In my last newsletter I shared my struggle with finding a balance between work and life, and got some incredibly thoughtful feedback, so wanted to thank everyone who replied for their responses. I was challenged on the source of my scarcity mindset, whether work/life balance is possible, and ultimately whether “balance” is even what I should be striving for (or whether imbalance is simply a natural and healthy part of life).
Discovering balance (or how to accept imbalance) is going to be a lifelong journey, but that’s okay. As cheesy as it sounds, the process is the journey and where the fun lies. Getting responses back and learning from you all is what it’s all about.
While I will always continuing to learn from others, I also want to share something that has really helped me over the past few months. I’ve used it in my personal relationships, in my business, with my health, and beyond. It’s this idea that you should focus on The One Thing (cue large, emphatic “dun dun duuuhhhhh!!” sound).
*Note – The One Thing is a book by Gary Keller that I highly recommend you read if you’re interested in this concept.
The whole premise is this: what is The One Thing you can do (in your relationships, spiritual life, work, health-wise) such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
“What is The One Thing you can do such that by doing it,
everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
This idea of only putting our focus towards that which will give us the greatest impact was such a refreshing concept. There are so many things vying for our attention nowadays that it can feel incredibly difficult to give any one thing the time you want, or think it deserves. Emails are always there on your phone waiting to be answered, social media updates from friends need to be liked to show you care, there’s something fun happening every night this week…the list goes on. And yet the more we feel like there is to do, even if they are things we want to do, it can constantly feel like a drain. And let me own that language – I HAVE FELT that the more I take on and the more directions I’m pulled in, the less energy I have and the less happy I am.
This is why this idea of focusing on The One Thing was so alluring. It promised the chance to get back to the sh*t that really mattered in each area of my life, and let the other things that feel like they’re important (but aren’t in the grand scheme of things) fall by the wayside.
To give you a sense of how I applied this concept in my own life, here are the two areas where it’s made the greatest impact.
This is the area of my life I’ve long felt I could be doing more, but never really did much about improving it. One of the learnings from my road trip last year was that I wasn’t being the friend to others that I wanted them to be to me. And while the answer to this “problem” didn’t reveal itself in a flash – it’s taken many honest, and occasionally painful conversations to figure out – it’s become clear that The One Thing I can do to start having more meaningful relationships is, as a friend so eloquently put it, “to take some god-damned responsibility for them.”
What does this mean? For me it means not letting my relationships be on auto-pilot, to not rely on others to be the drivers of them, and to not take existing relationships for granted. It means letting go of the fear that devoting more time to relationships will come at the expense of me growing my business (hello scarcity mindset my dear friend). It means proactively scheduling awesome adventures rather than waiting for others to take the lead. It’s texting someone to say “I just thought of you and wanted to let you know I appreciate your face”. It’s writing a postcard and giving myself the time/headspace to make the note genuine and heartfelt.
The verdict? Well, it’s only been a few months but it feels freaking great. It’s not as if all of my relationships are now magically awesome, but it feels damn good to finally be taking responsibility for creating what I want out of of these relationships.
Because work has occupied such a large amount of my time/headspace over the past few years, there was a lot of opportunity for The One Thing to make an impact. In the past I’ve tried to work on multiple projects simultaneously, meaning I’d have three or four large projects going all at once. I’d be trying to start a YouTube channel while reaching out to give presentations at colleges, at the same time as writing guest posts and trying to get on two podcasts a month.
While it felt good to be “making progress” on each, it was really hard to drive four cars down the track simultaneously and not have any of them veer off course. By reducing the amount of projects I’m focusing on, it’s been much easier to steer That One Car exactly where I’d like it to go, and not have my brain concerned about crashing the other three cars at the same time.
Again, it’s only been a few months, but both in terms of what I’ve accomplished and the positive headspace I’ve had while doing the work, the results have been pretty bonkers.
Back in February I concluded that The One Thing I could be doing that would make everything else easy or unnecessary was to do a guest post for a financial planning blog called Nerds Eye View. Why? Well, that blog is sent out as a newsletter to 21,000+ financial advisors. and a large area of my business comes from relationships built with financial advisors. Therefore, I figured if I could have a post of mine shared with that many advisors it would, you guessed it, make many other things easy or irrelevant.
So, I spent most of February writing and editing a post that ultimately turned into a 10,500 word behemoth. Yet since that post went live last week I’ve gotten incredible feedback on how helpful it’s been for people, and made many new awesome and valuable relationships that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, at least not on that scale. Verdict: One Thing, one success.
ALSO! After I finished writing that post in February, I concluded The One Thing I needed to do next was have a website I could be proud of and feel good sharing with the world – something I didn’t feel with my existing site. That meant I spent much of March reading up on how to build a site, writing copy for it, and sketching out a design that I thought was the bomb.com. And guess what? I HAVE A BRAND SPANKING NEW WEBSITE!! It took many hours (yes I track my time like a crazy person) to make it happen, but I can only imagine how little progress I would have made were I trying to drive three other cards at the same time, and how long it would have taken me to actually reach the finish line (I’m sticking with this car analogy people, deal with it).
Know Your Why
The last thing I realized is it’s extremely important to know why you’re doing The One Thing. To devote all of your attention toward One Thing requires energy, intention and perseverance. If the underlying why for doing that One Thing doesn’t resonate with you, it’s going to be really difficult to see it through.
With the blog post I wrote, I knew it had the potential to help my business from a referral standpoint. But that’s not why it ended up being a really helpful article for people, or even the main reason I wrote it. What made me so excited to write it (and why I wrote over 10k words) is I knew I had a chance to share why I became a financial coach, how I’m doing it, and potentially inspire others to choose this as their own career path. I could serve as a guide to help others discover a path that might bring them as much happiness/personal growth as it’s brought me, and at the same time help them avoid the pitfalls I’ve discovered along the way.
Is the One Thing a magical cure that will immediately make your life easier? Obviously, no. You can’t just arbitrarily pick one thing, give it 100% of your attention and expect your life to be awesome. Yet if you pick the right thing, and really internalize why that One Thing is the most important thing you can be giving your time and attention to, I think you’ll unlock more time and headspace to put toward the things in your life that really matter.
If you could choose one area of your life (health, work, personal) to start applying The One Thing, which would you start with? And what would that one thing be?