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Ben has a huge goal. He wants to know if it’s possible to make $500,000 this year.

“Yes,” I told him. This was at our regular, early Monday morning meeting at the coffee shop.

“There are a number of ways to accomplish this goal,” I said. “If you want to do it in a year, it is possible, but to do it sustainably, you need to think in longer terms than 12 months.”

Reverse Engineering a $500,000/Year Business. That’s the title of the show we’ll be doing two episodes from now.

However, we need to take a step back. I’ll be deconstructing what it takes to make half a million in a year, but first I want to set the stage. There are certain things you need to do to be able to accomplish this goal. In order to do those things, you need to say no to other things.

The reason I will accomplish my goals and you won’t is because I have a list of NOs and you have a list of MAYBEs.

You have to get an explicit list of things you will NOT be doing this year in order to accomplish your goals.

Saying no is your only tool for creating time. You need to learn to see “yes” as the expensive word that it is. For every yes, there are 999 implicit nos.

You will never find more time because we fill time automatically by habit.

You can only make time. We all make time for things. We all account for and use up the 24 hours in our day. The things you make time for define what is important to you.

Today’s episode is about getting more time in a day and being purposeful in your commitments so you can increase your focus and accomplish your goals for this year.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • You will never find more time, you can only make time.
  • “Yes” is not a free currency, yet we treat it like it is.
  • If you don’t have time, it means that you’ve already spent it on something.
  • You prove your priorities by how your allocate your time.
  • The true value of your time is worth what you will be making in two to three years if you invest it wisely.
  • Build the pillars of your business one at a time until each is an asset to you.
  • Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, make a list of things to say no to.
  • All of the things you’re saying no to now aren’t forever, it’s just for this season.
  • If you’re trying to pursue too many things, you end up spreading yourself thin.
  • Aspiring to a goal is healthy, but it has to come from contentment with the gifts you have.
  • Define today as a success if you showed up—it’s not about the results.
  • Examine your baseline commitments.
Show Notes
  • 01:42 Sean: Sometimes, with a title like this one, I’ll say, “That’s a tall order,” but I don’t think this time it’s a tall order. When you understand that all of these things are very possible with one fundamental concept, it’s not so far fetched at all.
  • 02:28 Ben: I have a lot of goals outlined for 2016.
  • 02:33 Sean: A lot of people are in this position. They’re coming off of the holidays, they’re wanting to accomplish big things in the new year, and I think they can relate to you here, Ben.

Impossible Goals Aren’t Impossible

  • 02:47 Ben: In the previous episode, we talked about goals vs. resolutions (Related: e232 Planning Your Next Year). Every year, Rachel and I outline our goals in different areas—fitness, health, family, relationships, and all of those things. The one that’s really got me riled up is the financial goals we’ve set. We’re recording this before the new year, and we’re spending every evening after the kids go to bed leading up to the new year focusing on one specific area. The very first night, we focused on financial goals. That was the night before Sean and I had a meeting where I was sharing some of that stuff with him.
  • 03:38 The way we did this was a little bit backwards. I feel a little bit silly, embarrassed, and foolish. This goal seems so far fetched that I can hear people saying, “Oh yeah, whatever.” Some of that feeling was going on on the ride over here because I didn’t want to feel that, which is indicative of a part of me that believes those things, too. We sat down and wrote out all of the things we would like to accomplish financially this year, things we would like to be able to purchase. We’re talking about needing to replace our air conditioner this year, a lot of things like that. One of the goals we have as a family is being able to go and take a family trip to Disney World. Traveling with a large family is quite expensive.
  • 05:09 When we added it all up, it came to something like $175,000. I also wanted to account for the fact that I would have to pay taxes on my earnings, so I made that $175,000 about 60% of what the total should be, because I figured that I would have to pay about 40% on whatever I make. That came to around $250,000. Then I thought, “If I shoot for $250,000 and I fall short of that, a lot of these goals aren’t going to be met. Why don’t I double that and make that my goal? If I fall short of that, I could still potentially fall above that $250,000 mark.”
  • 06:11 Sean: You didn’t even say the number out loud.
  • 06:15 Ben: Originally, we wrote that $250,000, and I looked at Rachel and said, “Half a million!” She looked at me and said, “Ben, that’s a quarter of a million,” and that’s when I decided that we do need to double this to $500,000, half a million. There’s part of me that looks at that and thinks, “I’ve never done that before and I hardly know anybody who has done that.” I do know some people who have, but it’s not like I can go to my church or the coffee shop and see a bunch of people who have done that. Nobody I know of in my family has ever reached that kind of financial goal.
  • 07:11 I don’t have any heritage experience here, any personal experience here, and I don’t feel like I have a solid plan for getting there. I have the bones of a plan. You can hear the struggle, me wrestling with this. It feels awkward saying it out loud, knowing what I know. I can’t get past this wall I’ve built for myself to say, “This is something I can do. This is a possibility.” I was thinking about all of this last night, and I was also thinking about when the first runner broke the four minute mark on the mile. Then, all of a sudden, a bunch of others were able to accomplish the same thing.

A lot of times, we’re held back by what we see being possible.

If we can’t see something as possible for someone else, we assume it’s impossible for us.

  • 08:34 I’m challenging myself to think differently, to stop thinking about what I’ve seen and start thinking about what I have inside of me. What am I capable of doing? If the answer to that is, “I don’t know,” then $500,000 isn’t outside the realm of possibility. If I don’t know whether or not I can accomplish that, then it is possible.

Set a Goal, Establish a Foundation

  • 09:09 Sean: Ben and I met yesterday and we were talking through this. Ben told me his goal, and we started breaking it down and reverse-engineering the goal. What is it going to take? I’m going to be totally open here with people. We’re going to do a show on this, a show completely dedicated to reversing a $500,000 a year business. That’s an episode coming up in a few episodes. We talked about ways to get there, ways to make it feasible, and we’re going to get really practical with that. As I was planning out the episodes for this month, I wanted to come back even further. To be able to do that, you need a certain level of focus, a certain amount of time, and you need to be spending your time on the right things.
  • 10:09 You need to be able to identify those things. That’s why I wanted to focus today’s show on the time aspect. Take hold of your day and set these goals, put your plans in place. That’s what you’re doing, Ben. Start with those goals and then do what it takes to get there. Some people set big goals and they have plans, but they don’t put them into action or change their day-to-day life. Other people say, “I wish I had more time,” but they have no purpose for finding that time or plan for what they would do with that time. I want to talk about getting that time and applying it toward the things that will get you to your big goals.
  • 11:00 In the next few episodes, I want to demystify, deconstruct, and reverse-engineer what it would take to build a $500,000 a year business. I had teased earlier about this one fundamental concept, the reason I don’t think this title is a tall order. I don’t think it’s a tall order because all it requires is understanding the concept that:

You will never find more time.

You can only make time.

  • 12:00 At first, that sounds a little bit depressing. You’re only able to make time, because we fill time automatically. We’re always making time for things that are important to us. When we see a gap on our schedule, we fill it by default. We say yes to things and add things to our schedule. The things you take time for, that you make time for, are the things that are important to you. It’s your actions, not your words, that cement your priorities. If we want to accomplish a big goal in this next year, we need to be spending our time purposefully, and we can only spend time that we have.
  • 12:31 We only have time that we’ve carved out of our schedule. I’m not sure how many episodes we’re going to do on this, but I really want to talk about starting a business, starting a new project, doing something new, doing something bigger, stepping it up this year, and maybe expanding. I want to focus on starting businesses and growing businesses, doing bigger things this year.

Actions Prove Priorities

  • 13:02 That’s where we want to go, but you first need to start off on the right foot. If you want to be successful, you have to set the foundation and you have to have a plan. That foundation is perfect management of your time. I know that perfect is hard to attain, but set that as a goal. Take hold of how you spend your time and what you’re spending your time on. The word “yes,” saying “yes” to things, is not a free currency, and yet we treat it like it is. We say yes to things left and right. “Yes” is earned by saying “no.” For every thing you say yes to, no matter how small or unimportant, that is costing you saying no to 999 other things you could be doing.

Yes is not a free currency, yet we treat it like it is—it’s actually very expensive.

  • 14:11 Ben: I really like what Sean told me the other day when we met. He said that rather than just knowing what you’re saying no to, he made a list. He wrote those things down. That was inspiring for me and makes me want to think, “What am I saying no to?” It prepares me when something does come up, if it’s something on the list or in a related category. You may not just be saying no to certain activities, but whole categories of things, where if anything comes up within that category you’re going to say no to it.
  • 14:58 Sean: What’s the problem? The problem is that we want more time. We want time to be able to do new things, more things, the things we feel are important to us, the things we want to accomplish. Meanwhile, the things we’re spending our time on are the things that are important to us. That’s hard to wrap your mind around at first, because you think, “That’s not true. I do plenty of things that aren’t important.” By doing those things, you are declaring their importance. By doing them, you aren’t doing other things. It’s a matter of priority level. You can’t have multiple priorities—something is taking your attention.
  • 15:48 Whatever is taking your attention is what’s important to you. If your kid breaks his arm and he’s screaming and needs to go to the hospital, and you’re on your phone browsing Twitter, you’re saying that Twitter is more important than your kid. The reason you immediately stop whatever you’re doing, whether it’s client work, a phone call, a meeting, recording a video, or anything, is because your kid is important to you. You’re declaring that by acting on the situation, taking care of the kid, and stopping everything else that you’re doing. You’re saying with your actions, “These things are less important. I’m declaring that by not doing them, and instead, doing something else.”

Saying something is important to you doesn’t make it important.

You prove your priorities by how your allocate your time.

Everyone Gets 24 Hours Every Day

  • 16:47 People feel like they don’t have time. All of us are busy, we have full schedules, we have a lot of commitments, and we say that we don’t have time. Let’s reset everything here for a moment. Every day, it’s fresh, and every single person starts out with 24 hours. We all get the same 24 hours. No one gets 25, no one’s shorted and only gets 18. If you don’t have time, it means that you’ve already spent it on something. You’ve expended your yeses, you’ve committed to too much. As we all know, but we so easily forget, the only way is to start saying no to things. I don’t know what the best route is for people, because it may depend on your personality.
  • 17:48 The reality is that if you want to accomplish things and you feel like you don’t have time, the only solution is saying no to things. Saying no makes time. Saying yes fills time. No is a tool for creating time. Yes is filling time, and it’s saying no to 999 other things you could be doing. It’s a very expensive word, yes. You have to start cutting things out of your life. You may feel like there aren’t things you can cut out of your life, because we all have this baseline noise, this baseline level of commitments. There are things we do that are recurring. It’s almost like you do a repeat event on your mental calendar of things that you take as a given. “This is a thing I do and I’m always going to do this.” You don’t really audit it.
  • 18:49 It’s like you say, “At this point, I eat dinner. After that, I watch Netflix. Then the kids and I do this, my wife and I are tired, so we do that.” There are all of these things we do that are recurring that we don’t audit. Most of us start from a baseline level of noise or commitment, and we look at whatever’s left as a tiny little sliver and say, “We don’t have time.” It might require doing a full reset of everything. Maybe that requires going on a sabbatical period. Step away from everything. You aren’t saying that you’re going to reset all of your commitments, because that’s really hard to do.
  • 19:31 “I have to go to work tomorrow, I have things tomorrow.” It’s really hard to say, “I’m going to reset all of my commitments and make a whole new schedule tomorrow.” That’s really hard. Take a sabbatical period, even if it’s just a few days. I would recommend something like a week. Step back from everything, and you’re able to assess what 24 hours really looks like aside from the baseline commitments. Then, come back and reset. Have a new starting point.

Align the basic commitments you’re making with your time with what you want to accomplish.

  • 20:09 Ben: One of the benefits of having kids is that, as you come into new seasons, you’re kind of forced to be creative about how you’re managing your time and scheduling things out. There’s a natural rhythm you fall into, especially if you want things to run fairly smoothly from day to day. As the children age, start school, and meet different developmental milestones, things change and shift. It seems like, about every three or four months, we’re revisiting our schedule and talking through what’s working and what isn’t working.
  • 20:59 Beyond that, the way we spend our personal time is a little bit crunched, so it causes us to be really critical of how we’re spending that time. We do fall into habits and routines, but there are two parts of that. There’s the consistency of revisiting that, and there’s maintaining vigilance. Whatever season you’re going into is a race, and you want to finish this race strong. Whatever you cut out, don’t let that creep back in. One of the ways you can do that is to write things down. It causes you to see, in your own handwriting, what you’ve committed to cut out of your life.

Make a List of Things to Say No To

  • 22:09 Sean: To do what you want to do this year, it means not doing everything else. That sounds kind of obvious. Whatever you want to accomplish, especially if you’re setting a big goal, means not doing everything else in the world—everything that isn’t accomplishing that goal. It’s really important to process this and take hold of it. It’s the not doing that is really important. It’s the saying no to things that aren’t the thing that you want to do that’s going to get you there. You have to figure out what those things are. It comes back to this focus. For me, that means not making music. I love making music. For me, it means not doing lettering pieces and posting them on Instagram. I love doing lettering pieces and posting them on Instagram.
  • 23:19 It means not getting to do speaking engagements. I was meeting with Aaron to plan out this next year, and we had a great meeting. It was about four hours long, and we planned out the whole year. It’s all accounted for. I had a bunch of goals, things I wanted to accomplish, and I realized when we mapped everything out and scheduled it with milestones and dates, I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish every single thing I wanted to in this next year. It’s going to flow into the following year, which is fine. I realized that if I wanted to accomplish the key things, I wasn’t going to be able to do all of the rest.
  • 24:08 I said, “Aaron, start a list. I need to make a list of things I need to say no to in order to accomplish these goals I’ve set out to accomplish.” I started rattling things off. I said, “I’m going to say no to speaking.” I’m going to be transparent with people. Earlier in the previous year, I decided that I’m not going to take any more unpaid speaking gigs. I’ve done that before, and there’s nothing wrong with starting out that way. It’s a great way to get started and get some experience. I have that, and I also have a sizable audience. Any time I mention a conference, dozens of people go out to it. I can draw people to a conference.
  • 24:51 I’m providing value, aside from my message, which is even more value, because I’ve done hundreds of shows. I’m realizing that there’s no need for me to take unpaid speaking gigs. Then, it was a matter of how much? I need to think about the value of my time. What can I be making if I’m not speaking? I can be building my business, which can result in thousands of dollars. I’m not going to say what we made, because I shared real revenue numbers in Lambo Goal (Related: Lambo Goal e039 Year-End Revenue Recap and Growth Planning). I share real revenue numbers for the whole year and Matt shares his real revenue numbers.
  • 26:11 Most people think the value of your time now is defined by how much you can make now or how much you are making now. You work at a job and make $50 an hour, so your time is worth $50 an hour. You’re growing a business and you make this much in a year, so you divide that by 2,000 hours. That’s how much your time is worth.

The true value of your time is worth what you will be making in two to three years if you invest it wisely.

  • 26:41 This assumes you are improving yourself and you’re investing in your personal growth. When you think this way, you realize that what you’re making now is determined by the investments you were making two to three years ago. Think about what you were doing two to three years ago and look at the results you’re getting right now. I say, “Show up every day for two years.” Things are going to start to make a lot more sense, they’re going to start to click. You may be disappointed because you don’t see the results you wanted to see. Look back in your life; what were you doing? If you weren’t investing, that’s why you aren’t seeing the results now.
  • 27:33 If you are seeing results now, the good news is that that’s from two to three years ago, when you were busting your butt back then. That’s what you’re making now. If you look back over those years and you think, “Wow, I started working even harder on my business and my personal growth last year,” get ready for a big year next year. This is how you have to think. When I realize that the value of my time now is what I’ll be making two to three years from this day, if I invest it wisely, it reframes my view of speaking and how much my time is worth speaking. It’s time away from investing in myself and my two to three year future.
  • 28:13 First, I decided that I would not take speaking gigs under $5,000. I got a request from a university that wanted to pay me thousands of dollars to come out, and they would have met that requirement. Bringing the tangent back in, we’re making a list of things to say no to. Speaking was one of those things, so I decided that I’m not taking it. This is the year we focus on and grow the business. I’ll speak someday in the future. I’ve got one or two events I’ve already committed to this year, that I said yes to a year ago. When you say yes, you have to fulfill those commitments. Start taking inventory of your yeses. You may need to purge and reevaluate how much you say yes to this year.
  • 29:13 You can start clearing out time for yourself. I can speak in a few years, when I have a story from getting my hands dirty, working at a business, and getting some experience. Then, I’ll have things to speak about. It’s all going to end up working out. Coming back to the list of nos, you have to make a list of things you’re saying no to. For me, it’s things like making music and speaking. Aaron was writing furiously on my list of things I’m saying no to for this next year. No to physical products. There are plenty of people asking for shirts, hoodies, mugs, and all this stuff. I know it, and I know I’m disappointing people. It hurts. We could make the physical product business profitable if we focused on it for a year, but that’s not what we’re focusing on this year.
  • 30:01 I’m saying no to seanwes network expansion. The shows we have right now are the shows we have, and we’re going to focus on refining processes, going deep with the audience members, and helping the show hosts work on courses to get to the next level. We’re closing it off and focusing. Once we refine those processes and systematize things, in the future, we can selectively bring people onto the network in the best possible way with the fewest issues possible. I’m also saying no to meetups. This year, we did meetups in New York City, Dallas, and San Fransisco, and I wanted to do more. I had places I wanted to go, but no meetups in 2016. Join the Community or go to seanwes conference. That’s where the magic is this year.
  • 30:59 What are the things you’re saying no to? You need a list of things you’re saying no to. The reason I will accomplish my goals and you, the listener, won’t, is because I have a list of nos and you have a list of maybes. Write it all down. You’ve got to get it all down. Be ruthless. The three projects you’re working on, the five ideas, the four audiences—get rid of all of them but one if you want to be successful this year. Think of it in seasons. I’m not saying that I’m not a musician anymore. The piano calls to me, but I’m not saying no forever. I’m saying no for this season.

Build the pillars of your business one at a time until each one is an asset to you.

  • 32:31 In upcoming episodes, I want to talk about building assets and cash flow, which comes first, when you can transition, and when you can do both.
  • 32:47 Ben: That’s part of the thing that’s hanging me up a little bit, not knowing what to focus on first. Instinctually, it makes more sense to build assets right now, because those are the things that are going to continue working for me when I’m done working on them. I love that idea, of having things that I’m done with that still provide income, attention, and customers. I don’t have nearly as much flexibility when I’m focusing on building assets as I do when I’m doing something like client work or organizing an event where I can share information with people and invite them to come out. One of the things I need to figure out is, of all these ideas that I have, what category do they fall into? Do they fall into the no/not right now category or the assets category? At some point, I can start focusing on those things. Or, are these things I should be doing now because they’ll give me the momentum I need to get to the next level?
  • 34:24 Sean: Make a list of every single thing in your world that is not the thing you want to accomplish. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, make a list of nos. Everyone’s writing their list of maybes, and they call them resolutions.
  • 34:49 Ben: Don’t write down goals.
  • 34:52 Sean: You do need a goal. I’m not saying that you can’t have multiple goals. I’m saying, don’t have a list of maybes and call them resolutions. Have focused goals and then a list of nos to support them. The list of nos builds the foundation for your goal. The goal sits on top of these no poles. The goal is like a little house on a lake with wooden poles that hold the house up. The poles are the no poles. You have to say no to a bunch of things to build the stilts that keep your goal house above the water, so it doesn’t just sink.
  • 36:20 Ben: The no seems like a weak thing by itself. You wouldn’t put a house on top of a single pole, but if you get a bunch of them together and organize them in the right way, then they can hold the house up.

No One Is Doing It All

  • 36:47 Sean: We tend to look to other people and see what they’re accomplishing, and it seems like they’re accomplishing a lot, like they’re doing a lot more than us. They have things put together a lot better than us. They don’t struggle like we do. We have multiple goals and aspirations, and we tend to follow or look up to numerous people in the different areas of our life that we aspire to. We pick and choose the best pieces of whatever front-facing content people are putting out, and we piece together all of these pieces of perfection from different people to make this conglomerate. We build this perfect, ideal person that has everything together that we compare ourselves to.
  • 37:47 We are thinking about how these people seem perfectly fit, have a great business, are a great writer, and do put out their comic every week. We feel like they have their lives perfectly together, but you’re only seeing one aspect of it. In order for that aspect to be the way it is, they’re saying no to everything else that is not that thing. You’re not seeing the fitness of the comic artist. You’re not seeing the writing skills of the person growing their business, who isn’t writing. You don’t see all of those things.

We tend to look at people who are successful in different areas, piece together this perfect person, and we compare ourselves to them.

  • 38:44 Ben: We come up with goals in several different areas, but maybe in order to accomplish the most important goal on that list, there’s some category of goal that we need to say no to. I don’t want to say no to health and fitness goals. In fact, I believe that health and fitness is part of the equation for getting me where I want to be. Maybe there’s some other personal goal that’s in conflict with my business goal. I have to decide if this is something I really want. If I had to choose one out of all of these, which one would I choose? It makes it easy to see the hierarchy. What really is the most important? You see what’s at the bottom of that list.
  • 39:41 If the things at the bottom of that list aren’t in support of your main goal, those are things you can get rid of. I saw somebody doing body weight exercises, not using weights, and it was this model with this nice physique. I see that person, and then I see the person succeeding at business. We do have this tendency to piece those things together and think that we should live up to that standard. It’s hard to separate all of that in your mind, especially if those things seem desirable to you. I want to have a nice six pack, but I don’t want that more than I want to reach my financial goals. Maybe I can be healthy but not have a six pack, and that’s okay.
  • 40:45 Sean: I think it probably is okay. We just don’t see everything the guy with the six pack isn’t doing. That’s an awesome goal, but in order to do that, he has to say no to things. No one person is doing it all, no matter now selectively they share things on their social media. They aren’t doing it all, and nobody should feel bad for not doing it all. Being able to do any of it at all means doing one single thing and having a specific focus. Think of it in seasons. This is not how everything has to be for the rest of your life.

Build Up Assets

  • 42:00 We’ll talk about this in the next couple of episodes, but if you have sole focus, you give something the possibility of becoming an asset. When something becomes an asset, it is serving you and doesn’t require all of your attention. You can build it up and then it doesn’t acquire a ton of attention to maintain. That can surface in a number of areas. Maybe you want to record piano albums, and the first thing you need to do is to buy a piano or a keyboard. You need to work and save up money to do that, so you do and you buy a piano. Now you say, “I want to record this on my computer, so I need some cables. I’ll order some cables. I’ve got the input gain on my audio interface set at this level and the output on my piano set at that level. When I record, I’m getting this noise. I guess I should research. Should I have the gain higher or should I have the piano output higher?” You start going deeper and deeper. You’re learning, and that education for yourself is a kind of asset.
  • 43:08 The piano that you now own and aren’t making payments on is an asset to you. You’ve spent all this time building up systems and workflows so you can eventually come down, turn it on, almost without even thinking you’ll hit all the right buttons, you clear your mind and you can just record. You can do stream of consciousness playing and play your piano. You spend all this time, maybe months, focusing on piano. Maybe that’s your goal this year, to get better at piano. You improve those systems to where, now, you’ve recorded an album, and you put this album up on your website. The album is selling. You go focus on another project, like maybe you want to do video or some branding, but your album is still selling.
  • 43:59 Whenever you have a spare evening or weekend, you can come back to the piano. Because of all the time investment and systems you’ve built up, you can just sit down and record again with much more ease. If you said, “I guess the gain isn’t right, so I’m going to watch Netflix. I can’t really figure this out, so I’m going to go out with my friends,” you didn’t focus. You had too many things going on. You were trying to focus on piano, but you’re also trying to blog once a week and it has to go out tomorrow. You didn’t plan ahead, so now you go work on your blog and you think you’re accomplishing a lot of things this year. Nothing gets to that asset level, where it can serve you, because you didn’t focus on it. Think of things in terms of seasons.

All the things you’re saying no to now aren’t forever—it’s just for this season.

  • 44:58 Ben: That’s a comforting thought, and it’s something I constantly need to remind myself of. Because of my circumstances, there are things I can’t say yes to. If I don’t remind myself of the idea that life happens in seasons and that this is only a season, not a permanent thing, there isn’t just the temptation to go back to that thing. There’s also the bitterness I feel that creates some friction for me accomplishing other goals that I can focus on right now. Thinking about seasons helps me have emotional acceptance, so I’m not missing that all the time. It’s good to acknowledge that there’s something you miss doing, that you wish you could do right now. There will be a time in the future when you can do that, especially if you focus on what you’re doing right now, and that takes away some of that friction.
  • 46:21 Sean: For me, that’s piano. I love making music. I like producing electronic music, like the podcast music you hear on this show and some other shows. It’s hard, at times, not doing music, because it’s something I’m intentionally saying no to so I can focus my efforts. It’s not that I don’t love music. I say no to it not because I don’t love it, but because I love it so much that I want to give it the focus it deserves when the time comes. If you’re trying to pursue too many things, you end up spreading yourself thin. You’re stressed, you’re in Scarcity Mindset, and you’re scrambling to make ends meet. You’re working 18 hour days and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere.
  • 47:09 Imagine you’re trying to play piano, but in the back of your mind you know you need to do some extra work to pay your bills. I love working on my business, so I’ll always enjoy that and want to grow it. I have big aspirations for it, but eventually, I envision a time when I can sit in front of the piano and know that I’m not focusing or working on my business, and even if I don’t for the next month, I’m still going to make a million dollars that year. That is an incredible freedom. Because I put in that investment, that time, and that hustle, I’ve built this asset that gives me freedom to pursue anything else I want with total mental freedom, clarity, and stress-free focus.

The Payoff of Assets

  • 48:13 I want to take 2020 as a full year sabbatical. It will be seventh year since I started doing Small Scale Sabbaticals, where I take off a week every seven weeks. This will be the full year. I used to think of a year as an incredibly large amount of time. In business, I don’t think of a year as a lot of time, but when I think of taking off a year, it feels like a huge amount of time. I guess that’s how people feel about the Small Scale Sabbaticals. For me, taking off a week every seven weeks is survival, a mental health reset point. It all scales. Everyone takes off a day on the weekend.
  • 49:05 They say, “It would be terrible if my week was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and just repeated forever. I can’t imagine that.” That’s how it is with taking a week off every seven weeks. I’m at that point where I’m trying to mentally go to the next level, and I think, “Wow, taking off a year every seven years… that’s a lot of time off.” The more I thought about it, I’ve been warming up to the idea this last year, it’s actually not that much time. Laci wants to live in New York City—that’s one of her dreams. I like peace and quiet, and I like recording podcasts with no noise and driving a Lambo, but we’re going to figure it out. I want to help her experience and live her dream.
  • 49:59 Maybe we do that on the sabbatical. Maybe we try it out. I have dreams of traveling and recording piano and electronic music albums, and I know that time is in the future. I see that more tangibly now that I’m allocating a year some years from now. Even if you aren’t allocating that yet, you can know that in the future, there will be other seasons, times to revisit those passions. To me, it’s worth it to invest upfront in building the infrastructure and the assets that will support pursuing those things with no stress at all.

Beware of Comparison

  • 50:46 Ben: I was already starting to write my list, but this episode makes me want to be ruthless. It’s the place I go to when I’m clearing out the kids’ toys.
  • 51:07 Sean: They have emotional ties to those toys. “I love that toy! I played with it four months ago and I might want to play with it four months from now. Don’t get rid of it.” Imagine yourself as a kid playing with toys, but then you have to become the version of yourself that’s the parent of that kid who gets rid of the toys because the kid has too many toys.
  • 52:12 Ben: The kid has feelings attached to whatever it was, and maybe they can get that thing again if they really like it. If you have too many toys, too many options, kids get stressed out. They go nuts. They think they want all of these choices and options, but they really want a simple, “Do you want this or this to play with right now?” As adults, we’re the same way. We get stressed out when there’s too much. We can grow to handle a little bit more complexity, but not as much as we think we can.
  • 53:03 Sean: That complexity is something we often notice from the outside looking in, with other people. We say, “Look at this guy! He plays guitar, runs a business, he’s working on a film, he’s super fit, and he’s got all these things going on.” Those things are never built at the same time. At one point, he worked on his physique. At one point, he learned videography. Then he gets to this point where those things still serve him, and he can pretty easily make videos. He’s worked with teams before because of his past business experience, and he can pretty easily head up a team and crank out a film all while doing some minimal maintenance on his physique so he looks decent.
  • 54:01 All of these things seem like this person has it so put together because they’re able to do multiple things. Look at how succesful they are at all of those things! They didn’t get that success by focusing on those things all at once. They built up assets by focusing one at a time. Now, they have this empire, essentially, this situation you look upon with envy and desire. You think, “Why can’t I do a bunch of things?” If you aren’t careful when you deconstruct it, you could think, “This person is successful and they do a lot of things. Therefore, I can be successful doing a lot of things at once.”
  • 54:43 Ben: Aaron in the chat commented that he has six kids. We don’t allow ourselves to be satisfied and grateful with the gifts that we have. If I didn’t get fit and get a six pack, if I didn’t record another album for the rest of my life, if I didn’t make $500,000 this year with my business, or whatever is on that long list of things that I want to see happen, would it be enough? Would I be satisfied, content with what I have today? That’s a really powerful thing.

Aspiring to a goal is healthy, but it has to come from contentment with the gifts you have.

  • 56:07 You have to be grateful and recognize those gifts for what they are. It’s a tremendous gift, my six boys and my wife, the relationships I have and all of the richness I get from that. There are people who long for that, who would love to have that. There’s this cartoon that’s been around Facebook I’ve seen where there are these two couples standing next to each other, and one of them looks very in love. The bubble over the woman’s head has something luxurious in it. The other couple looks like they have a lot of money, but the bubble over the woman’s head has a heart. She feels like there’s something lacking in that relationship. If we’re not careful, we look at what other people have accomplished and we start to feel discontent with what we have. When Aaron mentioned that, it made me think, “I do have six kids. That’s really awesome.”

Examine Your Baseline Commitments

  • 57:19 Sean: We all establish baselines, and we write a bunch of stuff off. We say, “This is where I start from,” and we compare from there. But, “Wait a minute, I have six kids.” That’s something this other person doesn’t have, that they don’t get to experience. We take so many things of our own for granted, and we compare selectively, which is really destructive. Examine your baseline, especially when comparing and when auditing yourself and trying to find time. Examine your baseline commitments and the noise that’s clouding your time availability. By noise, imagine all of the things you waste your time on as sand being poured into your schedule container. It’s not a big huge chunk, a big event or an important thing. It’s baseline noise, all of the in-between things that you do.
  • 58:40 “When I wake up, I check my email and I get on Facebook,” or, “When I hit a roadblock at work, I browse Twitter or watch YouTube videos.” It’s all of those little things. “After dinner, we watch Netflix, and we usually watch a second show on Netflix.” There’s nothing wrong with those things inherently—what’s wrong is doing those things and letting time slip away from you while you’re claiming that you don’t have any.
  • 59:20 Ben: Some of those things take more time than you think they do. Transitions, lack of mental clarity… If you’re checking your email first thing in the morning and you see a message that causes you to feel discouraged, nervous, or a sense of urgency, and you can’t ease into your day the way you should, that can affect everything you do for the rest of your day. We underestimate the time cost of some of things we allow into our lives.

Success Is Showing Up

  • 1:01:18 Sean: With this new year, you have these goals, and it’s easy to get distracted by comparing with other people or looking at numbers and comparing those numbers to what you’ve seen before. I’ve noticed, seasonally, with shows, downloads, views, or visitors tend to decline the second half of the year. It peaks in August, probably school related. During the holidays things go down, overall. If you didn’t know that this was a thing that happens, if you’re new to this, you’re obsessed about the numbers, and you don’t understand the trends, you think you’re doing something wrong. “I must be failing at my goal. I must be doing the wrong thing, taking the wrong steps.”
  • 1:02:18 Going back to how the value of your time is what you invested two to three years ago, it’s the consistency over time. It’s all about those small steps (Related: tv132 How to Achieve Big Goals Without Getting Overwhelmed). We have these big goals, and we think we have to do big things to get to the big goals. It’s small steps consistently over time, regardless of the response, the metrics, the views, downloads, visitors, comments, favorites, re-tweets, or whatever you’re obsessed with. Keep going. Keep showing up, writing, making that video every day, keep checking the box that says, “I showed up and I worked on my business. I showed up on the one thing I said I would do today, and that means saying no to all the other things. I showed up, and I did it today.” The results are going to come. It may be a year, two, or three.

You have to define today as a success if you showed up.

It’s not about the results.

  • 1:03:47 Ben: I was about to ask Sean a question about the size of the data sample you’re looking at, but that focus is in the wrong place. It’s about what your activity was, whether you were successful in doing what you said you were going to do. Saying that the results are going to come is a pretty big promise, but you won’t lose much by showing up every day even if the results take years. You’re learning a lot through that process. You’re learning about yourself, making commitments to yourself and fulfilling those. From a personal standpoint, that makes it a lot easier for you to make bigger commitments and trust yourself to stick with them. There isn’t much to lose in shifting your focus away from the numbers.

“I Don’t Have Time”

  • 1:05:02 Sean: If you’re feeling like you don’t have time, realize what that means. You’re saying, “This isn’t important enough to cancel my prior commitments.” That’s all it is. When you reset, we all start with 24 hours in a day. We have that same 24 hours, so we have the time to start with. We’re just using it up. I can’t help people get out of debt, because I don’t have experience being in debt and getting out of it. I don’t try to help people with that, but in debt terms, say you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit. You have no more credit left because you’ve maxed out the card. You say, “I have no credit. I have no time.” You do have $1,000 worth of credit, but you signed up for ten $100 recurring subscriptions.
  • 1:06:05 People have all of these subscriptions, these commitments, these recurring events on their calendars, things that they do. We start the day with 24 hours. It’s not that you don’t have the time. You’re given the time—you’ve just spent it. It’s not that you don’t have time, but you’re unwilling to say no to prior commitments. I’m guilty of this as well. I think prior commitments are set in stone. I said I would do this thing, so I guess I have to do it until I’m a corpse. Where is the reevaluation? Where is the reexamination of your commitments? I give you permission to reexamine your commitments. It’s okay. If you said, “I’m going to blog every week,” and you’ve done that for three years, you did it. You’re not a liar if you die or if you stop at year 14. It’s okay to reexamine your commitments.
  • 1:07:24 If you said you would meet your friend every Friday and you’re not getting value out of the relationship, move on. Have a conversation with the friend and say, “It’s been a really great time. I’ve appreciated meeting with you.” Be honest. If you haven’t, be creative and don’t lie. Move on. Reexamine your commitments.