The All Or Nothing Trap
Every author knows this feeling. It usually starts with an innocent post on Facebook or some interesting email in your inbox. A new tactic. A new angle.
Something that makes the little panic switch in the back of your brain flick on because, "Oh my God. I should be doing that. I need to try this now."
And before you know it, you're virtually running around wailing with your arms wiggling over your head because ALL THE THINGS NEED TO BE DONE YESTERDAY!
Whoa there, buddy. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Uh-huh. *nods* There you go. Welcome back.
The scenario you just related to? It's the All or Nothing Trap. It's the unhelpful feeling that if you aren't trying everything, then why bother trying anything at all. Because, you know, how can you call yourself a REAL author if you haven't given 120% on any given day to every tactic known to man?
I'm going to share something with you. Something I had to remind myself this week when I caught myself sliding into this murky pit.
Take the pressure down. (Yeah. You're totally allowed to channel John Farnham and sing along - I do 😝)
In all seriousness, though, you're allowed to ease off the gas a bit. As long as you're moving forward, that's all that matters. Who cares how fast you are? Hey, when you go slow you get a chance to enjoy the scenery. Am I right?
With all the overnight entrepreneurial sensations on social media these days preaching "hustle" and "no days off" it's easy to get caught up in thinking that you need to be crushing it every single day if you want to reach your goals. But here's the thing - those people understand the value in setting realistic expectations for your time. They understand that in order to thrive, you need to take care of the machine: you. And if you're pushing yourself past breaking point day in and day out under the premise that "I have to sacrifice and suffer if I want to succeed" then, dude ... no. Just no.
Slow the fuck down.
That list of things to do? It'll still be there tomorrow. That new idea? That new strategy? It'll still be there next quarter if you want to incorporate it into your goal setting.
What won't continue to be there if you insist on living your days on the rev limiter is your health. Your stamina. You know - that thing that gets you up and at 'em each day? Yeah. That.
Take your time and steadily work on whatever you can realistically achieve in a day. The kids are home? Cool. It'll be less. You have four hours to yourself? Sweet. Fill them with whatever you know you can achieve in that time frame.
Just don't overdo it. Don't look at your list of "I want to" and try to throw every-damn-thang in that block of time. Pick one. Pick two. Pick whatever you know you can definitely complete, and do that. ONLY that.
I felt the all or nothing pull this week when I saw a post about how somebody had increased their Instagram followers and consequently their revenue through putting links in their stories. Instagram is something I'm slowly working on and I know I need to get onto optimising my stories. So the bug bit. I got the urge to just postpone what I'm doing a day or so and bang out those new icons, set up a strategy. Because it's easy. I know what I need to do, so why am I wasting time sitting on my hands?
I got agitated. I couldn't sit still because I felt like I should be doing something. My mind was on the constant buzz that comes with a new project. All the ideas were rattling around in there asking for an out.
And then I got a sign or two to remind me to wind it down a notch (I'm quite woo-woo when it comes to numerology and signs from the Universe - but that's a convo for another day). I paid attention. I was sliding into the AON trap and obsessing over this new shiny thing to work on.
So I took a step back, assigned the task to next quarter, and refocused.
And then I knuckled down and wrote 17k this week (a little under target because I had a sick dude at home on Friday) as well as formatting a paperback and other small tasks on my list. Without a shadow of a doubt I couldn't have been this productive on my WIP if I had allowed myself the distraction of that new shiny thing that HAD TO BE DONE NOW.
This is how I burned out last year. We were in a sticky situation and I wound myself up tighter than a jack-in-the-box ready to pounce under the idea that I had to speed up my long-term goals and figure out how to get instant results.
I worked all day and all night, barely slept, and forwent my work outs in favour of more work. I ordered my groceries to the door because time out of the house was time I wasn't working on making my results immediate. I had two pen names on the go and a cover design business I was trying to get off the ground - all while basically being a single mum to two kids because my husband was away six days a week, working.
ALL THE THINGS.
Take it from me, dudes. It's not a long-term strategy. Yes, we reach those moments where we have to do a few late nights, or miss the odd social engagement. But make them rare. Set yourself a limit. Once a month, or every second weekend.
Because at the end of the day, what the hell does earning six figures matter if you've lost your friends and family in the process?
Work hard, but pace yourself. Set realistic goals. Focus on one main topic each quarter.
The progress will happen regardless. But I promise, the progress will be a hell of a lot more satisfying if you give each project 100% rather than juggling five at 20% each.
Work hard. Play hard.
But know when you're overdoing it and give yourself permission to chill the fuck out.
PRO TIP: To maintain steady focus, have a notebook or a document that you list your future projects in. Pick one at a time, and then break it down into daily steps. Each night, list out your goal for the next day. This mentally cleanses the clutter and gives you permission to focus squarely on the day ahead without feeling as though everything else is being neglected. It's not. It's simply waiting its turn.
An example of mine goes as follows (I keep my checklist in my notes app on my phone).
-> Write 5k
-> Update ad spreadsheet
-> Create new teaser
Keep the list to ten items max, and list it in order of priority. The idea is that anything on the bottom is the thing you don't mind leaving until the next day.
What are your hacks for when you feel overwhelmed and left behind? What do you do to refocus? Share your tips below. Who knows, it may just be the key to somebody's day.
Next, I'll discuss a bit more about what exactly I'm doing for my next release, Good Girls, on a non-existent budget. It'll be more of a strategy post rather than life hack like I have been sharing.
If there's anything you'd like me to discuss, then drop that below as well. 😘
Until next week,