We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding — “tribes.” As Stephen Covey explained, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”
The constant back and forth nature of my mind is a wondrous ballad of epic proportion.
What do I want to do with my life? Am I on the right path? Are you sure that you believe in what you are doing? What if you succeed and hate it?
It is clear that I still lack some confidence in my journey to build something from nothing. To tell my truth; my story; with the world in the hope that it will be a pocket of inspiration in an otherwise dark place.
For me, this feeling of overwhelm and doubt is further perpetuated by the constant barrage of information and “advice” that seems to creep in at ever turn.
On the one hand, we are told never to stop learning and growing. Then, on the other hand, we are told to take digital detoxes and remove ourselves from all information, for a set period.
All this does is just increase the feeling that I have no clue if I am on the right path or not. Even worse, it cultivates a sense of hope that I am always one article, book, or podcast away from the golden nugget of advice that would make everything clear and show me the way.
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Or the most pervasive distraction of keeping busy, which employs us to do things like setting up a social media account, get business cards or work on our resume as a means of feeling productive.
And so I do them. Not because I think they will get me closer to my goal, but in fear that if I do not do EVERYTHING humanly possible, I will lose my chance to be a real success.
This incessant nature of the information age makes me question almost every decision that I make, because somewhere out there is someone preaching the opposite.
To my knowledge, no sustainable business or brand ever grew exponentially because they posted seven inspirational quotes on Instagram a day. I am not discounting the importance of social media as an ancillary business function that can help grow engagement amongst your audience. I am merely stating that when it becomes your single focus, you will fail.
Trying to build an audience is hard, at least it is for me. Building something that matters from scratch. Without an audience to start with. Without any capital to support you beyond a couple of months of savings.
It is the single hardest thing I have ever done.
What makes it worse is the feeling of FOMO that I get when I read a new tweet promising me the Ultimate Guide to Making 6 Figures in 90 Days. So, I click on it and 20-minutes later I am prompted to pay $3,500 for a 5-day e-course.
I know that anyone who ever built a real following had to go through these same walls, and still does, every single day. As the world continues to become more instantaneous, the amount of information we will have access to will continue to grow exponentially.
So as creators of our life, it will become more and more imperative that we focus our attention on what matters, and relentlessly shun all information that does not fall with our ethos.
As Derek Sivers said, “if information were the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” What we need is not more knowledge, but more wisdom. The ability to discern for ourselves what is right, instead of continuously trying to outsource our decisions via books and seminars.
It will be in our decrease, not increase, that we will be able to make a real difference in the world. There are thousands of online entrepreneurs that will tell you that their solution is the proven or ultimate guide to getting what you are after, but in the end, it will be up to you to make the difference.
Although, I am still young, I predict that most of the typical entrepreneurship advice is just plain bullshit. Business building is not an exact science. You need to find your path. Figure out what systems you like the most, learn them, and then open yourself up to experimenting.
In my mind, there are only three pieces of information that you need to follow to start a sustainable business:
1. Make sure you have a fantastic product or service that your market is willing and able to pay for.
2. Make more money than you spend.
3. Work on something that you care about
But outside of those 3, I have realized that everything else is subjective.
Starting something that matters is hard. But it is massively rewarding when you tell your story and get a message like this:
In 2017, I am choosing to take a minimalist approach to entrepreneurship by limiting my information input to three podcasts, five email newsletters, and ten books.
Here are the steps. I hope they will provide you a blueprint for decreasing overwhelm in your life.
Your 3–5–10 or How to focus on the things that matter
I am trying a new experiment, for the next 90-days, I am consciously choosing the informational inputs that I will consume. After 90 days I will reevaluate them, so I note concerned with making the perfect grouping of thought leaders. However, what is key for me is that my inputs align with my values.
Am I being biased? You bet I am. I only have so much cognitive energy in a day, and my time on this planet is very brief, so I choose to spend my day consuming the people and topics that matter most to me.
My brain is not a political debate. I do not need to hear both sides of the story.
- First, I ask myself this question:
Who do I most want to emulate my personal and business life after?
2. Next, I write out all inputs that I have read, listen to, or watched over the last 90 days
3. Then I do an 80/20 analysis on them and measure what 20% of sources brought me 80% of my positive results (personal or business).
4. Three Podcasts
Pick the three podcasts you will listen to for the next 90 days and commit to only listening to them. No matter what.
Not enough new episodes? Good, get back to doing the work. I was so overwhelmed with all of the podcast options that I found myself feeling a sense of FOMO when I could not listen to all of them.
Overconsumption of content is a brain killer. Pick the three podcasts that give you the most value, whether that is in a business sense or a personal one, and be strict only to stick to those
5. Five Email Newsletters
Everyone has something to teach you, but you have to make sure it is something that you need to learn.
Charles Chu — The Open Circle
When I first started out in the blogging world a couple of months ago, I subscribed to 20+ email newsletters in the first week. I felt like I had so much I needed to learn, but in reality, all they did was make me feel more behind and anxious.
Practice “just in time” learning and only subscribe to a newsletter that teaches you something that you need to know today. If you need to learn it, pick the top thought leader in the niche that also aligns with your values and become a devoted fan.
6. Ten Books
I spent a full day planning out the ten books that I would focus on for the next 90 days. I found myself do full blown pre-game analyses on the books and the anticipation alone has made reading 5x more enjoyable.
By committing to only ten books, I will be able to spend a lot more deep time with each one of them.
No matter how intriguing a review is or how much “I need to read a book,” my ten books will not change for 90 days.
This past year I only read non-fiction, so I am starting to implement at least 20% fiction into the mix to read before bed or when I am stressed out.
7. No blogs?
I have switched from reading blogs to reading books solely for a couple of reasons. One, a book is the compilation of a writers’ best blog posts with the help of a highly trained editor. Meaning it is their best work. Most (good) authors will spend at least a year on a single book. Two, I love analog. In a world of pure digital, I feel a sense of grounding when I pick up a real paperback book.
Also, I have blocked off 2 three hour blocks for “strategy” each week that I will consume the top Medium posts.
To Wrap it Up
Implementing this system has decreased my feeling of knowledge FOMO dramatically and allowed me to gain substantial value out of my consumption. Where beforehand, I would feel guilt for not reading all of the blogs, listening to all the podcasts, or knowing all of the best hacks, I now feel like I can immerse myself into a couple of vessels deeply and gains some real insights. It may not be for you, but in a world of information overload, I need systems that keep my anxiety at bay and help me focus on the truly important things.
Are you ready to get back to your old self and enjoy life again?
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