7 am - You wake up and grab your phone
- Respond to messages
- Check email
- A few flicks through social media
7:30 am - You head to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee
- Another scroll through social media
- Recheck messages, just in case
- Read a few news headlines
7:45 am - After that first sip of coffee, the bathroom calls your name.
- More social media
- Browse a few internet articles
- Respond to incoming messages
8:30 am - Is it breakfast time?
- A quick photo of the meal
- Turn on a YouTube video
- Receive a message about a "dooming problem."
9 am - You sit at your computer to solve the "problem."
- Respond to emails
- Respond to messages
- Re-organize your calendar
It's now 11 am.
This 👆 is the average 4-hour morning routine.
- Plenty of activity.
- Lots of stimuli.
- But almost nothing of value.
Majoring in the minors, as they say.
We've lost our ability to focus.
It's becoming harder and harder to focus.
While simultaneously becoming more and more valuable.
But what if we decided to take back our focus?
What if we decided to dedicate that same 4 hours to something meaningful?
What if we decided to only work on tasks that move us closer to our desired goals?
What would that life look like?
This is how I ended up on a farm.
I've been living in downtown Austin for the past year and having a blast.
- Playing sports
- Hosting a podcast show
- Walking around Lady Bird Trail
- Attending community workouts
- Running into friends on the street
- Going to local events and gatherings
- Meeting interesting people over coffee
- Creating one of Austin's largest networking communities
I was having fun, but I lacked focus.
Everything felt like an opportunity, and when everything feels like an opportunity, it means nothing is a priority.
Living in the city is great, but beware of the traps.
- Endless coffee meetings
- Endless activities
- Endless events
Don't get me wrong. I love my people.
Relationships are the cornerstone of a healthy, happy, and productive human.
But it's about the quality of the relationships, not the quantity.
My downtown apartment lease was ending, and I needed time to reflect.
To regain focus and figure out the people and projects that matter most.
Finding The Farm
Let me introduce you to Trusted House Sitters. It's a marketplace for pet owners and people that want to travel.
I've used it to travel to San Diego.
But this time, I needed something more secluded.
Call it luck or fate, but I found an incredible hobby farm outside of Austin.
Graham and Karen are the owners, and they are two of the kindest souls I've ever met in my life.
It's called Ardor Woods Farm, and they have dogs, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, longhorns, and a slew of exotic animals.
Whenever people ask me about my stay at the farm, my response... "Life-changing."
Lesson 1 - Responsibility
Most days, I'd wake up to Finn (an Australian Sheppard) scratching at the door.
It was time to eat.
My first thought in the morning was typically, "Man, I hope all the animals are still alive."
I've never had that much responsibility before.
I've spent most of my life avoiding responsibilities with the ultimate goal of "freedom."
I now realize it's more complicated than that—more on that in a second.
After I fed the dogs, it was out to the pens to take care of the rest of the animals.
I'd pull up my Google Docs sheet with all my tasks (type-C, anyone?).
"Ain't nobody dying on my watch!"
Everything was going great! Until I lost a duck.
Graham (the owner) stopped back in for a few days.
Graham, "Hey, did you know we are missing a duck?"
Me, "Uhhh... no?!"
Graham, "Yeh, I had five, but I can only find four. You didn't eat her, did you?"
Me, "NO?! Are we seriously missing a duck!?"
Graham, "Yeh, maybe a raccoon got her."
Graham left town again, and I went on a lost duck hunt.
After a few days of me panicking.
I eventually found the 5th duck. It turns out that she was out meandering alone because she had a litter somewhere.
Oh man, did that freak me out! This isn't the first time I almost lost someone's animal (a story for another day).
Finding that lost duck felt amazing. Not because there is anything special about a duck (no offense).
But because I chose to take on an important responsibility and lived up to it.
Before this experience, I thought responsibility was something to avoid.
Believing the more of it I had, the more burdensome my life would become.
I was wrong.
Having responsibilities gave me purpose and meaning.
In the words of Jordan Peterson, "The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it."
Responsibility isn't burdensome at all. It actually enriches our life.
Lesson 2 - Structure
I'm a ridiculously routine guy. But routine is different than structure.
Before living on the farm, here was my routine.
Meditate -> journal -> work -> workout -> eat -> work -> sleep.
But when you live on a farm:
- Sometimes a goat needs medication
- Sometimes a turkey gets out of its pen
- Sometimes you get attacked by a rooster
- Sometimes you find a poisonous snake
- Sometimes you lose a duck
The routine goes out the coop.
When routines fail, structure shines.
Think of "structure" like compound exercises and "routine" like isolation exercises.
If you hit your compound exercises (structure), you can let isolation exercises (routine) slide.
Living on a farm made it impossible to stick to a routine.
But I could always lean on my structure.
Here's what my daily structure entailed.
- Keep animals alive
- Move my body
- Eat whole foods
- Work on my number one priority
- Connected with loved ones
- Get a good night's sleep
Here's the lesson in this.
Life will throw poop at you.
Nothing will go according to plan.
Your day will turn out differently than you anticipate it.
But if you have a good structure. You can adapt to the storms of life.
Lesson 3 - Focus
When I was living in the city, I had a problem with saying "yes."
"Yes, I'll workout with you."
"Yes, I'll attend your event."
"Yes, I'll join you for coffee."
"Yes, I'll come to your dinner."
"Yes, I'll let you pick my brain."
I started to burn out. I started feeling resentment towards others.
As if it was their fault that I wasn't making progress toward my goals.
The only person I had to blame was myself.
Living on a farm cured my yes-itis.
It created enough space and inconvenience that saying "no" became the natural choice.
It forced me to be intentional about what I say "yes" to.
In the 25 days on the farm, I left twice.
Once to host my networking event and once to visit someone that is very, very important to me.
It taught me that I don't desire a schedule filled with surface-level activities.
I desire a schedule filled with things I deeply care about.
Find Your "Farm"
Living on a farm changed me forever. I'm a better person because of it.
But you don't have to live on a farm to have the same experience. You can find your own paradise.
Here are the three steps I recommend to anyone wanting to live a more focused, intentional, and fulfilling life.
Step 1 - Find Your Paradise
I didn't expect a farm to be paradise. But it was everything I needed.
- Animals to teach me about responsibility.
- Distance to make saying "no" easy.
- Solitude to give me peace of mind.
For you, it might look very different.
- A beachfront with the sounds of the ocean
- A mountainside with views of nature
- A lakeside with a boat to cruise
The options are endless, but here's what you're looking for
- Access to nature
- A disconnect from most humans
- A reason to get up in the morning
Go find your paradise.
Step 2 - Schedule at least 1 week
The mind loves routine.
It's safe and predictable.
There is a time and place for it, but not here.
You'll need at least a few days for the mind to let go.
To let go of the neural pathways it's so used to firing.
It's one of the many reasons I love to travel. It forces the mind to be present and create new brain pathways.
A few weeks would be ideal. But at the very least, one week should suffice.
Pick a week in your schedule and block it off.
Step 3 - Book it
There are few guarantees in life.
And quite honestly, I hate dogma.
But here's one thing I can promise you.
The things I'm most proud of happened because I said yes before I was ready.
- I never thought I'd get into a graduate program.
- I never thought I'd compete in a bodybuilding show.
- I never thought I'd start a podcast show.
- I never thought I'd run a half marathon.
I sure as hell never thought I'd live on a farm.
I didn't know the first thing about farming.
But I was willing to give it a shot.
And I'm forever grateful that I did.
Shoot your shot my friend.
Book your paradise.
- It's becoming harder to focus.
- It's becoming more valuable to learn how to focus.
- Cities make it hard to focus.
- More responsibility = more fulfillment.
- Structure > routine.
- Distance helps you focus.
- Find, schedule, and book your getaway.
If you're interested in learning more about farm life, contact me here.
Hope you enjoyed this one, my friend.