Notice the very first word in the title. Notice that I’m TRYING to stay in the room. I’ve been trying to get some much-needed balance in my life over the last few months. If I’m being totally honest, I have failed miserably.

What’s been happening?

Stress. Overwhelm. Frustration. A LOT of frustration. Just a few of my emotions I have been feeling recently. In reflection (with the help of my better half), it’s down to me stretching myself too thinly. Trying to do too much of everything and achieving not much of anything.

If you’ve read or listened to my previous content, you’ll know that I am obsessed with Financial Independence. This has become an unhealthy obsession and that’s part of my problem. Another issue is trying to focus on too many goals.

I’m currently making several mistakes as I push hard towards my goals. I’m happy to fail forward and don’t mind making mistakes. But I’m struggling to find balance and my negative emotions are getting worse with each week that passes in 2022. In fact, my stress levels are getting to a point where they are affecting my relationships.

This is something I’ve been aware of since the start of 2022 and have been talking it over with my wife over the last few months. I need to make some changes and get some much-needed focus. In fact, I’m going to try and get some deep focus and get some balance back.

Too much of everything  

One of the things I do with my DUFFMONEY content, is tell anyone listening what not to do. I’ll try and help you to avoid my mistakes. And this is what I’m going to do with my lack of balance over the last 6 months.

It’s ok to have meaningful goals and to push hard for them goals. But it’s just as important to be present in the moment. I’m aware of this and have previously written about it but I haven’t really practiced what I’ve been preaching. It’s time for me to start being present and time for me to notice what’s going on around me. To enjoy life and to stop being so fucking serious!

Anyway, what have I been up to? My little daily routines have been turning me into a stress ball. A very tired stress ball.

My daily routine has been to wake up at 5am and get a cold shower. I’ll then do some light exercise with some stretching. Then it’s time to do a 10-min meditation. By 6am I am in the gym lifting weights for 30 mins. At 7am I’m at work and ready to do an 11-hour shift. After finishing at 6pm, I’m off to BJJ (Brasilian Jiu Jit su) for 90 mins on the mats. I arrive home at 8.30pm to spend an hour with my family. I’ll finish the day with a podcast or YouTube video and end up asleep by about 1130pm. This is my daily routine.

In a normal week, I would do this for 4 days of the week. I have a Tuesday night off from BJJ so spend the night with my family. I’ve been working 6-7 days for the last 6 months and I’m knackered. I’m not after sympathy for my self-inflicted tiredness I’m just painting you a picture of what not to do.

That isn’t the full picture. What’s probably the worst thing about my daily and weekly routines is what I get up to during the day. Like being distracted by everything. When I’m at work, I’ve been focusing on work maybe 20% of the time. This is because my mind is on my next blog post or YouTube video. It’s on sneaking a BJJ video as I try and push towards being a blackbelt. It’s on checking my emails for any news of my new job – like 3-4 times every hour. Every time removing my attention from my work. Then I’m pulled towards Rightmove as I look for my next property. I’m getting frustrated with property due to the current property market and this doesn’t help my state of mind.

And then I’m getting distracted by social media. I’m ashamed to say that I’m constantly looking for validation on social media. My weekly blog post and podcast go out on Monday mornings. On Friday, my latest YouTube video goes out. I spend a lot of time checking on the stats. How many views on my Linkedin post or Twitter post? I get pretty much zero engagement on Twitter but still I check. I’m not proud on my apparent need for social media validation!

Then it’s checking in on the book sales. FI Money: Learn the hard way, teach the easy way and The Dormant Landlord. I check on them a lot and again I’m not proud! I’m forcing myself to stop checking on book sales. It really isn’t important. What is important is that they help other people with their investing. I’ve had excellent feedback from people who I care about and that is enough.

My wife Katie has said some very wise words to me over the last few weeks. One of the things she has mentioned is how important it is to stop looking for validation on social media. And specifically, to me, she has told me to focus on work when I’m at work. This will give me more of a chance of hitting my work/career goals. Outside of work, Katie has told me to focus on BJJ while my body is still capable.

I will be giving everything to BJJ this year with my wife’s words ringing in my ears. I will get a grip and I will focus on BJJ.

Instead of being distracted by everything, I’m going to double down on my focus. I’m going to focus on enjoying my life with my family and friends. I’m also going to focus on work and BJJ. My intention is to move away from distraction with some deep focus.

Stolen focus

They say timing is very important. Or is it timing is everything? Either way, Stolen focus is a book that came along at a time when I needed to change a few things in my life. When things start to have a negative impact on my family and friends, I start to pay attention. Especially when my actions are causing that negative impact.

A couple of Sunday’s ago I was feeling stressed out. This was because of a little hangover and from the fallout of my negative habits. I was watching Sunday Brunch and Johann Hari was talking about his latest book, Stolen Focus. I resonated with what he was saying and bought the book straight away.

If you are struggling with any of the issues, I have mentioned like being distracted by your email or social media, this book is well worth a read. The book contains many case studies regarding distraction and lack of focus. From his research and experience, Johann feels that distraction is a systemic problem. Like Big Tech from Silicon Valley (Google, FB etc) and 1000s of engineers doing a very good job of grabbing our attention for long periods of the day.

One of my issues has been my own little battle with Big Tech. Like reducing my use of social media. I’ve been aware of this issue for the last few years but have failed miserably in limiting the time I spend glued to my phone. I use my phone far too much and react to every little ping. This excellent book argues that you can’t win this battle against big tech by willpower alone.

Six big changes Johann has done to improve his attention:

  1. Use pre-commitment to stop switching tasks so much. e.g. buying a kSafean idea I’ve tried before is leaving my phone upstairs when I get in from work – this is something I will try again
  2. Don’t listen to negative self-talk – You’re lazy, you’re not good enough, what’s wrong with you? I’ve heard of the benefits of positive self-talk in numerous self-development books – I generally make a conscious effort to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk
  3. Take extended times away from social media. Johann takes six months of the year totally off it – Personally, I will try and remove social media from my weekends
  4. Embrace mind-wandering. Letting your mind wander is not a crumbling of attention but in fact a crucial form of attention in its own right – I’m going to try and walk without my phone and go with the flow on my walk and let my mind wander
  5. Sleep is not a luxury. It is essential for sustained focus – I’ve been operating on 5-6 hours for the last 6 months and I am going to aim for 7-8 hours per night going forward
  6. Embrace play and unstructured free time. This can be the greatest form of focus – when I have free time, I will try and focus on being in the room. I will focus on spending quality time with the people I love

Whatever is going on in your life, I believe this book is well worth a read! If you aren’t convinced listen to the author online. Maybe watch his clip from the Sunday Brunch show that aired on Sunday the 6th of March.

Balance

What I can tell you is that balance is massively important. Learn from my mistakes over the last 6 months and try and avoid stress and the other negative emotions I’ve mentioned.

I will continue to work on finding balance in my life. Armed with this excellent book and some of the ideas, I feel in a stronger position than in previous months. See below for some of the things I am going to try to get some much-needed balance:

  1. Sleep 7-8 hours every night – if I’m short I’ll get some sleep during the day
  2. Focus on work between 7am and 5pm – focus only on work and push hard to hit my career goals
  3. Focus on my other goals (mainly BJJ) after 5pm
  4. Limit social media – like banning myself from ALL forms of social media on the weekend
  5. Limit my time on my phone – put it on aeroplane mode for large periods of the day so I’m not reacting to every ping
  6. Put it all together and focus on being present in the moment – like making the most of wife and kids

What I want is to be the best version of myself so I can be there for the people I love. It’s clear I’ve got work to do as I’ve had a lack of balance over the last 6 months. Improved emotional intelligence is one of the things I’ve been striving for over the last few years.

A lack of emotional intelligence contributed towards a negative decade between 2008 and 2018. I was negative about property, investing, money and just in general life. I was stressed out and anxious about money and work. I’ve made some big improvements since getting into personal development at the start of 2019. Let’s just call these last few months a setback.

Hopefully, you have found value in this week’s post. If you are struggling to a find your own version of balance, try and take on board what I’ve been unloading into this post. And maybe get yourself a copy of Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention.

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