Category Archives for Business

The Source of “Too Much to Do”

apple bins

If I told you to peel all these apples, would it be too much to do?

“Too Much To Do” Is a Concept

It’s a stressful thought I sometimes have as I try to balance all the different things I want to do. But each time I question this thought, I find that there really is not too much to do. And that I’m the one who gets to decide what I’ll do next.

The Source of “Too Much to Do” for Me Is Not Saying No

This seems obvious, but to really see it changes everything. If I say yes to everything, I will quickly have too much to do.

But I really want to do all these things. That is the driver.

This thought can be questioned. I want to do this, is it true? I want to do that, is it true? When I question my wants, I often find that I don’t really want to do some things. And that I’ll be okay if I don’t do other things. This starts to form a natural sense of priorities.

But I have to do some things.

These “have to” thoughts can also be questioned. It’s scary to question everything, but without questioning, I become a slave to both my “have to” list and my “want” list. I stop asking myself what I really want, and my life feels overcrowded and burdensome.

Formal Inquiry Is Helpful

I like to put my to do list on the chopping block sometimes. I question that “I have to” or “I want to” do each item. I’m not trying to be brutal (I find that I like being busy). This is only for the purpose of being more realistic in the limited time I have.

It can be an amazing experience to question my to do list (both today’s list and my long-term future lists).

This Inquiry Becomes Automatic with Practice

I find myself changing the order of my to do list every day as I go through my day. I give myself permission to not do some things on my list, and to be willing to take the consequences of that (people not liking it).

I do this for my own sanity because it’s not possible to do everything anyway, let alone do everything well. So I pick my projects and leave the rest.

And as I keep rearranging my priorities and cutting what I don’t really want or need to do, I get better at saying no to new requests. I find myself looking at my limited time realistically more often now and asking myself, “Do I really want to give up this task in order to take on this new one?”

I no longer believe that “I can do it all.” So I make some decisions and live with them. It feels much better than the juggling act I’ve always tried to do.

Learn how to question anything. Join us for The Work 101 online course.

Have a great week,
Todd

“There’s never a task too great or too small, because the only task to accomplish is the one in front of me. It might appear that there are a thousand things to do, but in fact there is never more than one.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Are You Using Training Wheel Words?

biker

This biker probably stopped using training wheels when she was a kid.

Training Wheels Are Great

Every kid loves them because they allow you to start biking earlier. Even before you can balance on a bicycle, you can pedal around on a bike with training wheels.

But eventually, the training wheels have to come off because they eventually become an hindrance to riding. And once you learn to balance on your own, they are not needed anyway.

The Same is True with Speech

There are many training wheels in speech. Especially when trying to master the subtle art of communication, which requires a balance between being kind to the other person and being true to yourself.

For example, one set of training wheels comes up when giving feedback. People tend to take feedback personally, so they may be hesitant to give direct feedback because they don’t want to hurt the other person.

You can use training wheel phrases like, “What works for me…” and “What doesn’t work for me…” This is a wonderful start to giving feedback. It makes it clear that the feedback is not personal, allowing you to speak the truth without hurting the other person’s feelings.

But Training Wheels Can Only Take you So Far

After a while, “What doesn’t work for me…” can become cliché. And speech can get locked into just this one way of giving feedback. The naturalness of communication is lost when this happens.

The purpose of the training wheel phrase is to make it clear that the feedback I’m giving is not personal. I’m clear, and I stay out of the other person’s business. This allows me to communicate what needs to be communicated without worrying if they are taking it personally. It frees me to speak more directly.

But the phrase, “What doesn’t work for me…” is only a facsimile. It accomplishes in speech what really has to happen inside. No phrase alone can free me. It requires some deeper work to truly be free.

And Deeper Work Can Look like This

Instead of worrying about which turn of phrase I use, I start to notice my stressful thoughts when wanting to give feedback:

They are not going to like it.
They are going to take it personally.
I need them to receive my feedback well.
It’s mean to say that.
I should be gentle with them.
I need them to change.
They can’t handle the truth.
They won’t like me.
They’re not open to it.
They’ll hold it against me.

These are some of the underlying beliefs that can stop me from sharing helpful feedback. If I question some of these beliefs, when dealing with a particular situation, by using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work, I can end up freeing myself on the inside.

Then it doesn’t matter if I use the phrase, “It doesn’t work for me…” or not. I will be maintaining the clarity (not to be in their business) and the kindness (non-judgmental attitude) even if I phrase the feedback in ways that are less politically correct.

That Is True Freedom

Then I can say, “You should…,” or “I want you to…,” or “I don’t like…,” or “Please, do this.” You can use any phrase you like. When you’re clear on the inside that how they take it is their business, and that your intention is not to hurt them, and that you don’t think less of them in any way, then you are free to talk naturally.

The training wheels are no longer necessary.

Have a great week,
Todd

“You’ll discover that asking is much easier when it’s free of hidden agendas. And when he realizes that whatever he answers is fine with you, an amazing intimacy can open for you both.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

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There’s a Time for Building Ships and a Time for Sailing Them

model sailboat

Building a model sailboat may be fun, but chasing down a duck with it is funner!

I’m a Creative Person

I love to think of new ways of doing old things. I love to dream. And I love to find ways to bring my dreams into reality.

In other words, I’ve got a busy mind. And a busy life. Always creating.

I Like the Way my Mind Works

There’s always something interesting going on.

But the same creative process which I love, can also be a source of stress for me. Because I tend to focus more on the creative process than on actually using what I create.

For example, I created Inquiry Circle five years ago as a place for doing The Work online every day. But recently, I’ve gotten so involved in renovating it and improving it that I’ve been too tired to participate much.

Same with The Work 101. I’ve enjoyed creating and improving this little course over the past year, but at times it has been all consuming.

But Times Have Changed

Now I see that both Inquiry Circle and The Work 101 are in great shape. They are both seaworthy vessels, and I can pull them out of dry dock and start sailing.

At first, this feels like sacrilege to me. To my mind, a ship is never finished. There’s always room for improvement. And so my mind stays focused on building even when it’s not so necessary anymore. Or worse yet, I try to do both: sail and build simultaneously.

It may feel a bit like sacrilege to stop building, but it also feels like pure joy, vacation, easy sailing. I realize that I’m the one who gets to say when I’ve arrived. And so I’m saying it.

The reality is I’ve done the hard work. My direction now is to sail the ships that I’ve been building. It’s a very different role. And it takes some getting used to. But I’m already starting to love it.

First of All I’m Taking a Week off Next Month

Just a simple stay-cation. But I haven’t done that in a few years.

And secondly, I’ve updated my calendar. Did you realized that a good 1/3 of my time has been spent building ships? Not doing that now opens up a lot of time for me.

So after April 18, there’s a lot more space in my calendar for doing what I love to do: facilitating The Work in private sessions, and in The Work 101, and in Inquiry Circle.

Funny, it almost feels like cheating to not be focused on improvement, but rather to be focused on using what I’ve already created. It’s a great turnaround for me.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“Stay in the flow that’s effortless and unending.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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There’s a Want Behind Every Fear

apple

Which want are you attached to getting?

Life Will Show you your Attachments

The way life does this is by occasionally threatening the very thing you want. When it does, you’ll feel fear—fear of losing what you want.

This just shows you what you’re attached to.

This Came up Recently in a Private Session

My client was feeling fear around Trump. He was trying to avoid the news in order to not hear about the changes that are coming. But the news found him anyway.

For him, it was all negative—his worst fears coming to pass. It was as bad, or worse, than what he thought on election day.

And the decisions Trump is making could very negatively affect his business.

So How Do you Do The Work on This?

You could do The Work on Trump and what he’s doing. Any worksheet on him would probably get you there.

But I suggested that you can’t have fear without a want.

When my client considered it, he found that the want behind the fear for him was to be successful in his new business.
Trump’s Threat to his New Business Is what Made it Personal

That’s why he was so bothered by the news. Trump’s policies may affect his whole sector of business. And my client could easily imagine his start-up business failing as a result.

So we Questioned, “I Want to Be Successful in the New Business”

Question 3: “How do you react, what happens, when you believe that you want to be successful in the new business?” Scared of Trump. Afraid, it will never have a chance. Frustrated that starting a new business is hard enough, let alone when challenged in this way.

Question 4: “Who would you be without the thought, ‘I want to be successful in the new business?'” It took some time for my client to open up enough to even consider the question but when he did he reported that he’d be totally free.

That’s the Power of a Want

When I want something, then anything that threatens what I want becomes the enemy, the one to fear. And when I’m not so attached, even genuine threats don’t scare me. That is true freedom.

My client turned it around to, “I want to play at being successful in the new business.” This lightened everything. It gave perspective. The new business venture became more of a game than an identity.

And then Trump’s threat became a challenge only. And, in the worst case, if it really did destroy his business, it need not destroy him too.

It all comes down to how attached I am to what I want.

Have a great week,
Todd

“It’s good that you think you’re going to lose your job. This is exciting. Do The Work, live The Work, notice, and know that if you lose your job, there is something better waiting for you. But when you’re stuck in a belief, you’re blind. There has to be something better, because there is only goodness in the universe. “My life would be much better if I don’t lose my job”—can you absolutely know that that’s true? There’s nothing more exciting than living on the edge and being aware of it.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World

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Checking in About my Balance of Life Project

log balancing in a waterfall

A month ago I was struggling to find balance with my daily routine.

I Was Feeling Pulled in All Directions

And I wrote a couple of articles about it for the newsletter: one about my desire to make yoga a daily practice in the morning, and one about my “all or nothing” thinking that was pushing me to discard essential business tasks in order to have a more inward life.

Several people have asked how it’s going since then. So here’s the report.

I’m Finding Balance

It took me a couple of worksheets on my business to get clear, but it eventually hit me that it was only my thinking that was out of control, not my business.

I was not a victim of my business at all. I was literally in the driver’s seat pretending not to be the driver.

As soon as I realized this, it became really clear how to make some choices to regain balance.

It all Came Down to Priorities

For the past many years, the priority has been to get a working business established. This meant that I was willing to sacrifice some of my other priorities of having a balanced life. I worked a lot, and my work often spilled over into mornings before work, as well as evenings. Luckily my partner helped keep my workaholic tendencies in check.

But my business has been doing fine for several years. Yet my work habits continued to involve a lot of mornings, evenings, and weekends.

That Changed after the Sahara Retreat in October

On that retreat, I got in touch with my old love of having a simple life, a balanced life, like I had in my youth. One where I do my yoga every day. One where my work day starts at 9:30 AM and ends at 4:30 PM. One where I have ample time for meditation, reading, exercise, and play. Not to mention sleep.

This has been my ideal for years. In my youth I made all these factors a priority. But I was stubborn about it, and I refused to budge from my ideal enough to get a real job. So actually my life was not balanced.

Then, for many years, I went the other direction and made my job everything, while forsaking my ideal routine and balance of life.

But Now I Think I Found a Middle Ground

Since October, I don’t go to my computer until after breakfast. That means the morning until then is free for yoga and meditation. It is becoming one of my favorite parts of my day.

My thinking became so simple once I stopped trying to do business and yoga in the same time slot, and doing neither very well.

Now yoga is the priority in the morning, just as business is the priority in the day.

But I Didn’t Stop There

I’ve always wanted to end my day at 4:30 PM so I can have a nice, long meditation before dinner. But I’ve rarely done it consistently.

When I looked at my priorities, I realized I was doing the same thing in my business day that I was doing in the morning. I was trying to fit several different tasks into a time slot that was too short.

I Was not Being Realistic

So I got realistic, and I figured out exactly how long my different business tasks take. It was way longer than the hours in my ideal business day. So I sorted them according to priority.

I put my highest priority tasks in the morning for the most part, and my lowest priority tasks later on. And I gave ample time to complete each task. I also streamlined a few tasks so that they now take less time.

Now I Get the Most Important Things Done and Do My Best with the Rest

I also say no to a lot of things people ask me because I’m clear about whether it’s a priority or not.

The result is that I end my day at 4:30 PM pretty much every day. And if I do go over from time to time, I don’t stress much about it. The balance I’ve got doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s good enough.

That means I can read, or walk, or play chess with my partner in the evening. And I can actually relax instead of being on the go all the time. To me it feels like balance.

Have a great week,
Todd

“You are your own boss. Even if you have the most menial job in the world, you are your boss. And if you don’t like your job, welcome to The Work.” Excerpt From: Byron Katie. Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World

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Getting Back in the Swing of Doing The Work Again

siesta

Life in the Sahara included a siesta every afternoon.

I Enjoyed a Break from Doing The Work Last Month

It’s not that I didn’t do my work while I was traveling in Europe and Africa. It’s just that I didn’t do that much of the formal work (four questions and turnarounds). Most of the time, it felt more like on-the-spot adjusting to situations. And I remained peaceful.

For example, there were many delays, canceled flights, etc. in my travels. Once, I even got on the train going in the opposite direction in Italy. But in each case, I found patience. I rolled with it and was happy to go with the flow.

So in a way I was doing “The Work,” but I wouldn’t have called it that. Travel situations are not a big trigger for me. Maybe I was just resting on my laurels.

But Coming Back Home, I Resisted The Formal Work

Last week, I started participating in Slow-Cook Inquiry, Steady Pace Inquiry, and Self-Paced Inquiry like I have been doing for years. This is where I do my formal practice of The Work every day.

But my mind could find a thousand reasons not to go back to it. First of all, I was feeling quite peaceful. “Why bother doing The Work when I’m fine?” I would think. And I put my attention on improving The Work 101 course, giving that a higher priority than doing my own work.

The payoff: I get to feel more and more proud of that course, I get a greater chance for customer satisfaction, and which supports my successful business identity.

The trade off: I don’t do The Work formally myself, I become a teacher of The Work instead of a doer of it, I miss out learning more deeply from doing my work every day.

Thank Goodness for Peer Pressure and Reason

Sure, I could decide not to show up in the group anymore. I would have an extra two hours a day free if I stopped participating. Sure I could make more money, I could improve my website and my business in many ways.

But I know that the heart of my business is me doing The Work every day. And it’s still the main reason why I’m in this line of business. Not to make a living, but to support this meditation practice in my life. My business is a structure whose greatest purpose is to keep me doing my work.

And luckily, I have several groups of people who also feel the same way. And they keep showing up day after day, month after month, year after year to do their work with me. I call it a good kind of peer pressure. It helped me to get over the hump and start back up again.

Now I’ve Been Doing The Work for a Week

I’m back in the swing again. I’m loving the insights that keep coming. I’m loving watching my understanding deepen about confusing situations. And I’m loving being with a group again sharing as an equal.

The Work is alive in me to a large extent even when I don’t do The Work formally. And it was great to have a break for a month. But now I appreciate getting back into the formal practice once again.

My ability to peel back layers is much stronger when I do the formal work.

Have a great week,
Todd

“The story is what we resist, not the experience.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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The Yoga Dilemma

yoga in the Sahara

Every day in the Sahara Melek Mjaanes led us in yoga.

Yoga on a Retreat Is Easy

The schedule is set. All you have to do is show up. There’s no debate. There’s no, “Should I take care of X, Y, Z instead of doing yoga today?”

There is no X, Y, Z when you’re on a retreat. But at home there is.

And that’s where the yoga dilemma comes in for me.

I Love To Do Yoga Every Morning Before Meditation

But here’s what happens. At the beginning of the day, I also start thinking about all the things I need to do today. And if I look at them closely, I soon start to see that I don’t even have enough time to do what I’m “supposed” to do. Let alone add some luxury like yoga to my day.

And with that, I find myself sitting at my computer before meditation answering emails, doing business tasks, etc.

And Yoga Never Happens

But I still think about it.

I even feel guilty about not doing yoga—about not taking care of myself. Or I complain to myself that I never get to do what I want to do. That I spend too much time serving others and not enough time serving myself.

And the debate becomes a cycle. I never land anywhere. I debate it every day. And so yoga time becomes a debate time.

And I often do weird things like start out on my computer and then rip myself away for five minutes of yoga just before it’s too late. Or other erratic behavior. I just can’t decide. And I feel frustrated.

So I Sat Down Today and Looked at my Priorities

I often act like my business is my only priority, my highest priority. It goes back to my school days when I made doing my homework a higher priority than going out to play.

And guess what? I rarely ever went out to play.

So I tend to look at my priorities only within my business (which is my adult version of homework). But when I stepped back today, I found that my business is not my highest priority.

Living in the desert showed me that. My highest priority is balance of life. And where do I need more balance? In the areas of exercise, recreation time, and quiet meditation time.

So It’s Time to Get “Irresponsible” with my Job

This is a turnaround for me. A scary turnaround. Because I have a lot of identity invested in my work. That’s where I get my praise, by always excelling at whatever I do.

But it’s not completely honest. My honest truth is that I care as much about having a balanced life as I do about excelling at work. So it’s time for my work ethic to catch up with my real priorities.

To me that means there are going to be some sloppy edges in my business. And it means that yoga is simply what I do before meditation every day, not email. And any thoughts that want to stop me from my heart’s desire can be questioned.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“I watch their confusion with nothing but love, because they’re innocent children who feel that something’s askew, yet keep moving toward the polarity that never works, where they want to win, to do it right, to do more, to have more, to plan, to defend, to protect, to be loved, to be admired, and to undergo the shame of settling for less than their heart’s desire.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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I Have to Accomplish Something Useful, Is it True?

NYC

What would the world be like without the thought, “I need to accomplish something useful?”

It’s Easy to Take this Thought Too Far

The idea of accomplishing is not a bad thing in and of itself. It’s what puts food on the table and a roof over our heads. It’s what motivates creative expression of all kinds. and there’s no doubt about it, accomplishment brings joy in life.

But the mind thinks, “If a little accomplishment is good, then a lot is better.” Typical addictive thinking. It’s never enough.

Attachment to accomplishing makes a roller coaster out of life. When I’m accomplishing, then life is good. When I’m not, life is depressing. There’s no peace in it.

What if Not Accomplishing Was as Important as Accomplishing?

A client recently questioned the thought, “I have to accomplish something useful.” The turnaround, “I have to not accomplish something useful,” was quite helpful in finding the balance point again.

For her, it pointed to making genuine down time as important as productive time. Otherwise, the mind is so focused on accomplishing, that it cannot stop and relax until everything is accomplished! Which of course never happens.

This results in pushing and “powering through” things. And, of course, the mind resists being pushed and drags its feet instead of doing things. But even when the mind gets exhausted from so much pushing, no break time is allowed because the thought, “I have to accomplish something useful” is still active. So the mind races internally, and feels guilty when it takes a break, yet it drags its feet and is not productive when it’s active.

The Key For my Client Was the On/Off Button

What she found was that she was neither fully resting, nor fully engaging in activity. And was stressed all the time. She noticed that machines, like the VCR in front of her, don’t do this. There’s an on/off button. And the machine is either on or off. Not both.

Her take away from The Work session was to fully allow herself to rest when she is not working. To do fun things, easy things, grounding things, entertaining things.

I call it non-productive time for myself. And it is essential that I make room for non-productive time in order to show up fully, without resistance, during work time. In fact, it’s so important that I’m willing to cut back on some of my precious desires of what I want to accomplish in order to keep this balance.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“The belief ‘I have to work’ has never been true; it’s the lie you hold on to so that you can keep yourself from the joy of the gift that you give. No one has to work. No one has ever had to.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

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How To Do The Work on Self-Sabotage

seagull

Do you pull yourself down as soon as you start to fly?

I Don’t Know About You, But I Tend to Self-Sabotage

The more successful my business gets, the more I find my mind looking for a way out. What is that? It doesn’t make sense. And it feels stressful. So there must be some beliefs I can question.

The first step is to identify the thoughts associated with this stress.

Here Are Some of Those Thoughts for Me

I like to use the prompt, “I’m afraid of being successful because…”

1. It will be too much work.
2. I will lose my freedom.
3. It will be too much responsibility.
4. Success is materialistic.
5. I won’t be a spiritual person.
6. I won’t have time for spiritual development.
7. My mistakes will be public.
8. I don’t have all my stuff together yet.

Your List May Be Different

I encourage you to make your own list of why you’re afraid of being successful (if that’s an issue for you).

And then use the four question and turnarounds of The Work to explore these fears, and to see if they are really true for you.

Do The Work to find out what the reality is. The truth is always what sets me free.

If You Do This Work, Let Me Know What You Find

I’ll be working my list. And I’d love to learn what you discover as you work yours.

By the way, here’s another valuable thought to question: “I want to be successful.” That could be at the very core of it. I look forward to questioning that one first.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I invite everyone to put these fearful thoughts on paper, question them, and set themselves free. When mind is not at war with itself, there’s no separation in it.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names For Joy

Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week, plus my checklist for the Judge-Your-Neighbor-Worksheet. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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Who Would You Be Without The Motive To Feel Good?

grapes

I’m attracted to grapes because they taste good, i.e., they make me feel good.

Feeling Good Is My #1 Motive In Life

But I’ve been considering what my life would be like without that motive. And I invite you to do the same.

I’m noticing these days that I don’t care so much if I’m experiencing a good feeling or a bad feeling. It’s becoming less important to me.

One hour I’m feeling good about a nice session with a client. The next hour I’m feeling a headache. And I’m not seeing so much of a difference between these two experiences.

What Would My Life Be Like If I Didn’t Care About Feeling Good?

For one thing, there would be a lot less complaining.

Also, I would not be driven to make a living. I’d just make a living. It feels more generous that way too, when feeling good (safe, successful, affluent) is not my motive. The word selfless comes to mind.

Also, I wouldn’t be obsessed with my health. Sure, I’d take care of myself, but I wouldn’t mind when the signs of aging continue to show up. I would be patient with my health. No need to change it, just changing what I had time to change. I’d be freed up to use my life in the best ways I can find, instead of trying to preserve it for “someday.”

Similarly, I wouldn’t be obsessed about fixing my emotions. Even doing The Work would be a luxury to me, not a necessity. I’d feel no pressure to get any insights. It would just be open.

And I wouldn’t care about ego boosts when people approve of me. Just as I wouldn’t care if they degrade me. It’s just my attachment to feeling good that makes me attracted and repulsed by these.

Even meditation would be just a quiet time, with no goal of nirvana-like bliss, or attachment to it when it comes.

The Funny Thing Is I’d Be Feeling Better All Around

It would be a more neutral place to live. After all, what makes me feel bad? Not getting what I want is what makes me feel bad.

No wonder my life is black or white: I either get what I want (feel good) or I’m miserable for not getting what I want (feel like a failure). There’s no middle ground.

This feels so artificial. What if I could just enjoy my life as it is served up for me? And participate in it without the motive to feel good, or to improve my lot. The experience I’m having as I think of it now is contentment, balance, tolerance, freedom, peace.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“The Work allows you to go inside and experience the peace that already exists within you.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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