Lessons on My Productivity Addiction from Vacation, Eckhardt Tolle and my Apps

I am currently taking four weeks for structured reflection on the way I work. I am examining the roles Lizard Brain, Ego and my physiology play. The ultimate goal is to find a new way of working that will allow me to do less and do it better; a way of working that does not have me putting my body and my relationships second in line behind productivity. Week 1, I reflected on implicit and explicit drives to be productive. Week 2 I reflected on the causes of my stress and its impact on my physiology. This week I searched for “why” … sort of.

This week my self-prompt was to reflect on my “why” and how my job and side hustles support it.

Dang — I am stuck!! My friend Alex in my mastermind group nailed it when he said maybe the point is to consider the question, not necessarily to find a simple answer. So, I’m swimming in why. Or perhaps treading water is more apt. I feel very, very stuck.

Can being on vacation be a job?

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I was recently in Vieques, Puerto Rico repairing roofs of forgotten families still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. In our down time, we were scuba diving with the crazy local dive instructor. Highlight of the trip was the bioluminescent bay . Just watch the video. Dude. Seriously.

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As you might guess, last week my “why” turned into becoming a travel blogger (not for the first time). Except I just want to DO — not take pictures and video and even worse…edit. I find capturing the experience requires you to take a step back and I want to be in the middle.

I can write and I’m great at talking to strangers and getting their stories. For example, learning what the many horses do when a hurricane approaches, finding drinking water in an old washing machine to keep the 14 people and 17 dogs hunkered on your property alive, stealing your girlfriend from her third husband, the cop who still works on the island after crashing her car drunk and taking a guy and the woman he was hitting on back to his place, sleeping with the woman and then robbing him blind after he passed out.

Maybe I should date a videographer instead of a contractor.

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If I look more closely at what was fulfilling and what felt “right” during the trip, I might get some insight into the why question.

-I love travel and it was a thrill to use my Spanish to connect with people living a different life than me — both adventure and human connection. I’d put the scuba diving in the adventure section as well.

-I loved doing a half day of physical labor. My poor body needs more activity than an hour or two a day. Physical labor or dancing.

-I love generously helping others. Elba, one of the home owners regaled us with stories, made us lasagna and showed off her giant cock (as in cock fighting — did I scare you?). This is service with human connection.

-I could spend hours going over the charity’s struggles with organization and how I could structure things to be more efficient. I love to plan and organize.

-I love eating and cooking food in different places around the world. There were plantains on my sushi. Oh, hell yes! For me, this is creativity and adventure.

-I could listen to and tell stories, laugh and pet dogs for hours.

Based on this list, I want to figure out a way to look at my days in the context of adventure, human connection, physical activity, generosity/helping activities, planning and organization, creativity (cooking and storytelling especially) and dogs.

Focus not on WHAT I do but HOW I do it

After getting back, I had some terrible jet lag and used it to work a bit more on my “why” conundrum. At 3:30 am I was listening to the last two chapters of Eckhardt Tolle’s A New Earth. I wanted to connect with his teachings on inner purpose and outer purpose. The impetus for this choice game from looking at some of my data.

I have enough data in my apps to start looking at aggregate numbers. Here’s what I’ve learned — it does not matter what activity I do — work, exercise, time with friends and loved ones — they all follow the same emotional tides. Sometimes work stresses me out and sometimes it’s a source of joy. Sometimes I spend time with loved ones because I need a boost. Sometimes I’m just having fun with them. Sometimes exercise is hard to do and I’m cranky. Other times I’m setting PRs.

It’s my internal world that’s important. The external activities shift with the internal tides.

The other night, when I got home, my friend had a cookie on the counter. It was the first thing I saw when I entered the kitchen and I wanted to eat it SO BADLY. I had a long day and two glasses of wine on board. My will power charge was probably at about 50%. It was a good day and the wine was with a great friend. So, I managed to dive into the craving feeling and stay present. I heaved a sigh and poured myself a cup of tea. (You know what I would have done on a bad day!)

In the morning, I put on my spiritual audiobook and went to the kitchen to make coffee to take along on my morning walk. I passed the cookie to get my stevia to sweeten the coffee. It was there when I put the stevia back. Same process to get the coffee creamer. As I turned to leave, it FINALLY entered my conscious mind. I was at 99% so the damn cookie hardly registered in my brain!

This means that I need more focus on managing and responding to my internal world than what is happening externally. I believe that the internal state impacts the external situation far more than the reverse.

In the chapters about purpose, Tolle talks about how your primary purpose is to be fully conscious in what you are doing in that moment — it’s about your state of being. Your secondary purpose — what you’re doing — varies and is hopefully driven by your conscious awareness and not your ego.

I want to let go of this idea of some ideal job or thing to do in the world and really focus on being deeply engaged and aware for a while. If I get in line with my primary purpose, it’s likely the secondary will fall in to place. How exactly to do this, I’m not sure.

I do think it has something to do with this quote from the book:

You can’t manifest what you want. You can only manifest what you already have.

(Turns out I have tropical drink inside me already!)

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Manifesting a tropical drink in Vieques, PR

Productivity/mastermind nerd, coach in Seth Godin’s Akimbo community, inbound digital marketer, former mental health professional, Hasher & Airbnb owner.

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