I have always been reasonably organised. I would write ‘to do’ lists from an early age. As a young adult, I was the organiser and leader of an 8-member band which became very busy. We even went fulltime for a year. I planned tours and made bookings and organised all aspects of rehearsals, equipment, and travel.
When I took on the role as CEO of a growing community organisation, I was always organised and well planned in my work. However, as the organisation kept growing, I could no longer fit everything in my life into the time available. For the first time in my life I struggled to make everything work.
I realised something. I was naturally good at organising whatever I was focused on, e.g. my work. But I was very poor at integrating work with all that was important in my world.
As my work responsibilities grew, I learned new ways of working so I could always stay on top of things. By the time I headed home after 10-hour days, I was usually exhausted. My wife would want to talk about doing things together to make life work for our family. I would nod along but did not apply much thought or energy to those discussions. I was spent. In my head, I had done the most important work, and I was hoping that the rest of life would just work itself out.
I have learned a lot since those days.
13 years ago, I was so burned out I made some very poor decisions and basically sabotaged my career, my marriage, and my family. I was shattered. But also, quite relieved that I no longer had to work so hard at making everyone else happy.
I spent a year seeking to understand myself with a psychologist and then embarked on a personal growth journey. I was working in jobs where I could walk out the door and leave work at work. I did personal development courses at night. I started my own coaching business during that time and since 2010 that has become my work focus.
A ‘whole of life’ approach
If you are passionate about your work, it can be a double-edged sword. Your work is a source of great fulfilment. It also has the capacity to expand and overwhelm everything else in your life. I’ve learned that most of the things that undermine business success come from neglected areas of our personal life.
So, a ‘whole of life’ approach is essential to creating a fulfilling lifestyle.
I realised my true philosophy is: ‘I work to live; I do not live to work.’ To make this philosophy real, I had to find a way to deal with my tendency to allow my work to take over my life. A big part of the answer was to embrace a planning process that enabled me to create business plans in the context of life plans.
For example, I needed to schedule regular time to pursue activities that allowed me to replenish my emotional and mental energy. My schedule needed to include regular time to exercise, because I realised that exercise was very important to me. Without it, I was rarely at my best. I realised my work and life were always better when I allowed some margins in my day. Margins give me time to process events and reflect on conversations. This process helped me become a better leader and a less reactive person. My stress levels are so much lower.
A whole new life
My new wife, Jo, and I have worked together to create a lifestyle that works for us. We both own and run businesses. We are both high achievers who are passionate about our work. We’ve both written books and through the power of video calls we work with clients across Australia and round the world.
These days I am highly productive and earning a good income. I work hard but am not too busy for all the people and things that are important in my life. I am more focused than ever. It requires discipline to make everything work. But the benefits are amazing.
We have learned that we need to make time regularly to totally disengage from work. This involves a day off each week, a week off each quarter and a longer break (3 weeks) each year. To be tied to work by emails on my smart phone negated much of the benefit of any break.
You can learn our 90-day planning process
I credit our 90-day planning process for the lifestyle we now enjoy. It enables me to stay focused. This focus helps me save time (probably a day per week) and to make more money (I estimate at least 20% extra profit each month). I always have energy for when I need it because we have scheduled in regular times to replenish. I get to see my grandkids regularly and to play sports and keep fit.
There are two ways to access our 90-day planning workshop
- Online video course with workbook (To be released very soon)
- Attend my next Planning Workshop on Sept 24 online and create your 90-day plan in 3 hours.