My friend has been steadily developing his books and courses over the course of the last year or so.
What he’s been able to accomplish in that time is impressive.
He has yet to release his product to the world, though, and deadlines keep shifting as layers are added, technical issues are dealt with, and next steps reveal themselves.
Although not discouraged or deterred, he asked me in all sincerity, “how do I stay sane when there is an endless stack of work waiting for me every morning?”
Truth be known, he posited the question in even more graphic detail.
No Rest for the Modern Creator
Truly, there is no end to the grind. Not when you’re looking to share your message with the world.
Just when you think you’re done writing your book, you enter the editing phase. After that’s done, you need to get a cover designed, write up a compelling description and author bio, submit your content and materials to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (in the right format), wait for them to be approved, and finally your book goes live to the world.
It’s the same with most creative efforts.
A musical album is not done the moment the last note is captured by the sound engineer in the studio.
The music is then edited, mixed, mastered, oftentimes by multiple engineers. Recording credits are collated, and are submitted to the designer, who crafts a beautiful cover for the musical work. These materials are then submitted to a music distributor like CD Baby, along with additional details about the artist. The artist pays for the service, waits a few days (until their music has been submitted and accepted by distribution partners), and only then is their music ready for mass consumption.
And what my friend has been finding is much the same. His book isn’t done the moment he’s put the finishing touches on the final sentence. That’s just the start, especially since he’s looking to create a sales funnel for his offer, which requires some technical expertise.
“Do You Take Breaks?”
My friend asked whether I took breaks during the day. He understands that I am in the same crazy hustle as he is.
For the most part, my work is enjoyable. I do not take many breaks.
I will get away from my devices during walks and meals. Sometimes, I will steal away for a meditation or a little guitar. I will disconnect from work while engaged in learning (reading books or taking courses). And, of course, I will get up multiple times during the day, walk around, stretch, or go to the bathroom.
Then again, I am not new to the game. And I know for a fact entrepreneur Eben Pagan gave a similar answer to mine in an interview when asked if he ever took breaks. He got up, stretched, made tea, went to the bathroom, etc.
Author Jim Kwik asked Will Smith how he was able to achieve so much, and apparently his answer was:
Bite off more than you can chew and start chewing.
Breaks are important. I don't want to underplay how important it is to take breaks. But it's important that you find what works for you.
Practices to Keep You Grounded
Okay, but so far, we have only to speak of the problem itself, and talking more about the hustle probably hasn’t done much besides agitate the pain.
I am a big believer in a few practices that keep me grounded. I do not do all of them perfectly. Some days, I skip over them completely.
Nevertheless, I have found these practices to be of immense value. Here’s what they are:
These days, I walk at least 15 minutes per day first thing in the morning. I take deep breaths, absorb the sun (even through the clouds – it’s okay), and just appreciate life.
There are different ways of starting your day, but this is a good one. You can get some blood moving through your body and collect your thoughts. You can get some sun on your body (to let your body know that it's morning) You will be in a much better state to engage in work when you get back.
These days, I meditate about 10 to 20 minutes before bedtime. This ensures that I stay consistent with the practice.
At times, I have meditated quite a bit more than that (up to 85 minutes per day), and when I did that, I often felt a greater connection to my deeper self and benefited more from the healing effects of meditation.
Meditation isn’t just for feeling calm and grounded, though – It carries with it innumerable health benefits. It can even give you a bit of an energy boost. So, it’s worth making time for.
At least once per year, I book a two-week getaway. It doesn’t matter much whether it’s 20 hours away by plane or two hours away by car.
The ideal, honestly, would be to do this twice per year. Especially considering the load us creatives and creators take on.
Most recently, I spent two weeks in Vernon in November. My timing was good, because I managed to get out there just before lockdown measures started ramping up again.
Another model that has been working for me recently is taking four to five days to get away every quarter.
Mindset Hacks to Help You Stay Sane
Thinking differently about our work can also help us remain sane. Here are some mindset hacks that have made a difference for me:
- Who not how. We sometimes forget to delegate work. There is work we are bad at and don’t enjoy doing. This work can be handled by people who are good at it and do enjoy it.
- Focus on the mission. On days when I feel exhausted or worn out, it’s my mission (to inspire creatives and creators) that keeps me going.
- Acknowledge and celebrate your wins. Creators often forget to celebrate and end up buying into arrival fallacy. Chances are, you will not know when you have arrived. When something good happens, acknowledge, and celebrate it!
- Enjoy the journey. If the journey isn’t enjoyable, then consider that whatever you’re doing is just a means to an end. The destination won’t be of much interest either. Change course.
- The risk entitles you to the reward. Sometimes remembering that most people aren’t willing to take the risk is a reward all its own. I’m not advocating the comparison game. But entrepreneurs do need to remember that it’s the risk that entitles them to the lion’s share.
There will be something to do today. And more to do tomorrow. And after that, there will still be more to do.
You can’t live a week, a month, or a year at a time. You’ve got to learn to live a day at a time, a moment at a time.
It might appear as though drifting snow is quickly forming an avalanche, but your job is just to put your head down and do the work you need to do today. Nothing more. You can worry about tomorrow when you get there.
Then you start to see there is no avalanche. And if there is, you can cross that bridge when you come to it. Technical problems can be solved. Team members can be hired. Demand can be met.
But that’s too much right now. Right now, just putting that next word down on the page is enough. Taking the next step is all you need to do.
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