One of the best decisions I made last year was to only work during business hours. Up until 2016 I was making business decisions 24/7. I took pride in keeping my inbox empty and responding to all inquiries in a prompt and professional manner.
But not any more.
You see, I never got into performing to be a businessman. I just wanted to be onstage. But as more time passed, I became a workaholic. I would work 18 hour days every day of the week. My hours were filled with mundane tasks that kept me busy. And “busy” is a clever buzzword that people like to use to pretend they’re successful.
The truth is, you’re never going to accomplish everything you need to in one day. Yes, there will be days that are wildly more successful than other days but not every day will be that way. There’s no sense in treating every moment like it needs to be incredibly productive.
Opening up my evening and weekend hours left time for other pursuits. I started writing and reading more. Sometimes those projects were work-related (I spend a lot of time writing new show ideas, for instance) but most of the time they were just for fun. By the end of the year I had not only booked more shows than any previous year but I had also written a new show, a dozen or so essays I’m proud of, started to write my first book, and read some classic literature.
In the early years of being self-employed I almost never had time for creative pursuits. When you have a career in the arts it’s easy to lose sight of why you got into it in the first place. You get so wrapped up in learning new business skills that you forget to work on your real passions, too.
Lately, my focus has been to do one small thing daily. I try to do something business-related and something creative. Finishing a single task is a big deal. It usually leads to several other tasks, too. But staying small and staying focused keeps me sane and happy.
There’s a difference between overworking yourself and being consistent. It’s like training for a marathon - you have to work at it in small steps, every single day for months. Usually it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere but then, out of nowhere, you have a huge breakthrough.
When months of small progress have passed I’m always amazed to look back and see the results. Consistency always pays off but you have to be patient - you have to push through and not give up when things get challenging.
For the second year in a row, I just uploaded my 2016 Second Every Day Year In Review video. For the past year I’ve been filming a second of video each and every day. Then, I compile them all into a video, add the dates, and set it to music. The result is always astonishing.
I look back at each second and I can tell you everything I did on any particular day. I have clips with my favorite people, places I’ve been, and special memories of cats, coffee, food, hugs, sunrises, sunsets, and more.
The video is a testament to being consistent. It’s a true encapsulation of life as a whole. Some days were boring, some days were failures. Other days were full of big shows and big achievements. But no matter what, I still shot a brief video clip on a daily basis.
Together the trivial and boring, combined with the successful and silly make up my life. A life of consistent, incremental progress in a forward direction.