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.
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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.
This picture is from the book “Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg Mckeown
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?
53 responses to “How A Pumpkin Farmer Changed My Perspective On Life And Business”
Awesome article T! Absolutely loved the Pumpkin Plan… and reading Essentialism at the moment.
Great time of year to do some more trimming :-)
For sure dude! Trimming feels so damn good too haha :-)
Very good article. I have never thought about life like that. Keep up the good work.
Jordan! Man, I hadn’t either… but I can tell you what… too many of us dilute the impact we can make (and the income we can make) by having too many “focuses” (which contradicts the whole idea of focus in the first place). When you’re able to really drill down on what’s your biggest opporutnity… and continually trim the other crap off… it’s game changing. Both of those books combined were big for me. They both talk about the same thing but from different angles.
Great stuff very timely thanks Trevor!
Trevor, thanks so much for this post. This describes my current state quite well as I find myself fielding multiple opportunities on a more regular basis. I’m going to pick up those book recommendations.
Michael! Man, it describes most of us… and I’ve found it’s not one of those things that is “experience it once and done”… I find myself going through this about once every 18 months or so and just now have a regular practice of “pumpkin planning” my life and business a few times a year.
New things are always growing… so it requires us to always be looking at the “biggest / best” thing and trim out most everything else.
I want to focus on fix and flipping and wholesailing. In my business, the two go hand in hand. I want to make K L Properties blast off in 2016 and by years end have six figure capital sitting in the bank.
K.C.! Go get ’em in 2016! I know you can crush it.
Great post, Trevor! You’re a great example of what can happen when you stop juggling and start focusing. Really happy to be connected with you and Carrot, and constantly learning from you!
Man, you’ve been seeing it materialize a bit from behind the scenes as well. It’s not easy… but the clarity and ease of mind you get is huge. I still have a long way to go but always having this mindset embedded in my head now has been huge. It’s almost like my “opportunity filter”.
Trevor great article and resources. I went through a similar transformation right after you and I were in that mastermind group together. I soon killed the glamorous Mixed Martial Arts gym/biz and focused back onto the one real estate strategy that I could pour gas into and skyrocket. I’m so much happier and now I’m very conscious of other people approaching me and also of other opportunities of my own doing (don’t get outside the focus). I like your resources in this post and am so glad to see you are doing great brother.
I LOVE it man. Likewise dude. I see you’re crushing it (as I always expected you would). Would definitely love to connect one of these days and catch up!
This article was as practically applicable to my life and business as anything I think I have ever read… like an epiphany of sorts. Thank you for sharing this Trevor.
Wow Ben, that’s what I was hoping it would do for some people. The funny thing is that you’ve probably heard bits and pieces of this before… but often times it’s the timing on when you hear a message on whether it’ll actually hit you at your core and mean something. It must be that time for you man! I want to hear in a year how your life has changed after you implement it. It’s not easy… it takes continual effort… but it’s amazing.
I loved the Pumpkin Plan Trevor. Thanks! I am reading The Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster Now (by Darren Hardy). Essentialism is next on my list. Great article.
Trevor great words as usual. It is always great to take a little time to learn something new. The only problem I am seeing with it is what I like to do is create new things…guess I just need to choose the one or two I like best.
So… not necessarily… and that’s what I used to think too. Look at guys like Richard Branson… or Jack Dorsey who co-founded Twitter and founded Square.
It’s not that you have to pick 1 product or 1 company… it’s that it’s very hard to split focus and have multiple big ideas do well. I saw that with my last companies. I had a few really good opportunities I was tackling at once. Each one of them took my energy, mindspace, etc. So it was the prototypical pumpkin vine w/ too many leaves and small / average / good pumpkins on it… all sapping the water and energy that should go to the big pumpkin. So none of them did that great and I was running in different directions never giving any of them the chance to make it past that point where they could grow w/o as much of my direct involvement.
W/ Branson… he was laser focused when he started his record company. It did very well, then as he grew… any new opportunity that he felt was a great one… he went out and found the person who was best suited to lead that company as the CEO (not him). That way he can focus on what he does best… which is PR, inspiring his workforce, big ideas, and being a great leader.
With you, you def do need to write a list of “pumpkins” (opportunities) you’re currently working on or thinking about. Then start to trim. Trim it down to only the one pumpkin that is the biggest opportunity right now. Tackle it while leaving the others on the “someday in the future” list.
Then once that one is doing well enough, structure the business so your aim is to replace yourself in as many roles as possible as fast as possible. So you can free up more of your time to focus on other big ideas.
I’m in a several year phase right now where Carrot is my big pumpkin. I’m trimming like mad. I have other really good opportunities that I am really excited about as well but have consciously put them to the “future someday” list. This way I give Carrot the best possible chance of crushing it.
People may be thinking… “what about Elon Musk? He’s chairman of Solar City, and CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla”. Ya, I get it.
First off, he’s superman. He literally works 100+ hours per week and is driven by this mission that is literally changing mankind. Not putting us down, but most of us don’t have that drive (myself included) to sacrifice pretty much everything else for that mission that he has for himself in life. But also, he has built insanely GREAT teams so he can focus on just what he does best. If you have insanely great people in the roles of the company so you can focus on what you love to do… that company can have multiple products, etc. Apple trimmed their product count from 200+ to under 15 when Steve Jobs came back (it’s since grown a bit). It gave them the focus to crush those 15 or so products vs. spreading that energy and innovation out to 200. They could “focus” on 15 because they had a ginormous team of great people.
Pick your 1 biggest pumpkin man. Grow that thing for a year or two. Then have the clear intention of bringing aboard insanely great people so they can do the things you’re not great at and don’t like… so you can keep coming up w/ ideas… filtering to the best ideas… and launching.
I’ve been doing this lately but mostly out of necessity. I love new projects, starting little niche hobby websites but I know for a fact that they don’t move me forward… The fun of the new project pulls me in but then i realized I have to get back to my business that actually makes me money. Recently I’ve been clearing projects within my business as well for the reason that I just don’t have time. Looking at those energy images gives me a really clear and powerful reason why I’m on the right track!! I’ve heard some things like this before but never put in this way. I won’t soon forget the representation of where focused energy can get you. Thanks so much for this post!
Great commentary and article Trevor! Super-valuable insights and advice!
Bob! Thanks for the great comments man! It’s made a big difference in my life!
Killer post Trevor…hit me like a punch in the face…
Good. It did me too when I first started thinking this way more often. I get a punch in the face a few times a year when I start looking at what I need to trim. But now that I’m getting better at not even letting new things on my plate as much like I did before (still have work to do on that front) I do a bit less trimming these days. Go get ’em Josh!
Great article! It’s true that being “good” at a numerous amount of things doesn’t beat being “great” at one thing. Being focused is so important and what you said about related “opportunities” in your field actually being distractions to the one thing you do best is so true, ask me how I know that one. lol
very timely, Thanks Trevor! Let me know if you have any Dream$avers outreach opportunities.
Dude…you always reach out and grab my attention when I need it most. Great post! It summarizes our conversations over the past year. It’s now when I finally have to act and realize that the “busy” work really doesn’t matter. It’s the grand vision and not putting mental roadblocks in the way of getting there. I will start treating my business like I do hunting. “Meet you at the top!”
Nailed it :-)
I needed this!! I was spreading myself thin, trying to “cover all the lead generating channels”, just in case. As a newbie I didn’t want to miss anything. My day job is in Cyber and I love anything techie, thus I “thought” I could manage my own websites. Your awesome articles have made me realize I don’t have the time nor the talent to keep up with the real players in the online generating niche. I will be hitting you guys up after the holidays.
James, ya man it’s the classic mistake most of us entrepreneurs make… trying to do do it all just in case you may want to use it someday. My best advice is to choose 1 thing at a time traffic wise and get really good at one of them before adding another one… unless you’re going to hire out the help to implement those multiple traffic strategies. It’s definitely all about your mindspace and what you focus on. We’re here for ya man!
Very inspiring read, Trevor. I have fallen under the spell of “busyness” far too many times…I even feel it creeping on right now lol. As a new investor but a fairly experienced broker, I am really aiming to laser focus on one marketing channel for fix and flip and wholesale here in SoCal. I feel very torn about what channel I want to pour all of my energy into, but reading this helped me see the importance of choosing one avenue and sticking to it!!
Anthony! Awesome man. Glad you really resonated with this post.
Ya man, focus on one marketing channel to start (never have just 1 marketing channel)… then as you get that one rolling well then start to add on the other channels. Again, I’m not saying to only do 1 marketing channel… just very hard for us to focus on and become masters on more than a couple big things at once. But then systemize and ramp up w/ other channels as you can.
Diversity in your marketing is a big deal… but enough focus on each marketing channel to make them crush it is absolutely required.
Go crush 2016 man!
Amazing read Trevor. Thought you were writing about me when I was reading that. Just staring at that energy pic for a few minutes really puts everything in perspective. Great article!
Dave! Thanks man! Ya, that energy pic really hit it for me. Definitely is a perspective shift. Crush it in 2016 man!
This is exactly what I needed, thank you Trevor. Just ordered the Pumpkin Plan and Essentialism, looking forward to reading them!
Matt! Awesome man. That’s what I love to hear.
Hit me back with a note and let me know how things go! Life is better on the far side of simplicity I can tell you that :-)
The more I focus on my passion project, the sooner it will be able to support me financially…gotta discipline myself as much as my pocketbook allows to not chase other opportunities just because I know they’re lucrative. Thanks man!!!
Yep exactly, don’t let the distractions take you off course for sure. Go get ’em!
Great article Trevor…thanks! I totally agree w/ your points…my motto Im working towards is “Work LESS, Live MORE & Live BETTER”. You helped me to narrow down my focus to 3 niches of real estate to grow my business and make that motto My REALITY! Dats good information you got going on here Trevor…keep it up and Thanks!
I LOVE your renewed focus right there. Here’s to a great year ahead!
Hey, if you haven’t yet… make sure to sign up for the “Make Your 2017 Epic!” webinar this Tuesday… it’ll help you get even more focused and I’ll show you what I do each year w/ my annual planning process.
https://oncarrot.com/epic <== Have an amazing Christmas!
Good article Trevor. It is kind of funny I just finished reading a book by Perry Marshall on the 80/20 principle I’m sure all of us are aware of but this book helped me see that the 80/20 truth applies to every area. As far as it relates to me and Investor Carrot it has helped me to determine I need to put my efforts into SEO and to focus in one other area of RE. Thanks for the encouragement and challenge.
Randy! Man I have that book on my shelf but haven’t read it yet… heard LOTS of great things about it.
Thanks for the comment man! We appreciate you!
“The man who chases two rabbits, catches none.”
Wish I had read it 5 years ago when I was juggling 3 major projects, none of which grew a big pumpkin.
Time to set Goal 1 for 2017. Focus on Flipping, unload any unwanted deals as quickly as possible for some profit, and stay focused on FLIPPING. I said it here, and am putting it in my calendar for same day next year…..
David! Man, I can totally relate. Totally.
I LOVE your clarity for next year there.
Make sure you join me on the Google Hangout I’m doing tomorrow on my annual planning process and how to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet.
Over here: https://oncarrot.com/epic <==
I can totally relate. I love the advice. Thanks for sharing this.
Reminds me a lot of the book, The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Pappasan. Out of all the people I’ve had an opportunity to listen you interview, Tyler Ford, has really hit home with me. Particularly because being a Realtor and real estate investor. Slowly learning that SEO is my Pumpkin at this moment in this industry.
Great topic T! Just what i was needing in my life and my new business. 2019 now and it still holds true. Thanks!!
Thanks Ed!!! Yep this is timeless stuff right here. I still use it in my life today!
Wow! It’s like this article was written just for me! Thanks for sharing! I plan on reading those two books and pairing down my small pumpkins! I have WAY too many…..
I am going to trim the “busyness” and concentrate of getting home listings using my carrot website, marketing, ppc and blog creating to make it rise on google. It’s time for me to trim all the branches that distract me.
This reminds me of Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing, great book. I read it twice and going to keep doing it
One of my favorite reads thanks too you. Great advice!