for no reason whatsoever. It just feels really good. (I know this as I’m part extrovert-over-achiever as well as part introvert-thoughtful-dreamer. I sit on my deck a lot just looking at the sky and trees. I love it and it pulls me back together when I feel scattered.)
- Work some quiet time into your life every day. Numerous mental health and productivity experts say the less time you have for such “frivolousness” and the more ridiculous you think it is, the more you probably need it. (But don’t take my word for it. Read this post by the brilliant Martha Beck.)
- The irony of all this: when you intentionally take the time to slow down, pause, and get clear on what you want to do (and take care of yourself enough to build up energy and motivation), when you’re finally get going, you’ll do great work and possibly set the world on fire — in the best possible way.
If you’ve already read my book The Intentional Networker, it’s the perfect time to go back and read Chapter 2: Set Your Vision, Intentions and Goals: What Do You Really Want? If you haven’t yet read my book, what are you waiting for? Order it here — and set aside some time to read it. It will help keep you on track and focused with what you really want to achieve in attracting, making, and building powerful relationships, referrals and results in business.
Still stuck on whether it’s time to pause or stoke the after-burner? Contact me at patti[at]intentionalnetworker.com. Let’s set up a time to talk.