You're probably familiar with the saying,
"Hit two birds with one stone."
But imagine for a second that this was your reality.
Imagine you were trying to hit two birds with one stone because you relied on those two birds for dinner.
If you didn't hit those birds, you were going to bed hungry.
Your hunger through the night would serve as pretty good motivation for you to get up the next morning and get to work practicing your throw.
In fact, after you reach the limits of practice, you may even start analyzing which stones work best.
You may start reading about how to quiet your mind and focus all of your attention on that moment when the flock of birds flies by.
Now imagine that your practice, learning, and discipline pay off. When the birds fly overhead this time, you nail the two birds with a brilliant strike — reaping the rewards of your hard work and practice.
How skilled do you think you might get at hitting those birds if this was your reality for the next month?
What about the next six months?
How about the next year?
This has been my reality for the last six years.
Over the last six years of my entrepreneurial journey, I have had a constant pressure to accomplish more with less. And if I didn't, there were real consequences.
With this scarcity of time, money, and even willpower, I have become extremely skilled at not just hitting two birds with one stone, but hitting four, five, or even six.
And the most valuable lesson I learned through the process is to:
Think AND not OR
THE ART OF HITTING MULTIPLE BIRDS AT ONCE
In the last year, I accomplished a lot. I don't say that to brag; it's just a fact.
Here are the highlights:
- I finished writing a book
- I published and released that book
- I saved my company from the brink of failure
- I raised $20,000
- I taught myself how to code
- I learned three computer languages
- I built a digital employee
- I exercised and meditated 363/365 days
- I achieved financial freedom
- I discovered a purpose at the intersection of my passion, talent, and value to society.
None of this was easy.
It required a great purpose, many sacrifices, and harnessing the mental strength that I built over years of deliberate effort.
However, the techniques I used were simple and immediately useful.
1. KNOW YOUR GOALS
In the fall of last year — as I was building Wilson — I was finding it harder and harder to find time to:
- Write 1,000 words/day
- Exercise for an hour/day
- Keep in touch with my Chicago friends
- Explore things to do in my new hometown of Saint Petersburg
We all face situations like this. You probably have different specific goals than I do, but I'm sure you have at least one of the following:
- Creative goal
- Health goal
- Relationship goal
- Appreciate life goal
Faced with all of these priorities, the first thing you want to do is
2. BE CONCRETE AND SPECIFIC
Most people have these goals in mind, but they aren't concrete about what exactly they want and — more importantly — why they want to achieve them.
Notice that my goal wasn't to "write more." It was, "write 1,000 words/day." And the reason why I want to write is clear in my mind — it's my creative outlet.
Whatever those nagging goals in the back of your mind are, make them concrete and purposeful.
You don't necessarily have to write them down, but you do need to know what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it.
3. IS IT WORTH IT?
The next step is to simply ask yourself if your concrete goal and the purpose behind it is worth the effort it will take to achieve.
With my goal to keep in touch with my Chicago friends, I realized that I would have to venture outside of my comfort zone and ask my friends to chat on the phone.
I'm not sure what your experience is with phone calls, but I had never really just called a friend to chat. In my circles, it's just not what guys do.
So setting up regular phone calls was new territory for me — and my friends.
But then I asked myself the question I always ask when venturing outside my comfort zone — is it worth it?
If the answer is "yes" to that question — whether it's a small thing like being the one to awkwardly ask another dude to chat on the phone, or a big thing like writing and publishing a book then you need to..
Let go of the need to whine, complain, or find excuses; and focus all of your energy on making it happen.
If it is worth the effort, then you'll only cause yourself pain and suffering by complaining.
So remember your purpose, remember that it's worth, and focus on finding the solutions — not adding more problems.
4. IT'S (DATE) AND YOU ACCOMPLISHED ALL THESE GOALS. HOW DID YOU DO IT?
It's the end of the day and I just wrote 1,000 words, exercised for an hour, had a great conversation with a friend, and explored a new area of town...how did I do it?
I biked to one of the national parks nearby, went for a hike, used the dictation tool on my phone to write the first draft of this post, called a friend to catch up, then biked home.
Yup, this actually happened.
The first draft of this post and more like it were written through a dictation tool on my phone while I was hiking in a new area of town.
If you check "My Dashboard" on the navigation bar at the top, you'll see that I've averaged over 20,000 steps per day by doing this.
Plus, I also found that:
- I'm more creative when I'm hiking & dictating rather than typing
- I write at least 2x faster
- I don't have to worry about the health consequences of staring at a computer screen or typing on a keyboard
- I have explored more of the city than people who have lived here their whole lives
- I'm more polished in professional phone calls because I get "practice" time by calling friends.
And all of these are just the bonuses!
A MULTI-TASKING CAUTION
If you've been reading my work for a while, this post may seem confusing to you.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that you multitask. I'm suggesting that you focus your effort on achieving multiple goals at once.
Here's the key difference:
One of the best ways to hit multiple birds is to start biking to work. — Think about all of the birds you hit!
- You improve your fitness
- You improve your health
- You save money on transportation
- You practice building healthy habits
- You reduce your carbon footprint
I could keep going...
You accomplish ALL these things at once — but would you consider biking to work, "multitasking?"
It's a simple activity that will help you accomplish more with less.
A multi-tasker, by contrast, would try to do work while on an exercise bike at the gym (which he probably drove his car to). I'm not sure about you, but I would struggle to do either of those activities well.
Which is why...
Multi-tasking is like trying to hit two birds with two stones in one throw.
Good luck with that.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is believing that something needs to be This OR That.
In my experience, 90% of the time you can accomplish This AND That — and maybe even "the other".
The difference between the two comes down to discipline.
It takes discipline to follow the steps I outlined above.
It takes discipline to understand how you can accomplish 2+ goals at the same time.
And it takes discipline to follow that understanding with action.
I won't lie, however, sometimes you really can't make AND happen. I have faced situations where AND led to overextending myself and losing control over my situation.
But there are at least 9X more instances where I found a solution that not only allowed me to do this AND that — but infinitely more other things like the bonus points above.
So the next time you complain that you "don't have time" to exercise, spend time with family, OR cultivate your passions — pause.
Then follow the steps above to find the way to exercise, spend time with family, AND cultivate your passions.