Over the last year, in many ways it feels like I have hit a lot of different milestones that I've set for myself. It's like the habits and vision and hard work have all built momentum and begun to solidify and bring in the results I had my eyes on for so long. Essentially, it's felt like I have been playing the long game and finally won.
For this reason, it feels like a good time to reflect on my process, how I got here and also reassess where I'm at to set a new vision and goals for myself. Plus, I'd love to give back for all the support I have received from people along the way, providing a road map that you can use.
From my experience, I believe you can take these principles and translate it to many other aspects of your life for success. While my main example is around freelancing and running your own business, the principles can be taken and applied in your own way for your long game.
This post is a Living Guide and includes:
- False assumptions and beliefs
- What I've learned
- Questions and actions
- Recommended tools and resources
First, let's go over how I used to operate. I was very anxious and had my view focused on the immediate. Not in a good way where you're in flow and present in the moment (as I am much more now), but worried and caught up in how to improve things or make progress right now. Not little day by day progress either, I'm talking about those significant leaps and compounding improvements that only come from consistent, regular practices and effort (what I know now). This led me to constantly be anxious, frustrated and stressed out that I was not where I wanted to be. Of course, I still made progress, but this way of operating kept me from the essential actions and act of playing the long game that brings the transformative changes and life achievements. It also distracted me and pulled my focus and energy from the long term vision and goals onto smaller things that didn't matter.
This was the one of the other mistakes I made, spending so much time and energy searching for an external opportunity or entity to be the thing that would change everything. If only I would be accepted to this program, get this grant, or win this contest (so a door was opened for me) - then everything would change. I have gone back to track and review how much time I've wasted on this mentality and way of operating in my year in reviews and its pretty upsetting. Obviously, none of this led to any life-changing shifts, even the opportunities that I was granted. Many of them were incredible and I'm very grateful for them, but they passed and then once they were done I was left in a very similar space as before, frustrated and feeling out of place.
Finally, I was running a never-ending sprint (or at least attempting to) and burning out on a regular basis... All of my time was open and available to work, there were no boundaries or off switches. Especially since I was working for myself and there was no other structure or person to provide any limits, I became a workoholic, hell bent on making as much progress and getting as much as I could done every moment of each day. I'd regularly miss meals, skip social events and opportunities to connect with friends. And I had my eyes and mind set on trying to make something happen ASAP.
I have learned throughout this time that the habits, routines and small consistent actions that you can take now, not for an immediate benefit, but for a bigger, long-term vision that you've set for yourself is the way to go. That's where the exponential growth is. By accepting less change and results than you may have been expecting in the short term, you are able to unlock so much more over time.
In the same way, I now see how rest is the most important factor of all. That the time in-between work is where the real magic happens and can set you up to be exponentially more focused and productive in the time that you do work. One hour of really focused work could equal eight hours of low energy and distracted effort. I was trying to sprint this whole time and not even getting close to finishing the marathon before I was exhausted and unable to keep going. As I began to prioritize rest and recovery (especially when I found myself tired, stressed, anxious, or distracted and trying to work), I would gain back so much more time as I got back to a better state and my producticity increased. Some days it was more productive for my week to take days off and get more done the following day, than to try to push myself through it. Now, I totally understand that not everyone has these luxuries if you work a job with a regular schedule and the expectations that come with it, but there are still ways you can prioritize rest more in your own way. That's when the change occurs.
Nowhere has this become more clear than with my main business, More Floats, and my previous journey before launching that business with freelancing.
For the longest time (meaning many years), I was making quite mediocre money compared to what I could have made if I went and applied my skills at a marketing agency or similar role that I was well set up for. Part of the reason I was OK with this was to have freedom over my time and energy, so I wasn't stuck into a 9-5 rhythm (even though I was working far more hours on my own for most of the first few years) or confined to an office all day (I found very quickly I couldn't stand much of how that operates). The other part was the prospect of the long game: that with enough consistent effort and progress, my income could see exponential growth versus gradual raises every few years. Over the last few years my income grew to allow me a much more comfortable life, which I'm grateful for as it removed a lot of the financial stress that plagued me for so long. But it was only recently (after 9 years of working for myself and building my businesses) that the effort compounded to start to unlock those exponential results.
At some point throughout these almost 10 years, I have gone through the practice of scoping out goals and a 10 year vision and these recent events have led me to reflect more on those and how much of it has rung true. Maybe not in the time or rhythm that I was expecting, but that's kind of the magic of playing the long game.
You have no idea how you'll get there, but with the right consistent efforts and focus you'll arrive.
✨Crafting your 10 year plan✨
- What do I want to accomplish over the next 10 years of my life?
- Are these SMART goals?
(specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based)
- What small, consistent actions (or habits) can I take to get there?
- What are some of the possible barriers and limitations to achieving these goals and how can I mitigate them?
- How can I set up my time and schedule to take these actions and utilize these habits on a regular basis?
- What are the most effective ways for me to proritize rest and recovery?
While most of the following will seem familiar if you've read my post about building a mental toolkit, there are other habits and practices that have helped me tremendously in this journey to achieve and win at the long game.
What habits and practices have helped me the most:
- Floating (also known as float therapy or sensory deprivation, at least once every week)
- Meditation (usually a practice of an hour every day)
- Daily journalling
- Weekly therapy sessions (work through issues and blocks much faster)
- Regular introspection (achieved through the practices listed above)
- Month and year in review activities (vision boarding and goal setting)
- Working on my business to improve it, rather than in it (constant tasks)
The more that I prioritize these habits and practices in my life, the better I become and the closer I get to the long-term vision that I have for my life. You'll see benefits in the short term from doing these things, but the focus should be on the big picture and the long game.
It will take time to experiment and find what works best for you, along with finding the right tempo and balance across it all, but in my eyes it's some of the most important work that you'll do because once you figure it out, the results are transformative over time.
Recommended tools and resources:
If you try this process for yourself, I'd love to hear how it goes 10 years down the line. Wishing that your vision and dreams come true for you.