“No matter what kind of stuff you tell the world, or tell yourself, your actions reveal your real values. Your actions show you what you actually want.” ~Derek Sivers
I need to be a productivity rockstar if I stand a chance of accomplishing everything important to me.
There’s a book I want to write, a course I want to create, and a chance to work with an award-winning author that has given me endless projects I want to pursue.
These are exciting, but they’re creating a ton of anxiety in my life.
Because they’re at odds with being the kind of dad I want to be.
Time is your most valuable resource as an entrepreneur.
Time is also your most valuable resource as a present, attentive, and loving parent.
When I look at the progress I’m making on my work projects, I can’t help but feel like a failure at the end of the week.
It feels like I’m slacking.
It feels like I’m being lazy.
I’ve worked my ass off to get to this point, and now I’m letting it slip through my fingers.
But what’s most important to me?
My daughter, Willow.
It’s a harsh realization to wrestle with because I find my work meaningful. My work gives me purpose. I don’t have some bullshit job I don’t care about anymore. I wake up feeling like I have something to offer the world. That feels light years away from the guy who didn’t care if he lived or died in his twenties.
I’m not failing to get things done because I’m lazy. I say this, but holy hell, is it ever hard for me to internalize. I feel like a failure for not making progress on opportunities I would have killed for a few years ago.
Except I’m not experiencing failure, am I?
I’m experiencing what it means to battle with the beast that is priorities.
I might not be crushing it as an entrepreneur, but I’m damn proud of the dad I am.
And even though I feel like I “should” be doing more with my business, it’s not predictive of what I’ll be able to do in the future.
Willow won’t be a kid forever.
Whenever I read a particular Cherokee proverb, it stings with the bite of a rattlesnake because it serves as a reminder of what steals my happiness: “Don’t let yesterday eat up too much of today.” It speaks to where I find myself when I drift back into feeling like I’ll never be productive again.
Whenever I start thinking about what I was able to accomplish in the past and how little it feels like I’ve done since becoming a father, it reminds me that my priorities are different now. But it’s also bringing about a shift in what I think it means to accomplish something with my day.
Every day we go in and out of emotions based on the thoughts consuming us. Focusing on what we can’t do creates hopelessness; when we focus on what we can do, it creates motivation and a sense that the world is full of possibility. This is why our emotions are such a rollercoaster.
It wasn’t until I noticed that I was putting entrepreneurship and being a dad at odds that I recognized I was the one creating the painful emotions I was struggling with.
The better I can learn to manage my fears rather than react to what scares me, the better I can handle these moments when I feel feel like I’m a failure.
My fear is justified. It makes sense that I’m fearful that I won’t be able to support my family if the business disappears.
But is the fear based on fact? Not at all.
All of my clients have expressed that they love working with me. The author I mentioned before said one of the things she admires about me most is my willingness to live true to my values.
It’s okay to be fearful. It’s a natural part of life that keeps us alive. But if we don’t bring awareness to our fearful thought patterns, they will continue to haunt us.
If I don’t admit that I have competing priorities, I can’t possibly expect to experience peace of mind in either area of my life. And calmness is the elixir that makes me a creative, innovative entrepreneur and a present and engaged dad. A far cry from the stress case focused on expectations and outcomes, putting me in a position to base my worth on how busy I am.
We’re all farmers in the business of planting seeds. The more pressure we put on growth, the less we’ll see development because we’ll be too anxious to do anything effectively—and we also won’t enjoy any of it. We’ll be so busy worrying about our wants for the future that it will be impossible to appreciate what we have in the present.
It’s a life-changing approach for work and an even more powerful way to parent when we remove the pressure of outcomes tied to a timeline. The results you experience in either area are far less important than the commitment to fully showing up, aligned with what you value. Then we’re not racing and stressing but creating a sustainable approach that honors all the things that give us a meaningful life.
About Chris Wilson
Chris Wilson is a bipolar creative with a knack for personal development. He geeks out on productivity, minimalism, and enjoying life. He runs Simplify Your Why, where he shares lessons learned on overcoming his battles with depression, type II bipolar, and entrepreneurship. He created a free course for anyone who wants to lead a happier, more productive life of simplicity (with less stress). Click here to access it.