doing fewer + doing more

In building a business, learning, productivity by Jay Clouse

For a very long time, I said yes to everything that came my way. In fact, I distinctly remember a piece I wrote five years ago about saying “yes” to everything.

Opportunities come in all shapes and colors, and rarely do they come when you expect them. I’ve found that by saying yes to almost everything that has come my way, I’ve unlocked a wealth of opportunities both personally and professionally — and almost none of them came as a direct result from the purpose of the meeting.

And even though I still believe that opportunity trumps timing, I no longer view opportunity quite the same way.

I buy into the philosophy of “what got you here won’t get you where you’re going.” If I hadn’t said “yes” to just about every opportunity coming to me when I was younger, I wouldn’t be in the same position I am today.

At that point, I had much fewer opportunities, and every chance someone was willing to take on me was rare and valuable.

But as time has passed and I’ve gotten much more skilled, experienced, and connected, things have changed a lot. Now, I am given a lot of opportunity, and it’s less about taking a chance on me, and more of an ask for me to take a chance on someone or something else.

The more I think about it, the more I realize all of the opportunity cost I took on last year. I recognized it in April, and even wrote about it.

**Quick aside — that “opportunity cost” text above links to an article from 2017 with essentially the same message that I am writing in this email today. It’s funny how behavioral patterns emerge, and by having such a thorough, written record, I can actually see my patterns repeating.**

And so, patterns be damned — this year is all about doing fewer so that I can do more. Fewer projects, fewer opportunities that are outside of my core intention, in order to do more with the things I am focusing on.

Something I shared in my 2019 planning video, it’s not unlikely that I actually earn less this year than I did last year. A large part of my income in 2018 was from contracting and ad hoc projects, and those take time away from building my core business.

I’m totally OK with that tradeoff in order to build assets with long-term value. That means more writing, Guides for Unrealers, podcast episodes, workshop templates, and more.

It’s never easy to turn down paying gigs, but being crystal clear about what you’re working towards helps a lot.


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