Monday, February 9, 2015

What the Universe Wants Me to Know - This Week

Michael Salsbury
Many years ago, I began to see evidence that the universe speaks to us through seemingly random events linking together.  Sometimes, this means a series of events that deposits you in the right place at the right time.  Other times, it’s the same message being beamed at you from several sources.  Today I experienced that second kind.

Here are the places I found the message in the past week or two:
  • The Disney animated film Big Hero 6.
  • The story of how novelist John Grisham found time to write his first few books while working long hours as a lawyer, from a book on novel writing.
  • A TED talk about finding and doing work you love.
  • A post on Tim Ferriss’ blog, in the subject of productivity

 Those are just the places I remember hearing it.  I probably missed several.

What’s the big message the universe wanted me to hear?  It’s this…

We have a tendency to see successful people as superhuman or blessed in some way.  We may imagine them to be confident in their every action, flawless in their execution, and able to clear off massive amounts of time to get things done.  We don’t imagine them feeling insecure, feeling like a failure, or being scared.  It’s not real.  They’re just like us.  They have doubts.  They have bad days.  They get scared.  They have moments where they question their sanity.

How are they creating massively successful businesses, great works of art, and doing all those things we imagine that we’d do if only we had the time?   They do one thing, consistently, that we don’t.  They know what they want to do, or what they want to create.  They have a goal, and each day they take a step that gets them a little closer to it.  John Grisham’s story provides a textbook example.

Grisham worked long hours as an attorney.  He wanted to write novels.  Did he quit his job, rent a cabin in some secluded location, and spend weeks banging out novel after novel?  No.  He found just fifteen minutes each night, right before bedtime, that he could write.  Grisham took out a yellow legal pad and pen, and started writing.  Maybe he only got a page that night, or two pages, or only a paragraph.  It didn’t matter.  In a few weeks or months, he’d written one novel.  All that with only 15 minutes a night to write!

Ferriss' post on "Productivity Tricks" describes this concept in a more concrete way.  Identify 3-5 tasks (and no more) on your to-do list make you the most anxious or uncomfortable.  For each one, ask:
  • If this is all I accomplish today, will I be satisfied?
  • If I get this moving, will other tasks on my list become unimportant or easier to do?
If a task doesn’t get a “yes” to at least one question, discard it.  Pick one of the remaining tasks.  Select a continuous block of time (2-3 hours) during which you’ll work on that task to the exclusion of all else.  If you do this consistently and for a long enough period of time, you’ll accomplish great things.

At least, that’s what the universe seems to be telling me…

About the Author

Michael Salsbury / Author & Editor

In his day job, Michael Salsbury helps administer over 1,800 Windows desktop computers for a Central Ohio non-profit. When he's not working, he's writing, blogging, podcasting, home brewing, or playing "warm furniture" to his two Bengal cats.


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