About a month ago, I got to experience one of life’s joys – a hernia operation.
The sad thing is that this was my third time – once in my 20’s, once in my 30’s and now once in my 40’s. You’d think I’d have learned not to lift heavy things by now…
The upside of all this is the fact that I had about a two week period during which I could not sit comfortably at my desk. It was a good opportunity to take a step back and reflect on my business as a whole.
Stressed at Work
A few weeks before the operation, I walked through an eye-opening exercise with business coach, Nicole Fende.
I was feeling stressed by my workload – I needed to take a look at where I spent my time
Nicole is a master at getting to the heart of things and the subject that day was, “Matt’s feeling stressed by his workload so let’s take a look at where he spends his time”.
The exercise had two steps:
Add all of my work-related activities to a list.
Use the list to decide which activities can be dropped, or at least done less often, to free up time more for the activities that truly contribute to my overall business goal: “Earn a sustainable level of income using a scalable model while having fun doing it”
Nicole put it like this: “Which of my activities lead to money?”
Succinct as always, Nicole put it like this: “Which of these activities leads to money?”
In other words, which of my activities contribute, either now (e.g. online courses) or in the future (e.g. writing my book), to the overall goal of earning a sustainable level of income in a scalable way while having fun?
After adding each of my work-related activities to a separate row in a spreadsheet, Nicole and I stepped though the list row-by-row and used a red fill to highlight any activity that did not directly contribute to my stated goal.
One example is the blogging I do on this site and over at my content marketing blog. Blogging is important and supports my goal by building awareness online, but I never planned for it to lead directly to money in-and-of itself. I could blog all day every day but without something to sell to the traffic it brings, I’d never make a cent.
I was spending a lot of time on activities that did not contribute to my business goal.
I’ll cut to the chase – by the time we finished, the spreadsheet was a field of red.
The conclusion – I was spending a lot of time on activities that did not contribute to my overall business goal.
My Business Had a Hernia
As I recovered from my hernia operation I came to the conclusion that, just like me, my business had been suffering from a hernia.
My business needed an operation and Nicole’s exercise fit the bill perfectly by helping me realize that I was trying to do too much in too many directions – a fact that lead to my failure to manage stress at work. I felt overwhelmed.
Most of the stress, almost all of the pressure, came from within – I was my own worst enemy.
Worst of all, I had been doing some activities for so long that they’d become routine. The thought of stopping them, and the perceived value that they brought, was painful; a deep-gut pain just like my hernia.
The fact was that most of the stress, almost all of the pressure, came from within. That’s right – the person telling me I “had” to do all this was me. I was my own worst enemy.
The exercise I did with Nicole helped me determine which activities added real value by contributing to my goal.
The rest of the activities, while important, could be downgraded or even put on the back burner for a bit. I need to focus on the main goal and get to the things that lead to money.
I need work on things that help me achieve my goals if I want to stay in business.
After all, I need work on things that help me achieve my goals if I want to stay in business.
The result? My business has never been so focused and my stress has faded away. I’m re-energized and no longer feel overwhelmed or stuck.
Working like this is a true joy.
Has your business ever suffered from a hernia by trying to do too much at once? Does it have one now?
Share your story in the comments section below.
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