Focus On This Podcast

69. How to Celebrate Despite the Disappointments



Celebration isn’t a luxury. It’s essential. Without it, we lose sight of how far we’ve come—and undermine our motivation as a result. The truth is, we could all use a little more encouragement, especially in a year like 2020.

That’s why today, we’re celebrating you. We asked our listeners to submit real wins from the past year, and you delivered. So join us for this community-wide celebration. You’re bound to learn something new along the way.

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • Courtney’s big news
  • Three reasons celebration is important
  • Why Michael has been able to spend more time with his daughter
  • How Orlagh got well on her way to writing a book
  • A Q&A call from Marianna, a self-proclaimed Full-Focus “groupie” with great questions about leveraging an Executive Assistant

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Episode Transcript

Verbs: Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Verbs, here with Blake Stratton.

Blake: Verbs, it’s good to see you today. I am excited, because we are nearing the end of a most epic year.

Verbs: Epic, to say the least. Unforgettable, to say the most. This will go down in history books henceforth that 2020 was quite the year.

Blake: You know, let’s get real here, Verbs. People have been talking about 2020, and it’s really funny to talk about how crappy it was, and 2020 is the worst, and all this stuff, but we’re here on a Monday morning not to tell you how bad 2020 was. We’re going to talk about why it was awesome. In fact, we want to encourage you to reflect on the very same thing. I think a lot of times, Verbs, how we end one season can really affect how we start the next season.

Verbs: I agree.

Blake: So, I want to celebrate a little bit on this episode. I want to talk about some of the successes. Maybe there’s one thing to celebrate first, Verbs, before we even share the other things we have to share. We should probably address the fact that our beloved cohost Courtney is not here with us today. That’s not what I’m celebrating. Oh my gosh.

Verbs: Yeah, don’t put it like that.

Blake: That didn’t come out right. No. It’s the reason why she’s not here.

Verbs: Specify.

Blake: Oh my gosh. Courtney is going to send me an angry text when she hears this. Just kidding. She’s not going to hear it, probably, because she has something very exciting to celebrate. Verbs, do you want to tell everyone?

Verbs: Oh, you’re allowing me to do the honors here. This is what’s happening.

Blake: Yeah, that feels right.

Verbs: As you may remember, last episode, Courtney was with child, awaiting delivery, and since then, ladies and gentlemen, she has given birth to a brand-new baby girl. So we’re celebrating with Courtney and Chase Baker today. Congratulations on a healthy baby girl.

Blake: That’s what I call a very productive year right there. Courtney did it.

Verbs: That’s the fruit of your labor.

Blake: Exactly. Awesome. So, it has been a year. We have some stuff to celebrate. If nothing else, there’s another Baker in the world, which the world could benefit from, which I’m excited about. I think we should just acknowledge, Verbs, that, as I said before, it is important to celebrate success, and in a year like this when culture largely is saying, “Hey, this year has been so bad. Let’s talk about it…”

It’s not that we want to undercut some of the challenges, some of the heartbreaks, some of the very real problems in our country. I mean, I personally have experienced some loss this year. I know our listeners sometimes have experienced some loss. We’re not undercutting that or demeaning that, but we can choose where we place our focus. Today, I think we should address why focusing on some celebration is a positive thing to do, why focusing on some positive results of this year would be worthwhile.

Verbs: Yeah. As human beings, it’s healthy for us to be able to do that and underscore some things that are celebratory and worthy of celebrating versus just what’s happening around us. So, that’s what I’m excited about for today’s episode. I’m looking forward to hearing from our listeners what has been going on in their 2020 as well. Can we talk a little bit about celebration and why it is important for a couple of seconds?

Blake: For sure. There are three reasons this is so valuable and why we’re going to spend some time in this episode celebrating you, the folks who have been listening. We have some specific wins to share and celebrate with you. The three reasons this is so important are:

  1. It boosts your morale. You feel better about yourself, your work, your relationships, and your life when you take time to celebrate the progress you’ve made.
  2. It marks a milestone. It’s helpful to go, “Man, we actually have journeyed. Yes, this journey was bumpy, but you know what? We’re farther along than where we were.”
  3. It strengthens your motivation. This is something that happens naturally when we recognize that milestone. We go, “Hey, we did make progress. We did make it through.” When you take time to pause and celebrate, you realize, “Hey, if I’ve had some success in the past, I can definitely have success in the future,” and that’s motivating.

Verbs: I’ll say just a small note. This year may not have looked the way you wanted it to look in some ways, but if you thought about it, you probably did experience some success, and all you need to do is identify it and take that next step of actually celebrating it.

Blake: Verbs, here’s what we’re doing. I think this is such a great idea. We are going to practice celebrating. This is maybe another benefit. When you celebrate yourself, you get all of those benefits of your own progress, but what we’re doing today is we’re actually going to celebrate some folks in our community who have been brave enough to share their wins. Something that will happen and why I would encourage you to keep listening to this episode is just by listening to other people’s wins, you actually get the encouragement.

Verbs: Yeah, that’s important.

Blake: Let’s have some good news time and round out the year, Verbs. What do you say?

Verbs: Let’s do it.

Blake: Okay. First, I’m going to celebrate a win from Michael S. What if I was like, “First, I’m going to celebrate someone named Michael Hyatt. He writes in and says, ‘I have an employee named Blake Stratton who’s just amazing this year.’” No. This is from a different Michael…Michael S. This is what he said:

“2020 gave me the creative freedom I needed to redesign my life. If it weren’t for the pandemic, my day job would never have been comfortable with a remote work arrangement, and without the clarity the pandemic has given me, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to even ask if it was possible. In the before times, I’d leave for work before my 2-year-old daughter woke up, and I’d get home just a few hours before her bedtime. Now I experience her joy throughout the day.

Is it a little harder to get things done? Yes. But with her smile, those things are put in their proper place, fading quickly into irrelevance. I’ve also moved my family across the country and changed time zones but kept my day job in the original time zone, freeing up more time in the afternoon for regenerative activities like exercise and side hustling.”

What a great perspective that is. Bravo, Michael, for taking your lumps with the pandemic, like the rest of us but using it as an opportunity to reframe what’s most valuable in your life. You know, Verbs, this is what it sounds like Michael did. He asked this question: “What does this make possible?”

Verbs: Exactly. Next, we’re going to celebrate with Orla. Orla writes, “In 2020, things got even busier. I’m an engineering manager in the food industry, so I’m an essential worker, and things got difficult at work, to say the least. I’ve managed to write 23,000 words of a 40,000-word book and still have time to finish the first draft before the end of the year.

Having a word count as one of my Weekly Big 3 has really helped keep the focus despite all the work-related distractions.” Orla, good job. Blake, we talked about this in another episode, just the importance of a Daily Big 3, and it looks like Orla has maximized on that with his word count this year, so, good job.

Blake: That’s props. I mean, long-term projects are beasts, especially if there’s an emotional toll, especially if things are chaotic. It’s hard to stick with something in the long term, because guess what: the shine of a goal will wear off quickly. So, props to you for your consistency. That’s what I feel like celebrating there. That’s a big, big win, to beat the distractions and all of the other factors that can pull you away from a long-term but really rewarding project like that.

Nick: I don’t know if it’s interesting to other people, but when I read this, I think it’s interesting that every week a Weekly Big 3 was this goal. That sort of feels a little outside of what we’re used to hearing. Not that it’s bad. It’s great. But I’m saying that, clearly, this was a year-long goal, and this was something they did every week.

Verbs: So you maximize on those milestone-related goals.

Nick: Yeah. That’s pretty incredible.

Blake: We have somebody else to celebrate. Dennis wrote in and shared, “After almost a year of trying to sell a SharePoint Online solution to a customer I work with, I succeeded and implemented the solution in July. Now my team that works with the customer is much more productive since several processes and documents have been combined into one in the SharePoint Online solution. The solution has new features, which enable automation, so we get more things done by doing less.”

Then he gives me the flex emoji, which, Dennis, I’m giving right back at you. As you can see, for the benefit of Nick and Verbs… I know you viewers at home are actually not viewers at all, but just know, pretty great flex just now by me. But even stronger flex by you, Dennis. Way to go.

Verbs: By the way, that win was brought to you by SharePoint Online solutions.

Blake: For sure. They are not a sponsor of the show, but the point is… Kind of reading between the lines here, Dennis, it sounds like there was maybe some trial and error or maybe some communication skills that were developed. Something that strikes me about this goal is, yeah, you’re getting more things done by doing less, but something I’ve heard Michael say is that a goal is oftentimes just as much about who you become as much as what you can accomplish.

It sounds like something you’ve been able to become, Dennis, is a better communicator and a better team leader as you’ve accomplished this goal as it relates to the processes and systems of execution for your business. So, well done, Dennis.

Okay. I have one more for you, Verbs. This is from Christine. She says, “I ran for local office in 2020. Although I did not get elected, I was able to influence the political conversation, engage residents in the political process, and grow my party. I gained confidence through the process, and that has helped me in other areas of my life. After the election, I went camping in Death Valley National Park to celebrate. It was fantastic.”

Verbs: Fantastic. Awesome.

Blake: You know what stuck out to me about this one, Verbs? It sounds like Christine was well acquainted with her why, with her key motivations. If you use a Full Focus Planner, we have a goal detail page, and on that page there’s a space to write your motivations. The cool thing about that is sometimes you don’t hit the goal or you fall short, or whatever, but your why or your motivations can still be fulfilled in a lot of ways.

This reads like a key motivations bullet list. “Why do I want to run for office? Well, I want to influence the political conversation. I want to engage residents. I want to grow my party. I want to get confident personally. I want other areas of my life to benefit from that confidence.” What an awesome motivation for going after a goal.

So, props to you, Christine, for, first, having that clarity and going for a goal, a risky goal, and second, for having the maturity to understand, as I said earlier, that a goal is in large part about who you become, and just because you fell short of the specifics of the goal of getting elected, you still accomplished a great deal, and you’re set up for your best year ever. Patent pending, Michael Hyatt & Company, best year ever.

Nick: I like the idea that… You know, she says, “I ran for local office.” I don’t know what her goal was. You could easily see someone writing that goal as, “I will win local office,” or whatever, but based on how that comment read, I bet you it’s, “Run for local office.” So she accomplished her goal.

Blake: That’s well said, Nick. You’re right. That’s awesome. All the applause emojis for Christine.

Nick: Hey, everybody. It’s Nick, and I just wanted to pop in here real quick to let you know we’re about to listen to a listener question. We get these questions from the Full Focus Planner community, so if you’re not a part of that, you’re missing out on the opportunity to talk directly to Verbs or Blake or Courtney.

I just wanted to say, though, this particular listener question has answers from Verbs and Courtney. I just feel like it’s worth saying that this was recorded before she went on maternity leave. We did not bring her back in here to answer the question. She’s at home with her family, and this is just something we recorded before. So, there you go, and let’s get to the question.

Verbs: All right, Courtney. Our favorite time has come again. We get to talk to listeners.

Courtney: I’m ready.

Verbs: Okay. Let’s do it. We have on the line Mariana from Fort Collins, Colorado. Mariana, welcome to Focus on This. How are you today?

Mariana: I am good. Thank you.

Verbs: Awesome. Glad to have you on the call.

Courtney: Yeah. Thanks for joining us. I’m always interested… I’m always trying to guess what somebody might ask us. For everybody listening, we have no idea what Mariana is going to ask us.

Verbs: None at all.

Courtney: So I’m always like, “I’m so curious.”

Mariana: It’s really tempting to mess with you a little bit then.

Courtney: Yeah. You totally could. So, tell us what you do for a living.

Mariana: I have a company that does Passive House training and consulting for the construction industry. Passive House is a building code that is very high energy efficiency and good indoor air quality and health and wellness for people. It’s basically like building code but a lot more advanced. So, we specialize in that and teach other professionals, architects and builders, how to execute it, and we help design standardized systems that make it a little bit more accessible…things like that.

Courtney: This sounds very smart, and all of a sudden, now I’m wondering if my house is missing something critical it doesn’t have.

Verbs: I thought the same thing.

Mariana: There has been a lot of attention turned to it lately because of wildfires and COVID and just the subject of indoor air quality and what we’re breathing, and people are a lot more aware of that now, so that’s great.

Courtney: That’s awesome. I almost feel all of a sudden maybe we should ask you questions.

Mariana: I’m available.

Courtney: What question do you have for us today?

Mariana: So, I’ve been a little bit of a groupie for you guys over the past few months I’ve found. I actually stumbled across one of your podcasts early on about forming habits, and I was needing some help with that with work. Through your podcast is how I found the Full Focus Planner, and I started doing that in April, and it has been a game changer. I mean, we’ve doubled revenue. I’ve trained four times more students this year than last year. It has helped a ton. To the point where I am now ready to onboard an executive assistant.

I’m using BELAY. I did look at other ones as well, but you guys have talked about BELAY a lot. I have my first meeting with them today, and in light of that… Last week, you guys had the podcast on journaling, and it reminded me that when I started the Full Focus Planner, it ended up kind of replacing my journaling habit. I’ve been putting some private journaling thoughts in my Full Focus Planner instead, just so I have one book I go to. Just, looking forward to bringing on this virtual assistant, some practices would be great, or some advice.

Courtney: That is a great question. First of all, as the CMO of this company, I would be failing at my job if I did not ask you… Can we have a full testimonial on everything you just said? That would be amazing, and we’ll be putting it on the website.

Mariana: I’ve also gotten two friends signed up on it. I drank the Kool-Aid.

Verbs: Mariana is checking all the boxes right now.

Courtney: That is amazing. Thank you so much. It’s great. I live for those stories of people who have utilized the planner in a way that it has really been life changing. That is really life-giving to me, and I’m sure Verbs can say the same.

Verbs: Agreed.

Courtney: It’s really exciting you’re getting to onboard an assistant. We have a book called Your World-Class Assistant.

Mariana: Read it. I’ve got it. It’s right there.

Verbs: Way ahead of the game.

Courtney: On top of it. It’s a great tool. I find that a lot of times people who struggle… You know, they get an assistant, and then they’re like, “This just isn’t working. It’s more work than I thought it would be.” It’s because it does take work to onboard somebody correctly, and just thinking they’re going to come in and magically solve all of your problems is just wishful thinking. That book outlines some really great steps to take to set somebody up well, so I’m really excited that you’ve already read that.

Mariana: Do you share your Full Focus Planner with your assistant? Does your assistant look at it?

Courtney: When you say “share it,” do you mean does she know what my Weekly Big 3 are?

Mariana: Also that. I mean, how much sharing, I guess, do you do?

Verbs: Maybe this could be a clarifying question. What’s in your planner that you feel like, “Hey, I need to give my assistant access to this so she knows my workflow and all of that”? What part of your planner do you feel like she needs to access?

Mariana: I imagine there would need to be at the weekly check-in point, or whatever, obviously, the goals, Big 3…things like that…stay on track with what the milestones are for those goals for the week and everything, but I’m also just thinking on a more practical, logistical level. Since going to the Full Focus Planner, I have been primarily relying on that for my appointments and calendar stuff because I’m struggling with the hybrid, getting it back into Google Calendar and going back and forth between the two, but it’s not sharable. Google Calendar is sharable. When you have an assistant come on, that, I imagine, becomes a little bit more of an issue. So, do you check in every day to make sure your calendars are in sync, or how do you attack that?

Courtney: Okay. Let me tell you my process. With my assistant, I use Google Calendar as my home base, but part of my workday shutdown is actually writing in the next day what my calendar is. So, the central source for everything is still Google, but I write it in my planner for the day. I know what’s going to happen. It’s all here synced up in my planner. And she knows I do that as part of my workday shutdown, so if something changes during the day, she knows to text me, because I’m not going to be in Google Calendar. I’ve already written what my plan is for the day.

As far as my Weekly Big 3 and Daily Big 3, I personally do choose to share those. I’m not sure if you do, but for people who are listening, if you use Slack, you can actually use a Geekbot to trigger you to say, “Hey, what’s your Weekly Big 3?” and each day, “What’s your Daily Big 3?” so that it will send those.

Then, in reverse, you can also have your assistant do the same thing so you know what their Big 3 for the day and the week are and what they’re going to be working on, which I think is really helpful, especially with communication and expectations that you have for the day, because you’re like, “Oh, I could drop in this big project,” but in actuality, they may not have the ability to do that because they have this other big item on their list. So, just that syncing works really well, and Geekbot in Slack is a great tool for that as well.

Mariana: That’s a good idea. We do use Slack, so I could definitely implement that.

Nick: I have an assistant who I struggle with because of me at all times, so I feel qualified to speak to a little bit of the friction around planning and goal setting. Courtney, you’re much more experienced at this. I’ve had an assistant for about a year and a half, but I changed. I don’t feel like I’ve maximized the efficiency, the effectiveness always, but one of the things I’ve learned is that I need to outsource as much of the effort of deciding how to implement my Big 3 as possible, if that makes sense.

So, if I have established, “Here’s my Weekly Big 3,” and I share that with her, I need to trust that she will provide me with the time and resources to make it happen rather than sort of fighting and saying, “I need this” and starting to cut up my schedule preemptively for her. That means now she’s having to fit in all this other weird stuff. Now, of course, if I have a doctor’s appointment… You know, there are certain specifics, but to be able to go, “This is everything I need this week,” and then she parses out where it goes. I find that she has more ownership over my schedule, and I don’t think about how everything works and goes.

Mariana: I kind of imagine… I mean, I haven’t done it yet, so I don’t know, but I kind of imagine it’s almost like having a personal trainer, or my boyfriend is a nutritional health coach. Like, “Here are my goals. I need this to happen. Give me the game plan.”

Verbs: One of those tools that may be helpful as you think about the onboarding process is just establishing, or outlining at least, what your Ideal Week would look like. That way you can give her a copy of that with those time blocks. Obviously, it’s the ideal week and doesn’t always go exactly as planned, but at least she would know, as she has access to your calendar, where certain things should go in different blocks of the day, especially when it comes to your habit rituals and your shutdowns and that sort of thing.

Mariana: It’s reinforcing that I really have to nail down the habit rituals, which I’m struggling with. The shutdown end of day is really hard.

Verbs: The good thing is once you onboard an assistant and there’s that rhythm that gets established and a trust there, she knows, “Hey, Mariana is trying to… This is her habit time, this is her shutdown time, so I need to defend those times so she can do what she’s planning to do.”

Courtney: That’s huge, especially if you’re like, “Hey, I’m struggling with this. Can you help me have the time to make sure I do my workday startup and shutdown?” Sometimes even just having them set that and protect it actually keeps you more accountable to do it.

Mariana: I feel like that’s going to be a huge advantage. You know, stuff piles up, obviously, throughout the day, and it’s real tempting at the end of the day to be like, “I’m just going to knock off a couple more,” and I always sacrifice that time that should be my ritual time.

Courtney: And I think what you sacrifice, ultimately, is that sense of… I want to just take a deep breath, because that’s the feeling I get. Like, “Okay. I have finished my work for today. I have clarity about what I’m doing the next day,” and then being able to transition to whatever is next. That’s huge for me. I don’t know. Again, I totally get the temptation to plow through the next thing, and I think so many people, me included, can fall to that temptation, but I know the best feeling is when I actually do it and get the clarity I need for the next day.

Mariana: One thing that has helped that my boyfriend and I just started doing over the past week or so is using either Headspace or Calm app as part of our…

Courtney: I love Headspace.

Mariana: Yeah, I’ve always loved Headspace. He has turned me on to Calm, because they have these stories read by people like Scott Pippen and other folks with these great deep voices. You can listen to them tell their stories.

Verbs: Mariana, looking back at 2020, has there been one thing that has been an “aha” moment that you might be able to suggest as a tip or a perspective you’ve been able to learn or adopt?

Mariana: I don’t know if I’d call it an “aha” moment, because I have always known that appreciation and gratitude is a thing that’s important, obviously. I think I’ve been surprised and pleased at how much writing down the Big 3 of the day and then, at the end of the day, seeing them checked off and writing down wins… I didn’t think that would actually affect me so much, but it’s really nice to appreciate those wins that way.

Verbs: I bet. Especially when the world shuts down. You want to at least know something else is moving along.

Mariana: Exactly. This is a suitable day for that.

Courtney: Well, thanks so much for joining us today. It was great to meet you and get to chat.

Mariana: I know. It’s great to see behind the scenes.

Courtney: Yeah. Thanks for recruiting all the Full Focus people.

Mariana: No problem. Thanks for all the work you guys do. We really appreciate it, and I’m really enjoying it.

Verbs: And, Mariana, let us know how it goes once you get that executive assistant onboarded.

Mariana: I will. Definitely.

Verbs: Thanks for joining us.

Mariana: See you.

Verbs: It’s true that even in a hard year you can boost your morale, mark your milestones, and strengthen your motivation through celebration. There has been so much good even in 2020, and it has been so good to celebrate with all of you. Thank you for sharing. Blake, do you have any thoughts for our Focus on This listeners?

Blake: I think the last one is to take time to celebrate. I would say, for me, what that means, Verbs, is I have to bring somebody else into the conversation. If you ever say, “Yeah, I’m going to celebrate” and you’re just going to do it by yourself, the celebration is going to be short, it’s going to be boring, and not that great.

Verbs: That’s key.

Blake: So, bring somebody else into the conversation. One way to do that, honestly, is when you’re celebrating, you’ll get into this positive frame of mind for the upcoming year, and you should utilize that energy. Verbs, as kind of a bonus final thought, I want to make a plug, because I couldn’t think of a better way to help our listeners wrap 2020 well, learn the right things from this year and from this season, and use that as jet fuel toward their next year.

The best-selling course we have ever designed at Michael Hyatt & Company is called Your Best Year Ever. We are doing something very cool this year, which is a live event online, a virtual live event. Let me just tell you, we’ve learned a lot about virtual events this year. This is going to be bumpin’. Verbs, I’ll speak for you, because I know you’ve been helping on the production side of making this event great. It is going to be awesome.

You can sign up for this until December 30 at Sign up for Your Best Year Ever. This is something I do every single year because I think it’s so transformational, and this year will not be any different. So, I hope I see you there at Your Best Year Ever Live.

Verbs: As always, thank you for joining us on Focus on This.

Blake: This is the most productive podcast on the Internet, Verbs. I keep telling you that, and I’m going to keep telling you that until you agree with me. Okay? It’s the most productive podcast on the Internet, so share it with your friends. If you’ve shared it with all of your friends, make some new friends and use #focusonthispodcast.

Verbs: We’ll be here next week with another great episode, but until then…

Blake & Verbs: Stay focused!