What to do when you’re thrown out of whack

I love food. Anyone who says food is not a reward for a job well done is obviously delusional.

A potential down side to loving food, of course, is not loving the way too much of it leads to you being…fluffy. As in, you weigh more than you’ve ever weighed in your life and you can’t get your jeans zipped.

I unfortunately arrived at this point a few months ago. (You know you’re at a bad spot when your initial reaction to the number on the scale is, “Are you frickin’ kidding me?!?”)

My circumstances were appalling enough – and my motivation to change was high enough – that I committed to a fairly rigorous program to drop the damn fat that had been piling up. The first phase of said program involved a three-day, liquid-only fast.

No. Food.

I got through it with a tiny modification. That got me thinking how often we’re faced with the need to find a workable equilibrium between two equally desirable, but not always compatible, outcomes – a situation I find arises with regularity.

For example, I was getting a hunger headache on that fast, so I opted to eat a quarter-cup of nuts the first day. That helped a surprising amount, so I ate another third-cup the second day. I was comfortable balancing the benefits of the liquid fast with the need to feel well enough to be productive during it.

Then there’s the situation of wanting to build trust by offering huge value at no cost to prospective clients. This is a great way to demonstrate your value, but it’s a lousy way to pay the bills. How do you establish an equilibrium between giving information away for free and charging appropriately for your expertise?

And then there’s the challenge of producing good results without getting insane about it. Where’s the equilibrium between creating quality results and not insisting on perfection?

Here are some criteria you can use to tell when you’re out of equilibrium:

Of course, knowing when you’re out of equilibrium sort of begs the question, “How do you get back into it?” Try one or more of the following tactics.

Falling out of equilibrium is a great way to trash your productivity. Unfortunately, it’s only one of many such trashers. If your productivity could use a boost, email me with “Time to produce more!” in the subject line. I’ll send you a cheat sheet based on my book Ten-Minute Magic: How to develop a productivity mindset, do only what’s important, and stop feeling overwhelmed.

(BTW, thanks to Andrés De León for posting his image of the whirling tops in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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