I had an eye opening conversation with a very good friend of mine recently. He is leading a small group to expand an extremely innovative learning and development solution in the market. The solution is excellent and there are many things they can do to grow the sales of their product. In fact, there is no end to the number of things they can do and therein lies the problem. As a wise person once said, new businesses don’t fail for lack of ideas, they drown from all the ideas they try to pursue.
My friend had returned from an overseas trip and like me, he likes to travel light. In fact we pride ourselves on it. Having to check a bag at the airport means you are taking too much and it is a surefire way to slow yourself down. At least that is our story. We also agreed, even with our small bags, we usually end up bringing some things back we haven’t worn and didn’t need.
So you may be wondering, where am I going with all of this? My friend, who likes to travel light, is trying to do so much in his business, that he is surrounding himself with suitcases. Not one or two but three or four, and he wonders why each day is exhausting and things take longer than expected. We both realized, he needs to leave a bunch of stuff at home. It will be there if he needs it but he doesn’t need to carry it each day. Instead, he can say, ‘No, not now, but there may be a time for it in future’.
Why do we try to carry so much stuff with us each day? I believe we are generally optimistic and excited by the prospect of what we can get done today, this week, this month. The allure of getting things done encourages us to fill our bags and drag them around with us. The optimism soon wears off when things don’t turn out as we hoped, and disappointment creeps in.
There is an alternative and I’ll warn you now, it is not fun at first. Instead of starting with optimism and ending with disappointment, flip this around. Start by unpacking everything and leave most of it at home. Cut back your commitments to the absolute minimum and then cut them back some more. If you are like me, this will suck. But here’s the good news. Without having to carry around those extra suitcases, you will get a lot done, more than you expect. This will feel so good and you can always go back and pick up more stuff later.
Don’t start with optimism, start with disappointment and end on a high note. In the end you will find this so much more fulfilling.
What are you carrying around in your to do list that you haven’t gotten to in days or weeks? Now is the time to take those items off your list, you can add them back later.