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Let’s say you’ve been blogging every week for two years now.
Last year, maybe you started a podcast (bear with me if you haven’t). Several months ago, you thought, “You know what? I might as well throw some videos into the mix!”
You’re good at making and sticking to commitments so your audience knows what to expect.
But now, imagine you just got back from a retreat. On the plane ride home, you did a lot of thinking because you didn’t want to pay $8 for wifi. You realized what you’re doing right now on a daily and weekly basis isn’t taking you where you want to go. Maybe it’s simply not allowing you the time to do the work you want to do.
You’ve come to the conclusion that a change needs to happen. But back at the ranch, people are expecting fresh content. You don’t want to let them down.
How do you realign the commitments you already made in the past so you can head in a new direction to accomplish your current goals without alienating the audience that has come to expect new content from you?
Today’s show is all about the best way to break a commitment (and set new expectations too).
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Doing deep work or a big project requires not having too many commitments. You can’t do it all.
- Align your commitments with your current goals.
- If you’re bogged down with commitments, you don’t have a good sense of what you’re saying no to.
- Communicate openly and take responsibility, and people will have more empathy than you realize.
- Set expectations for how you will communicate when there is change.
- If you decide that things do need to change, give people some notice.
- Be transparent about what goes into your output and how your work plays off of other areas of your life.
- If you change your goal, you also need to change your commitments.
- People care about stories. Don’t underestimate the story of why you’re making a change. Be transparent and share it!
- Take time off—it gives you so much clarity.
- Once you know where your goal is, changing course won’t look like quitting.
- 02:19 Sean: Imagine you’ve been blogging every week for two years now. Last year, you started a podcast, and several months ago, you said, “You know what, I might as well throw some videos into the mix.” You’re good at making and sticking to commitments so your audience knows what to expect. Now, let’s say you just got back from a retreat. On the way home, you did a lot of thinking because you didn’t want to pay $8 for wifi, and you realized that what you’re doing right now on a daily and a weekly basis isn’t taking you where you want to go. It isn’t allowing you to do the deep kind of work you want to do.
- 02:56 It’s not allowing you to do the important work, and you’re finding yourself caught up fulfilling commitments that were made at a different time, in a different context, with different goals. You’ve come to the conclusion that a change needs to happen, but people are expecting fresh content. You’ve set expectations, and you don’t want to let them down. This show is about when the best time is to break a commitment.
What’s At Risk?
- 11:47 What is the most common thing people are doing, Ben? Are they making art every day? Are they blogging weekly? It’s probably blogging weekly or maybe a weekly newsletter.
- 11:56 Ben: Yes, I think that’s probably the most common. The thing that’s more in danger for those folks isn’t typically the first thing they start, the blog or newsletter, but it’s the thing they think they can take on after that, like a video or something daily, like a daily art piece. I don’t think the blog and newsletter are in quite as much danger, most of the time. It’s whatever is the second step—the extra thing they decide to take on.
- 12:45 Sean: The person I’m imagining here is someone who has maybe been exposed to people putting out regular podcasts, videos, and shows, and they’re feeling like they need to do that, too. They’ve committed to these things, but they haven’t sat down and thought about whether it’s getting them where they want to go. Possibly, they committed a year ago or to years ago, and they had different goals. They want to accomplish different things, but they don’t have the time. All of their bandwidth is taken up by these consistent output commitments they’ve made. They feel bogged down. On the one hand, they’re scared to stop doing it, because they feel like they’re letting people down and breaking a commitment. On the other hand, they can’t do the kind of deep, meaningful work they want to do, or the things that would bring them closer to their current goals.
- 13:45 Ben: I’m actually finding myself a little bit in that position with some of the commitments I’ve made. Sean said, “Maybe they started two years ago.” I’m thinking for example of the In the Boat With Ben TV I committed to doing near the end of last year. At the time, 2016 was going to be a relatively normal year for us. Part of my plan for 2016 was to continue to grow the In the Boat With Ben brand, which is something I still very much want to do. I see it as part of my long term plan, but some shorter term goals came up that aren’t necessarily being served by my doing all the things I’m doing with the In the Boat With Ben brand.
- 14:55 Sean: What kind of goals?
- 14:58 Ben: For example, wanting to reach the $500,000 mark this year.
- 15:06 Sean: So you’re not considering that a short term goal, Ben? Or is one year short term?
- 15:12 Ben: One year is short term. Long term is more like three to five years. Video is something you’re doing for your audience two years from now—it’s not like you can start a video show and grow your audience right away. I knew it was long term.
- 15:42 Sean: For the videos you’re making now, you might be tempted to look at the results you’re getting immediately, because you idolize people like Casey Neistat. He gets hundreds of thousands of views as soon as he posts it. So you think, “If I’m getting 30 views, maybe I’m doing something wrong with my videos. Maybe this isn’t working out after all.” Search any common phrase, type it into Google, and click the videos tab. Notice the dates. I typed, as an example, “How to sell.” I wanted to see what people had and compare. We’re in 2016 right now, and there were two 2014 videos, two more 2013 videos, and then other 2012 and 2011 videos. There wasn’t a single video from last year or the current year.
Search engines are going to give weight to established content that’s been proven, watched, and appreciated.
- 17:00 This lends further credence to, “Show up every day for two years.” The videos you and I are making now are for people doing searches in 2018. I’m not looking at immediate results, because I think those are a fraction of a percent of the lifetime views of this video. The lifetime views will primarily come from the years down the road, not the first few days or a week after I publish.
- 17:30 Ben: Sean talked about something like this in a video, or at least in our meeting the other day, that got me thinking. Everything is under the microscope for me right now, so I’m thinking critically about, “What is this accomplishing? How is it serving my goal? What goal is it for?” Answering those questions helps me have a clearer picture of what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I’m not in a place right now where I’ve made decisions about that. It’s still something I’m weighing and considering, but because of that, this episode is timely for me.
Are You Doing Too Much?
- 18:23 Sean: I’m leaning towards recommending that Ben stops, in leu of his short term goals, the one year goals that are immediately in front of him. To give a personal example, I was seriously talking to Cory and said, “What if we didn’t do seanwes tv anymore?”
- 19:04 Cory: Every week, I have to talk Sean out of it.
- 19:07 Sean: I’m half joking and that’s the problem. What if I didn’t do seanwes tv or the three podcasts that I do a week (Related: e229 Behind the Scenes With Sean & Ben)? I made a new 3,000 word About page on the site. It’s the whole story. If you listen to 200 episodes, you kind of have an idea of the background and the origin story. Finally, it’s all in one place. I wrote this out. When I was writing this page, I realized that I publish 40 shows a month personally. I thought, “Oh my goodness. That’s a lot of shows.” What if I didn’t do any of the shows? What could I do? What am I capable of, and what could I accomplish in that time? Secondly, I realized that if you ever want to do a big project or deep work and you have a lot of commitments, you can’t do it all. You can’t publish 40 shows a month and write a book in that same month.
- 20:28 Nina in the chat says, “You’re reading my mind, Sean.” This episode is dedicated to Nina, then. You’re committing to things, and it’s good to commit. We talked in the last episode about keeping your commitments, integrity, and your reputation. All of those are good things. At some point, you have to assess, first of all, are you doing too much?
What Are Your Goals?
- 20:58 Then, what are your goals? Your goals can change, and that’s okay. As you get closer to what you thought your goal was, you may have a better picture of what your new goal is. That’s totally okay. You want to be careful to make sure that your commitments are aligned with your current goals. If they’re outdated, those commitments could be taking you in a direction toward an old goal. You might find yourself in this position of adding commitments because you feel like commitments and scheduled outputs are getting you closer to your goal.
If you change your goal, you also need to change the commitments or they will take you on autopilot to a place you don’t want to be anymore.
- 21:58 Ben: I wonder how many times we look at people who have inspired us to take on these new commitments, who have amazing output, and we’re not really looking at the whole picture. Casey Neistat, for example, is doing a daily video show, and he does a great job of that. I don’t know whether or not he does a weekly blog, whether he has a newsletter he sends out, or whether he does a podcast. Even if you’re looking at that person doing all those things and you think, “I want that kind of success, and they’re doing those things and they’re successful,” you don’t know how long they were doing each individual piece of those things before they added another one or what circumstances they were in.
- 22:58 Resist the urge to beat yourself up over trying to do all the things that someone who may be in a completely different position from you has the ability to do because of the season of life they’re in. They’ve earned the ability to do all those things now. Maybe you’re just not there yet.
- 23:17 Sean: You can’t see what other people are saying no to. Maybe you can’t see what you’re saying no to. I don’t necessarily mean explicit nos, but implicit nos. If you’re so bogged down with commitments that you can’t see through the fog, you don’t even know what kind of opportunities you’re missing.
You don’t have a good sense of what you’re saying no to, explicitly or implicitly, if you’re bogged down with commitments.
- 23:59 The first thing is figuring out what your goals are. Are you doing too much? On a big level, what are your goals and what do you want to be accomplishing? Do you want to have a weekly newsletter? Do you want to have a weekly podcast or a daily video show? Is that what you want, or is that a vehicle getting you to where you want to go, and where is that place? Work backwards. “Where do I want to go, and are the things I’m doing on a daily and weekly basis getting me to where I want to go?”
- 24:46 Ben: If you live in Houston and you want to drive to San Antonio, you might say, “I want to go to San Antonio.” If your destination is a specific place in San Antonio, the area is pretty big. The closer you get, the more different paths you can take to get to your more specific destination. I thought about that when Sean was talking about how, the closer you get to your goal, sometimes it changes or becomes more clear. It’s okay to step back and determine, “This road is going to take me the long way around when there’s really a more direct route here.”
Setting New Expectations
- 25:43 Sean: We’ve opened it up a little bit and we’ve given people permission to change their goals, and maybe change your destination and your commitments to align with that. Now, people are worried about the audience, the people who have expectations of them. What’s going to happen here? What happens if I change this, if I say I’m no longer going to do something and people get disappointed? How do I handle that? Do I try and explain it? Do I preempt it? Do I tell them that I’m stopping cold turkey, or do I cool down and slow down gradually until I stop? Do I replace it with something different and hope people are on board? These are the things people are worried about.
- 26:30 We’re all taught to keep commitments. We all want to be people of our word, people who are consistent. That’s a tendency everyone has. That’s why, in marketing, people try and get you to say micro-yeses. “Hey, don’t you want to grow your business?” Well, yeah. They get you to say yes because then they’re taking you along a journey where you’re more likely to continue saying yes. We like to be people that are consistent and we like to follow through. If we say we’re going to do something, and we say, “I think I’ll start that,” then we start it, and then you say, “Yeah, I’ll keep doing that,” and you do keep doing it, you don’t want to stop what you’re doing because you don’t want people to think that you’re not consistent. That’s not a very attractive trait.
- 27:23 Ben: Regardless of how you do it, your brand will take a hit to some degree. The degree to which your brand takes a hit varies greatly depending on the way you go about communicating with your audience and helping then come along that journey with you, getting them in line with what you’re thinking.
- 27:51 Sean: This is right in line with Steve’s question, “How much does a break in consistency truly affect the trust your audience has in you?”
- 28:06 Ben: It comes down to communication, if you’re communicating honestly. I think people are afraid that it will affect the brand perception. We also have this tendency to project the worst case scenario reaction onto other people when we know there’s something difficult we need to deliver. It’s uncomfortable and scary, so we think, “If I try to get rid of some of the responsibility here or point to something else, people aren’t going to associate that with me, so they won’t have this negative reaction I imagine they’ll have when I break the news.”
When you communicate openly and take responsibility, people have more empathy than you realize.
- 29:18 Sean: What is the pattern here? 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. What is the next number? The answer is—you don’t know. The pattern was 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4. See the pattern? You didn’t know that was the pattern, because you’re only going off of what you saw. He says, How much does a break in consistency truly affect the trust your audience has in you?” If you’re doing a podcast twice a week, like this show, there’s a podcast Wednesday and Friday. Next week, Wednesday and Friday. Next week, Wednesday and Friday. You do that, and suddenly there’s no show. What kind of affect does that have? It doesn’t have a positive affect, because people are expecting a “1.” They want it to be 1. They don’t know the pattern is “4”. We do sabbaticals, so every seventh week we take off a week. It’s a matter of your zoom lens.
- 30:36 On your part, as the planner, you need to be able to zoom out and say, “Actually, the pattern is that we release a show twice a week for six weeks in a row, and the seventh week, we rest. We take a break.” That’s the pattern on a big zoomed out level. You zoom back in, and you have to communicate that to your audience. You have to set those expectations that, actually, this is the pattern. This is how we’re going to operate. That can take a long time, especially if you have a longer pattern that’s more zoomed out. Like Ben said, it comes back to communication. You have to communicate with people. Everything comes down to communication and expectations.
- 31:32 If things are going to change, how can you maintain trust with an audience who’s looking for consistency when you need to set expectations? This is a puzzle. Distill it down to the least common denominator. The only thing you can do is set expectations for how you operate and communicate when there is change. The consistency is that I know that any time something is going to change with Sean’s output, he’s going to communicate in this manner. Then, the expectation is less on the output itself and more on how I handle the communication of any output changes.
- 32:27 Ben: I like the shift in focus there, because it puts the emphasis on the relationship you have with your audience in the long term, and not the relationship your audience has with your content. It’s about the relationship your audience has with you. You could go very direct with it and communicate the change and then say, “In the future, if this happens again, this is the way you can expect me to handle it.” Not only are they getting the communication that they need from you about the content they like to consume from you, but you’re also teaching them how to relate to you in the future when changes happen. I think that’s a really great tip.
If you decide that things need to change, give people notice.
- 33:35 Sean: I don’t think anyone likes to feel like the rug is pulled from underneath them. If Casey Neistat says tomorrorw, “I’m done vlogging,” there would be an uproar. If he says, “This is my last month/year vlogging,” people will be disappointed, but he’s set expectations ahead of time.
- 33:59 Ben: When I think about quitting cold turkey, I think about the person who publishes something that day, and in whatever they publish, they say, “By the way, this was my last one.” I’m sitting there watching Casey Neistat’s video and enjoying it, and I get to the end, and he pops up on the screen and says, “That was my last one.” That’s terrible. I can’t imagine doing that to an audience.
Have an Exit Strategy
- 34:47 Sean: You have to plan an exit strategy. Don’t just say, “Okay, I’m done here. I’m going to leave the audience hanging.” Transition them. It’s a process. Don’t drop them and start something new, but try to bridge that gap. Maybe you have a new goal and you need to make new commitments. Maybe that means doing less, doing fewer things. Set the expectation. Why are you doing fewer things? Maybe it’s so you can do better work. Tell that story, “I would like to put out this quality work. At this frequency I’ve committed to and kept for the past two years, I don’t feel like I can go as deep as I want to. It’s not serving my goals.”
People are more willing than you realize to get on board with your story if you tell it.
- 35:46 Instead of worrying about their expectations and telling them about the changes, focus on the story. Tell the story, and people will get on board with that. They’ll say, “Yeah, I want deeper work from you. I’m willing to wait to get it every week. Even though, selfishly, I want something more frequently, I’m willing to wait.” You can’t expect people to know that you might need to downsize your commitments. They’re not going to know. They won’t say, “Casey, you should stop vlogging every day and do better work!” He has pushed himself, and that is what he wants to do right now. Maybe that aligns with his goals.
- 36:31 We don’t know, but we do know that the audience is never going to tell Casey to slow down. They’re going to eat up whatever he’s putting out, just like they’re going to enjoy the photos you put on Instagram every day, the artwork you share, the blog post you publish every morning. They’re going to enjoy it because it’s right there. On a surface level, they might be disappointed if that’s taken away from them, because they’re only focused on that. They don’t know that you want to write a book. They don’t know you don’t have the bandwidth to do some deeper work. You have to tell them that story.
- 37:06 Ben: There are a couple of different ways you can do that. You can do it through the official communication that you send out, tell the story there. You can also weave that story into the regular communications you’re putting out. I think about the current and future people in the Community who have said to Sean, “I appreciate everything you do, but it seems like you’re doing too much,” or, “We would be okay if you stopped doing this so you can focus on this other goal you have.” Sean has transparency. He’s not bragging, but he talks about the reality of what goes into what he does. People see that and appreciate what he puts out that much more, but they also get into their empathic side, and they think, “I would feel overwhelmed if I was Sean, so I understand if he has to cut back.” It’s worth weaving that story in.
Be transparent about what goes into your output and how your work plays off of other areas of your life.
Tell the Story
- 38:41 Sean: There’s an app I use called BetterTouchTool, which I love. It’s for Mac. It’s an awesome app for gestures. You can assign things—if you have a track pad, a MacBook, or a Magic Mouse. The Magic Mouse is a touch surface, so it’s sensitive. It’s not just a mouse you move around to move your curser, but it knows where your fingers are. You can swipe your finger left and right, or two finger swipe left, three finger swipe right, swipe up, swipe down, two finger click, three finger tap… this app is able to recognize all these things in your touching of the Magic Mouse or the track pad. It’s brilliant. I never have to switch back and forth between the keyboard and the mouse, and that’s the ultimate productivity tip—minimize your switching.
- 39:46 Be able to do everything, as much as you can, on the keyboard exclusively, and the same on the mouse. When I’m browsing, I have application specific shortcuts on my Magic Mouse using BetterTouchTool to be able to swipe my finger left across the surface of the mouse and be able to switch tabs or swipe my finger right and switch tabs the other way. I can swipe two fingers down and close the tab or swipe two fingers up and reopen the closed tab. I’m flying. I can do a three finger click and refresh the page. It’s very efficient. This app is one of my favorite apps besides the three core apps that I need—Dropbox, TextExpander, and Alfred—this is a close fourth. For some absurd reason, it’s free.
- 40:36 I don’t know why it’s free, but the developer just announced that he’s switching to a pay what you want model, with a minimum of $3. He recommends $5 to $10, but I want to give this guy $30, easy. People asked him, “What about other computers?” and he said, “Use it with up to two of your family members or other computers.” That’s included in whatever you want to pay, as little as $3. I saw this and I wanted to give him even more money. I wonder if people are going to be upset. People freeload so they might say, “How dare you change this to a pay model!” I’m hoping that wasn’t the case. I even wrote him an email and said, “I don’t know if you’re getting any bad messages, but this app has changed my life. It’s revolutionized my productivity, so I’m more than happy to give you money. You’re doing great work. I wanted to make sure you knew.”
- 41:46 Before I clicked Send, I went to his blog to read his page. He had 290 comments, and not a single one was negative. Every one was more than happy, “Let me know where I can pay, shut up and take my money.” Here’s the key—in his blog post, he told a story. He talked about his girlfriend, their apartment, school, and what he’s been focusing on. He’s been updating this app for years. He spends so much time on it. I get updates all the time. The new operating system just works, new devices work. He said, “I love updating it, but it’s hard for me to justify working on the app and not sitting down to watch a TV show with my girlfriend or going out to dinner when it’s something that’s free and it isn’t helping support both of us.”
- 42:47 He told this story, and I have no doubt that played a huge part in the positive response he got in the comments. Certainly, there are good willed people who want to repay for value, but don’t underestimate the story of why you’re making a change. That’s a massive transition. Who knows how many thousands of users he has, and he’s now saying, “It’s no longer free. It’s paid.” That’s somewhere people can get angry. Maybe you’re like, “I’m no longer going to do my videos.” That’s something people could get angry about, but tell the story. Say, “This is where I want to be. This is my situation. I’m a real person, so hopefully you can get on board.”
When you tell your story, it activates people’s empathy.
- 43:30 Ben: They see themselves, or at least somebody they know, in the story you’re telling. They understand what it feels like to be overwhelmed with life and have a lot of things going on. Almost every person understands that feeling. When you convey that through a story, at the very least, they have to love your content so much that it overshadows their feelings of empathy.
- 44:02 Sean: They would have to actually love the consumption of your content objectively more than they love you, the creator of the content they enjoy, which is pretty silly.
When Is It Time To Stop?
- 44:16 Rafael asks, “Is there a common sign that can be spotted and that will mean it’s the time to stop?” I don’t know if there’s a common sign, because we tend to fill time by habit and do things automatically. We get into routines and commitments, so it’s autopilot. You don’t think about the things that you just do. You don’t think about waking up and going to the bathroom, brushing your teeth, or eating dinner in front of the TV. Those things are automatic. I don’t know if there’s a common sign, necessarily, for needing to stop doing what you’re doing, other than taking the time to reflect on your goals and making sure the commitments you’re making align with your goals and where you want to be.
- 45:11 Ben: When Sean and I were talking earlier about feeling so overcommitted that it’s like this cloud, one of the problems may be that you don’t know what to look for, and even if you did know what to look for, it would be so difficult to see it because you’re constantly going all the time. That’s where having a regular sabbatical as a practice for your business is a fantastic idea. It gives you the space to zoom out and look at everything objectively, to get out of that mode of constantly rushing, so you can see whether or not the things you’re doing are still serving your goals.
- 45:59 Sean: To illustrate my point, that’s one of the things I take for granted now. We take sabbaticals every seventh week, and we’re not even thinking about it. “Of course we’ll have time to reflect.” I come back from the sabbatical all the time and make changes or switch the direction of things because we have some clarity. I feel like I harp on it too much, encouraging people to take sabbaticals, but I started in 2014 and it’s January 2016, and I haven’t stopped doing it for a reason. I don’t gain anything by recommending that you take sabbaticals. There’s no reason for me to try and persuade you for my own gain to take sabbaticals. This is purely for you. It’s the best possible thing you can do for your health, your rest, making sure you’re going in the right direction, and making sure you’re doing the work you want to be doing.
Take time off—it gives you so much clarity.
- 47:02 Ben: So you’re not going to come out with a course on taking a sabbatical?
- 47:08 Sean: No. I might write a book someday about sabbaticals and call it Small Scale Sabbaticals. Even then, if I had a book and people paid for the printing of the book, the value they get on the first day of the sabbatical pays that back. I’m not saying this over and over for no reason. I’m saying this because it changed my life. It’s crazy for you to keep going week after week after week after week and maybe get a vacation someday. Maybe you don’t, because you probably ended up having to deal with some family stuff, or you had to take a few days here and there and it goes away. That’s not sustainable or healthy. How can you see the warning signs if your head’s down and you’re bogged down with commitments? Even if there are warning signs, you won’t see them, because you’re not taking time to take a step back and reflect on things.
Communicating With Your Audience
- 48:37 Emily says, “My biggest concern is communicating that shift or break in commitment. I can’t change people’s assumptions (‘she’s making excuses’), but how in-depth should that communication be? I’m sure it varies a ton depending on what the change or break in commitment is, but I’m curious on your thoughts if you have any.” I don’t think you can go too in depth. I think you should be completely, totally human, real, and share the details, because that’s going to further the empathy.
- 49:07 Ben: While you’re telling your story, it’s a good idea to talk about your new goals and if they’ve changed or you’ve gotten some clarity. Paint that picture for your audience of what the future looks like of getting rid of this commitment that’s getting in the way of your goal. Let them see what you’re seeing. People are more empathetic than we give them credit for.
Keep your audience on board with you by telling your story and painting a picture for them of where you’re going.
- 50:00 Sean: That ties into Kyle’s question, too. He says, “How do you avoid feeling like the decision means giving up rather than a smart move in the right direction?” It’s the goal. If you’re focused on the micro, the details, the small picture, then breaking a commitment feels like giving up. It’s like you’re in San Antonio, in the middle of the country, and you want to drive to San Fransisco. You start driving towards New York City, and exiting when you’ve got the perfect spot on I-35 may feel like quitting. You’re going in the wrong direction! That’s not where you want to go, so once you know where your goal is, changing course doesn’t look like quitting. It looks like the fastest way to stop going in the wrong direction. Explain to the people following behind you why you’re taking this exit and how it’s going to be a lot better that you’re going in the right direction.
- 51:22 Terence says, “How do you know if your audience is on board with you to the point where they’ll pivot with you when you pivot? Is there a way to know whether they’ll stick around for the ride or abandon ship?” Does it matter? You’ve identified that you’re not going where you want to go. Things you’re doing on a daily or weekly basis are taking up your bandwidth, and they’re not allowing you to do the deep work you want to do or accomplish the new goals you have. You’ve identified this such that you’ve determined that you need to make a change in commitments. Does it matter if your audience pivots with you? Maybe not all of them do. Maybe some of them wanted to go New York City. Maybe they like that drive, and that’s okay, but you’ve determined that’s not where you want to be going. The focus should be on setting clear expectations for the people who do want to get on board.
- 52:29 Ben: With In the Boat With Ben, originally, when I launched it on my platform, it was really focused on the working from home with a family aspect of family life. It was really about productivity and figuring out how to manage your schedule so you could work around your family. When it moved to the seanwes platform and we launched it here, the focused broadened and became more about family life and values and how those serve your work/life balance. I was still focusing on some of the original things we were talking about, but I brought family relationships in in a really strong way. The people who signed up for my newsletter and who got on board with me on my platform with the original understanding were all moved over, but the people who only wanted the productivity, work-related stuff aren’t going to stick around for the family stuff.
- 53:42 Sure enough, there were some who left my list because of that. I can’t change the direction I’m going with the brand because I’m afraid of losing those people. If, ultimately, I want to arrive at having this broader focus and everyone following me being on board with that focus, the sooner I can make it easy for those people to leave, the better. I’m talking about communicating really clearly the new direction that you’re going and saying, “If this isn’t something you’re interested in, it’s okay. Here’s the unsubscribe button.”
The sooner the people who won’t pivot with you aren’t part of your convoy, the better.
- 54:40 Sean: It’s easy to get attached to the number and feel like, “This is my audience! How do I convert/pivot them to where I want them to go?” That’s not an entitlement you have. You don’t own that following. You don’t own those people. It’s just an indication that there are people who are cool with what you’re doing right now. If you change it, maybe it’s not for everyone. It’s okay. Kyle says, “If a break in your commitment has to happen in order to deliver a good experience in other areas, is it better to cut ties with it early or press on until it’s truly unsustainable?”
- 55:36 Ben: I feel like you should do it early, because then you can actually have a plan for it.
- 55:43 Sean: Early makes sense, but you kind of need that buffer to set expectations. “Alright guys. On the next exit on the highway, we’re going to be exiting,” instead of cutting across four lanes and taking the exit that’s straight across to your right.
- 56:06 Ben: There are some stretches of highway, like on a super long bridge, where there are no exits and you have to keep going. The exit right before that bridge is your breaking point, and you’re ten exits away from that. Exiting right away could be really disorienting for the people following you, but you have ten exits to work with. If you think, “I’m going to give them some warning, and then five exits from now, we’ll get off,” that’s better than not saying anything, seeing the bridge coming, and exiting right away. Either way, doing it as soon as you recognize it without giving your followers communication and time, can be equally bad.
- 57:19 Sean: Steve says, “How can I ensure new commitments I make today will still remain relevant in two years? I do not want to be a chronic commitment-breaker.” I don’t know that I can tell you how to make commitments that are two year proof, but the best way is to have regular checks. That’s the only way you can do it, and that brings us back to the sabbatical topic. You have to reflect on your direction. There’s nothing wrong with heading toward San Fransisco and realizing in Arizona that you want to go to San Diego. That’s okay. You’re not going to know that unless you’re constantly reflecting. If you’re dead set on the work and the commitments you’ve laid out in front of you, you’re not leaving any room for that. Don’t focus so much on knowing that this will absolutely be the thing, no matter what, for the next five or ten years, because that’s what got us stuck in the first place.
- 58:37 Ben: Communicate with your audience so they have the expectation of change. Figure out how you’re going to go about communicating that and how they should expect to hear from you. If you’re talking about being a chronic commitment breaker, you definitely don’t want to make a commitment and change it a month later over and over again. That’s an unhealthy rhythm. If you really are interested in achieving a goal and you communicate with your audience along the way, if you do create the expectation about how you might communicate change if it comes up, you don’t have to worry as much about the perception your audience has of you breaking those commitments. It puts the focus on your goal, what you want to accomplish, and the value you want to bring into the world.