Do You Know Someone Who Needs This?

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The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. — Mark Twain

Do you know someone who hasn’t figured out their why? Someone who doesn’t even know what they really want? Someone who is struggling to find a purpose in this world?

I want to help. My Passionate Purpose is to help as many people as I can find their Passionate Purpose so they can live out the extraordinary lives of their dreams.

If you know someone who needs this information and encouragement, please pass on the link to my homepage and the link to my recent appearance on KC Live

If they are interested my book, GO! How to Find and Pursue Your Passionate Purpose, please pass on the link to it on Amazon.

I would love to give them my free, companion eBook— 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. They can download it from that link.

If you are receiving this as an email, just forward it to anyone you think might benefit from it.

All the best.

Greg Knapp

Workin’ Hard Getting Nothing Done

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We all work hard and it seems like there’s always more work to be done. My last two posts were on 7 Steps to Having More Time. (Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2)

I’ve noticed something about myself and I’m wondering if it’s the same for you. When I plan out my day to focus on my most important thing and stick to the plan I get a ton done.

“Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?'”
— Marcus Aurelius

When I just have an idea of what I’m going to do, I don’t get as much done. Yet, I still feel like I worked just as hard. How does that happen?

This morning I realized how it happens for me.

I work from home in the mornings and I had great plans on important things to do. But, first I decided I needed to merge my domain email with my Gmail account — 40 minutes gone. Next, I decided I needed to upload the video of my daughter’s performance with the Starlight Stars. My phone didn’t sync with my Mac, so I had to download a program – 30 minutes gone.

Then I noticed a few hundred photos on my phone that were taking up space so I decided I needed to upload select photos from my phone to my Mac – another 20 minutes gone.

And so it went:

Send YouTube video I created to a contact (and watch some of my old ones) – 30 minutes

Check and reply to FB messages and notifications – 10 minutes

Check my LinkedIn account and reply to messages – 10 minutes

Renew my library books online – 5 minutes

I finally shook myself and realized that although I felt like I was working I had spent almost 2 hours doing absolutely no work on my most important thing. Not good.

I hadn’t planned well, and I wasn’t even sticking to my not so great plan. It wasn’t that the things I was doing were bad, it’s just that they were taking me away from the more productive things I really wanted to get done.

Focus, Grasshopper, focus.

At the end of the day we’re usually tired. If we’ve run around all day chasing our tail, putting out fires and just doing “work” we will experience an empty, dissatisfied, frustrated kind of tired.

If we focus on what’s essential and make great progress on that, we will experience a job well done, life is good, now I’ve earned some relaxation time kind of tired.

Questions for comments: How do you stay focused on your plan?

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

Who Are You Trying to Please? Why? Is It Worth It?

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We all know trying to please everyone is impossible, so why do we feel like failures when some people don’t like what we do? Why do we compromise on what we know would be our best work, in order to try to please a few more people?

It’s time to try something different. Let’s figure out who we care the most about, who shares our values and try to please them. Let’s get loyal, evangelical customers for life instead of aiming for the lowest common denominator who will drop us if the wind blows funny.

My radio show is not the highest ranked show in town. In fact, it’s not in the top 10. The top show on at the same time I am on is classic rock. A “lifestyle” talk show and sports talk shows are also ranked above me. (The good news is I’m ranked above the station that is our direct competitor.)

I could get really down about my ratings and change what I do to try to please the people who are listening to the shows ranked above me. I might be able to do that. But how many loyal listeners would I end up losing? Would I even enjoy my work anymore?

My station and I are going for an intensely loyal audience that wants to hear what I have to say about the things they care deeply about. Growing that audience makes my station profitable and a great place for our advertisers to reach a loyal customer base.

Don’t get me wrong. I want higher ratings and will continue to improve my show to get them. But I want to get them by going after a special kind of audience. I’d rather have a smaller group of raving fans that I don’t have to constantly chase for repeat business, wouldn’t you?

Raving fans are special. They:

  • Feel like they’re part of your family
  • Tell everyone about you
  • Stick with you
  • Buy from you even when you’re not having a sale
  • Never go anywhere else

I’ve found that developing raving fans makes it easier to increase your profits than trying to be all things to all people. It also comes with some extra bonuses. You get to love what you do and that leads to doing your best work. The hope is that you become so good at your work that to your raving fans, and to yourself, your work becomes art.

Questions for comments: How do you decide whom to please? How has narrowing your focus helped you?

 

Goofing Off Is Good For You And Your Business

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In a world of hyperfocus and constant busyness, how can goofing off be good for you? That’s just being lazy. I eat people who goof off for breakfast!

Hang on. This isn’t about goofing off all the time and just expecting great things to happen. It’s about giving your brain a break and allowing your subconscious mind and creativity to flourish.

 

We’ve all had it happen to us. Emma Seppala of Stanford just wrote a great article on how scientific research is proving it.

I’m lucky enough to know Dr. Harold Finch. He played a key role as a project director for the Apollo spacecraft program.

He was trying to figure out how to keep the astronauts safe from the dangers of the heat and cold extremes in space. Harold concentrated and focused on the problem. He came up with all kinds of ideas and none of them worked.

One day while he was taking a break and going to eat some great Kansas City barbecue – goofing off – he came up with the solution. The idea just popped into his head. It was brilliant in it’s simplicity and it’s still used in space today.

As Harold was waiting on his lunch he was watching a chicken being cooked on a rotisserie. Hey, didn’t that keep the chicken from being burned on one side and uncooked on the other? Couldn’t we rotate the spacecraft so it would create an even temperature on all sides? Wouldn’t that protect the ship and the astronauts? The Barbecue Roll was born.

Goofing off works!

Here are some ideas on how to goof off with great results.

  • Spend some time focusing on your goal, problem, or project to prime your conscious and subconscious minds.
  • Schedule in 10-15 minute breaks every hour or so to purposefully unfocus.
  • Perform some stretching exercises
  • Do a mindless task and let your mind drift. I work mostly at home so I love to do the dishes, shave, or shower. It’s stuff I have to do anyway and it gives me time to just think in silence.
  • Take a walk. New research shows this really ramps up your creativity.
  • Drive in total silence on the way to and from work and just daydream.
  • Work at creating new experiences in your daily life to give you new ways to look at the same things. Take a different road to work. Eat at a new restaurant. Work with a different team. Visit a new place.

You never know when goofing off might give you a Barbeque Roll moment.

How to Start Each Day Grateful and Feeling Great

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Get ready for an amazing insight coming at you. People with a good, positive, optimistic attitude tend to enjoy their day more and accomplish more than people with a negative, depressing, pessimistic attitude. See, I told you—deep insight. You’re welcome.

We know this from research and from our own experience. But how do we create and maintain the positive mindset we need to live a happier, healthier, life and reach all our goals?

One way is to start every morning by thinking about all the great things in your life. For most of us it’s pretty easy coming up with a list of all the great things in our lives.

I have a routine I go through every day when I wake up that gets me up on the right side of the bed. I’m a Christian, so for me this ties into my religion. But you can use the same type of technique whether you’re religious or not. Instead of a thankful prayer list, simply make it your gratitude list.

As I slowly enter the land of the living, I start to pray. I start thanking God for all my blessings. I thank him for my wife, my children, my extended family, and my friends. I thank him for the fact that I have more than enough to provide my family with food, clothing, and shelter. I praise God for the fact that I was born in the United States of America and I have so many opportunities to create a life of abundance for myself and enough to help others as well. I give thanks for having jobs that I love, and I’m grateful for my excellent health.

As I’m saying my prayers, I’m creating beautiful images in my head of everything I’m praying about. As I do this, I can feel my body and spirit coming more and more alive. Feelings of peace and happiness and ambition well up within me and I begin to feel excited about getting out of bed and starting the day. I spend about thee minutes doing this. (I know this sounds kind of touchy-feely, but if you try it for a few days I think you will be amazed at the results you get.)

After I’m done giving thanks, I spend the next three to five minutes being grateful for my future life with all my major goals achieved. I put everything in the present tense as if I’m already living the life I want. We are getting our conscious and subconscious minds focused on our goals, and the best way to do that is to put everything we want in the present tense.

I visualize pursuing my Passionate Purpose at the ultimate level. I imagine achieving my goals in every aspect of my life. If you really want to get excited about your future, describe it in great detail and imagine how it will look, feel, sound, smell, and taste. Get your emotions into it. Play the movie of your extraordinary life in your head. It’s better than any blockbuster at the multiplex.

The more real you make this, the more excited you will become to take on the day, and the more your subconscious mind will help you pursue your goals.

Give it a try and let me know how much joy it gives you!

Lose Yourself in the Game

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You’ve experienced it before, haven’t you? When you are pursuing your passion and everything else disappears? You’re so focused and in the flow that you lose track of time? All the other problems you worry about fade away. You’re almost not even thinking consciously about anything, you’re just doing. Everything that you’ve worked so hard on is all coming together and now it’s time to play.

It’s a great feeling.

With basketball season starting up I remembered the 2014 championship between Kentucky and Connecticut. Kentucky Coach John Calipari was interviewed during half time and he had some great advice for his team.

He was asked why a couple of his players were struggling. He said they were young and nervous.

“…See, when you get that anxiety it’s hard to be aggressive and so I just told them, ‘We’re going to win this thing – we’re down two buckets – if you play with energy and lose yourself in the game.'”

But, Greg, Kentucky lost the championship game.

Yes, thanks for reminding me and ruining my point.

But, the win isn’t the point. The point is to pursue your passion with everything you have and enjoy the ride. UK wasn’t expected to even be in the championship game. They kept pursuing their passion, losing themselves in the game and good things kept happening.

When’s the last time you lost yourself in the game? When’s the last time you had that joyful feeling of being in the zone? When’s the last time you followed your passion with abandon?

Lose yourself in the game.

Who Else Wants to Get More Done in Less Time?

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You are working harder than ever. From the second the alarm clock goes off until your head hits the pillow at night you are working. It’s slowly killing you and you’re starting to notice that all that work isn’t doing as much as you thought it would.

It’s time to spend less time working to do more.

Ok, get the guys in the white coats. Greg’s really lost it this time.

Nope, never been more sane. I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to put out all the fires and be all things to all people, I let other people determine my priorities. You know what happens then? My most important tasks don’t get done.

When I decide my top three priorities and take them one at a time until they’re done, I get more important things done. That helps everyone more.

Here’s how you do it, depending on if you’re self-employed or you’re an employee.

Self-employed:

1) Ask yourself: What is the most important thing that if you got it done today would make the biggest difference to your business?

2) Do that until it’s done. I know sometimes “things come up.” But you need to schedule time for your most important activities or something will always “come up.” At the minimum, work on this task for one hour. Then take a break for emails, phone calls, fires, etc. Then repeat the process.

3) Repeat steps one and two for your three priorities until you’re done for the day.

4) If time remains, do the next thing on your list.

5) Celebrate a great day! Go for a walk with your spouse. Eat some boiled peanuts and watch a martial arts movie. (Wait, that’s just what I like to do. Sorry.)

If you’re an employee:

1) Meet with your boss and ask him/her and work out what the companies goals are for you – short and long term. What does he expect from you? What are the top three most important things he expects you to get done?

You might think you know this already. Hey, you might. But, you also might be surprised just how different your ideas of what is important are from what your boss thinks.

2) Focus 80% of your time on those top three things your boss wants done. Do this in one-hour increments. Tell everyone, no interruptions during that time. Set a timer. You will be shocked what this type of focus will do.

3) As you show your boss how much important work you’re getting done, see if he will delegate some of your less important work to someone else. (You will be surprised how often the answer will be yes.)

4) Use the other 20% of your time to do the less important but necessary tasks of your job.

5) Win the office fantasy football pool. Whoo hoo! (Whoops, sorry, that’s my stuff again.)

Let me know how this works!

Working Too Many Hours Hurts Everyone

We tend to think that working long hours shows we have a strong work ethic. It’s proof we’re not lazy and it will lead to more success.

Some of us even get in competition with our buddies on how many hours we put in.

But research shows that too much work is actually counterproductive. It hurts your health and your productivity.

A new study, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed a correlation with work hours and risk of stroke.

Compared to the “normal” 40-hour workweek, working from 41-48 hours increased your risk of stroke by 10%. If you worked up to 54 hours a week the risk jumped to 27%. The last group working over 55 hours a week saw risk of stroke increase by 33%.

The reason for this isn’t proven yet. The researches think it could be due to increased stress, longer periods sitting at your desk, or just the fact that you have less time to eat right, exercise and take care of yourself properly.

Meanwhile, a Stanford study shows that after you reach 50 hours a week your productivity takes a big hit. Push it past 56 hours and your work starts to downhill fast. When you reach 70 hours a week, you produce nothing worthwhile with all that extra time.

That study focused on munitions workers so it’s not exactly the same for most of us who do office work. However, many other studies show the diminishing returns from overwork and not enough sleep.

You can get away with it in short bursts for big projects, but if it becomes the norm, your quality of work – and your health – will suffer greatly.

Depending on the survey, around half of American workers now say they put in more than 50 hours a week.

It’s time to start asking ourselves what we – and our employers – get for that?

Is there a better way to work less, get more done and achieve more balance in our lives?

Yes!

I’m going to give some ideas on that in my next post.

Focus, Grasshopper, Focus

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Ever feel like you’re working really hard and still not getting everything done?

Uh, yeah, Greg, like everyday. Was that a trick question?

A friend has been trying a new focus technique that has helped some, but I think we can do better:

Greg,

I have been using the Pomodoro Technique. Focusing on one thing for 22 minutes, then walking around or resting for 8 minutes, and then repeating…

I try to do that to get 22 min of uninterrupted time. If I try longer than that, something breaks it up.

Also, I can usually get 4 of those reps in a day.

What do you think?

Personally, I need more than 22 minutes to really focus and get into my flow. I’ve seen research that says it takes most people 5-10 minutes to get back in a deep thinking frame of mind each time they are interrupted.

The average American worker is interrupted 50 times a day! No wonder we feel like we never get anything done.

Other research says most of us can focus for 40-50 minutes at a time.

I turn all notifications for phone, email, text, twitter, etc. off and do 45 minutes or so with zero interruptions. Then I’ll take a break for a few minutes, do another hour and then work out. Then I’ll check all messages, turn everything off and get another hour in.

I don’t do that every day, but when I do I get a ton done and feel awesome. If you are worried you will miss something really important you can leave your phone ringer on, but nothing else.

It helps to tell others what you’re doing. I have it in my email signature “In order to be as efficient as possible, I only check my email at 9:30am and 6pm. If there is an emergency, you may call me.” (People who would need my number in an emergency already have it.)

I got the time block out technique from Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book, The ONE Thing. Their idea is to block out four hours each day to concentrate on your ONE Thing. Let everyone know what you’re doing and why. (Start with one hour and build from there.)

Be protective of that time.

In an interview with Forbes, Keller put it this way:

“Think of it like going to the movies. You’re there for ONE Thing—to see the film. Because you’re really clear about that, you turn off your cell phone, you grab snacks in case you get hungry, and you probably even make a pit stop before you go in. All this so you can have an uninterrupted experience.

“When you time block your most important work and treat it like going to the movies—you make a stand around avoiding distractions—amazing things happen. When you start thinking of your days this way, the burden of always having to be ‘on’ goes away and you end up accomplishing more.”

You will have to get creative on how you block out that time. Make sure everyone who needs to know understands why you are doing this. Your boss and your colleagues will be very happy when they start to see the increased creativity and productivity in your work. If you are the boss, or you’re self-employed, you are going to be shocked at how much more of the important stuff you get done when you start focusing four hours a day on the ONE Thing.

Action Steps: 1) Explain to others how and when you are focusing without distractions. 2) Get a timer. 3) Set it for 50 minutes. 4) Focus and Go! 5) Take a break, talk with friends, check messages. 6) Repeat.

Questions for comments: Have you tried this? Does it work for you? What do you do to stay focused?