Redlining

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Vroom Vroom! =D
Image by Fawzan Hasan

Sometimes work and life demands that we push ourselves to the limit, that we run at such a high speed our human engines cross the red line. Yet if we do it too long, we lose effectiveness and eventually burn out.

Redline refers to operating across the line of demarcation on your car’s tachometer. When a tachometer shows engine speed in the red, it means you are running too hard, possibly causing damage to the components themselves or other parts of the engine.

I’ve been redlining it for far too long, due to a variety of reasons and choices.

For example, for the past two and a half years I’ve been writing, traveling and promoting two business books AND this blog, in addition to my normal business activities. In direct conflict with these activities, I value being present for my daughter first. So I end up sacrificing personal time and sleep.

All of these activities produced a great increase in yield, yet a the same time it’s time to ease back on the throttle a bit. The peanut butter only spreads so thin.

So the question is how do you slow down without losing momentum? Since I don’t want to build another consultancy, how do I scale without hiring staff?

Measuring Pace

JOG SHOT
Image by whologwhy

Sometimes you sprint, other times you slow to a more measured jog. Here’s how…

Am I going to write another business book anytime soon? No.

Given how busy I am with projects, this would be a disservice to both family and clients. It would also be a disservice to me. The mind needs rest, you can only redline for so long.

Plus I think the expectation of a book a year is not necessary. This blog does a great job of keeping me relevant in the conversation of now.

I took another step to help ease the load this week, hiring a virtual assistant to respond to non client correspondence, schedule, and arrange travel.

Another step will probably happen over the next few months. My Dad may hang his hat up from the newspaper game after 50 years of school and pro news writing and editing. But he still has something left to give.

So expect to see better editing here compliments of Tom Livingston towards the end of the first quarter. That will actually save me a few hours a week, and increase post quality.

Heck, if he can write a decent blog, we may have an Old Guy Writing Tips column here on Thursdays.

Finally, the holiday season represents an ideal time to take a breather. Because most people are so busy chasing the gifts of their family members’ dreams, and wrapping up end of year activities, they tune out.

I’m taking a few days off over Turkey Day weekend, and I am planning a slobber-cation during the Christmas New Year season. I plan on doing three things: Playing with Soleil, working out, and reading pulp fiction.

Ease the throttle back, outsource the parts that I can, enjoy the family, and rest. 2013 will be a great year, but to be fully present, a more measured pace is necessary.

Are you planning on easing back a little this holiday season?

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  • marc zazeela

    Geoff,

    Always a good idea to take time to enjoy life. What’s the point of working hard if you can’t appreciate the fruits of your labors? I have learned that we are not necessarily defined by what we do but by who we are.

    I sell b 2 b services for a living. I really enjoy what I do. But, if you asked me who I am, or how do I define myself, I would not tell you I am a sales person. I would tell you about Marc the person. The person who enjoys people. The person who enjoys the small details. The person who enjoys lively discussions, and on and on.

    I sell to earn a living so I can enjoy the journey.

    And, please tell your dad, that this old guy would love “Old Guy Writing Tips”!

    Cheers,
    Marc

    • geofflivingston

      Hahahahaha, oh I’m sure he’d LOVE to tell of us social media people how to write. We’ll see if the old dog can learn how to blog, though ;)

      I agree, in the end, if you cannot enjoy the gravy, then the time in the kitchen was a waste. There are times when you have to work, but you also need to breathe and live. As you say, earning is so you can enjoy. Cheers, and thanks, Mark.

      • http://www.facebook.com/tom.livingston.90 Tom Livingston

        OGWT #1, via Shakespeare: Brevity is the soul of wit.

        • geofflivingston

          Hahahahahaha! Are you going to tell us to look up the play, too?

          • http://www.facebook.com/tom.livingston.90 Tom Livingston

            Hamlet — ironically, The Bard’s longest.

  • http://www.writerightwords.com/ Erin Feldman

    I actually plan to get some work done on some larger projects during the holidays, but my situation is different from yours.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on scaling. I guess you wrote about it some in this post, but maybe I want a better understanding? I don’t know if that makes sense. I probably have too many ideas running through my head at the moment.

    Final note: Do you know CJ Chilvers? He’s a photographer, and he, like you, puts family first. If you don’t know him, I think you should. :)

    • geofflivingston

      I don’t know CJ Chilvers, but I’d love to.

      On scaling, I think I’m at that point where I hire or team, or I turn back business. And that’s OK to turn back business, as I don’t want to build an agency. Been there, done that. Instead, I’ll raise rates for newer clients to offset the demand.

      Some of these efforts are to ease a little pressure off me in ways that don’t impact touches with critical people. That way the trudge becomes less painful. It’s also to make sure I am present. Make sense.

  • http://www.WaxingUnLyrical.com/ Shonali Burke

    Well, you and I have had a lot of conversations so you know where I’m at… (and thank you for you know what!). But I wanted to say Bravo b/c it’s critical for your mental and emotional wellbeing that you do this. And also HOW COOL that your dad might start showing up here – I can’t wait for his column!

    • geofflivingston

      Hahahahaha, he’s complaining already! I’m just a B+ writer, says @facebook-100000937159172:disqus. Boohoo!

  • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

    You are the second person i know over the past two weeks who expressed almost identical sentiments. It must also have something to do with this time of year. I look forward to the improved blog posts next year :)

    • geofflivingston

      I do think it’s the ideal time of year to ice skate a bit. People are distracted…

  • http://www.inboundandagile.com/ Eric Pratum

    Just this week, Valeria wrote a post on refocusing (http://www.conversationagent.com/2012/11/perspective-1.html), which was just the thing I needed to finally get a post on work/life balance (http://inboundandagile.com/i-want-to-focus-on-my-career/#sthash.QWjyvvwP.dpbs) completed. I’ll summarize.

    No one can get back a missed experience, and positive experiences are easier to miss than negative experiences. For example, if I miss my wife’s birthday party, I can’t get that potential positive experience back, so I don’t feel any of the good vibes. If my wife gets in a car accident, I might not have been there, but I still feel the negatives of that experience – negative thoughts, just knowing that it’s happened, etc. This is one reason that I simply cannot be a person that invests in my career to the detriment of other things in my life. There are experiences that I will miss out on that I can’t make up for.

    Either way, good for you, Geoff. Having time to focus on what really matters to you is huge.

    • geofflivingston

      Totally get this… It’s funny, my wife just drove to Ohio with our baby for a couple of weeks with her family. It would be easy to work the whole time they are gone, but I refuse to lose a Thanksgiving with my daughter. I’ll fly out for it and come back, because that matters most. I don’t care about missed work time in comparison.

      • http://www.inboundandagile.com/ Eric Pratum

        I’d make the same choice ;)

  • http://www.bensonhendrix.com Benson

    This is a great reminder that many of us need to achieve a firmer work-life balance and try to put those closer relationship points, such as family, first. And that “my work is my life, therefore it’s technically in balance” isn’t a valid excuse anymore. We need to be able to relax and enjoy life if we can.

    I’ve been trying to do that more over the years after my wife (then fiancee) had to be rushed into Cardiac ICU for a week a few years back with a critical heart problem. That really reminded me of what mattered the most in my life, and work wasn’t anywhere close to the top of the list.

    As for the holiday season, I don’t know if I’ll be easing back as much as switching cars to redline. ;-) I’ve put my new consulting blogging and the book I’ve wanted to write on the back burner and it might be time to bring them up to the front for a while.

    • geofflivingston

      You can’t get back those moments when your family needs you. I remember seeing a list last year that said the thing people regret the most on their deathbed is working too much and not being present for their family. I need to listen to that.

      I’m sorry your wife had the heart issues. You’re a good fellow, Benson. I know you’ll have a great holiday season.

  • http://twitter.com/KDillabough Kaarina Dillabough

    Well, it’s not a holiday right now for us (we’ve already had our Thanksgiving in Canada ), but I always take a lovely break between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s a time for family, reflection and rejuvenation. But hey…I plan little oases of “getting away from it all” on a regular basis. Redlining is OK when it’s for a brief period. You’re wise to know that taking your foot off the gas, slowing down and enjoying the scenery is good for body, mind and soul, family and friends. Cheers! Kaarina

    • geofflivingston

      I almost wrote this into the post, but it was originally Aristotle that professed balance was essential for the mind. Now I think it is time to plan my vacation…

  • http://brianvickery.com/ Brian Vickery

    I definitely try to use the holiday season to recharge and “catch up” on some learning and business housecleaning since there is less external business. Most folks are not purchasing B2B products or services in December.

    This year I have to make the decision: do I go self-hosted with my WordPress blog. What do I gain vs what do I lose? How do I keep that identity and following/subscribers while starting up a potential new group blog for the company. Therefore, this season may be more around researching impacts/advantages.

    Of course, I might sleep in a little later…take a longer lunch…eat a few Christmas cookies (and my wife’s infamous Oreo balls)…and try to work at a more leisurely pace to appreciate my life.

    Have fun with the slobber-cation, Geoff!

    • geofflivingston

      Mmmm, slobber-cation. Just sounds delicious right now! LOL.

      I agree, it’s nice to take longer lunches, nap more, work out longer, etc. Hope I get the opportunity to do that!

      The WP thing sounds like work. Don’t work too hard!

  • http://twitter.com/TheChiefAlien HowieG

    I thought we were supposed to curate the Best of Ziggy book this winter with @Shonali:disqus I was counting on you for the liner notes.

  • http://gearboxmagazine.com/ Brian Driggs

    Ooh. An automotive metaphor. Me likey. ;)

    Years ago, I came across a poster in the IT department of a pool contractor that read “Automate, Delegate, Eliminate. We will do all that (company name) will tolerate.” I try to keep this in mind when things get spinning too fast.

    Redline might be the physical limit of engine speed, but it’s also when you shift up to the next gear. That’s how you go faster and cover more ground.

    Enjoy your holiday session, Geoff. Automate, delegate, eliminate.

    • geofflivingston

      Better get some synthetic oil, I suppose. Have a happy holiday, too! Brian. I’m sure/hope I’ll be seeing you soon.

  • Lisa NIrell

    This is an inspiring post, Geoff. Thank you for sharing, and giving others permission to say NO to the good, and YES to the great!

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