It is hard to say no.
I don’t like hurting anyone’s feelings or missing out on fun or money, so again, it is hard to say no.
Money and opportunity are seductive and exciting.
As I look over my life, I romanticize these money-making, difference-making, or creative outlets. I even collapse them into my identity and self-worth, being even more blinded to what matters most.
Saying yes too often has created complexity and at times, inevitably added too much to my plate.
Part of the reason business and money overtake our lives is because of the very sneaky and destructive narrative of sacrifice being required for success.
That is the conundrum.
Sacrifice means I am giving up something I want now for a promise sometime in the future, robbing my ability to be present and eliminating joy in the process.
Sacrifice says to work so hard, and take on so much, that all other matters take a back seat and are in jeopardy of being lost. And often these matters are what really matter most.
For how long and to what end?
What about enjoying life along the way?
What about setting parameters that allow us a bit of fun and family time (even if it means we have less money, but we create more meaningful memories)?
We can end up with less stress, more fulfillment, more energy, and less lust and fantasy for getting to one day, someday and instead enjoy the process along the way. That is, if we can conquer scarcity and avoid sacrifice.
When we suffer the future, grinding and hustling to get to some faraway point, hoping for that windfall or win someday, we miss out on life.
I have been caught in this trap, and even rewarded for it.
#19 on the Utah 100 growth list.
SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
This fueled my desire for more.
But this is built in the construct and container of the Consumer Condition. A place of lack, suffering, and never enough. A place of more is better. The place of eventually.
The Consumer Condition is a disease of the mind, it is the destructive container of scarcity.
The Consumer Condition leads us to believe misinformation like;
– we have to get it while the getting is good
– our value is in our net worth, our homes, our cars, and our clothes
This is the hamster wheel and treadmill of life built from the belief of the zero-sum, win-lose, take-what-you-can game. Rushing and running, but then having to deal with the issues it causes with those we love. Those issues that come up with loved ones when they feel disconnected or numb because of the coping mechanisms required from feelings of abandonment or lack of love from you. These are constant companions that accompany the Consumer Condition. Hence our world state of pain and disassociation, addiction and disease.
The Consumer Condition has us believe we are working for those we love, but without investing time in them.
The Consumer Condition uses more and sacrifice as its minions, having us believe what we are doing is in our best interest and will reward us for our hard work with revenue, attention, awards, and accolades.
Yet where is the love?
Where is the leisure?
What about being present today?
Sacrifice and more lead us to say yes for the fear that we will miss out or the greed that comes with an identity of being successful.
A very external process of validation that never quite satisfies. Sure, buying an amazing vehicle feels good for a while, but it wears off and on to the next toy or trophy.
Sacrifice is an illusion cloaked with justifications that are rarely true.
I’ll repeat and add to some of those justifications:
- This is only for a short time, I have to work hard to get this off the ground, and then we will have more time.
- I am doing this for you, for our lifestyle. (yet the people you love don’t get you in that lifestyle).
- Sacrifice is required to succeed, this is the only way.
Chasing money overtakes our lifestyle today.
We lie to ourselves and say it is temporary, but then the next distraction disguised as an opportunity comes along.
A yes to this may mean a no to the ones you love. Or harm your ability to fully be engaged in a business or project that could fully take off without being fragmented.
So the questions to ask are:
- What is most important to you?
- What is your win?
- How do you know you are winning?
- What is the cost of a yes?
The cost of a yes, a question I don’t know if I have ever asked before.
We usually understand the benefits or the payoff, but what about the cost?
What energy will you have to give this project or opportunity?
Is this aligned with your Soul Purpose? (call out box for Soul Purpose)
Is this part of your vision and how you truly want to live?
That is a big assumption, having a vision.
One of the rarest commodities on earth, yet most precious. It is easier to get busy working than it is to take time to think, take time alone, or sit in the void where you can remember what you were born to do.
I understand the world is noisy and distracting making it even more difficult to engage fully in who you are.
I’ve been there. Not just once or twice, but in different circumstances and times where I was overcommitted, overextended, and exhausted, leaving my wife feeling alone.
This is painful, but value can be illuminated with pain. Pain can actually be a gift, not one I enjoy in the moment, but one I can appreciate when looking back.
Part of being alive and on this earth is being in pain.
I did a cold plunge today – pain!
Experience and pain will be two of our harshest, yet most effective teachers.
The key is to learn early.
Prolonging the pain is a byproduct of sacrifice. Sacrificing our well-being to avoid conflict. Sacrificing because we don’t want to have a conversation that could be difficult or hurt someone’s feelings.
When we worry about others more than ourselves, we limit our prosperity, push away abundance, we sacrifice.
Sacrifice, that time in toil and stress just to be liked. Just to appear to be successful.
To live out the world’s agenda or definition of sacrifice at the expense of our quality of life.
You won’t get a trophy for time with your family and probably not for taking care of your health, yet the Consumer Condition is so powerful and seductive that people still chase net worth at the expense of quality of life.
As I look around my office, I don’t have any trophies displayed. But I do have pictures my kids have drawn, gifts they have made for me, and lots of photographs of great memories framed.
There is nothing wrong with displaying trophies, but what else can be a great compliment to a trophy?
Displaying the memories of those you love, the things that remind you of your creativity, and displaying the people you love.
How can you intentionally create more of those memories that matter?
It begins by playing a different game.
The game where you choose the rules, you determine what matters.
So, what game are you playing?
Did you choose the game, or did the game choose you?
Are you doing it for yourself or to prove something to someone else?
Is it a game created by society or by your intuition – your inner voice, your Soul Purpose?
It comes down to what is most rewarding and fulfilling to you.
Asking yourself what creates a win for you today.
Is there something that you want to be engaged in for as long as you can look forward into the future?
I want to go on trips with my family, do date nights, guys nights, retreats at my cabin, immersions with a select few clients, write, walk, workout, and play. That means saying no if something would crowd these items out. It means having a calendar that reflects the life I want to live and the person I want to be.
The key is, you can have it all, as long as you don’t try to do it all.
Having it all means you feel fulfilled, you do work that matters to you, you enjoy your life and the process along the way. You can have health, a social life, live your purpose, and be economically independent.
You don’t have to sacrifice.
In abundance, you get both.
I didn’t always believe I could have it all.
For all of my twenties, I thought that I would do what no one else was willing to do, in order to live a life like few can in the future. A great mantra for sacrifice and it left so little room for my family.
Now I get it, there are plenty of circumstances that require attention. When there is debt or falling behind on bills, or not providing enough to cover the basics, more effort, and extra time may be required to find the proper career and dig out of the hole. But don’t let that become the way of life and be at the expense of recreation, relationships, and relaxation.
Forget about one day someday, it is a huge culprit of sacrifice.
Retirement: born from a different time.
The industrial age, when people literally worked themselves to death.
Instead, continually refine your life and schedule, retire from work you hate.
This happens through intention and delegation.
But don’t retire from the value you create.
When we take on too much, retirement seems like an amazing solution.
When we are exhausted from work, a permanent break sounds appealing.
When I have taken on too much, I didn’t have the mental power or capacity left over for anything.
When I launched The Financial FastTrack program in December of 2006 there was a high demand that had been built up from my radio show and Curriculum for Wealth events I was hosting monthly.
I began to think about other ways to add value and shortly after started to create the Soul Purpose FastTrack. This included adding a company, a partnership, hiring employees, and doing retreats to outline the program. What it really required was time that could have been invested in memories with my family.
The initial phase was exciting and fun. But then came the work of building processes, training coaches, and finalizing software, workbooks, videos, illustrations, and the list goes on. With limited bandwidth, this program wasn’t nearly as successful as the Financial FastTrack.
You think I would have learned. It took some time.
Soon after launching Soul Purpose FastTrack coaching and program, I chose to start doing more Real Estate.
I had zero passion for this.
Every loan that needed attention, tenant that had an issue, property that required maintenance, or deal that needed to be decided on, came at the expense of the Financial FastTrack, the Soul Purpose FastTrack, then eventually my health, date night, and time with my son.
By the time I would make it home at night, I was asleep shortly after. Sometimes on the floor playing with my son, or on the couch because I didn’t make it to my bedroom, or in my son’s room as I fell asleep trying to tuck him in.
When my wife wanted time, attention, or to address something, I was at work or asleep.
Too much work, not enough life.
This started to create tension in our relationship.
It was the only way Carrie could really get my attention.
Anytime she wanted to talk, I always said it wasn’t a good time. Eventually, she became pretty numb to our relationship and we were at a low point.
I was pretty numb.
There was no energy left to have deep conversations with my wife or be present with my kids.
My sister also has pictures of me falling asleep on the couch at every family function, she created a video teasing me.
Not enough energy for the rewards or time with our loved ones.
It took over a year, and a lot of effort, for my wife and me to get back to a decent place.
There were daily conversations, fights, and sleepless nights.
This is the cost of ignoring what matters. This is the cost of too many yeses.
Thankfully Carrie was willing to do the work with me.
To forgive my absence and mediocrity in our marriage.
But for many people, they lose all that is gained financially to one of the most expensive things possible- DIVORCE.
A devastating cost of a yes to opportunity and no to family.
So what is the solution?
Know your Soul Purpose. Establish your rules. Outline your objectives.
Know your projects and bandwidth, saying no or not now to everything else.
These are the ingredients required to create simplicity in your life.
Creating simplicity is one of the hardest things to do.
With all of the allure of the Consumer Condition, busyness, complexity and scaling take over.
The Consumer Condition is so subtle because it is baked into our daily lives.
Ads are everywhere: social media posts, banners, and articles. There is product placement in TV series and movies, it is nearly everywhere we look.
Plus, with a phone, we carry all of this around in the palm of our hand.
A device designed for dopamine.
A device to remind us of all we want and didn’t even know existed.
To fulfill an unlimited want with something that is never powerful enough to satiate our desire.
Stuff and things.
We give up being present and sacrificing our precious moments for earning, doing, and more..
The stuff and things we use as a way to display power, wealth, and significance.
As soon as we satisfy one, another grows.
Something new comes along.
Someone else has what we want and the trap continues.
The key is, can we break free from sacrifice and more?
Can we opt out of the Consumer Condition?
I believe our experience here on earth is filled with lessons, and those lessons continue throughout our lifetime as a reminder for when we forget.
The lessons we don’t learn or think we learned, but are rooted in scarcity, lead to limitation and lasting pain. This isn’t something money can solve or we can buy our way out of. It is to be earned and learned.
But what if we learned the wrong lessons?
What if fear of loss or fear of missing out or the Consumer Condition is running the show?
So, what is the solution?
What is my secret today?
How can you protect what is most sacred and invest time with your family, having deeper conversations and yet be very engaged in work?
The simple answer: I create the space and keep it sacred.
I don’t let time ruin my life.
Meaning, no longer am I in a rush with too strict or short deadlines.
I add dates, workouts, and walks with my wife to the calendar.
I don’t skip or move those activities or meetings.
If I am too tired for my health or my family, it means I am taking on too much. That is my sign to simplify.
Time to eliminate a project.
What will I let go of in order to enjoy life today?
Taking on too much was a lesson in what I really wanted in life, by knowing what I didn’t want. At first it felt like wasted time.
I was upset with myself.
But then I re-contextualized it.
These experiences showed me what was important and the impact of my choices, through experience I learned what not to do, what didn’t belong.
It gave me the insight and importance of defining my game instead of the world trapping me in the Consumer Condition.
I asked new questions, better questions, that led to a better life.
What is a process I could enjoy along the way?
How could I create a life I don’t want to retire from or get tired with?
Was it about business success or family success?
Is it an either/or?
Of course not.
There is room for both, if you know your win.
If you define the game.
If you learn to say yes to quality of life instead of being trapped in the busyness of opportunity.
Opportunity first is the mantra of the Consumer Condition.
Opportunity is great if you create space in all aspects of life.
Review the simple marker of energy.
How do you feel?
Where do you feel free and where do you feel constrained?
Account for time to yourself on a daily basis and time that is reserved for the sake of fun, family, or fitness.
This is the key.
Or you can learn the hard way by doing too much.
Through experience, we can learn what not to do, and what to say no to, and ultimately create the game we want to play, with our rules, with our parameters, with our vision.
I saw firsthand the cost of those yeses.
It takes a mindset of abundance to say no.
To leave space for yourself, your hobbies, your family, and simply having fun.
Opportunity comes with money, but for me, money was misleading.
Money is a terrible solo artist on the path to happiness.
It is a great companion though.
It is a companion to value creation.
Money as a companion is one marker of determining if something is worth doing or not, but not strong enough to carry our lives alone.
In order to know what to do or not do, it requires the right questions, time to ourselves, and a vision that is clear enough that anything not aligned is easier to say no to.
What do I really want?
When we are laughing we are connected, not disappointed in the past or worried about the future, just present. This year I have chosen to do less in business without having less of an impact.
That’s right, do less, but do not lower the impact.
It is about being selective, focused, and always finding time for fun.
It is about starting my day with meditation, writing, and listening to talks from my spiritual mentors.
It is about ending my day in time to be with my family, do date night.
In 2022 there were more opportunities coming my way than I could handle. This created unrest and was crowding out my joy. I felt no ability to have leisure, take a walk with my wife, do guys night with my sons, or focus on quality of life…..so I chose to say no. Politely.
I used the phrase, I have a few Soul Purpose projects that I am devoting my time to right now, if that changes I’ll let you know.
Thanks for thinking of me. My schedule is full, but it means so much that you thought of me.
What I am really saying is, I am committed to my purpose, my family, my health, and my quality of life. And if it isn’t a yes to them all, it is a no. I’ll potentially lose out on making more money in the short run. But i’ll gain what matters most in my life. I’ll lower stress and focus on the things that make me feel like an artist: writing, performing, practicing, recording, or connecting.
Some of the best memories of my life will never get me recognition or money, but I get to relive and enjoy the memory.
Family parties with the Eaquinto family, where we ate too much and laughed even more.
Family talent shows at my Grandpa and Grandma Gunderson’s house, where my cousins put on skits and I would tell jokes.
Or, our Christmas Roast where everyone draws a name and then gets to make fun of that person or our new year’s traditions of dancing and karaoke, now at our cabin each year.
Saying no isn’t always easy, but too many yeses lead to breakdown and limit joy and fun.
Looking over my life, it was the times I took on too much that crowded out my favorite things in life.
So, say yes to your quality of life. Sure, handle your business, do what it takes to take care of yourself and provide, but always leave time to enjoy the best life has to offer.
Often doing less can help you to accomplish more.