The Sweet Spot of Success

Hope you’re having a swell weekend.

It’s a working weekend for me… but I will “owe” myself the time back later, doing something fun and not work-related.

Because success sucks if you can’t enjoy it.

I’ve experienced burn-out a couple of times in my long career… and eventually learned both how to spot the oncoming symptoms, and take corrective measures to get back in the groove (where I work hard and play hard and get maximum bliss from the entire process).

There’s a sweet spot you can find where you can’t wait to get back into the office each workday, and also can’t wait for the fun days to arrive. You are totally absorbed in everything you do (and not thinking about work when you play, or wishing you were playing when you’re at your desk).

Not very many entrepreneurs or small biz owners attain this Zen state of functional bliss. They get sucked into working (and thinking about work) 24/7, and fry their cerebral cortex to a cinder. (Hint: If drinking yourself into oblivion is your primary way of relaxing, you’re toasting yourself.)

On the other hand, the vast crowd of wannabe’s who just can’t seem to get started tend to give playtime higher priority than work, and get stuck in the shadowy world of unfulfilled ambition and wasted dreams.

Most of the “mega-successful” marketers I know are workaholics. Some of these guys hit the office before dawn and don’t leave until Jay Leno’s on. It’s hell going up against these beasts, if you’re competing, because they will crush you with the sheer volume of hours they put in.

Until they crisp-out, that is. Every single workaholic I’ve known has, sooner or later, hit a wall and crashed. They’ll earn millions, lose millions, pile up the divorces, and plow through health kicks in futile attempts to recharge their damaged batteries.

No thanks.

If you’re competing against workaholics, there are plenty of sneaky tricks to beat them without matching their self-destructive ways. One is to just give ’em enough rope to hang themselves — simply by maintaining yourself in a healthy groove that is productive enough to stay even remotely competitive, while enjoying life to the max, you can outlast them over the long haul.

I don’t have scientific studies to back this up, but my experience has been that workaholics have at most a two-year cycle — two years of kicking ass, followed by two years of grief and collapse. That cycle can be as short as six months, too.

None of them escape the Reaper.

Another tactic is to just never go up against them. Go around them, instead. No matter how hard they work, they can’t keep a too-broad USP (unique selling position) covered completely. There will always be vulnerable areas… and that’s where relaxed and focused marketers can smoothly walk in and exploit exhausted competitors.

That sweet spot is really sort of a controlled obsession. While you’re working, you’re riveted on work, just like the workaholic.

The difference is… you set up your business so it won’t collapse when you take time off. And then you take full advantage of that, and take time off.

And stay riveted on having fun.

It’s not a place you get to accidentally — you must decide it’s where you want to be, and then create a plan to get there.

And stay there. Easy to fall out of the sweet spot.

Most marketers bounce back and forth — too much work for a while, followed by a depressed reluctance to work, interspersed by attempts to take time off without good planning.

I just want to remind you that the sweet spot exists, and it’s available to anyone who wants it. You must learn to channel your passions, so they don’t contaminate each other. When you’re working, you work hard — set and meet deadlines, and schedule everything as realistically as possible. (This takes practice.) When you play, you do the same thing.

I knew a professional coach who specialized in the medical field, where burn-out starts immediately in a career. Every client he had was frazzled, stuck on a treadmill, and working too hard to make any real money.

And one of the first things this coach forced each client to do… was to set up one short vacation every month. Could be just a weekend, but it had to be a real vacation — go somewhere and do something. Laying on a beach drinking Mai-Tai’s didn’t count. Educational jaunts were the best — get your mind working, hard, in another direction.

Nearly all his clients, at first, were appalled. They hadn’t taken any vacation at all in years… and the concept of one a month was terrifying.

This tactic works like a magic elixir, though. It’s a good mix of work and play, and the definitiveness of the monthly get-away not only restores your mental energy… it also allows you to work as hard as you need to, knowing there’s a wonderful break just ahead to recharge the batteries.

Success has never been about piling up cash. Right now, I know half a dozen people who are in serious health situations… and they would gladly give away every penny they have to be back in their prime.

It’s not just a cliche. You only get one go-around in life, with no reset button. And from personal experience, I can tell you the best groove to be in involves lots of productive work, coupled with excruciatingly-fun breaks.

Settle for half the money, if it means twice the enjoyment of life. Even the grandest of goals shouldn’t require the sacrifice of your will to live.

Now, go outside and play.

Stay frosty…

John Carlton

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  • […] The Sweet Spot of Success […]

  • Yoav says:

    Thanks, man.

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  • BrettFromTibet says:

    Thanks for this piece, John. I can see the workaholic tendency in me flaring up. The writing is on the wall, if I don’t change my ways now. I am going to take a conscious effort to make for a more balanced life. You are so right, a high-stress big money life sucks if you are too wound up to enjoy it.

  • Samick Jack says:

    Your health should ALWAYS be in front of your wealth…

    Have fun while you can as well.

  • What a refreshing article! Occasionally I am so impressed by a post, I print it out and keep it for later – this is one of those gems.

    I really like your point “…you must decide its where you want to be and create a plan to get there…” I’m going to take that advice on board and achieve that in my business.

    Thanks for the inspiration John.


  • Lol… I found this article because I was spending my Saturday working to improve my ratings on the search engines…

    I think I am going to take your advice about the holiday, it’s been years for me too and the philosophy makes sense.



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