This post was sparked by a video on a members-only site called Platform University, owned by Michael Hyatt. It was an interview with Michael Hyatt and Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. What hit me hardest and got me really churning is the right question to ask is “What would be the best way to…?” I’ll get to what it resulted from that question in a minute.
Recently I posted about having a day job while you’re working on your dream. Sometimes we may have to do that in order to keep the lights on and the bellies full.
Not enough time or energy
But what do you do when you’ve accomplished some financial goals and you’re exhausted every day and you’re not able to work on your dream at all anymore? Having two things going at once—or even setting your dream off to the side temporarily—is sometimes needed, but what if it gets to the point that you just don’t have the oomph to pick it up when you’re not at the day job? I’ve been pushing hard for 16 weeks now. My tank is empty, and I’m looking for an interstate off-ramp.
You can increase your caffeine intake, or ask your doctor to increase your Adderal. You can psych yourself up and force yourself to “go” when you don’t want to. I know, because I push myself to “go” every day. Living with fibromyalgia and other conditions means I have no choice but to push myself. You can tax your adrenal glands for a little while. I know, because I’ve done that in my life, several times, some of those times for far too long.
Do less, accomplish more?
Our culture has always been one that praises hard work (thank you, Puritans!). In the last couple of generations, that has increased to the point that it has praised workaholism. We’ve had what McKeown calls “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” For me, it’s been the fairly-disciplined pursuit of more. 😉
Now, things are shifting. Top people are praising “margin” and having plenty of time to do nothing. Gee, to me, that’s always meant being either poor (and LAZY) or extremely rich. Everyone else works their tails off, or is lucky and has a cushy job. Apparently, now, I’d be “rich” despite having a very low income.
New definition of rich
So I could quit my job, stay home with my kids again, write and edit from 4am to noon, then homeschool my kids, make dinner, eat a food-stamp meal, relax and go to sleep…and I’d be the envy of others?
Because I’ve spent the last 35 years being told that what’s valued—what’s important—is having enough money to pay for all the things you need, when you need ’em. Having enough in the bank for anything that comes up—that’s the most important thing in life, in America. And now, they’re telling me that having TIME is most important.
Okay, but I have a question: without money, what good does having time do people? They’d have time to read books from the library. Aye, that’s a good thing. That’s about all ye’d be able to do without money.
Trained to work hard
I stayed alive through multiple abortion attempts and nearly two decades of abuse after that. I have multiple disabilities because of it, and I keep going. I’m built to work hard. Just not this hard, or for this long at a time. I know, I’m disabled, so of course I shouldn’t be able to do what normal people can do, but I don’t think anyone is built to work like this for long. Get up at 4:00, write/edit for a couple of hours, go to a daycare, lift and tote kids who weigh up to 50 pounds, walk, bend, squat, and stand for 8 to 11 hours, go home, cook, eat, go to bed far too early, then lather, rinse, repeat for another four days to earn $300 for that week, then spend 16 hours on Saturday trying to catch up with your life, and spend Sunday sick in bed trying to recover…only to do it all over again.
How many weeks can a person do that? I’m at 16 weeks now. At first, the Sundays weren’t spent sick in bed. We went to church and I spent the afternoon sitting at my computer, writing and editing. Somewhere along the way, though, Sundays became more like sick days. And because the center director won’t follow state law regarding sending sick children home (among other things), despite gloving up and using disinfectants, I catch a stomach bug every other week or so and sometimes I have to take off work for actual sick days. During the latest one, I seriously considered going to the hospital for pain relief and testing for a GI bleed. It’s time to get out of there. It’s definitely not worth getting sick like that for a measly $300/week!
I feel thin, like butter spread over too much bread
When I watched that video interview between Michael Hyatt and Greg McKeown a week or so ago, it hit me right between the eyes. I’m doing too much. While I am doing an excellent job at the daycare, I’m not spending nearly enough time on my business, writing and editing. I just don’t have the energy or brain-power to do enough regarding it, and that’s just wrong.
I’m not sure I agree with the idea that having time on one’s hands is a good thing, though I do agree with other things they discussed. Like I said, having plenty of time to do nothing and having low income means a person is poor and lazy. I know, they’re not talking about a person having low income. They’re talking about having a high income while doing just a few things really well, and having time to rest, relax, and regenerate in between. But, what if?
What if I could stop being worn out? What if I could work at home again, resting when I need to? We wouldn’t have that $300/week from the daycare job, but what if I could replace or exceed that by writing one ebook a month, and editing one author’s book a month? Could we eek by for one year while I get a dozen ebooks published? Why not? We did it for several years already while I homeschooled the kids full-time.
Asking the right question
So, McKeown started to explain the formula for the best question. “What is the best way to…?” My brain started revving. I wrote:
- What is the best way to bring in enough income?
- What is the best way to spend quality time with the kids?
- What is the best way to be well-rested?
- What is the best way to bring in enough income while being well-rested and spending quality time with my kids?
It sure as Monday isn’t getting up at 4 a.m., working at the daycare until 3 or 6 p.m. and trying to cram in the HarshmanServices work around that.
Then, McKeown said you add in your criteria, and the question looks like this: “What is the best way to ____, provided I can____?”
So, what is the best way to bring in enough income, providing I can be well-rested and spend quality time with my kids? I realize I just reworded the question I had already written before he got to that part, but that’s okay. I can use that formula (and so can you) for all sorts of questions now.
What is the best way to _______, provided I can ________ and _______?
- What is the best way to write 2,000 words a day, provided I can be done by 10 a.m. and spend time with my children?
- What is the best way to buy another car, provided we do it debt-free?
- What is the best way to have a more comfortable homeschooling schedule, provided that the kids are educated well?
This may just be my new favorite question. For years, it was “How can we do/have/be both?” because I hated the either/or mentality.
The disciplined pursuit of less. Hmm. Yes, I think I could use some “less” in my life.
I’m putting in my notice at the daycare, for many reasons, including the fact that I need to begin a disciplined pursuit of less but better. From 4 a.m. to noon, Monday through Saturday, I’ll be writing and editing and promoting that work. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of the ebooks I end up writing sell well enough to replace and surpass the current income? In any case, it’s time to get back to working at home full-time.