Episode: I’ve made it! Now what?
Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.
Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.
Michael: And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. Today we’re talking about what to do when you feel like you’re coasting at work. To do that, we’re actually going to address a real situation with Caitlyn A. We’re not going to give you her last name, but a long-time listener to Lead to Win, she wrote us recently. What did she say, Megan?
Megan: Here’s what she said. “Hi, Michael and Megan. I have a career-growth question for the two of you. I haven’t seen it addressed in your work over the years, but I apologize if I missed something major along these lines. The summary question is, ‘Is it okay to coast in one area in order to focus on another?’
The story behind the question… My career aligns well with my passion and proficiency. I’m on a team with people I like and trust. We’ve worked together for almost four years, and I’ve grown quite a bit during that time. I’ve been given quite a bit of flexibility in my role. Over the last year, I was able to move my family to a new area in our state so my husband could pursue some opportunities in his career, and I got a promotion. On paper and on most days, life is fantastic, so why am I writing?
I feel like I’m coasting at work. Maybe this is too easy. There is a nagging feeling that I could be doing more or pursuing something different. I’m only 35, and I wonder if I’m just being lazy. Should I seek more challenges or start focusing on areas outside of work? My laser focus on my career has helped me to get to such a great spot that I’m aware that life is multifaceted, like a diamond. However, I am not.
When I think of how I want my legacy to be, I want more wonder and whimsy, impact and long conversations about where God is working, adventures with my kids and more romance with my husband. I’d like to open a wine bar with friends and finally finish that whodunit and live a fuller, richer life.”
She’s an Enneagram Three with a Four-Wing (an elder Millennial for context) and she says, “I struggle with defining success for myself versus external titles. By my own definition, I’ve made it, and it might be time to dream bigger. Shifting the focus from my career to the rest of my life seems like the smart thing to do, but it’s something I struggle with. Help!” Caitlyn, thanks for the question. It’s a great one.
Before we jump in and start talking about the question you have for us, I just want to take a minute and celebrate you. Oh, my gosh! You’re 35. You’ve accomplished all of these things in your career. You’re at a place where you feel like you have passion. You have proficiency in your work. It’s meaningful. You’re positively impacting the people you’re serving, both on your team and outside.
Those are amazing things, and those are not to be dismissed or taken lightly. Those are things people work their whole lives to accomplish, and you’ve already done that at a really early point in your career, so I just want to take a minute and celebrate you, to clap for you, and cheer you on as someone who has done all kinds of things, I’m sure, to make that possible in your life. Whatever else we’re going to talk about and before we get into that, there’s a lot to commend you for.
Michael: Okay. I think we should kind of circle back home here and look in the mirror and ask ourselves the question, “Have we ever experienced that?” Have you ever experienced this in your career, Megan?
Michael: Be honest! It’s okay if you haven’t.
Megan: I don’t know that I have. Here’s why. I feel like I have been involved in high-growth contexts for most of my career, and I cannot think of the last time I was bored, because our business, Michael Hyatt & Company, is certainly growing so fast that every day has new challenges. I don’t think I would use the word coasting, so not that I can remember.
Michael: Okay, so it may be unusual, but I can definitely relate to Caitlyn, because over the course of my career I feel like I have about a three-year attention span. Then, I start getting bored. I’ll give you a good case in point. This is not too far in my distant past, like two months ago. At the fourth quarter of this last year, I was kind of bored. I felt like I wasn’t growing, and the worst thing about it was I wasn’t motivated to grow. I don’t know if I felt like I needed some space or if it was the combined stress from the pandemic or whatever, but I just found myself, to be honest, almost borderline depressed.
Megan: When you were talking, that was kind of the word that popped into my head, and it made me wonder a little bit. I think coasting is an interesting word Caitlyn has chosen here, and that may be the best description for her situation, but I think, first of all, identifying whether you are coasting or whether you are exhausted.
Because if the symptom is you’re not really growing that much and you don’t really feel that motivated to grow and there are not really these big quantum leaps in your leadership, it’s possible that it’s not about a lack of challenge, but it’s about too much challenge or too many things all at once that are happening, which I think, certainly, a lot of people experienced in 2020 and in the aftermath of 2020.
Again, Caitlyn, that might not be your particular situation, but as I’m listening to you talk, Dad, I know what 2020 was like and some of the challenges we faced in our business. Like everybody else, it was a lot of hand-to-hand combat. There was as lot of pivoting and reinventing and constant creativity and all of the things not to mention the kind of psychic stress of the environment and all of the anxiety that produced, so I think that’s a fair thing to just consider what the underlying cause of this is.
Michael: Yeah. I’m not sure I could pinpoint the underlying cause. I don’t know if it was boredom, a little bit of depression, or what, but here’s what I do know. I could tell you how I got out of it. I started focusing on non-work stuff. For the first time in a long time, I started reading novels, and for whatever reason, just having a bigger sense of story and focusing on somebody else’s story instead of being so focused on my own was really helpful. I got more focused on hobbies and things outside of work, and that helped, but I think, honestly, I was probably suffering from some burnout.
I think we need to be careful about those sort of periodic things that are going to happen to all of us because we have seasons. Somehow deducing there is something wrong with us or something that takes a dramatic fixing… Caitlyn is not doing this. She’s just asking the question, which is terrific, but it might just be a symptom of burnout. I think sometimes when you hit a plateau… I’ve been watching this show on Apple TV+ called For All Mankind. It’s really cool. It’s like the Soviet-US space race, but in this particular case, the Russians beat the US to the moon.
Michael: Then, they go on to colonize. A lot of different things happen, because everything is related to everything else, and if you create one little wrinkle in the system it has this domino effect on everything else, but there is this one particular astronaut named Gordo, and he reminded me of Buzz Aldrin who after he came back from space could never find his mojo again.
This is where Gordo is. He has been to space. He comes back. He has a drinking problem. He goes through a divorce. You know all of the things. He’s depressed. He’s really depressed, because he hit this big goal and then he didn’t follow it up with some other goal. That may be the situation Caitlyn is in, too. It sounds like she has had a pretty terrific four-year ride, and maybe she has achieved some things, and maybe now she hasn’t gotten refocused on a goal, so she’s just kind of drifting.
Megan: Well, you know what this reminds me of. This is fresh on my mind, because I just read last week my half of our new book, Win at Work and Succeed at Life. This is not intended to be a plug for the book. Don’t worry. That will come later.
Michael: We don’t mind doing that.
Megan: We don’t mind doing it, but this book is all about how you win at work and succeed at life. It’s really our understanding of success. In the book we talk a lot about the idea of non-achievement and the value of non-achievement time. If you’re a high achiever, you probably spend most of your time thinking about achievement time.
How do you accomplish goals? How do you improve your success? How do you increase your results? What performance science would say is that non-achievement time is as valuable for performance as well as your well-being and your fulfillment in life as achievement time. Things like hobbies…
Megan: I know! How many people…? Well, you may be in a different season of life. I know you’re in a different season of life, obviously. You may have people in your life who have hobbies. I don’t have a lot of friends with hobbies in my season of life. For most of us, our hobbies are raising our kids or just trying to keep up with everything.
What that means is that we really only have one source of fulfillment. We only have one place where our creativity is really engaged. Then, we find ourselves burnt out and drained. We don’t have that ability to have wandering thoughts. We don’t have mental rejuvenation. We don’t have input from unrelated sources. That ultimately shows up in our professional lives as well, so I feel like Caitlyn has this intuition in her question that this may be an issue of neglect…that’s not her word; that’s our word…around the other domains of her life outside of the vocational one.
Michael: Yeah, and probably at her age with what I presume are young children based on her letter, there is probably not a lot she could do in terms of hobbies, but there is something she could do, something you do just for yourself. Megan, you’re kind of at that age. You’re kind of in every season because you have kids.
Megan: We have children ages 20 to 2, so we really have the full spectrum.
Michael: You do. What would you say are your hobbies?
Megan: Well, a couple of things. First of all, I love being outside. Normally, my hobby around that would either be walking or running. I like moving outside. My worst-case scenario would be that you put me on a treadmill. Just kill me. That’s awful. I want to be outside in nature. I don’t care if it’s cold. I’m not so excited about it if it’s hot, but I love to be outside.
When I am out there, it’s like my mind clears, my body relaxes, and I always have ideas for things. I actually usually find I’m 10 to 15 minutes into a run and I’m calling someone or leaving myself voice memos about some idea I had. It’s just like things break loose in a good way when I’m out there. That’s the first thing.
The second thing I love is fishing. This is something you and I share in common that your dad, my granddad, really taught when I was little. He taught me how to fish. Then, you and I would fish together a bunch. Fly fishing is my favorite version of that. That’s also the hardest and the truest hobby because it requires some effort. I don’t get to do that nearly as often as I would like.
Our family has a lake house, so we go out there on the weekends often. I just love to stand on the dock and fish. You like to go out on your kayaks and fish, but I love that. To me, just being on the water is so restorative. Then, I have a new hobby I’m taking up actually this month as one of my annual goals which is playing the piano.
Megan: It’s something I did as a kid.
Michael: You never told me that.
Megan: I know! I haven’t started yet. I figured out what I’m going to do. I’m going to do an online class that is actually engineered for busy working moms. How this is a niche, I don’t know, but it’s amazing. “I’m your target market.” I’m really excited about that, because I think there are so many benefits of learning something new, being a beginner again, and just the creative expression of playing the piano.
That’s going to be my new hobby for this year, and to your point, Dad, I have five kids. I’m running a business. I don’t have a lot of spare time for hobbies. It’s not like I’m doing a hobby two hours a day. This is probably happening in an hour or two hours a week at most and just in the margins when I can fit it in when the baby is napping or whatever, so this is very realistic.
Michael: Well, what I noticed when you started talking about that… I didn’t see it… Because we’re looking at each on video as we’re recording this. I didn’t see it when you were talking about walking outside so much, but when you got to the piano you just kind of lit up. I think part of what a hobby does is it gives us an opportunity to create in sort of a free, safe space.
It’s not our work. There is not the pressure to create. Your livelihood is not going to be dependent upon how well you play the piano or don’t play the piano. I love that, too. I love musical instruments for the same reasons. Yeah. I think the other thing, too, just in sort of the spirit of continuing to comment on what Caitlyn said is I think the other thing I learned from Gordo in For All Mankind and from Buzz Aldrin, if I’m remembering the right astronaut who struggled after he walked on the moon, is that a lot of times we struggle because we don’t come up with new goals.
I can get that there is goal fatigue. After you accomplish something big, don’t put yourself under the pressure of, “I have to immediately come up with something.” Celebrate, rest, and rejuvenate. Do all of that, but eventually you have to get a new goal, because with Buzz Aldrin or Gordo, it wasn’t that there was something wrong with achieving a big goal.
I mean I don’t know how you could achieve a bigger goal than walking on the moon. That’s unbelievable. Only nine Americans in history have ever done that. The problem was Gordo and Buzz didn’t get a new goal, and if there’s anything we know from the science of happiness, and, yes, it is a science, it’s that happiness doesn’t come from achieving the goal. We all know that if we think about it.
Whatever it is that’s a big goal like, Megan, when you were made CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company, that’s a huge career milestone, but my guess is, because you’re very emotionally intelligent and healthy, you were probably like, “It’s not that big of a deal.” You probably celebrated, but what’s really exciting is when you’re making progress toward a goal that means something to you.
Megan: Yes. Right.
Michael: Has that been your experience?
Megan: Totally. I think this is where life planning comes in handy. I think a lot of times… Caitlyn talking about being 35 is an interesting time of life, because for a lot of people…certainly not everybody because this isn’t everybody’s path…by that point they are married, they have young kids, and they kind of have their career somewhat figured out, and a lot of that is sort of culturally preprogrammed. It’s not like when you were 25 you maybe made a whole vision for your life and it just kind of all came to fruition just like you planned it.
In some ways, many of us can kind of drift into all of those things that happened. Then, you wake up one day, and you’re like, “Now what?” Maybe it’s not as meaningful as I thought it would be, or maybe there is other stuff inside of me that is outside of these culturally preprogrammed expectations that I want to pursue, and that’s where I think life planning can be so valuable.
Because in the process of life planning, which, if you’re looking for a resource, Dad, your book, Living Forward, that you wrote with your great friend, Daniel Harkavy, is really the process walking you through that entire process of creating a life plan. You’re looking at all 10 of the life domains of which vocation is only one.
We talk about this a little bit in our Win at Work and Succeed at Life book about how we really have a vision for our lives that is not just where we want to go in our careers. What do you want for your financial life and for your most important relationships or your parenting or your marriage or your partnership? What about in terms of your hobbies? What about in terms of your spiritual life?
All of a sudden, when you begin pursuing things that are any other domains of your life with intention and with vision, then your life kind of opens up. You don’t just have one outlet for meaning or maybe two or three if you count your kids and your spouse. You have many outlets for meaning and significance in your life, and I feel like that is one of the best ways to look at this. You need to have vision for the entirety of your life.
Michael: If at work you don’t have any vision, maybe it’s time to go in and think outside the box and maybe dream a little bit bigger. I was noticing in Caitlyn’s letter that she said, “I want more wonder and whimsy, impact and long conversations about where God is working, adventures with my kids and more romance with my husband, and I’d like to open a wine bar with friends.”
Well, here’s the thing. Any of that can happen, but all of it has to be caused. You just can’t sort of sit back and hope that it happens. Let me just give you an example. I’m constantly wanting to stretch myself in terms of learning or in terms of seeing new places. One of the things I think was a little bit depressing to me this last year was we couldn’t travel anywhere.
Megan: Yeah! Absolutely.
Michael: I’m not the kind of person who has to be on the road constantly. I’m not a road warrior, but I do enjoy going places, so I literally haven’t been on an airplane in over a year, and I’m going to get on an airplane for the first time here in a couple of weeks. We’re going to Mexico for a vacation, and I’m looking forward to that, because I think there is going to be some wonder and whimsy there, because, again, I’m causing it. I’m creating it.
I know I’m speaking from a position. I’m mindful more so than ever when I think of this that I have the means to do that. I have the time to do that. It’s going to look different for Caitlyn, but it doesn’t mean she can’t find it within the constraints of her own life. I find, for me, what feeds my spirit is learning and feeling like I’m growing.
Right now, Megan, as you know, I’m in the middle of some medical stuff where I have a new doctor, and he’s really working on my nutrition, and the thing I’ve enjoyed more than anything is just learning what I’m learning. That just jazzes me up to feel like I’m gaining some mastery, and I can converse and talk and learn about this stuff.
Megan: You know what I was thinking of when you were talking? It reminded me…I don’t know if this originates with him…of Tony Robbins talking about the basic human need for certainty and uncertainty.
Michael: Yes. Six basic human needs.
Megan: Yeah. He has that concept which is really powerful and this idea of certainty and uncertainty. When I think about 2020, we had… He doesn’t talk about this that I remember. There’s almost good uncertainty and bad uncertainty. Bad uncertainty is, “Am I going to die from COVID-19?” Good uncertainty would be, “What is it going to be like to visit a new country for the first time and eat food I’ve never had before?” You know. I’m thinking about this with regard to 2020.
We had a lot of negative uncertainty. We had very little uncertainty that was positive like variety or like new experiences, learning, going places, or meeting different people. It was a more closed experience of being a person than ever before, and as a result, we had just so much certainty. I mean every day you woke up and did exactly the same thing. You couldn’t tell if Sunday was any different than Monday or Wednesday. They all just bled together. Your view was out the windows of your house every day. Right?
I think that may be part of what is going on both in your experience of depression that you mentioned kind of following 2020 and also in Caitlyn’s experience. It sounds like she doesn’t have a lot of variety going on. She doesn’t have a lot of uncertainty in a positive sense. She has a lot of certainty, and all of it is good, and she just needs a little pizzazz.
She needs some uncertainty, which is where creating a vision or intentionally creating this gap between where you are today and where you know you’re capable of going in these other domains of your life, including things like travel and romance with your husband and starting a new business. All of those things create uncertainty and variety in the best sense and give color and flavor to your life.
Michael: I need a little bit more creativity. Maybe that’s what Caitlyn needs. She needs to kind of take a step back and say, “What could I do different?” I know for you, Megan, for your exercise program… I’m the kind of guy unlike you that I can get on the treadmill and just put on some headphones and do that and get the result, and I don’t care about the process, but you signed up for a Tough Mudder.
Megan: I did. I’m so excited. First of all, I get variety in my workout because the trainer you and I use who we work with virtually creates new programs for us. About every four to six weeks, we get some new exercises. I do regular strength training on Mondays. I do a circuit on Wednesdays. On Fridays, I do TRX, which is a little apparatus that hangs from the ceiling. It’s different those days.
Then, when I run, I have different things I do when I run that are a variety of things to keep my cardiovascular capacity increasing, but this Tough Mudder is happening in the fall, and I have to learn how to do all kinds of stuff. I have to crawl over stuff. I have to crawl under stuff. I have to hang from stuff. I have to swing from stuff. I mean, it’s just nuts!
I’ll also be covered in mud, which I’m pretty sure I haven’t been covered in mud since I was probably about 3, so there’s that. That’s a great way to just spice it up and to do something totally different in an area where you can have a lot of monotony around exercise and really lose your passion for it. Suddenly, something out of left field like that ups the variety factor and ups the unpredictability factor.
Michael: Well, here’s the thing that I notice when you’re doing that which is also kind of the answer to Caitlyn’s situation. You have to constantly be putting yourself in situations where you’re stretched and where you’re outside of your comfort zone.
Michael: That’s something we talk a lot about, but it doesn’t have to be in every area at once. Maybe there is a project at work that she could take on that kind of scares her. That’s the kind of project you’re looking for, something that is a little bit outside your comfort zone that requires something of you that maybe you wonder if you have what it takes or you’re afraid or you’re doubtful or whatever.
Look for those kinds of emotions and take it on. Maybe there is something she could volunteer for at work that she has never done before. Whether it’s public speaking or making a proposal or a presentation… I don’t know what it would look like, but Caitlyn probably does. If you settle for competency, you really never have the opportunity to move into mastery, and mastery requires that you keep growing your ability. You keep striving for that next level, and there is always a next level.
Megan: I love that! I feel like we could probably go back and entitle this episode something about complacency, because I think that’s what we’re really talking about. She used the word coast, but the truth is probably all of us feel complacent, just like we’re sort of not going anywhere, and we’re just sort of idling at this place we’ve been at for years.
Maybe that’s your health. Maybe that’s your marriage. Maybe that’s in your spiritual life. Maybe that’s with hobbies. Maybe that’s financially where nothing new is happening, and you just feel like you’re sort of stagnant. You’re really asking the question, “How do I break through to something higher and better there?”
I feel like what we’ve talked about is that vision is a big part of that. Asking the question, “How do I add more variety?” is part of that. Then, intentionally push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You always talk about fear, uncertainty, and doubt as being the emotions that show up when we’re out of our comfort zones, and I think that’s what we’re looking for here, but it really starts with having a vision and then getting creative.
Male: Can I throw an idea at you two and see if it makes sense to you as a concept? There’s this show called Community. It’s one of my favorite TV shows. It doesn’t matter how they get there, but at one point they introduce this concept that is room-temperature temperature. They’re doing this air conditioner repair thing. They show this character to a room. He goes, “What do you feel?”
Male: Do you feel that?
Male: Actually, I don’t feel.
Male: Precisely. Have you heard the expression room temperature?
Male: Of course.
Male: This is the room. This is the room-temperature room.
Male: I can’t tell where the air ends and my skin begins.
[End of audio]
Male: I’ve had this experience once on a Santa Monica pier, actually, but it reminded me a little bit of Caitlyn, because it seems like she has gotten to this point that she had wanted to get to, but the moment you get there, there is an element of it being a little freaky. You’re there, and it’s all good, but you’re going, “I don’t know where I am anymore. I don’t know what this is. I don’t know what’s coming next,” because all I’ve been doing has been building toward something, and I don’t know if, perhaps, it’s just acknowledging that perhaps it is fine. There’s a part of me that says, “Maybe you’re just not used to being fine.”
Michael: That’s a good point!
Male: Does that resonate with anybody? I don’t know.
Michael: It does! I mean there are some people who get so addicted to drama because the drama helps them know they are alive.
Male: Sure. Or just the achieving.
Megan: Or the adrenaline rush.
Male: Or just the, “I’m fighting for this.” She has done all of the work, and now she got to this place, and I don’t know. She doesn’t know where her body ends and the room begins. I don’t know.
Michael: I like that. I would say, first of all, just enjoy it for a little bit. I can say, as an Enneagram Three myself, that it’s really easy to want to go from one achievement to another, and if you don’t think you’re achieving you’re not alive. You don’t have any value. That may be an Enneagram Three thing that is in play here. I can certainly relate to that, and I think part of our work as Enneagram Threes is to find value in non-achievement and to find our identity in who we are and who we are related to. I don’t mean by relationship but just by the quality of our relationships as opposed to the things we accomplish.
One other thing about the Enneagram Three is that you said you are a Four-Wing, which means that’s the personality trait that is adjacent to your dominant one, which is a Three as an achiever, so the Enneagram Four is the artist. Megan, you’re an Enneagram Four. I have a Four-Wing myself, so Caitlyn and I are exactly the same, maybe not in the details, but we can certainly relate to each other.
The thing I would say is lean into that Enneagram Four. Tap into that artistic side of you and that creative side of you. How can give you expression to that? Maybe you’re doing all of the achieving, but you’re not getting the satisfaction of creating or giving vent to that artistic part of you. I would just encourage you to do that as well.
Caitlyn, I hope that was helpful. That’s kind of our best thinking. It was sort of random association here, but I think you’re totally normal. This is nothing that should concern you, but it’s just something that all of us have to deal with from time to time. Megan, do you have any final thoughts?
Megan: Well, I just think, first of all, as we said at the beginning, Caitlyn is doing awesome professionally, and we’re really proud of what she has accomplished, but there is always room for improvement, especially when you look at the other areas of your life. I think, for you who are listening, you may not feel complacent or like you’re coasting professionally, but maybe you do feel like that in some other area of your life.
I think the things we’ve talked about today are really relevant regardless of what the specific application is. We’re all going to feel like that. I certainly have in other parts of my life, and the good news is there are simple ways you can really take charge and be intentional about these other domains of your life and have a profound and meaningful impact in your life as a whole.
Michael: Let me just say that we have a resource if you’re wondering how you are doing in these various domains of life and you want a little bit more of a rigorous or thorough self-assessment so you can see where you still have room to grow. I would encourage you to take our Life Score Assessment. You can find that at bestyearever.me/lifescore. This will give you a chance to self-assess against the 10 domains of life and certainly see where you’re strong where you can celebrate that but see the domains where you need some work. That might bring the challenge back and give you the variety you need.
Megan: Guys, thanks so much for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed our off-the-cuff thoughts on Caitlyn’s situation. We would also love to know whether you did like it, and if you have a situation maybe kind of like this that you would love our input on, we’re considering some possibilities for the future, so if you would like to let us know, “I really like that,” or “Ugh! I don’t like it,” and maybe you have something you’d like us to talk about, let us know. You can just email us at email@example.com. Until next week, lead to win!