I looked down at the check in my hand, made out to me, for more than 6-figures. It was the largest amount of money I had ever made in one fell swoop and I was still a little stunned, trying to process it all.
My partner and I had a great quarter in our business and decided to give ourselves a bonus. I was expecting a bonus of $25,000 or so. I felt that would have been a huge amount and motivate me to keep working hard. When he suggested we pay ourselves $110,000 each, I really couldn’t believe it. We talked it through, the pros and the cons, and ultimately decided to just pull the trigger and do it.
As I sat there, check in hand, I should have felt elated, accomplished, and happy. But I didn’t. I felt empty and listless. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my pudgy face, with prominent dark circles around my eyes, and pasty unhealthy looking skin. I was severely overweight and in poor health.
I thought of my wife at home and the distance between us. We barely talked and it was getting easier and easier to ignore our problems.
I tried to list my friends in my mind and I really couldn’t come up with anyone that I would call a true friend.
I thought about what I did for fun and again came up short. My life revolved around making money and building wealth. I was told in self-help books to just focus on ONE thing and I would be successful. I was told that you can’t give attention to other things in life because that will just distract you from the ONE thing that you need to focus on.
I did that. And it made me miserable.
Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, this started me on a path of self discovery that took over a decade to manifest. After having taken and lived the “do ONE thing” advice for most of my adult life I finally understood that it was not good for me and that by doing so I only felt a terrible imbalance in my life.
When I focused on my business to the exclusion of everything else, my health and relationships suffered.
When I only focused on health the my business suffered.
When I tried to just focus on my relationships, I let everything else in life go.
I needed balance. I needed a way to intentionally give each of these areas in my life attention. I needed to have a system in place that forced me to address each major life area consistently and do the work in each of those areas to create fulfillment for myself.
I was scared to do this, frankly. Would it mean that I would stretch myself too thin? That I would never really progress because I was focusing on too many things at once?
Well, here’s what happened…
I created a list of the life areas I wanted to give my time and attention. They are…
Then, I created a 5-Year Vision Statement for myself and wrote out how I wanted my life to look 5 years from that day in each of these 6 areas. For health I talked about being my ideal weight, my body fat percentage, how I would feel, the activities I would be able to participate in because I was healthy, and so on.
For wealth I talked about how much debt I would have, what my net worth would look like, how much money I would have saved, the kinds of investments I would have, etc.
For relationships I discussed how my wife and I would interact with one another, what I would be doing to make sure I was being the best husband and father I could be. I talked about a new circle of friends who shared my same values, and so forth.
You get the idea. For each of these areas I wrote out, in great detail, how I wanted my life to look. It was a vision for myself and I allowed myself to dream big.
When I was done, it looked like a great life, but a little overwhelming. I knew it would take a concentrated effort to make that life become a reality. But I was determined. As I said, my only fear was wrapped up in the question, was I trying to do too much?
I decided to take what was in my vision statement and create smaller ones that took my big overall goals of how I wanted my life to look and then break that down into smaller, more manageable goals. I created a 1-year vision statement, a 6-month vision statement, a 1-month vision statement, and finally a 1-week vision statement.
Everything that was on my one-week vision statement got scheduled onto my calendar. I actually scheduled things like walking for an hour everyday, date night with my wife, paying my credit card bill, and so on. By literally scheduling it, I was able to give it the appropriate time and attention that it deserved.
Each week I would update my weekly vision statement and each month my monthly vision statement. By working backwards in this way, I was able to make incredible inroads into each of my life areas and achieve more than I ever dreamed possible. Focusing on more than just one thing was the paradoxical key to helping me achieve more than I would have had I just focused on one area at a time.
But more than that, I feel more balanced, more in tune with who I really want to become, and more motivated to achieve even bigger dreams.
In short, my experience with ditching the “do ONE thing” advice has created a more fulfilling and happier existence.