The following is a guest post by Shawn Blanc, creator of The Focus Course and the host of the Creative Focus Online Summit. Shawn is a writer, small-business owner, productivity coach, and creative entrepreneur. For more than a decade, Shawn has been teaching and learning about creativity, diligence, and focus.
Every now and then an idea hits you like a ton of bricks.
You’re reading something, or listening to something, or driving to work and a couple of dots connect in your head. Kapow!
As I’m writing this, I have one particular idea in mind that I want to share. Something that connected for me several years ago and has had a profound effect on me ever since.
It’s the idea of living like nobody else.
This metric of living differently goes far beyond just how you spend your money. It’s also an excellent metric for how to spend your time, energy, and attention.
My friend Aaron Mahnke says to do as much as you can with as little as you can for as long as you can.
Lifestyle creep and workflow creep put a ceiling on our potential. They rob us of our much-needed resources which include time, money, and energy.
This is the idea I wanted to share with you today: living like nobody else. To do this, you must FIGHT what is considered normal.
Did you know…?
- The average American spends 5 hours or more watching television and 2 hours on social media every day.
- The average retiree at age 65 has only enough in savings to pay for less than 2 years worth of living expenses.
- One of the most common regrets of the dying is that they worked too hard and neglected their relationships, values, and even their own happiness.
- And who knows how many men and women have a dream to start a business, write a novel, paint a painting, or build something meaningful, but never try.
Unless we win the lottery, it’s a logical impossibility that we can waste our money and also end up wealthy. The same is true for our time and attention.
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t surrounded by focused and successful individuals who can set an example for us. No one reminds us to keep on keeping on. We have few examples of intentional and considered living. However, we probably have plenty of examples of how to watch TV, check Facebook, and live outside of our financial means.
What if you lived like nobody else?
- Don’t spend hours each day watching television or scrolling through social networks.
- Don’t let your work life dominate over family time, personal values, or happiness.
- Don’t ignore the importance of investing in the long-run and planning for the future.
- Live as far below your means as is reasonable, and don’t derive your happiness or self-worth by the fanciness of the things you own.
- Don’t let laziness or busywork keep you from building something meaningful.
- Don’t assume you need a better tool in order to do better work.
It’s funny. Simply doing the opposite of what most people do can actually open up many opportunities for you to do meaningful work.
Change is hard. We fear it.
We get overwhelmed by all the areas we want to change. We get paralyzed by the options for how we could change. Or we’ve been there and done that, and since it didn’t work out that one time we’ve thrown in the towel for good.
But here’s the truth: You can change.
I realize that this all sounds so serious. Like we’re still little kids who don’t know how to behave. Hey, you! Watch less TV. Turn off Facebook. Do your homework.
Yes. It is serious. But that’s because it matters. It’s also awesome and fun. Getting ahold of your life is liberating (to say the least).
Of course, the choice is yours to make.
Ask yourself if you would prefer to be up-to-date on all the latest TV shows or if you want to create something every day?
Do you want to stay in the loop with the lives of your Facebook friends, or do you want to help your kids build a fort and do their homework?
Do you want to squeeze in one more thing at the office, or do you want to go on a date with your spouse?
Now, I realize all these options aren’t continually at odds with one another — they’re not mutually exclusive. And it’s not that TV, Facebook, and late nights at the office are always “bad” all of the time.
Life is a messy, zig-and-zag balancing act.
I’m being dramatic to make a point. Because I know that in my own life, and in the lives of my close friends and family, if we aren’t careful and intentional, then over time the natural trajectory of life begins to move downward.
Focus, diligence, relationships, wealth, art — anything at all that is worth pursuing — is a moving target.