What to Do When You Feel Like You Can’t Catch Up

What to Do When You Feel Like You Can't Catch Up

Do you ever feel like you can’t catch up to what everyone else is doing? Do you feel worried that you don’t have enough time and that opportunities are passing you by? The internet moves at the speed of light, and just as you start to work on your new ebook… you find out that ebooks are out.

Oh, okay. Well, a membership forum then. That’ll work.

Too late. Passé.

Hm. Okay, a course would be alright. How about a course?

Except you look up and see everyone clamouring away about their course and you realize that you’ve already missed the train. It’s clattering down the rails a mile a minute and you’re watching it rattle by.

Alright. Courses are out. Now what?

Now you start to think you’re too slow. That you’ll never make it. That every idea you have is just two minutes too late because someone else beats you to it. You start to think it’s always going to be like this and that you’re never going to be able to catch a ride on that train to glory.

How are you supposed to keep up with everything? It’s impossible! You have other stuff to do, and you can’t do it all. It’s not like you have staff backing you up or tons of money available to hire people.

And you have to work and earn a living and take care of your family. Geez, you have a life, y’know.

Good point, that.

I don’t rush to hop on trends. I don’t have a course. Or a membership forum. I have some ebooks, and they do very well indeed. (You might even want to read one or two of them.) But I’m not over here going crazy and busting my ass to ride that speeding-bullet train of what’s hot these days.

Do I miss out on opportunities because I take my time? Sure. There’s value in hopping on a trend and cashing out on the potential. There’s money in being able to be one of the first launching something new and exciting.

Here’s the thing, though: There’s value in having a life that isn’t full of crazy keep-up pressure.

I like my life the way it is. I get to go out in the sun every day and chill out. I can spend time playing guitar and laughing with friends. I work the hours I want to, and I don’t feel I have to scramble to catch trends.

You may be different. I know people who love pressure, who enjoy scrambling to get it all done within just a couple of weeks. They brainstorm like crazy to find a way to launch what they need in the time frame they have. And they work damned hard as the wire comes down. They ride the exhilaration of moving fast.

That’s them. We’re talking about you.

You don’t have to go nuts. You don’t have to sweat the pressure. You can take an extra couple of weeks, or even a month or two or three, if that’s what you need to build what you want to build. There’s no one out there saying you fail if you miss the train. You’ll catch the next one. Or maybe you’d prefer a nice, easy drive instead. Hell, you might even walking best!

Look at me: I may not have a fancy course or an awesome forum or the next hot thing, but what I do have is the time to breathe and a life I enjoy. I have a solid business that does quite well indeed, thank you very much. I’m not frazzled, I’m not racing, and I’m not scrambling to jump onto anything.

If I miss an opportunity? That’s cool; there’ll be others that come along.

And that’s good enough for me.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I think every now and then we need a reminder that whatever we’re doing is just fine. There’s nothing wrong with being ourselves, and not being as fast as some others.

It’s all right if you can’t develop something as quickly as you’d like – work at your pace. It’s all right if you miss the cool trend – what you built is still good and worthy to launch. Let the racers move ahead and win – you’ll win in your own way and at your own speed.

If you know that what you’re creating is solid as a brick and that it’ll offer people good value that they can appreciate for a long time, then by all means relax. Enjoy life. Don’t try to chase the train. Don’t worry about whether you’re missing out.

You’re not. You’re doing just fine.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Nice. It’s good to read your perspective on this. Still, I think most people have to sacrifice something to build something new. Usually either client work & dollars, or sleep. Probably both. Anything worth building takes time to build. And unless you have passive income sources, it usually takes longer than you can give up during the day.

    That said, I agree that it’s a bad idea to jump on the bandwagon of the latest craze, just because it’s shiny and new and you might miss out if you don’t.

    • I agree you have to sacrifice something, yes – but does that mean you have to suddenly work 60-hour days, neglect everyone, stress yourself out and spend all your time hunched over your computer tapping away wildly for weeks?

      I’m not convinced that’s healthy, Glenn. Sacrifice, yes, but this isn’t martyrdom.

      • Yeah, I agree that approach isn’t healthy. But sometimes, unfortunately, it’s necessary. Sometimes…

        • *grin* Who says? Why necessary? It’s proven people get more done when they’re rested, well fed and enjoying work/life balance… so maybe this is just a belief and there’s possibly a better way of working. What do you think?

          (God I love debating with you…)

          • Of course it’s all a matter of perspective. Sometimes… Take my Problogger ebook collaboration, for example. We’d been working on that since Nov ’09, and in Aug ’10, Darren saw an opportunity in his schedule to launch. We had a week to get it up and out, and there was a lot to do in that time. During that week and the 3 following, I worked a total of 105 hours on the ebook. And that’s in addition to my regular client work for two other companies. All up, I worked 255 hours in Aug, as a result, (with 162 hours of that in the second half of the month, and 77 hours in the final week). Sure I could have said, “Nah, bugger that, I’m choosing work/life balance instead,” but then I’d have missed an opportunity that may not have arisen again.

            Sure, it MAY have arisen again, but when you’ve already put as much work into the project as I had in that ebook, it’s not as easy to be so philosophical about missed opportunities.

            Oh, and I’m comfortable with you calling me Glenn, from now on. “God” just seems so formal. 😉

          • It seems to me that Glenn is saying that SOMETIMES it’s ok to work those full-on hours to get something done and you’re taking it as being ALWAYS working those hours.

            Are you really going to honestly tell us that you never have crazy busy weeks where you work every hour you can James? Hmmmm?


            • Nah, Melinda, she’s just making excuses for not spending enough time on our upcoming ebook! lol 😉

              • I have crazy weeks, sure. The difference is that I CHOOSE to have them because I want to – not because I feel a sense of obligation to keep up with others or believe that this is what I MUST do to succeed.

                I’m very concious when I decide to put my 101% in – and I’m smart enough to know when to stop and say, “Time for a couple of days break. The world won’t end.”

                As for you, Mr. Murray, you just hush up and learn to enjoy what a BALANCED workload feels like.

                • When it’s your “choice” you keep your power. If it’s “necessary” you’re giving your power away to someone/something else. A subtle but important distinction in my experience.

  2. Nice post. I think the real point here is to not measure your success or personal awesomeness based on the what other people are doing.

    It’s a kind of validation that leads to a slippery slope of keeping up with the digital Joneses.

    I agree with Glenn too though… when you DO decide to work at something, strike hard and fast. Make it a big deal and pour 101% into it. Then, by all means have a holiday afterwords.

    Everything in moderation, including moderation 😉

    • You contradict yourself 😉 “Pour 101% into it/Everything in moderation”

      What if you’re not the kind of person who deals well with 101%? What if working so hard, in such a short period of time actually ends up making you sick or so stressed you’re freaking out?

      It’s a reality. I have people who tell me exactly what their days look like while trying to catch the trend train and who tell me exactly how they FEEL while doing it… like I said to Glenn, that can’t be healthy.

      I certainly agree about the validation – who CARES what others are doing?!

  3. Wow, I love this SO hard. James, I think I just fell a little bit in love with you.

    THAN YOU for the reminder!

  4. I have two different perspectives on this…

    Firstly, I completely agree that you shouldn’t feel forced to jump on a bandwagon just because it happens to be an extremely popular thing to be doing and secondly, just because you’re doing something that others did a year ago doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful too – as long as if you focus on providing sufficient additional value.

    • Yep, being first doesn’t always guarantee success. Someone with a bigger pile of money, a vast network and more experience could join the game at any time, potentially blowing you out of the water.

      Likewise, arriving late to the game yourself doesn’t guarantee failure. At least you know who that ‘someone’ is that you’re up against.

    • Absolutely. That’s it exactly.

  5. Thank you so much for the post and the timing :)

    I was talking to someone yesterday after a writing workshop (I was the teacher, she the student) about the craziness of trying to publish fiction, especially genre, especially in Germany.
    You are either before the trend – and rejected: “Nobody reads about such things”
    Or in the trend accidentally – and rejected because they’re in a hurry now and rather buy books from the US or UK that only need to be translated.
    Then suddenly the trend is “so over” because all the big publishing houses jumped on it and pushed out books as fast as they could …
    An agent told me that you can only keep yourself motivated by writing what you feel strongly about in your heart and hone your voice and style.
    There are authors who can catch such trends. But I guess it boils down to what you said: Some people even thrive under the pressure, a lot of people don’t but try.

    • When you’re into book publishing, it makes no sense at all.

      “You must write your book in three months. Five if you’re famous and can stretch it. And it has to come out by August. Otherwise, forget it – next year is too late.”

      No sense at all.

      • The book thing. I hear you. I was (heck, still am) very upset with the 90 day deadline I was given. It is very hard to look at your work and know how much better it could have been if everyone had just slowed down a damn minute. Then you end up agreeing with bad reviews because their complaints are the ones you made to the publisher before the book was rushed off to print, but you can’t say anything like…write the publisher, maybe they will listen to me next time.

        Deep sighs.

  6. James, thanks for this. We’ve been having a similar discussion over at Third Tribe and I see a trend….which will be controvertial to some, but I live on the edge.

    Men seem to value the concept of working extreme hours, pushing to get things done, and making any sacrifice necessary. Many do this consistently, others do it in spurts, digging in a dedicating a whole month to put out a product or project.

    Women seem to value success in the context of balancing work/life/family. Women still work hard and focus on deadlines, but they factor in a desire to have a flexible schedule, time to take a break, etc.

    The small sampling of comments above seem to support the hypothesis.

    There could be a whole book written on why this might be. Speaking only for myself, I must work in a more flexible, balanced way because I’m the primary caregiver of my son. I need to be at the bus stop when it comes, tuck him into bed most nights of the week, make him healthy meals and of course enjoy the fun stuff, like playing, reading, riding bikes, etc. My husband does much of the above as well, but if he’s committed to a project at work or needs to fly to Omaha for a week, he just does it with no need to figure out how all the stuff will get done with the kid.

    I in no way resent the difference. I’d rather be forced to balance. The pressure to “sacrifice” doesn’t motivate me. I do much better with the slow and steady AND the lack of externally imposed pressure.

    • I don’t know how true that is in reality, but it sounds about right to me!

      For the record, though, I don’t work many of my ‘crazy period’ hours while I’d usually be with the kids. I might work through to 6pm instead of finishing up at 5.30pm, but I still get up at 7am with the kids, do their brekky, help my wife get them off to school (including 2 days a week, actually taking them), then bath and do books and songs at bed time. Then of course I often cook dinner for my wife and myself after they’re in bed.

      In fact, this is one of the biggest challenges. Working a 77 hour week doesn’t sound that outrageous until you factor in a 3-4 hours a day of absolutely-cannot-work time.

      I find one of the biggest challenges is not making the time to do this stuff (although, yes, that’s difficult), but stopping myself from THINKING about work while I’m doing it.

      • You should read 168 Hours, Glenn. Most people assume they’re working 60, 70, 80 hours a week. But people grossly overestimate time, and when tracked, they actually work something like 50 hours :)

        Which isn’t so bad after all!

    • I don’t think the value of overworking is reserved just for men. In fact, I think women do it just as much – to prove themselves equal or better. For men, it just seems to be an accepted way of life, and because it seems their other life obligations are lesser priority, I think it’s easier for them.

      I think long hours, less sleep and overworking is a status symbol that people have been wearing far, far too long. It’s time to stop saying, “Wow, you did all that in X time? Amazing…” and start saying, “Huh. I’m glad I’m not you.” :)

  7. Great discussion. Can’t remember the quote exactly but it’s something like, “When you are working on something you love, it isn’t work at all.”

    James, Glen and everyone here seems to love what they are doing. That makes all the difference.

    (BTW: I liked the Problogger’s Scorecard ebook. It shows the attention to detail you invested in writing it. I think it will be helpful to me and lots of other people.)

    Back to topic: I do want to reemphasize James’ point about allowing ourselves to make choices about our time and energy. We have to control ourselves, not let others control us. Sometimes life gets in the way of what we want to do. James has wisely allowed us to know that is okay. There will be other opportunities when we want them.

    I was thinking about the ads for Labor Day sales. Today, we have the opportunity to get 20% off at the Bookstore, the Ford Dealership and at almost every store in the mall. We could save thousands of dollars by spending thousands of dollars. To what end? Next holiday there will be another sale, and then another… Now, there were shoppers who were standing in line at 6 AM. But hell, not me, I’m working on my blog article and reading Men with Pens. I’ve got the better bargain. Thanks James!

    • Smart choice, you, and you saved money, too 😉

    • Thanks Mary. I know we all have a lot of ebooks thrown at us, and it’s easy to dismiss them (I’ve only ever bought one!). But that doesn’t mean we should be dismissive when writing them. I honestly invested as much of myself in this ebook as I would have in a printed book. And it’s very nice to hear positive feedback.

      Also, I agree that if you miss a sale, there’s always next year. Well, nearly always…

  8. Thank you for some very timely perspective. It’s easy for me to look at someone like Max Lucado who appears to write a new book every six months, and feel totally inadequate. But I don’t do anyone any favors by trying to be the next Max Lucado. I never want to sacrifice my family, my friends or my health in an effort to do more than I am really called to do. Just like Jesus said, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”

  9. Loving this discussion! That is exactly how I feel…I always feel as though I keep missing the boat because I have 4 kids, a husband who is deployed, a “job” and my own business for which I write several blogs. I just do not have the time to jump on every trend even though it feels that I am killing myself to keep up!
    Maybe I will stop trying so hard to keep up…

    • FOUR KIDS! What the… FOUR?! (looks around wildly) Good lord…

      Ask yourself this: WHO do you feel you need to keep up with? And why?

      If you think about it and get specific, you’ll realize it’s only a tiny select few who are totally forging ahead, and that those people really don’t matter that much in the grand scheme of your life.

      Most people? Ech, we’re all living life at our speed and doing the best we can with what we have.

    • Oh wow, I had enough trouble with ONE child when my husband was deployed. Kudos for keeping it all going – it’s really tough when they’re off in harm’s way.

      James, I have a couple on my Blogging Workshop at the moment who have eight kids…..

  10. “If you know that what you’re creating is solid as a brick and that it’ll offer people good value that they can appreciate for a long time, then by all means relax.”

    That for me was the most helpful part of this conversation (although I did also giggle at the banter in the comments) because I’m guilty of pushing myself at times and stressing out if I don’t do what I want to do as quickly as I want to do it. For me though, it’s not so much a case of wanting to keep up or catch up with anyone other than myself.

    However, the reminder that ultimately, it’s about the quality of the offering was timely. Producing awesome stuff takes time and a clear head. Can’t have that on 4 hours sleep a night!

    • I tend to cut my sleep short every now and then in favor of finishing what I’m doing. But I’ve noticed that when I do get an awesome night’s rest (which is most of the time), I am twice as sharp the next day, twice as productive and burning through everything with fantastic fury.

  11. Looking4Purpose says:

    I believe doing what you can just for today should be enough. I personally make time for just about all that is on my list however, even if I don’t get something done, there is always tomorrow. You are right the internet, it is fast and if you have an idea that has already flourished, change it, make it your own. thanks.

    • Yup. I find it’s never very useful to kick ourselves that we didn’t do what we wanted to do that day. There’s always tomorrow, as you said!

  12. Hmm… Looks like everyone else has already said what my brain was screaming “Hell Yes!” to as I read on.

    I can say that this is the first thing i do with the folks that I work with (no matter where they are in their business). You have to know what YOU want in your life and from your business. Figure that out first and don’t be afraid to do it, no matter what others are having success with. Their happiness isn’t your happiness.

    Good stuff here :-)

    • It’s also important to remember that there’s plenty of stuff we’ve HAD success with that other people haven’t. Always good to put that in perspective!

  13. James,

    I really love your engaging style. YOu make me feel like I have known you for years, and we are sitting down over a coffee having a chat. THAT is the sign of a true writer if you ask me (not that you need me telling you that. I’m sure your online presence and your 28,355 readers have convinced you previously :) )

    Anyway, on to the post – I think you make a good point here, and that point is that sometimes its ok for there not to be one (thats how I read it anyway)

    I tend to get caught up not in the latest trend, but in the vain attempt to always be ‘doing something’ Ironically this leads to lots of action, but no ‘doing’ ever seems to come of it.

    Thanks for the read James, earned yourself subscriber no. 28,356 in me, I do enjoy learning and being entertained by a genuinely engaging blogger.


    • Aw, thanks very much, eh? I’ve been writing my posts in a different style lately (getting a little more personal), and this was one of them. It’s great to hear that it achieved my intended reaction!

  14. I remember when I first started using social media, I jumped in by taking Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Success Summit, a series of webinars that explored Facebook, Twitter, blogging, LinkedIn, and more. Each session was packed with information, and I was suddenly spending hours re-writing my bio, re-designing my blog, re-tweeting things I had learned, etc., etc., etc. I was up late most nights, and when I did sleep, I actually had dreams about new things I could write or new places I could link to! It was exciting, and the combination of adrenaline and new information kept me running at that pace for a long time. I wouldn’t be able to do that long-term, but like Mary Ulrich said above, it didn’t feel like work at the time, because I was loving it so much. Maybe that’s the key difference between unhealthy stress and healthy excitement.

    • This can be a huge problem for people who are new to certain areas of online business or blogging. They get caught up in a “must learn EVERYTHING! NOW!” because that’s very much what many ‘experts’ pitch to you, and the noise and pressure online can be heavy.

      It’s not healthy, and it’s not necessary.

      BUT! That said, if you’re enjoying learning new skills and DON’T feel like the rest of your life is suffering, then that’s awesome.

  15. Totally perfect timing, of course! I just wrote my 1st eBook in 5 days, after wanting to do it for a year and not feeling inspired. Topic? Procrastination! I know, cracks me up :D!

    The thing with feeling like you’re running out of time is, the more you feel that way, the less time you have cos you’re spending it all spinning your wheels! By you, I mean me and anyone else who’s ever been here of course.

    One of my daily meditations now includes “I have plenty of time” and “I do everything that needs to be done at the right time”.


    • There’s nothing like pressure to jam up your brain and make you struggle with your creativity. How can anyone do anything without feeling relaxed, in control and on the ball? It places all the focus on keeping up versus doing your best. Who wants that?

      Those are good meditations, by the way. Total chill.

  16. Sorry to jump in here again, but I just read an article in the paper (yes, I still get the paper) about a 38 year old woman who was diagnosed with cancer when her youngest was 9 months old. The little girl is 4 now and her son is 7. The mom died yesterday.

    She spent several months recording her interactions with her kids, “so they can know that I loved them more than they can imagine.” She said she regrets most that she won’t be there to meet her kids at the bus stop and get them a snack. OMG–

    Oddly, I got an email today from one of my blog readers today telling me she was just diagnosed with cancer and is in aggressive treatment now leaving her too weak to do her business. She wants support to shift her model so she can have time to get well and still make a living.

    We don’t have all the time in the world, we really don’t.

    Use your time wisely, please…. all that stuff that feels so pressing now probably isn’t. Plan your work time and business models accordingly.

    Here’s the article and some of the video..

  17. My day job as a nurse psychotherapist has been seeing clients who often suffer from a self-imposed anxiety of not being able to keep up with a perceived expectation. Some even talk about feeling stupid if they didn’t see a review on a product they bought that wasn’t the best value for their dollar, while friends tell them, “You should have seen this video before you bought it.” The feeling of not being able to keep up drives some to shame, while others recognize that unless they had three other people working for them, it is impossible to do everything, know everything, and please everyone. Heck, it’s sometimes hard enough to take care of one’s self, let alone care for a spouse, children, pets, and aging parents.

    Slowing down is almost never a bad idea. People who need this advice usually don’t need anyone kicking them from behind to do more. In an age when we are almost never offline (i.e. we leave our computers and mobile phones on the majority of the time), there are more fears about people becoming reluctant workaholics than people becoming lazy, and more concerns about life-work balance as the two areas of activity begin to merge (such as people who work from home, or have hobbies that turn into businesses which they life guard virtually).

    • That’s the thing – much of the time, anxiety is self-imposed and we create it all on our own. And, since we have the power to create it (and fuel it!), we certainly all have the power to stop it and eliminate it as well.

      We get hung up on a lot of stuff that we don’t even realize is self-caused. It’s good to have permission from ourselves to let go of what’s not really that important and to know that we don’t need to kick ourselves at all.

  18. Life is too short to thrown yourself willy-nilly into the latest whatever. You simply need to take stock of where you are, where you want to go…and how you’re going to get there (come hell or high wawa)!

    I’ve been there and done that and bought the entire apparel store with regards to insane work hours or latest crazes or what have you – they pale next to good health, great family and a strong sense of confident self. ’nuff said.

    • LOL, you have such a go-getter attitude. Problem is, it’s not that easy for most to break life down into action-focused goals the way you or I do (blame our entrepreneurial mindset)!

      Your comment reminds me of something, too. In Quebec, at New Years and Christmas, we wish each other good health. I always said, “Health?! Give me money! I’ll buy my health!”

      But with time (and one hopes maturity and wisdom), I’ve learned that health is the most valuable asset we have – and the only person who’ll take care of us is ourselves.

  19. Aaaaaahhhhhh (heavy sigh of contentment and stress relief…)

    Thanks James.

    This has honestly been holding me back from releasing a series of eBooks I’ve had on my backburner for a while, and I don’t even think I realized what the trouble was until you put my head on the page for me.

    I’m going for it. What the hey.

  20. We flow through life at different speeds. Sometimes we are waterfalls, and sometimes streams.

  21. I did this when I left my corporate job in the middle of the worst economic downturn in my life time. I rushed and stressed till my “freelance” life was mimicking all the reasons I left “employment”. By trying to do everything, I accomplished little.

    About 9 months in I learned to curb my ambitions. I got organized, I prioritized, and I stopped worrying about keeping up with everything. I began to pace myself. Two years later I now have people coming to me. I won’t say I didn’t burn the midnight oil quite a bit. I did, and felt the wrath of friends and family quite often. I made sacrifices, but tried not to stop living. It took me some time to find my groove, but when I did it did pay off.

    I think James is right and isn’t speaking exclusively, as if there will never be times you crunch. But you can’t keep up that pace forever and produce anything of quality consistently.

    The flip side to this is people I have to listen to who think it will happen over night, without doing anything other than wanting it to happen. People who say, “I’m not giving up my life.” “I have to have a life you know.” Yes, you do, but you still need to find the discipline and balance to make it happen. If four outings a week with friends is more important to you than building your dream, it just may not ever happen. You balance live with work, but you must find the balance in your work also. Otherwise, keep an 8 – 5 job and don’t call me everyday to complain about it.

    Sorry for the novel, it’s been a long hard road and now that all that work is paying off I am still amazed at how many people think I just pulled it all out of a hat. :) The very same people who a year ago were very disappointed in my choices.

  22. Ok, seriously – How did you get inside my head? Ironic, since what I want to create as an online blogger, writer, entrepreneur, is a live where I call the shots without the pressure of running to “keep up.” Thanks for the reminder to stay awake to what really deserves my time and attention.

  23. Brilliant post. LOVE IT. This is something I remind myself quite often – life is not a race. Remember the Jones’? Yeah, no matter what we do, won’t be able to keep up with them. And, what’s the point, really? We all have to live our own lives at our own pace. It’s definitely hard to remember that though. It’s so much easier to fall into the trap of putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to keep up with the latest trend. Thanks for reminding all of us to stop, take a deep breath, and keep plugging away at the thing we do best without spending so much time looking around to see what the guy next to us is doing.

    • Exactly. What IS the point of keeping up with others? Do they make you richer? No. Do they increase your status? No. Do they come help you when you need it? No. Busting ourselves to try and keep up with people is a game of chasing fool’s gold.

  24. I’m kinda thinking that after everyone jumps on the craze of offering this class, ebook and everything else, it is better to sit back and wait. That way you can cover what they didn’t and add on to their product at a different angle. I found with writing books, there seems to be gaps of information left that were not covered and here is where your product comes in to even out those spaces and offer value.

    I don’t know about publishing a book yet, but am looking to enter that market at least with non-fiction. Self-publication is always a good way to go and podcasting to pick up readers and land an agent, at least it worked for several other authors.

    • Now that’s a VERY good point. I see a lot of beginner-level stuff out there. A LOT. It makes me wonder, all the time, how much more amazing, in-depth or practical the info would’ve been had they spent 6 months or more working slowly away at developing something GOOD.

      Instead, they made something FAST. Oy.

  25. I’m so confused these days and your post helps me keep my sanity in place. I owe you one on that. I think many people are on the hunt for the latest buzz that will hit the World Wide Web in a millisecond and it can be very stressful at some point. So, I’d say taking it slow makes perfect sense, like you sitting in a corner of a bar and just watching everybody else. There’s no point keeping up with all these fast-paced changes and sometimes, it takes a second to stop and realize how lucky you are to have been alive. It’s never too late to really give your time to what really matters most… before you lose your one shot in life.

    • Everyone wants to cash out before the money’s all gone or the craze is over. There’s more important stuff in life, like enjoying your day, liking your job, feeling rested, relaxed and successful. Yeah?

  26. This is where planning and scheduling comes into place so you don’t always feel like you’re chasing your tail. Freelancing is the same as every other business. There should be no adhoc decisions made. At the same time, you can do what you can in the time you have available and not over-commit yourself or berate yourself for not picking up on every latest trend.

    • Planning is a tough one. Some people plan and are crushed when others beat them to the punch. Others plan and have a hard time sticking to the schedule because of how they work. Some just don’t know how to plan.

      But you said it best: Do what you can, don’t over-commit, and don’t kick yourself for not being first.

  27. oh em gee , that is exactly what I needed to hear right now. I have been so stressed out about getting a new theme up, recoding the commentluv api in preparation of a premium comluv, setting up the new menu site with custom post types for the takeout shop, coding the ePOS system, developing the backend code for the new startup and.. and and .. and..

    oh dear.

    it’s nice to know I have permission to just chill t.h.o :-) I just gotta be careful though that I don’t stay away too long, the journey back into stressville kinda turns me off the whole ‘work’ thing . :-/

    • You have my permission! But you mentioned a situation that’s just as bad… the one where overworked freelancers say, “I’m screwing off for the day!”

      Then they come back to three times as much work.

      Try to see what you have to do and how urgent it REALLY is. Schedule less work in a day and stretch out the project deadline a bit. Make it feasible, manageable and pleasant, and make sure you get at least a few hours each day to screw off and enjoy yourself.

  28. One of the many things I have learned from my business and professional career is that procrastinating will never get you anywhere. If you have a good idea today then act on it today and not wait for tomorrow. Lost opportunities happen that way for most people.

    • Sometimes people procrastinate for good reason, though – maybe it’s not a good project and deep down, they know it. Maybe they don’t LIKE that kind of work, and it’ll suffer if they actually do it.

      Find out why you procrastinate… and fix it by making sure you’re doing what you love most.

  29. Just tweeted this post….so great, so true. James, you and I have a very similar outlook on life. I often share this outlook with clients(we do some similar things, hehe)and most are resistant at best. I realize it may just not be their style, pattern, etc…Anyway, great post. Best, Matthew

    • Yay, Matthew!

      That’s important to recognize too – our style, patterns, routines and overall “what works for us” doesn’t always work for them. But until someone’s shown me that they’ve tried it – REALLY tried it for two to three consistent weeks… I can’t believe them 😉

  30. Yes, I do feel like I need to catch up. Is it ruling my life? Heck no! My ebook will come out when it’s done. My course will come out when it’s time has come. Do I want these sooner than later? Absolutely. I’m not stressing over it. There’s too much good stuff going on, and I focus my attention on them.

  31. Oh James, this is exactly what I needed right now…

    Great post and very true.

    And you know what? In my opinion, it’s much more likely that *you* come up with something that turns out to be the next big thing when you’re working at a pace you’re comfortable with than if you strive every day to catch that train. Who has time to come up with a brilliant thing while chasing something? Personally, I have to focus on what I’m chasing and any extra attention goes to the ground I’m crossing so I don’t end up getting to know it intimately… :)

    • That’s the thing. When we’re racing to catch up and keep up, we can’t spend the time to get to know a skill, a technique or a topic intimately and in depth. Then we’re never really experts… just skimmers passing by.

      Don’t be like that!

  32. And here I was thinking I was special because you liked to pick fights with me in the comment section. 😉

    I personally subscribe to the Vaynerchuk mentality of “work smarter AND harder” but I know that I can’t do that 100% of the time. I have a wife and kids. I have another full time job in addition to my own business. I have a 2 hour commute…each way. If I don’t stop and breath occasionally, then what is all of that work for in the first place?

    I especially like the fact that you address the mediums that are “dead”. First of all, I don’t think any of them die. Ya, they might come and go in popularity among certain crowds, but I’m still amazed at how many people are just now getting online. While the “cool crowd” may deem something dead (just so they can say they were the ones who called it maybe) there will always be people that view those mediums as new and/or exciting.

    Basically, I’m not trying to leave the rat race just so I can run on a different course.

    I think I might actually be agreeing with you on this one. 😉

    • If you wanted to pick a fight, we could… lesse…

      Oh, damn, I can’t. I’m actually sitting here thinking, “A two-hour commute. That must be peace and heaven in a car. Or a train. You could listen to anything you wanted on the radio (learn something with audio!). Write avidly if you didn’t have to drive. Think. Be creative. BE.”

      When I came online, btw, forums were big. Guess what? I’m seeing them pop up again – just under a different name. Oh, and with a price tag 😉

      • Actually, that two hour commute is THE reason I started listening to podcasts. I haven’t listened to the actual radio in ages now because I’ve fallen in love with podcasts the past few months. I think as phones get more sophisticated (mine is a 4G phone), podcasts might just be one of those things that make a resurgence.

        But still, being 6’5″ and sitting in a car for two hours is a beating. :(

        I’ll refrain from saying that last line in over 600 words though. LOL

  33. Wow,

    I stay off the web for one day and look what happens… pandemonium about taking it easy. I love it!

    As a person who is psycholocially wired to do as much as possible before I die, I can completely understand the necessity of taking it easy and doing things at your own pace.

    My pace just happens to be crazed, but I enjoy it that way. I think that it’s when you are on a pace that you do NOT choose and you are working at a rate that is being DICTATED to you, is when it’s no longer healthy.

    It may sound wierd, but I find a lot of calm in a huge to-do list. However, I do understand that multi-tasking equals death and I’m trying to overcome it… there is just so much fun stuff to do out there and I want to do it ALL.

    Thanks James, for letting us know that it’s ok to miss the bandwagon (as long as you have some income I suppose) and that working like a maniac may not be the best choice for mental health.

    I will still have my laptop on at all times when watching TV, however (because that just seems less mind-numbing… or is it twice as mind-numbing? hmmmmm)

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

    • Yeah, you’ve got the right of it. No dictatorship, no self-applied pressure to succeed. It’s whatever works for each of us – in a way that FEELS RIGHT.

  34. “Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand – relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. If you relax, you start vibrating with it.” ~Osho

    We are all “here”, where we suppose to be!

    • “Lead me not into temptation. I can find it myself.” – Anonymous

      Oh, wait. We’re not quoting our favorite quotes. Sorry… damn. Now I have to find something meaningful.

      “Que sera, sera…?”

  35. Relax. Chill. Those are two of my favorite words. As a SAHM who has recently got into blogging, I constantly feel like I’ve either a) already missed the boat, or b) have so many things to learn that I’m gonna miss it if I try.

    If I actually do spend some time with my favorite words, I learn what James is saying – that I’m trying to meet someone else’s standards. And that my values are a little different.

    And that’s OK. And then I relax some more…

    • I’ll tell you something. If one in three households are on the ‘net, that leaves two in three yet to come. You’ll be ahead of all of them.

      And even if we’re at half of them on the ‘net, you’re still ahead!

  36. Amen, my sista from another mista. 😉

    But seriously, you’re totally right. My children (my son, specifically) have served as much needed wake up calls about this. I’ve been forced to slow down, pare down and calm down.

    And I love it.

    Thanks, James!

  37. Oh, and sorry…forgot to mention that I learned how fleeting time & life are at the young age of 3. My father tripped, fell, fractured his skull and died – at my 3rd birthday party.

    Literally since that day, I’ve known how precious time and family and life are.


    • Oh man. That just put a lot of things in perspective for me. *hugs*

      My Dad passed on when I was 17. I spent five years before that hating him for being sick and someone I didn’t recognize, and I spent a long, long time after that missing him.

      So yeah. Family means a lot to me too.

  38. Um, yes. I feel like this. All the time.

    This is timely too because I feel totally behind today due to taking yesterday off for Labor Day. I hate that because I feel like it takes 3 days to catch up for each day lost.

    I came to the realization a few months ago that I absolutely hate speed working on a million things at once. I’d rather lock myself up in a room for a few hours and work slowly, quietly, and deliberately on just one thing.

    Now just figuring how to make that work. :)

    • I know the feeling. Been there, done that. And then I got fed up of it and decided that I needed to arrange my life in a way that at WORST, it’s one for one.

      One hour away, one hour catchup. One day away? One day catch up. I can live with that. Takes some figuring out to cut out the overload that’s creating TOO much catchup, but it can be done!

  39. I like your new voice James, make sure you use it more often!

    I go through cycles of feeling like this, getting stressed, thinking I’m going to implode (and miss out on all the cool stuff). Then a voice inside my head interrupts and reminds me that as a freelancer, I’m actually fully in control of the situation. So I take a deep breath, let the stress wash away, re-focus on why I’m doing this in the first place, and don’t look back.

    Mind you, I’ve had to learn the hard way to do this. I’ve had two bad episodes during my life that taught me what to hold on to and fight for, and what to let go and move on from.

    (Heather and James – Can relate to the Dad passing on too early. Mine died while I was travelling overseas when I was 20. Took me a long time to get over it.)

    Again, excellent topic. Love all the comments.

    • Yeah, the cycling is the worst of it. I think everyone needs someone that can be a compass in time of need, and it’s good to have someone who stops the spinning dial and says, “Hang on there. Not like that. Go north, remember?” (Hence this post. Go north, people!)

  40. What a refreshing post! Thank you for validating what I’ve been discovering. In my former life; before the economy tanked, I was a custom furniture maker and often went through periods where orders came in so fast I was working 14-16 hours a day six days a week trying to catch up. The job security was nice, but the stress stunk! Now that demand for that aspect of my life is way down, I’m exploring the option of earning a living from my other passion; writing. And I find the slower pace quite refreshing. I imagine it could get crazy if I let it, but I try to schedule in some down time between projects. Sometimes I catch myself feeling lazy for doing this, so I appreciate the affirmation that life doesn’t have to be a stress custard all the time.

    • Well, many writers know about those 14 to 16 hour days, Allan, so now that you’re a seasoned pro at spotting them – and stopping them! – keep that in mind for the coming future, and keep scheduling that downtime.

  41. I really liked this post, and it is so natural it came from James – as he does things in his own signature style.

    I really needed this post – past so many days I’ve been beating myself up for not finishing one book I wanted finish. I know I’m lazy, but has the feeling that when the time comes all things we have been postponing would be done, eventually.I wonder if we all do things in a huff … we end up doing them over and over again (with regrets). I want to do a good thing and take little time to give the little extra that people would be happy to receive.

    In any case, rushing through things would make people crazy, things hazy and the environment musty.

    Thank you for the inspiring post!

    • Schedule it in! Stick that book in the hamster-wheel of the week and make one hour for it every three days. (Come on – you can do an hour, right? Even when you’re being lazy!)

      (For the record, lazy’s cool sometimes.)

  42. I confess to not having read all of the comments here (I didn’t have the time), but this is one of those things that bugs me too.

    It’s what bothered me about Gary V’s book “Crush It” – his feeling that you need to hustle, hustle, hustle to make something happen. That you should stay up until 4am working on your business because you love it. I’ve seen a lot of people taking this “hustle” philosophy as gospel, and I can anticipate their burnout happening at some point in the future unless they figure out what works for them.

    And that’s the point. I could follow a religion that believes cup cakes are evil and then adopt that same belief. But I love cup cakes and so I’m not going to follow (or start) that religion. Same goes for any doctrine – never absorb it without questioning how it works for you and how it fits with your values.

    I prefer walking around cities rather than taking the tube, bus or tram, because I get a better sense of how the city’s put together and I get to discover hidden gems along the way.

    I’m an ambler.

    • You didn’t read each and every one of the near-100 comments? That’s it. You’re fired. I can’t believe you didn-… Aw, geez, I can’t stay mad.

      If anyone ever told me I had to stay up until 4 am because I loved it, I would promptly stop loving it hella fast. I wouldn’t even stay up until 4am for a hot-looking CF-18 pilot, sorry. He can wait. And so can Gary. And everyone else for that matter.

      Very, VERY good point on adopting doctrines, by the way. I counsel never to subscribe to kill-the-cupcake cult.

  43. Almost comment 100, huh? Guess I might be a bit too chilled! Seriously, though, I like the advice and will have to keep coming back to this post to remind myself that it’s ok to take life a little slower sometimes. When life allows…

  44. James,

    I really appreciate this post on being okay with taking your time. There are so many times when it can seem like we’re not making progress, but really we’re making reasonable progress in the grand scheme of things.

    I feel that when I get overloaded with a bunch of stuff to do, the progress never goes as fast as I’d like. It’s easy to get bummed. When I step back and look at it, though, I can appreciate what I have done, and realize there is only so much one can reasonably do in that amount of time.

    Thank you for communicating this with such eloquence.

  45. I’ve been so busy juggling all those balls in the air that I haven’t had the chance to read this and comment until now ;o)

    Another beauty that I’m going to print out and stick on my wall (I may even laminate it…)

    I can’t remember the last time I just sat and did nothing, or walked without a purpose. Even when I’m driving I’m thinking about my next blog post or ebook chapter (so what if I’ve missed the band wagon there, I’m still going to finish it!)

    Great little nudge to remember what’s important – thanks James! Lucy

  46. Karen Perese says:

    Reading this post was like reading a Diary entry I would have loved to have made in my own Diary sooner rather than later. It’s a post I would send to a friend I knew was working like a mad man-women not seeing daylight or best ROI for time, energy, stress, health, sanity and so forth. And it is very similar to me.

    Some forfeiting I have done for the all nighters online was by my choice only, or so I thought. But it wasn’t. It was desperation marketing and nothing was ever going to work in that style energy or mindset until I stopped and I did!

    It may seem to some it would take a certain economic status or outstanding belief system to watch others go by while you wait and pace it to success. This post has encouraged me to see it is my belief system and my ever reliable instinct that says pace it, and I’m so over cold coffees.

    Excellent post and my sigh of relief after reading is yours James. It felt as if I had just been served up a fresh tall cool cup of water by a side line supporter as I ran in from my “don’t miss out now” internet marathon.

    I have just begun reading through your amazing website and it’s so full of awesome-ness !

    Thanks so much!


  47. Tom Southern says:

    This is great advice James. I’d go a step further and say that taking your time is going to get you more success because you’ll be able to breathe, be yourself, not get smothered in other people’s junk.

    It’s all about letting your readers feel comfortable enough with you to let you know what it is that they want answers to.

    You have to have an open door so that they know you’re there ready, and waiting for their questions. Yes, you may have to prompt them to ask. Yes, you may have to open up to them a little about your own problems, and how you’ve found a solution which you’re willing to share with them if they want you too.

    In the end, taking time this way can build yourself a business you’re happy with, that’s making you and your readers enjoy results you both want.

    And yes, you’ll discover you’re doing just fine. Both of you. Neither you or your readers will be missing out on anything (that matters for what you want). You’ll both be winning.




  1. […] Amanda seems intent on eliminating exclamation points. Rachel’s almost as dedicated. Peter tells me I’m not as busy as I think I am, and James kindly tells me to take it slow. […]

  2. […] bulldozing obstacles en masse just creates massive amounts of anxiety. Take it day-by-day. Don’t worry if you’re not moving as quickly as you want to, if you’re goal oriented, you’ll always feel that way. Just be nice to yourself. And remember […]

  3. […] Amanda seems intent on eliminating exclamation points. Rachel’s almost as dedicated. Peter tells me I’m not as busy as I think I am, and James kindly tells me to take it slow. […]

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