Everything in my life from the outside in looked amazing. My friends, family, and colleagues in the industry thought I was an example of “success.” I owned 3 separate companies, the world’s best family, amazing business partners in 2 of my businesses, and great customers, and felt I could do anything I set my mind to.
The only problem was… I was overwhelmed and unhappy.
In this blog post, I’m going to walk through how I fell into the “too many great opportunities” trap, how it nearly crushed my entrepreneurial and life dreams, and how the advice of a pumpkin farmer changed my perspective on business and life.
Why am I opening up and writing this right now?
First, I wrote this post a few years ago, and a lot has happened since then. Good stuff. We’ve grown Carrot to over 8,000 active members and multiple 7 figures in revenue… and I’ve had to use this process multiple times this past year to clear out the “distraction” and focus on the “big pumpkin.”
So just know… this process I went through a few years ago is one I still use to this day… that’s how much it’s changed my life.
Because now is the perfect time of the year to make some mindset adjustments so you can hit next year hard and make it your best year yet. Also, this one shift in my business has made the single most dramatic impact on my income, fulfillment, and impact on the world of anything I’ve ever done.
This article is for you if you…
- Are a high achieving entrepreneur and don’t want to settle for living an average life
- Feel like you’re working your butt off but not getting closer to your ultimate goals
- Have all kinds of revenue coming in but your bank account isn’t growing as it should
- Find yourself saying “yes” to almost any opportunity that looks “good” and is profitable
- Start each day feeling overwhelmed at everything you have to do and the little time you have to do it
- Wish that finally one of your businesses or business ideas would grow to its full potential rather than doing “decent” and leveling off
If you’re feeling any of those, you’re not alone.
That Was My Life For 2 Years. Busy. Long Hours. Unfocused. Less Happy. Less Fulfilled.
The frustration that I felt like I was doing all of the right things and I was “successful” in many people’s eyes… but I just never felt that I was able to crack through to my potential.
It seemed like I’d start a bagillion projects because they all had “promise”, but I would rarely take the important things through the finish line.
I’d always have a backlog of “to-do’s” and always seemed to carry the important “to-do’s” over to the next day for weeks and months on end.
I’d get to the end of the day and feel totally wiped out because I was really “busy,”… but I’d look back on the day and always felt like I couldn’t really pinpoint what important project I actually pushed forward in a measurable way that day.
Vision… most of the time, I really couldn’t clearly articulate what I wanted in life and what impact I felt that I was made to make on the world… because I was torn by making a vision too specific that it would alienate some of the “important” projects and businesses I’d already committed my time to… but that didn’t jive with what in my heart I knew i loved to do.
And worse, I felt that the more I took on and the more things I had going in my business and life, the better off I was.
In that life, being “busy” was a good thing and when people asked how I’ve been my default answer was always…
“Really busy as always!”
… almost like it was a badge of honor to be “busy.”
I Hit A Breaking Point, And Things Had To Change. So Here’s What I Did…
I couldn’t do things like this anymore. You can maybe relate.
If I wanted to live the life I knew I was made to live and to make the impact in life I knew I could make, I had to figure out how to change the way I lived and worked.
Then a deceptively simple mindset shift helped me break through to a completely new way to live and thrive in life and business.
I now work less, am focused and excited about the vision, am extremely fulfilled, I’m making more money than I ever have, have an amazing team of A-players around me, and I’m helping more people than I’ve ever been able to help.
Enter the pumpkin farmer.
How A World Record Pumpkin Is Grown (and why it matters to you)
Take a look at this picture below.
Let it soak in for a few seconds.
On the left…
… you have the “busy” and unfocused entrepreneur. Likely you. It used to be me.
That overwhelm, lack of finishing things, achieving below your potential, lower income, always being “busy” but nothing to show for it, etc.
That’s how I was during those 2 years of my life.
I started to see success in my businesses, and that success opened up more and more opportunities.
I didn’t realize it then, but opportunities are often times just distractions in disguise.
Each of those arrows is a different project, focus, or thing… that required my energy and time.
And as you may be able to relate… when you are working on so many things… none of those things can really grow to their full potential.
On the right…
… is what happens when you say “no” to 99% of everything (even things that look like great opportunities) and say YES to just the essential few things that are going to help you make the biggest impact in your life and income.
If you add up the length of all of those little arrows in the first diagram, they equal the length of this one long arrow here. So you’re expending the same amount of energy doing a bunch of unfocused things. None of them do all that well and you feel like you’re spinning your wheels.
But what if you focused on ONLY THE BEST opportunity and used that same energy to make that great? The results are a factor of 10x+.
As a real estate investor, you may be trying to wholesale, fix and flip, and do that new townhouse development you’ve got your eye on. They all seem related (all real estate)… but each of them requires your focus, energy, and your time.
So unless you build out an amazing team of people, none of those sides of your real estate business will really grow to their full potential like they would if you focused on just one of them… BUT MAKING THAT ONE THING EPICALLY GREAT.
That was the decision I made several years back after I read another book called “The Pumpkin Plan“… that really hammered home in a very simple way why it was so critical that I trim stuff down in my life and only focus on a few great things.
Enter The Pumpkin Plan And The Farmer
I’ve found over the years that many of the answers we need in business and life can be learned from farmers.
Farming is a 10,000-year-old discipline, and while technology has changed to help make farming more efficient, the essence of what it takes to grow great crops is the same.
You prep the soil, plant the seeds, water and fertilize those seeds, nurture that crop, and harvest it when it’s ready.
But looking back today, at that time when I was overwhelmed, bringing in good money but spinning my wheels… I was spending too much time planting seeds… I had too many crops out there… and none of my crops had a chance to really grow to their full potential because I had to tend to so darn many of them.
But in the book “The Pumpkin Plan,” the author talks about an epiphany he had at a similar point in his life after he read an article in his local newspaper where a state record-holding pumpkin farmer was asked how he grows pumpkins that get so damn big.
How to grow giant pumpkins according to a record-setting pumpkin farmer
And that process has crazy similar parallels in life and business.
Notice in steps 3 – 6 how focused that farmer is on getting rid of everything except that one single pumpkin that seems like it’ll grow the biggest and yield the best result.
He knows that if he keeps marginal pumpkins that are “good opportunities” just in case they may be great… or so he has ones to fall back on if that big one doesn’t work out… none of those pumpkins would ever have a chance of growing as big as it could.
The “ok” pumpkins or “good” pumpkins kill the chances of the great pumpkin from being amazing…
It’s that focusing all of that water energy, sun energy, and his own personal energy on that one pumpkin that has the most promise that makes the pumpkins so amazingly large.
If we relate this life and business… it may look something like this.
How to grow the best life, business, and income possible
(following a farmer’s advice)
Notice the same essential themes from farming to business.
- Promising seed = your biggest natural strengths
- Water = selling (gotta make those offers and market the heck out of your business!)
- Weed like crazy = cut all distractions and things that pose as “opportunities” but are distractions
- Focus all of your attention on the biggest pumpkin = focus on your best and most fulfilling opportunity or strength like crazy
Most real estate investors and entrepreneurs think that trying 14 different things at once is the path to success.
That “trying” direct mail, SEO, PPC, at the same time, is the path to success.
But it’s not.
Maybe dabble with each of them for a month just to see what gets a bit of traction… but then quickly recognize the one that you feel has the best opportunity to crush it for you if you give it more focus… and weed out the rest of the stuff. Then, focus on being insanely great at PPC.
Then once you’re great at PPC, you may want to add SEO.
Or if you are doing wholesale deals, some fix and flips, or developing an apartment building here or there… you’re likely not doing any of them justice.
What if instead, you recognized that your fix and flip business was the one that was the most fun and most profitable?
Then you’d want to weed out the wholesaling and apartment development and laser focus on being the best fix and flip investor in your area.
Your profits, fun, and fulfillment will all multiply.
Or, if you’re like me, who is a serial entrepreneur… you don’t have to totally cut off everything else you’re working on and choose just 1 thing.
But you should have 1 main thing that eats up 90%+ of your focus for a period of time.
How I Trimmed The Small Pumpkins
For me, at that moment in my life when I had several companies going on… and people were throwing new opportunities at me all of the time… this is what I did.
- I got laser-focused on what my unique abilities were (I love business and marketing strategy, I’m a big vision guy, and love amplifying people to think bigger in life and teaching).
- I trimmed off everything in my business that didn’t BEST help me do those things above. This also meant a lot of little projects or partnerships that looked like they were a fit at first glance, but they weren’t a “hell ya! I want to do that!” type of project… just a “ya, I could make money on that.”
There’s a BIG difference. I also started having my assistant check my email so I wouldn’t waste time in my inbox every day… but could focus just on the important emails.
- I weeded everything that was taking me away from my focus. At one time, I used to be subscribed to probably 50+ email lists. I’d get dozens of marketing emails daily from “gurus” just in case I’d need them someday or in case they had value. I unsubscribed from all email lists, but my favorite 1-2, turned off Facebook email notifications, deleted the Facebook app from my phone, and deleted the Gmail app from my phone.
I also started not feeling bad if I didn’t answer back an email from someone immediately… because anything that wasn’t directly contributing to my laser focus became a low priority.
- I focused on growing that one thing the best I could. That one thing was Carrot. Before making this decision, I had always treated this “online website thing” as a side project. One of my many little projects that had potential that I put a half-ass effort into.
But I started thinking, what if I put all my energy into this and made it an amazing company? What if it was so great I could recruit amazing team members, the ideal customers, and could make my business fun and profitable at the same time… while using it as my way to help the most amount of entrepreneurs as possible?
Sounds too simple right?
Well, it is simple. But it can be hard to take that first step because it feels weird.
It feels like you’re cutting out things that are perfectly fine things that are bringing you money… paying the bills.
But if you don’t get rid of those extra things and if you don’t laser focus on that “big pumpkin”… and give it all of your energy, focus, and resources… you’ll likely be spinning your wheels this time next year.
So You Have A Choice…
And looking back, this choice is pretty obvious now… but it wasn’t easy then.
Choice 1: Focus on what you do best and what you love; focus on that 1 business strategy/opportunity and work it like mad. Grow that 1 thing. And be less busy, make more money, and be happier. Buy The Pumpkin Plan (thanks, Mike!) and Essentialism if you’re serious about it.
And… Listen to Mike Line Out How To Plan Your Business For Less Stress And Higher Profits on His Episode of the CarrotCast:
Choice 2: Keep thinking that “more opportunities” is better. Keep thinking that “being busy” is a good thing. Keep hedging your bets by keeping some of those “small pumpkins” on the table as an option to fall back on and ignore the things your biggest pumpkin really needs (your full energy and attention).
And keep settling for your life and a business that runs you.
The choice is yours.
It won’t be comfortable at first, but you’ll look back this time next year and marvel at how your life changed. A simpler life, with more focus and more time to do epic stuff rather than half-assing a dozen things.
Follow that pumpkin farmer’s advice and trim your pumpkin vines often (especially at the end of each year).
Do you feel “busy,” over-extended, and stuck at your current income level?
Also, do you want more content like this? Showing behind the scenes of our entrepreneurial journey as we build a multi-million dollar company from the ground by doing the right thing and delivering an amazing product and experience?
If so, we’ll write a lot more about growing your team, creating a culture in your business, hiring, creating income streams other than real estate, increasing productivity, investing your money wisely, etc. If we get enough interest… we’ll start sharing our journey. Let me know in the comment section below.
Hit me with a comment below on what you think you should trim out before the end of the year?