What Are You Willing To Give Up?


I sat down a few weeks ago with the CEO of a local startup to talk strategy (mine, not theirs…they’re killing it). I wanted to get his advice on a few moves I was thinking about making with respect to productivity and strategy. My situation has always been a little complicated because in addition to running my agency, I’m also a full time stay at home dad. I have a great team working with me, so I’m able to get done everything I need to get done, but I’ve always felt that if I had a LITTLE more time, I’d be able to accomplish a heck of a lot more.

What he said to me reminded me of a quote I was heard from renowned author Elizabeth Gilbert;

“What are you willing to give up to get what you want?”

It is an interesting question. It seems pretty straightforward but when you really start to dig into it, it gets a little more complicated. When my son was born, the plan was that I would take nine months paternity leave and then return to my job. But the shop I worked for closed and so nine months became twelve months. And then twelve months became “maybe I’ll work on my own thing for a year or two” and then that became “well, I’ll just stay at home until he’s in school” and then that became “well, I might as well stay home until both kids are in school.”

In the meantime, I’ve been able to grow my business more and more, seeking out larger clients and building out a team rather than taking on the world solo. Things are going pretty well. But I’ve realized lately that I want more. I don’t want to be doing ok, I want to be crushing it. And I believe I can. But the question returns;

“What are you willing to give up to get what you want?”

My children have been alive for a total (between them) of 3103 days. That’s 3103 bedtimes and I’m being very honest when I say that I may have missed 50. Total. So what if you offered me an extra client a month…but I had to miss 5 more bedtimes. Or what if you offered me an extra client a month…but I couldn’t spend 3-4 days a week with my family at the cottage. The question becomes more and more difficult.

But the answer for most of us for productivity is that we must find a balance. I’m not going to miss 25% more bedtimes…but we’ve been moving to more and more “office hours” for me. I’m not going to skip out on my family’s cottage excursions, but while I’m there, I’ll get some work done.

I don’t know the answer for you. But I do know that you can’t have more for less. Some people might disagree and say that once you’ve put in all that time, you can live of retainers and recurring revenue. And you can. I know people that are living off residual income. But they didn’t get there by putting in a few hours here and there. They worked exceptionally hard for a period of time, investing their time and effort into their future. They missed some bedtimes. They missed some weekends. But they found balance.

So go find your balance, wherever that may be. I just wrote this after my kids went to sleep at the cottage. I’m finding my balance daily.