Less is more… We’ve all heard this phrase, but do you actually know what it means and why it’s true?
The phrase less is more means that having just the essential things is better than having way too much of superfluous things.
It allows you to focus on what matters.
Recently I sat down to lunch with the lovely Kit Whelan, co-founder of 7in7 Digital Nomad Conference, which is an amazing vision of 7 conferences being held in 7 continents over 7 years!
I am actually honoured to be a keynote speaker at the 7in7 conference in Wellington, New Zealand happening 22-28 October.
I’m going to be speaking about prioritizing what matters the most in your life and will definitely be touching on LifePilot and what it’s meant to living with intention and making my dreams a reality.
Kit told me that after this event, they’re holding a Reading Retreat in a castle in Scotland, which to me sounds simply delicious.
And it clearly did to others too as it sold out in a day, and for good reason, because people are craving to take time out and give themselves permission to simply do less.
Getting Clear on Your Perfect Day
Personally, one of my perfect days, consists of jam-packing as much as I can from 6am to 9pm at night, but that’s because I’m energized by living life to the full.
This includes meeting like-minded friends, training for my triathlon, working on my business, interviewing guests for my podcast, and spending time playing with my gorgeous dogs.
To others, that probably seems freaking exhausting.
How I make all those things work is by managing my time well and prioritising what matters.
I also realized that while I pack in a bunch in my life, I also do this in my work and in the way I teach and I’m guilty of trying to over deliver by delivering too much!
So with my new Launch Your Damn Course Accelerator, which I’m running three sold out cohorts of right now, I’ve made a considered effort to simplify to the essentials.
As you can imagine, teaching a course about preselling and launching your own online course could be super overwhelming when you consider all the moving parts involved that I need to teach.
So, as Leading Learner, my job is to teach them how to do less but get more meaningful results.
It seems to be working, by through my intentional design of the accelerator, and my students are accomplishing so much.
The importance of taking time to chill out
I’m a fan of jam-packing as much as I can into each day, but I also know the importance of taking some downtime and just chilling out.
That’s why I’m pretty excited to take a truly decent break in December.
I’ll be lounging around, enjoying nature, and reading books – basically just resting up after my half Ironman.
My upcoming break got me thinking…
I haven’t done a retreat in a while, so I’m planning to hold one next year in 2020 because I adore imagining and designing these experiences and then making them a reality.
In the past I’ve called them the ‘Freedom Retreat’ and in addition to fpcusing on business and mindset, I’d also add in special experiences like massages, taking cooking lessons, and relaxing.
But, what if next year’s retreat was the ‘Less is More’ retreat where we focus on taking a break while still envisioning your best life by focusing on having a great mindset – basically taking LifePilot to the next level.
If you’re interested in joining me early April 2020 in Bali for a ‘Less is More’ retreat, send me a DM on Instagram or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org saying “Heck yeah to Bali!”
In this episode you’ll learn:
Why and how less is more
How I manage my time so that jam-packed days don’t feel exhausting
Why taking a break can be beneficial to you and your business
I’ve never been a big fan of over planning, of strategizing the night away, and getting lost in the detail.
And I’ve always been in favour of less is more, keep it simple and being able to see your big vision on just one piece of paper.
This is why I first developed the infamous ‘One Page Biz Plan’ template back in 2012 and have been using it ever since.
Yes, shock horror, a lady who creates a tool and actually uses it
herself, even if she did take a 6 month break from setting any business
goals – which I also advocate for, when you’re really not feeling it.
That was the case for me recently, so I just let myself not plan and
instead focused on the impact I wanted to make, how I wanted to add
value and show up in this world.
Since that all fell into place in the last few months, I was able to
write up my quarterly One Page Biz Plan on April 1st with new refreshing
goals and objectives to make this a great 90 days.
We all know it can be hard to get clear on our big picture vision and
actually follow through with it, so my template helps you to break it
down into what’s tangible and doable in the next 90 days.
I literally walk you through what my next 3 months looks like for my business so you can have a crack at doing this too, using my free template.
My process for setting my quarterly (and Annual) Business Plan goals and objectives
What my five big goals are for April-June
What actions I (and my team) need to take to make each of those goals a reality
Why creating your one page business plan can take just half an hour
How to use my free 1 Page Business Plan template to crush your next 90 days
As we near the end of January 2019, I want you to ask yourself how those New Year goals and resolutions are going?
If you’re like 92% of people, you won’t have stuck to your resolutions, because you likely set vague ones or had unrealistic expectations like:
“I’m going to become a celebrity game show host” or “I’m going to break a world record in gumboot throwing”.
Champagne can do that to the best of us…
There’s another factor here, that has likely led to you not succeeding…yet, which is that you probably didn’t have a plan to make your lofty goals or resolutions a reality.
That’s where you need intentions to go along with your goals, to ensure you will actually succeed.
What’s the difference between goals and intentions?
Goals are focused on the future. They’re about a destination or a specific achievement. For example I am aiming to compete in the Kinloch Sprint Triathlon on February 10th.
I’ve been training towards this for almost three months now, up to six days a week, so I damn well hope I hit my goal time on the day.
My big hairy audacious goal is to qualify to represent New Zealand at the World Champs in September this year. Eeek!
Intentions are in the present moment. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination. They are about the inner relationship with yourself.
What I know to be true, is that the journey of getting my level of fitness up to speed (pun intended) to be able to compete in this event, has been the really rewarding part.
Everyday, I’ve turned up with intention to make a micro improvement in my run, bike or swim. No matter how tired I feel or what my last result was.
The actual event, although it matters, is not going to replace all the hard work, commitment and dedication that I’ve put in to my training since October.
The real intention is to get into peak health, and maintain that for the rest of my life!
Why Goal Setting Sucks On Its Own
I’ve always been an avid goal-setter. For most of my formative years, I used my competitive nature and Upholder tendencies of always doing what I say I will, to achieve my goals.
And I did achieve a LOT of them over the years. I was determined to.
The thing is, once I’d achieved a big milestone, I was often left feeling pretty empty.
What I’ve noticed over the years, as I got older and thankfully wiser, is that I was putting all my eggs into one basket, and setting myself up for a let down, rather than focusing on the journey of continual improvement.
And I know I’m not alone. I’m 99% certain you’ve experienced this in life too.
But, if all we focus on is working long and hard to reach this one monumental goal, when you finally hit it, all those links you’ve created between yourself and your sense of worth disappear.
So now you can’t define yourself the way you did. And you have all this time on your hands that you don’t know how to fill.
I felt like this after I won my Regional Body Sculpting Championship – something I dedicated myself to for 9 arduous months, I felt a severe lack of identity.
I had a bright shiny trophy, some bling and a tub of protein powder, but my quest to be the best had now passed, and I didn’t know what to do next!
She notes that added to that is “neuroscience kicking you in the face while you’re down.”
In short, your brain releases dopamine, a hormone associated with both motivation and happiness, in anticipation of reward.
That’s what keeps you working towards your goals, especially where each milestone you set towards achieving it gets hit, it gives you more reason to keep going, and a biological position to feel good.
The problem is, when you reach your goal, that release of dopamine drops and it’s harder for you biochemically to have joy.
The other reason goal-setting leaves you disappointed is that it moves you towards what you think you want, and takes you out of enjoying the present moment.
So instead of being grateful for the here and now, you’re left feeling like what you currently have isn’t enough, and you must strive harder to get the ‘next big thing’.
Which leads to you being stuck in an endless cycle of goal setting to fill the void.
Living your intentions, on the other hand, is much different than having a goal-oriented focus.
That’s because it allows you to focus on how you want to be in the moment, how you want to feel right now, and everyday.
It’s not about winning or losing, hitting or missing, it’s about tuning in to your moment to moment focus.
This means you live life by your values and what matters most to you.
And that’s a beautiful way to live, right?!
How to combine goal setting with daily intentions
The key thing to understand is that focusing on your intentions does not mean you give up your goals.
It actually means you’ve found a great partner to achieve your goals with.
I like to think of intention as your personal trainer. It gives you the daily rhythm, motivation and accountability you need to transform yourself.
By being intentional you’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destination, and therefore bring more joy to everything you’re doing.
Intentions really act as a reminder on how you want to show up in the world and live each day. They give you the purpose to show up to meet your goals!
That’s why my partner Josh and I baked in intentionality into our Life Pilot tool and methodology.
We’d both had enough life experience and exposure to all sorts of methods, strategies and frameworks, to know that goals are devoid of joy, unless they’re backed by daily intention.
That’s why when people join our Life Pilot Challenge, we ask them to set no more than 3 goals OR intentions – each day, week, month or quarter, based on their chosen life categories.
This takes some getting used to, but once you tune into it, it makes life planning way more enjoyable and ‘sticky’.
My real life example of intentions supporting goals
If you’d looked at my Weekly Tab in my Life Pilot spreadsheet last week, my ‘work’ category goal was to Finish first quarter of Content Editorial calendar.
I smashed that by Friday afternoon, because when I planned out my week in advance, I had set ‘working on my content calendar and brainstorming topics’ as one of my three ‘Daily’ actions on both Wednesday and Friday.
I didn’t just hope that by our Sunday Reflection time that it would have magically have happened. I had stated it in my daily actions and scheduled it into my calendar!
My intentions backed up and supported my goal.
Same with my triathlon training. Last week’s ‘health’ goal was to Plan / prepare and nail swim event.
When I turned up on Sunday morning to choppy ocean conditions at Oriental Bay in Wellington, I was tempted to not compete.
Thankfully, I’d set several daily intentions throughout the week to be fully present at my swim trainings.
As a result, I knew I was more than prepared for the event and just needed to stop being a wuss and get to the start line.
Once I stopped swallowing water from the barrage of waves, I actually enjoyed it!
How to apply intentions to your life goals
Let’s say you wanted to finally develop a meditation practice, so you go with:
Monthly intention for January – Deepen my meditation practice to improve my appreciation of life.
Your weekly goal might be: Commit to doing at least 4 guided meditations.
Your daily action then could be: Use Insights Timer App to do a guided meditation
Each morning you look at your journal, notebook, whiteboard (or your trusty Life Pilot spreadsheet) where you’ve recorded this, check your daily actions, then schedule in time to make them happen.
That night you check back and record whether you hit, progressed or missed your action.
Doing that alone, often reveals, after several days and weeks, trends and patterns of what you like to do and what you avoid.
That way you can break the pattern by getting an accountability partner, setting a different goal or figuring out whether your values are aligned with what you’re setting.
Like anything in life worth doing, you need to always remain curious as to why you do some things easily and put off others.
You need to ask better questions to make sure you are digging into these patterns, behaviours and habits, so you can continually be working on being your best self.
Now, what do you intend to do next?
Want to test out our Life Pilot tool and methodology for yourself? Join our next 10 Day Life Pilot Challenge starting February 1st. Details at lifepilot.co
I fund this podcast’s content, production and publishing. If you enjoy the podcast please become an UNTAPPED supporter!
As someone who prides herself on taking action all the time, I find this a really powerful time of year to simply slow down and reflect.
Every year I do an Annual Review of sorts and share it publicly on my blog. I find this cathartic and really valuable to share with you – because my default is share and teach what I learn with others.
I also personally love learning from others, and what worked for them during the year, what they’d do differently and what their key takeaways from.
Typically it makes me feel more connected to them as a person and to appreciate that we’re all human, we all make mistakes, screw things up, have our doubts and fears.
And that despite all this, we act in the face of adversity, we commit to create value, we strive for meaning, we meet challenges head on and we turn up to the important tasks, day in and day out….
Aside from those days where we simply lay around snoozing, reading and lazing because we can or we decide to head out into the sunshine on an adventure and let loose.
This year, I’m giving myself more space than ever to reflect as 2018 has been a year that really served up some tough challenges for me professionally, which then hit me personally.
Over the past few weeks, Josh and I have been carving out time to do our end of year Life Pilot reflection and then setting our intentions for the year ahead, and our goals for the first quarter.
A Simple Process to Close Out The Year
I wanted to share the process that Josh and I are using to close out 2018 and make sure we celebrate it.
Step 1: Consult our Life Pilot Spreadsheet to get a visual on our entire life for the year.
It’s simple yet powerful and it’s been made much easier thanks to our Life Pilot spreadsheet.
Being able to scroll back through our 3 most important daily actions, weekly goals, monthly and quarterly intentions has given us an instant look at how our year really was in 2018.
And there ain’t no hiding from that data!
The colour coding on our Life Pilot spreadsheet also gives us a great visual summary of how we did across all our areas of life too – did we hit, progress or miss those important actions and goals?
Which areas of life showed up most and did any of them dominate?
Our areas we chose are: Personal Growth, Relationships, Health, Impact, Lifestyle, Financial, Work and Habits.
From this we’re able to deduce what went well, what we did and jog our memory about what really mattered, or what we may have forgotten that we experienced or achieved.
Step 2: Do a walk and talk reflecting on the year and summarize, reminisce and share.
We love to walk and talk, it stimulates our minds being out in nature and we both like to talk things out. I then like to capture this in a tool like Evernote.
And here’s exactly what I wrote down, no edits:
Jan/ Feb – Gold Coast, wedding, friends
Feb – Angel (as in getting our second adorable White German Shepherd Puppy!)
Mar – E-commerce idea of Poochable
Apr – Launched $3K in 3 Months e-commerce lab.
May – Brisbane trip for Michelle’s 60th. Book project resurrect.
June – Portugal, Frisbee, Life Pilot first launch.
July – Life Pilot second launch, book prep, Better Work Together book. Enspiral winter retreat – walk with Anna to commit to becoming triathlon training buddies.
August – Freedom Plan book and program focus, second e-commerce course run, Life Pilot.
September – Freedom Plan course Launch and operational fail. Tri training.
October – Freedom Plan Accelerator horrible launch, Rotorua seasonal dreaming. Financial focus, book prep. Tri coach start.
November – Book launch, denial and work through, confidence crisis. Tri coaching start. First Splash n dash event.
December – Slump, discussions, clarity, job parameters, refresh of attitude. Gisborne scope trip. Total reframe. Happiness.
There’s a lot more that went on in the year obviously but at a high level these were the highlights and lowlights.
Step 3: Do the deep introspective work and learn the lessons.
Had I stopped there I think the process would be lame. I would be stripping myself from all the gold nuggets I can take away from a year that on every front apart from business (and therefore finances), was quite wonderful.
The fact that I let the business front so dominate my end of year thoughts on how the whole year went, was saying a lot in itself.
With more digging, I got to stand back and celebrate more than just coming through a tough period. I also got to take the lessons learned and really truly use them as a force for good in my life.
In keeping with the ‘no more than 3 things’ Life Pilot methodology, and in reviewing others’ processes (hat tip to Marie Forleo and Denise Duffield), we simply ask ourselves the following three questions, and write out our answers:
What things did you do this year that you’re proud of?
What were the biggest lessons you learned this year?
What one limiting story are you ready to let go of before 2019?
What things did I do that I’m proud of this year?
Had I answered this question at the start of December the list would have been limited and I would have been hard on myself.
But as I’ve reflected and released, and got told by a coach to create a brag book, many more things came to light.
Spending 5 months rewriting parts of my book and working on the launch plan for it
Publishing and launching my new Freedom Plan book and complementary Accelerator
My book becoming a No #1 New Release in Amazon’s Women and Business Category, and a Top 10 Kindle book in Entrepreneurship
Launching an eCommerce course while taking my first attempt to launch an eCommerce business selling ethical dog products – starting with the Poochable Frisbee
Deciding to end my podcast after 7 years and knowing what an impact it made
Turning our Life Planning tool and methodology that Josh and I created into an experience, challenge and course others could transform their life with – which was also the first thing I’ve done jointly and launched with Josh
Learning how to work with Josh in a way that felt enjoyable and harmonious
Playing my fave Beach Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Portugal with dear friends, and seeing Josh enjoy his first ever time playing – so proud of him.
Continuing to learn how to be a great puppy mum and committing to building a great relationship with Kayla and Angel (while simultaneously falling more in love with them)
Contributing to the Gift Economy by volunteering more of my time, energy and experience to projects and people including Enspiral, friends and mentoring through the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
What one limiting story are you ready to let go of before 2019?
My past identity does not predict my future success.
I’ve battled with this one all year. If I’m really honest, this has been the root cause of a lot of my challenges ever since I ‘stopped’ being the Suitcase Entrepreneur and made a 180 degree life change.
When you get comfortable with something, you have to give it up. When you think you know something, you have to toss it out. When you walk through life with concepts, you have to let those concepts go and see things with fresh eyes.
That’s why I’m open to there being more lessons that I need to learn and am happy to experience them fully!
This year I realized that I can be soft and accepting of myself (and others) while being motivated and driven. I just need to keep those parts of me that are true to me but balance them better.
To close out this year, I am deeply grateful for all the wonderful experiences and quality people who I’ve spent time with and learned from.
I’m thankful to have rediscovered parts of myself that were laying dormant and I appreciate, more than ever, that I shall always be a student of life.
Here we come 2019. I’m ready for you, more than you will ever know!
I am always deeply curious about how the really effective, productive, successful people plan their days and spend their time.
Do they spend it swanning around, lazing by the swimming pool or perhaps hanging out at rooftop bars?
I think not.
I think they are ruthless about their time management and planning what matters in their life.
And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over ten years in business, is that:
Discipline equals freedom.
I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m a free spirit, who for many years used to say “I want to do what I want, when I want and I want to choose where I want to travel and I only want to work on these things today.”
I realised pretty quickly though that what I was doing, wasn’t actually giving me freedom.
This was being disorganized, not being accountable to what matters and not taking responsibility for how I wanted to live my life and how I wanted to spend my time.
If you are one of those people too, I totally get it.
But you are actually becoming your own worst enemy by living like this. You are creating your own version of chaos by not planning out what matters, what is actually important and how you wish to spend your work, creative and free time.
If you are somebody who has so many daily things on your To-Do list you’re also setting yourself up to fail because, what I realised a couple of years ago, when I took a very good hard look at my calendar is this:
We don’t actually have that much time. We don’t have that much time from the moment we awake.
If you take out time for eating sleeping, fitness, friends, family, social events, meetings appointments and all those other wonderful things that just make up life and are also important, guess how much time you actually have?.
Research has proven it to be around three focused productive hours of work a day. THREE!
Now of course, we have more than that depending on how effective we are as entrepreneurs and freelancers!
But in reality if you take into account disruptions, distractions, procrastinating and life, at the end of the day if you actually just allowed yourselves three hours a day, and that’s all you do, I can guarantee you would use those three hours so much more effectively than you currently do.
Behind the scenes of how I plan out my day and week for productivity
I want you to not freak out because it looks really full on with lots of beautiful colours. What I want you to focus on is how I block out exactly what I want to work on as well as my free time which is baked in to my calendar.
That means date nights with Josh, walking with the dogs, fitness, massages, dinners with friends, cultural events and afternoons off.
What I’m then left with then is exact amount of time that I have in my day to work on the stuff that matters.
This might be more free time and fun events with people I love. Or it might be really really focused work on my business.
Doing this, is the single most important switch that I have made in my life. It’swhat we teach in our Life Pilot 10 Day Challenge – how to structure out your goals and actions each day, week, month etc and put YOU time + self care + holidays first.
That’s because you and I know, from experience, that the first thing that gets taken away when you’re stressed out or really busy is your free time on weekends and evenings, as well as your holidays and vacation time.
If you’re saying “Natalie, I never give up my holidays!” – well good for you because that’s the way it should be.
But I do see too many entrepreneurs going:
“I’ve just got to work this weekend” or;
“I’ve got to do another late night” or;
“I’m going to skip yoga to finish this client deal” or;
“I’m not going to make it to my gym class because I have to finish this proposal today”.
This has to stop!
If you knew how much as possible to achieve in a day, in fact in three hours or less, and you actually were more realistic about where your time goes and what you can achieve, you would condense the amount of work that you have to, into a shorter time frame and do far more effective work.
How I use my calendar for daily planning
Step 1: Block it out
I block out 15 minutes of planning every single morning at 6:45am. This may not sound like much but it lets me look at my three things in my Life Pilot spreadsheet for the day and ask myself, whether these tasks (that I set the night before) are still a priority for today.
I also look ahead at my weekly goals to make sure I’m on track to meet them, and then I check my calendar to make sure that once I’ve hit those three most important things, I’ve allocated time for other activities too, including downtime.
Then I go in and schedule chunks of time throughout the day for work projects including a time for email, so that it doesn’t distract me from the important work.
Most of this I colour code in blue for business, that way I can see green for lifestyle, yellow for personal growth/ learning and more.
Remember what gets scheduled, gets done!
The only reason my calendar system works is that I commit to it.
If the rebel in you looks at your calendar you’ve set out and says “Nah, I don’t feel like doing that right now”, then make damn sure you move that task to a time on the same day, or that week so it still gets DONE!
Step 2: Track your time
I use toggl.com for tracking every minute of my day. I love it.
I use the desktop application and simply put in the description of what I’m working on, assign it to a project e.g Freedom Plan Book, Freedomist Vlog, Launch Planning etc.
That way at the end of the day, I can see exactly how much time things are actually taking me to do throughout the day.
Over a period of days and weeks this gives you a really clear picture of where your time is going, versus where you think you’re spending it.
It also gives you a very clear idea of what things take up too much time and where you don’t spend enough time. You can’t hide from the data.
What’s more you can share this with your team members and also see their reports, you can Toggl client work to the second as well.
Step 3: Pomodoro it
The Pomodoro method is a lifesaver. You simply set a timer on your phone, watch or use the Toggl Pomodoro setting, and work for 25 minutes on ONE thing.
After that time is up take a 5 minute break. This is critical to your energy and motivation levels.
Even if you’re in flow, trust me, take a break!
I go out and throw the Frisbee to the dogs, I drop down and do some press ups or sit ups. I jump around and dance to music I love, I kiss Josh, or jump or I might leave a friend a quick video or audio message to say hi.
When that timer goes off, get straight back into it. That’s it. Then rinse and repeat, but after 2-3 hours straight, take a good half hour break for lunch or a workout or a walk in nature.
I can I tell you those time constraints by using the Pomodoro methodology is amazing for making you just focus in on what exactly needs to be done and do it as quickly and effectively as you can.
Step 4. Schedule in fun and reflection
In my calendar I have breakfast with Josh or at a cafe, lunch, workouts and fun time.
At 9pm I also have reflection time where I look at how my day went, I do my gratitudes and I check the Life Pilot spreadsheet to see what I hit, missed or progressed in terms of my three most important actions.
Steph 5. Rinse and repeat
After the reflection time I then set my three goals or intentions for the next day, based off my weekly goals and even my monthly. That’s because I have all those baked into the Life Pilot tool, including my 3 year vision.
The results speak for themselves
For those of you always wondering how to turn your big dreams into a daily action, this is how.
Life Pilot, Google Calendar and Toggl have helped me build a very clear picture about my behaviours and habits.
Ithas shown me a clear pattern, over 17 months of using it, for what is really working in my life and where I continue to procrastinate or let myself down.
These colour-coded trends on the key areas of my life show me what times of the day I really shouldn’t schedule in deep work focused work – like writing, producing, strategising or proposals.
As well as the best times of the day that I’m better off doing a workout and recharging, or hosting a meeting.
Before I never fully understand just how ‘little’ time I actually had in any given day, I was always overestimating and putting too many tasks into my days and weeks to achieve and then coming up short.
I also wasn’t balancing out the key areas of my life – not that it was all work, in fact if anything it was more lifestyle!
But health, my relationships, wealth, personal growth – I wasn’t factoring them into my everyday activities, which meant I wasn’t focusing on them, which ultimately meant I didn’t improve them or get anything done or progressed.
It’s been a game changer for me and has been transforming other people’s lives because it is a system for life planning that focuses on your head, heart and gut – therefore what really matters to you.
It’s the reason why I can go into September feeling excited and nervous about the launch of my Freedom Plan book and Accelerator, but fully aware of exactly what I need to accomplish and how to fit that in around life, fun and self care.
Its been transformative. I want that for you to.
Head to lifepilot.co to join our next LIVE 10 Day Challenge.
Last April I did a complete 180 degree shift in my life and learned three valuable life lessons from it, that I want to share with you here.
You see, I went from being the ultimate digital nomad, traveling the world, being single for almost 6 years and running my online business I loved, into a completely different life.
This included buying and moving into an amazing ‘lifestyle’ property with 5 bedrooms, 2.5 acres of land and a 240sqm modern barn!
I did this with my life partner Josh, even though we’d not been together that long, we were both up for an adventure. Soon after moving in we got our adorable puppy Kayla, the White German Shepherd and I started my three month Business Sabbatical.
In short, a massive amount of change in a very short time frame, not only in my life, but to my very identity.
I’m not sure I recommend it. I mean I love change but this was a bit too much, all at once. But it knocked me down on my ass and forced me to get back up again, and again and again.
The Six Human Needs in Life
Many years ago I read Personal Development ‘Guru’ Tony Robbins book. Awaken the Giant Within. Regardless of what you think of Tony, I can’t speak highly enough of this book.
In it he describes the six human needs we should fulfil in order to be happy and successful.
No 1. is Certainty — you know a roof over your head, food on the table, stability, security. Basically assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure, which in many ways I now had.
No 2. is Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli. I definitely had that too as this was a whole new lifestyle for me and now I had a fur baby that challenged me in more ways than one.
What I realized I was lacking pretty early on, that I had when I was traveling the world and running my business and helping people change their lives to have more freedom, was No 3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed.
I was no longer feeling unique as a digital nomad living life on my own terms, as I had technically ‘settled down’, I didn’t feel important, in fact I felt like I’d become an overnight stay at home Mum!
It was winter, and the first one I’d experienced in six years, and we had a puppy Kayla, that I would stay at home with for the first 2 months full time as my partner Josh was finishing up a teaching stint at his business so commuting into town each day.
On top of that ‘Project House’ as I called it lasted around two months and was pretty intense, as you could imagine after living out just a suitcase. But when it finished, I didn’t have a project to keep me feeling on purpose.
Sure I had trees to plant and gardens to establish, a community to build in a new town and so much newness to get used to, but I had lots of time on my hand as I was taking a break from my business, which really had been my life (in a great way) for so long.
I did have No 4.Connection/ Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something — with Josh, Kayla, my family who I was finally in the same country as, and our new lifestyle.
I did also have a personal version of No 5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding as I was learning a lot about ‘lifestyling’, gardening, permaculture, rural life, puppy training, being in a relationship and not traveling.
And, after too many years of dabbling, I was deep diving into yoga and meditation properly, to give me a foundation and feeling of being grounded in amongst the change. Yoga with Adrienne was a godsend!
What I didn’t have was No 6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others.
After years of coaching, mentoring, advising, teaching, creating and helping others to find their own version of freedom in business and adventure in life, I felt like a bit of a phoney.
I felt personally disconnected as I’d deliberately taken time off my business to recharge and prove that everything I teach and stand for — automating your business so it can run without you, is true.
Turns out it was, but not at a cost. My identity was too tied to my brand and my work. That meant my significance was not linked to being of service, but to being important and needed.
Basic human needs sure, but when all is said and done, and you’ve had your success, fame and glory, people will forget you unless you leave a legacy, unless you change lives, unless you take actions that really matter and make an impact.
Unless you show up in this world and lovely deeply, both yourself and everyone else.
Lesson 1: Significance is not about you, it’s about who you serve in life
A few months into my new life I went into a rare dark state of ‘not muchness’. It wasn’t depression but a deep sense of feeling lost, unworthy and as if all I had achieved in life, all the skills I’d learned and shared, everything I’d spent years working so hard to build, simply didn’t matter.
Of course none of this was true, I was just feeling sorry for myself and deliberately wallowing in this feeling.
This is probably one of just two periods in my life where I’ve felt this way, for which I feel blessed, and I drew on the lessons I’d learned from reading Awaken the Giant Within when I was in my early 20s.
I purposefully lingered in this uncomfortable place because I know, and you know, that growth and learning come from being uncomfortable.
Of the 6 Human Needs stated above, each of us puts these six needs in their own unique order of importance. That said, the first four shape our personality, but growth and contribution shape our spiritual needs according to Tony’s blog post:
“The problem is, if you have significance or certainty as one of the top two needs of your personality, your life is guaranteed to have problems.”
Yep. I was having them.
Ironically not because I had no certainty, which means you like to keep life the same so you have to artificially control your environment, control the people and control yourself.
According to Robbins, “the only way to achieve that is to lower your expectations or just be stressed out all the time, neither of which are a good option.”
I had too much certainty, and more than I was used to. I’d say uncertainty would be in position 1, and all those years of travel and moving about and constantly making decisions about everything catered to that.
But my real problem lay in significance, and “if it’s one of your top two needs, you always have to be competing with someone else. More than likely, you have to lie to yourself about your real abilities or surround yourself with people that are less skilled.”
I’m not sure I went that far, but I had certainly been lying to myself. I had become stagnant in a world where growth is a constant. Many people I had mentored or coached were outgrowing me.
I’d relied too much on my earlier success and had stopped learning — well not completely, but not with the voracious appetite I had before.
I’d become tired, jaded and disenchanted with the industry I was in and longed for something fresh and new. But deep down that wasn’t totally true.
It was up to me to fall in love with what I stood for, with what I already knew, with what I did well, all over again, but this time with a renewed energy, mission and outlook.
Apparently “all dysfunctional behaviours arise from the inability to consistently meet these six needs. But, if you are able to reach them, in a healthy order — meaning significance and certainty are not at the top — you will have fulfillment.”
And if you go even further to understand them, you can start to create new patters that stop any self-sabotage and create new patterns.
So that’s what I set about doing. And it wasn’t easy and it certainly was a long, slow process compared to what I’m used to. I tackled it in two ways:
I revisited everything I knew to be true, and threw out what was not serving me, to come away with a fresh perspective. I sent emails to five people I trusted and respected and asked them some specific questions about how they saw me, what they thought I had that was unique and valuable.
Then I went back over four tests I’d done, in some cases, years before like Wealth Dynamics – to reassess my entrepreneurial superpower, Strength Finder, How to Fascinate and The Four Tendencies and dug deep into the results to relearn about myself.
Then I focused on what I loved most about my work – which was helping people to achieve their own goals and dreams.
Luckily I had kept an email folder full of wonderful feedback from my community over the years. This is something I recommend everyone to do, because on those days when you’re feeling down it can bring you right back up again.
These loving messages, praise, testimonials and simple shoutouts, meant the world to me. Not because they made me feel special (which they did), but because they reminded me what happens when you put yourself out there to make other people feel special.
That was my why. That was the reason I had to continue on and giving of myself, day after day. These people needed me, and I needed them. Together we are making the world a better place through our actions and intentions.
Lesson 2: Create fake constraints in your daily life
One thing that has never wavered throughout this major life change is my commitment to understanding, nurturing and having true freedom.
The thing is with this new lifestyle, peace, quiet and nature surrounding me daily, I’ve done an almost too good a job of prioritizing life and fun!
That may not sound like a bad thing, and I agree, it’s not, we all need to recharge, take time off and be present on a daily basis.
The thing is, too much of a good thing is a curse not a blessing and I got a little lazy. Not in the physical sense of the word — I got fitter with all the dog walking, gardening, hiking, tennis, boxfit and outdoor activities, but in terms of my own time management.
It’s incredible how quickly a day can escape from you when you don’t have any pressing engagements or real priorities.
In a bid to fully embarce my business sabbatical I’d removed all constraints, yet as I have preached to all my clients and customers, friends and family, discipline gives you freedom.
I had lost my discipline. So I set about taking it back to get more freedom — sounds ironic but it’s true.
I created fake time constraints every day.
If you’ve never used this technique, and find yourself procrastinating a lot, or you work from home and get distracted by ‘other’ to-dos, then try this out.
Simply create hard stops in your day that you have to stick to, like lunch with a friend, a gym class, an art exhibition you want to see and then stick to it.
That act alone will force you to condense your available time into a shorter period, instantly making you more focused and productive.
I did it by using a powerful morning routine, including yoga to get up early and get in a daily rhythm. I made sure by 9am I was doing something of purpose — training the puppy or doing several hours of learning of a course I’d enrolled in online to learn new skills.
I created ‘meetups’ in town to get out of the house and out of my familiar surroundings (still sounds so strange to say that after 6 years of being nomadic, where everything was strange and wonderful all the time).
I put them at 3pm in the afternoon or earlier so I had less time to ‘faff’ about and do odd jobs around the house and garden that were nice but not truly useful.
Before I knew it I was pumped to get back into work and reinventing my business and brand over at nataliesisson.com
It started to work. My spirits lifted, the funk I was in receded and I felt more in flow, and as if I was moving towards my new found purpose.
I could now see that true joy lies in richness of experience in all areas of life and that not all of them can realistically be in balance at the same time.
The beauty lies in accepting that and owning it while always correcting course. Luckily I had been working on that too.
Lesson 3: We are all our own Life Pilots
In June last year, deep in the heart of my ‘funk’ period, Josh and I flew to Melbourne as he had a conference he was speaking at and I needed a change of scene and to travel again.
It was exactly what I needed. Simply a change of scene sparked my creativity, drive and imagination as to what I wanted to work on.
Josh and I walked and talked, sat in cafes and dreamed and schemed on life’s possibilities. We came up with several businesses I could choose to pursue.
He wisely knew that if I could find one thing to focus on I’d be off and running.
He was right. What I chose wasn’t the right thing at all it turns out, but it led me to think deeply about what excited me, what this next stage of life could look, feel, smell and feel like.
Together we got thinking about purpose, missions and goals. Something I thrive on but had been missing since I took time out.
Before I was like a ship out at sea with no wind, letting the waves take me whereever they wanted, with no real purpose or direction.
And now I was full sails ahead with a chart to guide me and a journey I had chosen with destinations to arrive at along the way!
Unbeknownst to us, that day was the start of Life Pilot, a system we developed together that we’ve been using for over 12 months, that lets us envision our best lives, set and track our goals and hold each other accountable.
But it’s more than a damn effective life planning tool, it’s become a compass for whether we’re being present, courageous and focusing on priorities.
It shows us if we are aligning with our values and putting our time and attention into the causes that matter most.
What started as a simple, yet slightly geeky colour coded spreadsheet and a deep and meaningful chat about life back in June 2017, has turned into a system that sees us setting our 3 most important actions every day together.
Each Sunday we make time to reflect on our weekly goals and ask ourselves important questions. This ties into making sure our monthly and quarterly goals in 8 areas of our life, are in line with the three year vision we set for ourselves.
We plan holidays and adventures around this too to turn it into something fun and even magical.
I think the reason it works so well is it’s not just me setting goals and trying to meet them, it’s both of us building a life together and helping each other dream and take purposeful action.
We think this could be a system you could use in life and benefit from immensely, because unlike the plethora of tools, journals, books and apps out there, this one works as you have someone you’re sharing it with.
Yes you can use it by yourself, but it’s even better if you do it with your partner, spouse, best friend, peer or simply someone who’s willing to hold you accountable and ask you the right prompts and questions, to help you achieve what you really want in life.
The more we’ve told our friends and community, the more interest we’ve had to share it with them. So we ran a small pilot throughout the month of July and the results have blown us away.
We had no idea whether our system would work when used by other lovely humans, but it has and more effectively than we could have imagined.
That’s because everyone has dreams and desires and needs, and yet ‘finding time’ to make those a reality is so much harder than we realize.
There are many reasons for this but the primary one is that if we haven’t take the time to dream, scheme and visualize our ideal life, there is NO way we are going to get there if we don’t back it up with a plan and focus and daily actions.
That’s what Life Pilot solves, the rest is all up to you.
Each month we open up a new Life Pilot 10 Day Challenge to take people through exactly what we do, and give you the system we’ve created that’s made a massive difference to our lives.