Do you know what happens when you hit the snooze button in the morning? When we wake up and go back to sleep, we are actually going back into another sleep cycle, and then interrupting it over and over again. I had an ex who used to hit the snooze button twenty times in the morning before he finally woke up. I would be up with the first alarm, and doing stuff, and he would still be hitting an hour and a half later.
The reality with all of these interrupted sleep cycles is that we feel more tired, than we just woke up the first time around, because we are going in and out of sleep several times, and not really getting any true rest. Even though, in our minds, we imagine that we are allowing ourselves to rest just a tiny bit more.
I was thinking about this snooze button, and I realized that every time someone hits the snooze button on their sleep, instead of taking a few steps forward or even standing still, they are actually being pushed a few steps backwards. This is because they are going to wake up groggy and out of sorts, instead of being refreshed by their sleep. It’s going to take them hours to truly wake up after all of those missed sleep cycles.
The Snooze Buttons On Our Projects
There are dozens of people who message me every week saying the same thing over and over again. Just 14 hours ago, I received another one of those messages. It said this.
I want to be a doer but I get so stuck in my head! I have a ton of ideas but not sure the steps to execute. Being a mom and a biz owner is tough! Most days I feel like I’m treading water… not moving anywhere
The main gist of all of these messages is the same. I want to execute on my ideas, but I am always getting new ideas and distracting myself from the previous ideas.
Result: I never actually get down to working on any of them.
We are pressing the metaphorical snooze button on all of our projects every time we do this – we decide we are going to focus on one idea and we work on it for a bit, but shiny object syndrome hits us, and we get distracted by another idea that floats by. Like a dog who sees a squirrel and gets distracted from a game of fetch, we run around chasing after each new squirrel (idea).
But, it isn’t that we are wasting our time being distracted. Every time, we lose focus on our current project, and are distracted by a new idea, we are actually losing momentum on our first idea. So we are, in fact, taking a few steps backward, and losing out.
Ideas Are A Dime A Dozen
Richard Branson said this (or it has been attributed to him) – Ideas are like buses. There’s another one coming along every ten minutes.
I absolutely triple-believe this. In fact, haven’t you had conversations with people who said something like, “Oh, I had the idea for Uber (or insert any successful business here) a few years back. But I never did anything with it. I wish I had, I would have been a billionaire by now.”
Remember this, there are a hundred ideas floating around in the ether all the time. More than a hundred. And most of us see each passing idea and latch onto each of them, like they were our lifeline for the moment. But then jump to another idea, the minute it shows up, as it were our lifeline, as well.
In this manner, we never ever take any idea to fruition. The people who are successful, who are billionaires, say ‘NO’ to more ideas than they say ‘Yes’ to.
Success Is More About Subtraction Than Addition
When I first started my business, I was all about doing it all. I bought all the softwares, signed up for all the coaching packages, attended all the webinars, and tried to do it all. The more I did, the better I felt about being an entrepreneur. I mean, I was so busy – I must be doing something right. Right??
Wrong. I started hanging out with the really successful entrepreneurs, and I noticed that they were all spending more and more of their time relaxing, and in balance. They spent time learning, growing, and relaxing, more than they worked. H0w were they doing that?
I started studying them, and I realized and learned my biggest lesson as an entrepreneur. Most newbie entrepreneurs are all about the addition – let’s add on everything and do everything. Something will click somehow.
But all successful entrepreneurs are that way, because they are all about deletion or saying ‘No’.
“No, I am sorry I can’t take that on right now. That doesn’t fit in with my mission or vision right now. Sorry, that isn’t something that I have the energy for right now. That doesn’t jibe with the way I want my business to work. No, no, no.”
They say yes very rarely and no very often.
I Spend More Time Now Deleting And Unsubscribing
Every week, I have time on my calendar to go through my week, and see if I am spending my time on the right things. Of course, it works at both ends. I am extremely strict about the way I spend my time. If I am spending time with you, it’s because it fits in with my schedule and I have thought about it meticulously.
So random things don’t happen in my life, unless I have actually scheduled them in. Ironic, huh?
But, life has a way of sneaking up on you. Thus, I spend a lot of my time unsubscribing, and deleting things off my plate. Things that got randomly added in, or dinners that I have to say no to, because I have something more important I need to take care of.
So many things to say no to.
You might think that is a very rigid life that I lead. But that’s where the fallacy comes in. I notice so many people who proclaim themselves to be organized, but have taken on way too much, and are drowning in all of that work. They are the ones who are not able to do anything spontaneous with their lives.
Because I have a strict schedule every day and I get all of my stuff done early, I have the rest of my day to do whatever I want with. I am able to spend a lot of my time relaxing, walking, and dining out leisurely.
Saying ‘No’ to almost everything allows me to say yes to the things I truly care about.
Let’s Stop Taking A Step Back Every Time We Get Distracted
The more things I say no to, the more I am able to focus all of my energies on the few things that I really want to spend my energy and time on.
In fact, one study shows it takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after you’ve been interrupted. Can you imagine??? That is an enormous chunk of time. Thus, if we are constantly getting interrupted by meetings that we said yes to, or events that we said yes to, or random things that we said yes to, then, we are spending our entire day in distraction mode. Not in work mode.
That’s extremely scary.
If we stay focused on a few things, but become masters at them, and don’t let ourselves get distracted every single time a new platform or new idea shows up, we are able to stay stable, current, present, and truly here.
We can keep on working on our few ideas forever and ever, until it comes to fruition, which might take an eternity.
The Starting And Stopping Culture Has To End
We kind of live in a culture right now that is all about the starting. Start this, and start that. I know a hundred people who have signed up for courses, or workshops, or webinars, who’ve never attended a single class. Or started businesses that never saw the light of day. Or podcasts that have two or three episodes and that’s all.
We are all amazing at starting things. But life isn’t just about the starting. It’s about the journey.
I decided a long time ago that I am NOT going to start anything that I can’t give at least a whole year to. I will only start things that I can devote a chunk of time to. The interesting thing is that once I do something for a year, it kind of becomes part of my DNA and I can’t give up on it anyways.
That’s how I started my podcast. I told myself, I am not going to start this, unless I can commit to it for a whole year. And I have been running the podcast for a year and 3 months now, and still going strong. Episode 122 is where I am at at as I write this blog post.
It Doesn’t Hurt Anyone Else, But You
I realized a while back that my inconsistence, and noncommittal attitude to life, isn’t hurting anyone. Except me.
It hurts me, every single time I say I am going to do something and I don’t do it. The reality is that God might be watching my every move, but more than that I myself am watching my every move like a hawk. I watch myself and I am grading myself constantly.
Am I doing what I say? Staying consistent? Following my routines? Getting shit done?
I watch myself and I rate myself every day. “Today was a 10 out of 10, Shikha, good job. Aw, today wasn’t such a good day, you get 5 out of 10, try harder.”
Why do I watch myself? Because the more I do what I say, the more I trust my words. And interestingly enough, the more I trust myself, the more others around me inadvertently trust my words. I have had people tell me that they trust my words, because I haven’t faltered yet.
Funnily enough, if you had met me a few years ago, you wouldn’t have trusted a word I said. It’s amazing how far one can come, if we just keep on trying, and working at it.
In Ten Years, You Can Either Play An Instrument Or Not
There’s this brilliant story about a man who goes to ask a music teacher how long it would take him to learn how to play the piano. “About ten years,” the teacher replied. “Ten years! That’s a long time. I’ll be 40 by then. It’s too much time.” And the teacher replied, “You are going to be 40 in ten years without trying. You could either be a 40 year old who knows how to play the piano or not.”
The gist of the story is that time will pass by anyways. Before we know it, we are 40 or 60 or 80 or dead.
The time is going to be pass by us, and we are going to look back at it either with regret or joy. Regret if we started a billion things and never finished any. Joy if we stuck with a few minor things over decades, and became masters at it.
We can’t do it all, despite what our culture tells us. We cannot be superwoman or superman. Focus is the key thing that is lacking in our culture right now. The people who can master focus are the ones who succeed. No one else.
As time goes on and AI takes over more of our jobs, the people who are going to succeed will be the ones who can focus and make things happen over the long haul. We have enough snoozers. We don’t need more of those.