We’re battling our future selves right here, right now.
My present self has big plans for 2016: huge ideas, high-definition dreams, and unreasonable expectations - but who says we need to be reasonable?
“We always underestimate how hard it is to be our best self in the present moment.” -Kevin Kruse
I’m convinced 2016 will be a pivotal year, even better than 2015. Yet, if I don’t do anything to hack my future self, I’ll be lucky if I even come close.
My future self has shortcomings: he falls into routine, likes to take the easy route, procrastinates the pain points. How do we setup the infrastructure we need today, to defeat our highly creative, easy-to-justify-inaction-and-mediocrity future self?
How will my future self try to get out of doing what he should be doing, and what can I do now to mitigate the risk, to defeat his shortcomings?
It’s Been a Groovy Year
2016’s bar is raised pretty high for me; 2015 was a dang good year and I can’t express enough gratitude for my situation. The blessings seem to be flowing as free as a river…but it took a kick in the rear.
As I reflect on the past 12 months, I first think about the struggles and fears I faced taking a leap and stepping out on my own. I felt this pulling, this nagging at my heart to start my own business my entire life, but the feelings dramatically amplified over the last four years.
I didn’t know how to handle them, what to do, why I felt the way I did or whether I was being selfish about the direction I wanted to take my life.
I also didn’t know how to make it work. Having tried multiple times to get something going on the side and consistently failing, I lost confidence in my ability to build and sustain a business.
My failures centered primarily around all the time my side hustle was taking away from my family. I was putting a burden on my wife and kids by staying up late, being grumpy and shutting them out…hardly a purpose-driven approach.
Secondarily (to be blunt), my side hustle pretty much sucked...I didn’t know how to get people interested in what I was trying to do and looking back, it’s not surprising I was the only one who cared. My intentions were out of whack. I wanted to start a business to gain control; not to realize my purpose and it was visible in my work.
These continued failures and lack of perspective resulted procrastination. I procrastinated my calling, much longer than necessary.
I didn’t know how to hack my future self.
Yet, I eventually got it together. The calling kept eating away at me, and the crescendo of my life’s motion picture score built up to the point of no return. By God’s grace alone, I was able to jump out on my own, and get work three days later.
By leaping, I didn’t give myself an excuse. I was ether going to look for another job or make it happen. By choosing the latter and my future self had no alternatives.
To this day, we’ve hardly touched the savings my wife and I built up to whether the storm, and I’m so eternally grateful for how it’s all played out.
Nevertheless, the work I pursued was not aligned with my vision. It took me away from my family; working as an engineering consultant was unsustainable. So, I started battling future self again.
I pivoted strategy, stopped looking for relatively easy work and turned from engineering consulting and process improvement studies to productivity coaching. This was a key decision that’s allowed me to discover my sweet spot.
Investing in a high-performance coach to push me, overcoming my fear of selling, being vulnerable, and launching a new podcast has resulted in paid clientele in an area I’d never been paid to work in. As intimidated as I was (and still am to some degree) I’m fired up about helping people! I’ve developed confidence in my abilities by overcoming my fears, and a certainty that there’s value in bring to clients.
The heavy investment I made into developing myself with a coach, forced me to take my idea of a location-independent business seriously. I defeated the future self again; dropping a large amount of money that wouldn’t allow me to justify doing anything else.
2015 was a year of discovery and awakening.
But Don’t Let Me Fool You
All this being said, moving from a productive employee to a productive entrepreneur is a giant work-in-progress. With all these changes in my life: new work, new routines, new systems and processes, I haven’t hit full stride.
Even though I’m constantly testing and tweaking different strategies; trying to learn more, absorbing wisdom from mentors and coaches, I find myself incredibly frustrated...
...because I’m struggling with my own personal productivity (ouch, it pains me to type those words).
There’s plenty of nights I’m up late, times when my wife gets upset because I can’t watch TV with her, moments when I should be mentally present with my kids but I’m in a fog.
I haven’t completely sorted out my priorities; I not certain what truly matters in this new business and it makes me feel guilty and hypocritical.
Come on, I’m the productivity guy; can productivity guys struggle with productivity?
Am I a hypocrite?
Defeating My Future Self in 2016
Nevertheless, as grateful a recipient I am of all the goodness God brought me in 2015, one of the primary things I’m grateful for is the gift of recognition. I no longer dive head first without looking back; I can now stop, pause, reflect.
There’s a recognition now that I have some ugly little animals germinating that need to be killed. These nasty things must be squashed before they grow into monsters and sabotage my year; those “future self” attributes are easily discernible.
I have a lot of growing to do in 2016. I haven’t yet found my stride as an entrepreneur, and although I’ve been laying a solid foundation for months now, I’m certainly not monetizing all my hard work to a sustainable level.
As such, I’m forcing myself to take a hard look at my personal processes for managing the business, the cash flow, my efforts day in and day out, and the ultimate results.
My struggle is making me stronger.
I can’t help but think that if I didn’t struggle from time-to-time, I wouldn’t be able to help people with their own struggles. That’s why the concept of community is so powerful and important to everything I do.
I’ve never pretended to be perfect. I’m committed to allowing for vulnerability. Vulnerability is powerful, clients who jump on-air with me and let me coach them for the world access are the ones who are seeing results. Accountability is key and we all need good people to call us out.
I want someone to call BS on me when I say I’m going to do something and I don’t.
For me, it’s the only way I’ve consistently been able to fulfill commitments to myself; to build that trust back up.
Daily Ritual Refinements
My New Year’s resolution is to focus on personal development and growth. This is the most important way I can spend my time and the first thing I need to be doing. I feel strongly that if something is important, it needs to be done first thing.
On Social Media
When I began my podcast launch campaign in early November, I drastically switched up my daily routine to focus and build a community through social media. I’ve never been much into social media but I wanted to push myself and see whether I had the ability to make good use of these powerful tools. Consequently, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were the first form of work I completed each morning.
The ironic thing about social media is that it’s the most distracting form of communication we have. I advise clients all the time to schedule social media time during moments of low energy. In spite my “wisdom," there I was, working on my own first thing in the morning and wondering was I lacked energy.
For at least 60 days, I was sucking up the prime hours of my day, those hours where I had the most energy and pouring them into my social media, wasting time and wearing myself out.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what we accomplished during the launch campaign, but during this time, I was probably the most unproductive I’ve been since I started my business. Recognizing the need for a change, I switched up my social media strategy a few days after launch.
I decided tested what it would be like if I scheduled my social media updates in the afternoon, in lieu of first thing in the morning. To my surprise, I saved a FULL hour on social media than I did in the morning!
Making this change gave me more energy, and for the last five days I’ve accomplished more important tasks than I had over the past 60.
Knowing that my future self would get distracted and procrastinate on the important shiny, compelling social media updates, I eliminated the distraction first thing. When afternoons roll around, I’ve already completed the important stuff and I don’t have a need to procrastinate, so the social media work gets done quickly. It’s strange, but it’s working.
On Personal Development
Freeing those precious hours first thing in the morning allowed me to implement my New Year’s Resolution: being consistent with personal development each day. Now, I read and learn before I do anything else for 20-minutes per day and since my social media is scheduled the previous day, I don’t have to think about it!
My process for personal development is described in detail via a recent post I published on LinkedIn. It feels liberating to already have hit the ground running and form a new, positive habit for 2016.
Eliminating the distractions coupled with social media in the morning allowed me to beat my future self and take away a critical factor that would typically hinder learning. Also, developing the habit to learn first thing in the morning makes it easy to continue the habit.
Who wouldn't put in 20-minutes per day if it’s an enjoyable experience?
Outside the Comfort Zone
One of the key learnings I’ve pulled from my struggles and successes in 2015 is the power of facing fear. Every time I make a leap in a positive direction, it’s because I did something outside my comfort zone.
I’m coaching people “on air” via podcast. There’s a huge risk to doing this and putting myself out there. Contrarily, I’d just be another productivity guy doing something that’s already been done before. The positive feedback I’m getting is overwhelming; my future self has no option but to keep going.
We’ll be taking the concept of “facing fear" to the next level in 2016! It’s time to build a community of fearless doers! A community of laser-focused entrepreneurs who take cold showers, stay uncomfortable, and inspire others to do the same.
2016 is our year! If we want to be productive, if we want to get the RIGHT things done, to live that purpose-driven life, we need to fight for it, get messy and take chances.
Overwhelm is NOT normal, overtime should NOT be expected and we should NOT stay status quo.
If you want to join a community of doers, if you’re an entrepreneurial Moms or Dad, or anyone who wants their time back, leave a comment below and let our community know what you’ll commit to doing in 2016.
We’ll hold you to it.