Someone asked me this the other day. I was taken aback because I didn’t feel like I’m doing that much.
I wondered whether this was a version of imposter syndrome and thought I’d sit down and take stock. The main things I’m doing at the moment:
1. Running a business
2. Sharing a message by writing regularly
3. Coaching one-to-one and groups
4. Teaching an online course
5. Publishing a book
6. Spending time with family and friends
7. Exercising twice a day
8. Meditating, self-reflecting and doing my inner-work every day
9. Looking after my home and basic needs
OK, so I am doing a few things…
I realised that to me it felt like I’m only doing one thing. It’s the one thing that most people I know who seem to get a lot done from the outside tend to focus on.
It reminded me of some of my industrious and prolific clients.
Legends in the making:
When we started working together, Dr V was stuck after going from being a star doctor clinically to working on national health policy in a political environment. After we released a block around “not being able to say no” she homed in on a few key projects and was eventually dubbed the most prolific policy fellow of the kind by one of her seasoned bosses. All while feeling more relaxed.
Similarly, with A who was a banker who took a leap and started training to become an organisational psychology doctor but hit a roadblock. After we worked on letting go of a belief that she needed to prove something, she unexpectedly found herself showing up to research meetings like a boss, producing her first paper as well as launching into developing her own growing coaching practice! And she did it from a sense of power not restlessness.
In both cases and many others, a sense of ease and singleness of purpose is present amid what looks like prolific activity from the outside.
But they’re focusing on one thing: their life theme. It’s usually about helping others.
What “drives” them is that they can help someone else.
Is that something special and restricted to the few who don’t need to worry about mortgages and putting food on the table? No. Most of us come to the realisation, at some point, that the sweetest fulfilment in life is to be able to connect deeply and help others.
Freedom comes from being less obsessed with one’s own problems and creating new ways of being of service based on one’s unique combination of gifts.
It’s a bit like living a vocation (your life theme) and remembering that at all times.
So productivity is not about doing a lot. But about doing one thing with a lot of energy and attention.
This is not the same as being busy. Where you’re doing a lot of different things but with scattered energy and attention.
It’s important to know the difference and notice the impact on your energy and time. One feels like flow. The other like restlessness.
Two skills that have helped me stay true to my life theme and be “productive”:
1. Think straight
Most problems are amenable to a certain amount of rational thinking. Rational and highly logical thinking will help you save time and energy by eliminating extraneous detail, focusing your attention and protecting your cognitive bandwidth.
2. Think wide
Complex problems cannot be solved by rational thinking alone. They require intuition. So once you’ve completed your rational, logical thinking, you have to let go and allow your intuition to guide you. You make a decision and take action. Yes, it will feel scary and you’ll wonder whether it’s really your intuition. But it gets better with practice and you can hire a coach/guide to help you.
What about you?
What’s your life theme?
Are you doing one thing with a lot of energy?
Or are you doing a lot of things with scattered energy? Why?
If you’re not sure, you can always start with this: slow down…It will help you speed up.
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