For the past few years, “successful” people on the Internet have told you THREE conflicting myths about success. Today, we’re going to unmask those three myths and tell you the truth about work and rest, so you can know how to sacrifice to win without losing it all.

1. The Hustle Myth

* This myth is usually told by people to themselves at the beginning of an exciting new business adventure. It’s the one we told ourselves the most.

Work around the clock. Work all the time. Hustle. Huuustle. HUSTLE! Push yourself to the brink. Drive yourself to the edge. Your body can take it. Your friends won’t mind. Your family will understand. They’ll always be there. Plus, you don’t need sleep anyways. You’ll sleep when you’re dead!

2. The Rest Myth

You have time. Sit back. Relax. Cozy up with a cup of coffee. Dream. Let the wind blow in your face. There’s no rush. You don’t need to run, run, run. Your business will always be there. Put everything else and everyone else first all the time. All those successful people who hustled hard for years could’ve accomplished what they did (maybe even more!) with half the work if they just would’ve worked “smarter” and not “harder.” p.s. Make sure to rest. A lot.

* This myth is usually told by people who are already successful, and either a) they have temporary amnesia and momentarily forgot what it took for them to be successful in the first place, b) they’re scared of new people to have to compete with, or c) they want to protect you from getting hurt by the things that hurt them on their way to success.

3. The Balance Myth

Everything in moderation! Dedicate an equal amount of time to everything important in your world and it’ll all harmonize together in a beautiful life symphony of success in all areas. If you work one day, spend one day with your family. Take the weekends totally off (that’s what they’re for) and leave early on Fridays. After all, too much of anything isn’t a good thing. The more variety you have in your life in terms of hobbies, interests and social interactions, the more well-rounded and, therefore, more successful you’ll be!

* This myth is usually told by people to others when they’re still searching for their purpose and passion for their profession and life. Balance is a safe answer when you don’t have clear direction to go.

Wanna know the truth? These myths are ONLY myths in isolation. Because you actually need all three! Not in equal balance, but in correct proportions at the right time.

The Three Myths of Success

Let’s start with hustle.

This is the area we’ve always struggled the most and probably always will because we’re hustlers by nature. We’re both high-achievers. We loved getting good grades in school. We loved competing for championships in sports. We get a literal high from being excellent at whatever it is we’re doing. It makes us feel good. And it’s not just in business. It permeates every aspect of our life. It’s why we had a thoughtfully organized coupon binder that we diligently kept and used for YEARS. We wanted the best possible price on a can of soup or a gallon of milk. It was a game. We’re just built this way. We even wanted to be excellent at grocery shopping.

Specifically, on the business side, this means that we spent almost our entire marriage hustling. Hard. To the point of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. We revved the engine on red for too long, up hill, down hill, no hill, you name it –– without ever really letting our foot off the accelerator so it could coast –– and the engine almost exploded.

Hustlers (like us) will try to hide it, to conceal it, because just like any addiction, it’s a) not always something we see in ourselves even though people see it in us, b) when we finally do see it in ourselves, it’s embarrassing that everyone else saw it and thought it for so long, so we double down and try to bury it deeper, and c) even when we see it and want to change it, by that time, we don’t know where to start because it’s become a way of life.

But trust us, there are physical, psychological, spiritual and relational consequences for hustling and doing almost nothing else. We’ve been there, done that and have the t-shirt (and scars to prove it). In a phrase: like a drug, it works for a while, but it’s not sustainable. It’s oftentimes well-intentioned. We work hard because we believe (and know) that what we do matters, makes a difference and changes lives. But if we combust down the road and collapse from exhaustion and burn out on the altar of helping people, then we’ve actually helped less people than we could’ve if we’d found a way to have a forty year career instead.

The Three Myths of Success

Resting too much of the time doesn’t work either.

Building a business is hard. work. It requires some hustle and sacrifice over an extended period of time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are profitable businesses. We see a lot of photographers and creative entrepreneurs these days who tell us that they’re “frustrated” because they’ve been working at their dream for six months and it’s just not happening. That’s right about the time we find out that they’re clocking hours in their business on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Eight hours a week (out of the 168 hours we all have, so 5%)  just isn’t going to get you the results you desire. Especially not fast!

We have a friend who’s a VERY successful financial advisor. He has a nice office with big, executive-looking, cherry-colored wooden desk. He wears custom-made suits and (probably) Italian leather shoes. He has at least one secretary (if not two). He’s very successful –– and a good, good man. Our favorite story he ever told was from his early days of financial planning, before he had any clients. He went house-to-house on foot in the Arizona summer heat knocking on strangers’  doors trying to convince them to invest money with him. Most of the time, they didn’t open. If they did, he recalled, they’d let him get a few words out before the said, “No, thanks,” and slammed it in his face.

The best part of the story? When he leaned back in his leather chair, crossed one leg over the other so you could see his perfectly polished shoes, smiled, and said, “I wore through two pairs of shoes that summer.”

Was he frustrated when people didn’t open the door? Yes. Was he discouraged when they said no faster than he could say hello? YES. Would it have been easy for him to believe the lie that hustle didn’t matter. That it was luck. And that he’d be better off resting, relaxing, and just letting the world come to him from now on?

No.

He bought a second pair of shoes.

Honestly, we’ve never been the “rest” people, because we’re the recovering workaholic people. But the giving up too soon, the quitting after your first pair of shoes thinking it was (or should be) enough, is a lie. Success won’t come to you. It’ll come through the holes in the bottoms of your shoes. Both pairs.

The Three Myths of Success

Balance Doesn’t Mean Equal

The last lie is “balance,” and here’s why it doesn’t work: because of our definition. Most people (like us) believed balance to be equal amounts at the same time. You put two pounds on one side of the scale, and two pounds on the other, and they’re balanced. So, the logic goes, if I spend X hours on my business today, then I should spend X hours with my spouse or children tomorrow. The problem is that’s not how balance works in the real world when it comes to work, sleep, exercise, nutrition, or time with your spouse, children, family or friends.

It’s not about giving equal portions of yourself to all things. It’s about giving the right portions of yourself to the right things based on what they need.

Take a car, for example. If your gasoline tank holds 20 gallons, you know that it runs best and longest when it’s filled with 20 gallons. But that’s not true of the radiator fluid. Or the transmission fluid. They need less. The car doesn’t run best when the fluids are all equal. It runs best when the fluids are proportional to their needs.

So goes your life and business.

An hour at the gym three times per week might be the perfect amount of time you need to be physically fit and feeling good. An hour with your kids three times per week might not be enough. And three hours per week on your business wouldn’t allow it to get off the ground much less grow.

Also, sometimes balance looks a little different from week to week. If you have a triple-header wedding weekend this week, there’s no WAY you’re going to have any “balance” in those three days. It’s about survival. But if you take that Monday and the next weekend off completely, maybe that’s balance for you.

The Three Myths of Success
Now that we’ve identified the three lies we’e been told about work and rest, let’s talk about the TRUTH of how to sacrifice to win without losing it all:

1. All three myths are false when they stand alone.

2. All three myths become true when they work together.

For a long time in our life, we we all about the hustle, and now that we’re a little older and (a little) wiser, we recognize that hustle doesn’t always mean successful. There’s a ton of science that proves, for example, that people who don’t get a good night’s rest actually function up to 20% less effectively during the work day. So by sleeping a few hours less every night of the week for the sake of hustle, we actually lost a few hours of productivity during the day. In hindsight, sleep would’ve been more fun than crazed tired eyes and partially functioning brains.

The other thing we’ve learned, is that a good balance between hustle and rest can look like saying “no” to junk food habits (like TV) so you can say “yes” to something that’s higher on your priority list. According to Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours, most of the time, when people say, “I don’t have time for __________” what they really mean is: __________ isn’t my priority. We have A LOT more time than we think to give A LOT to the things that matter without sacrificing any of them to each other. Did you know that you can sleep eight hours every night, work a 40-hour week and STILL have 72 hours left over (an average of TEN HOURS per day) to do the things that matter?

What we’ve found, is that the perfect blend between work and rest (for us) is a combination of two things.

1) A daily schedule and routine

We try to get the right proportions of work, rest, exercise, spiritual growth, hobbies and interests, and time with our spouse, family and friends. Here’s a snapshot of what that looks like. We wake up at 7:00 a.m. and get ready, read the Bible and a business book until 8:15 a.m. We have breakfast together, talk about our books and plan our day from 8:15 – 9:00 a.m. From 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. we work. From 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. we get ready, go to the gym, come home, clean up and eat. From 6:30 –  9:00 p.m. we either spend time with a family member or friend OR do something else that’s productive for our home/life OR do something that’s fun and relaxing together, like play a board game Settlers of Catan is our current (and maybe forever) favorite. From 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. we wind down, get ready for bed, watch something together and make sure we’re asleep by 11.

2) One day every week, we sabbath.

Before our pastor preached this mind-blowing and eye-opening sermon about the “day of rest,” we thought we were supposed to take one day off every week to ONLY 100% focus on our faith. Which we never did. Because that would last a few hours (max) before we’d start to get antsy. But, as he explained, taking a weekly sabbath isn’t just focus on God. It’s to rest from work. Not all work, though. Just the work that produces income. So, for us, that means no emails. No shooting. No writing curriculum. What it can mean is housework. Or errands. Because working with our hands around the house is restful work for our tired minds at the end of the week. Plus, if working six days and resting one is good enough for God, then it should be good enough for us; and we believe, that six days with God will go farther than seven days without God.

Since we’ve implemented both of these steps, we’ve been amazed at how hard we’ve been able to hustle, how much rest we’ve been able to get, and how much balance we feel in every area of our life.

The Three Myths of Success

(Photos by Annamarie Akins, Jill Powers and Melissa Jill)

So, our simple (but not easy) challenge for you is this:

1. Make a daily schedule that budgets your time like you’d budget your money. When you have to write it down on paper, on purpose, like Dave Ramsey says, it’s easy to see what your priorities are; because your personal financial budget, just like your daily schedule, isn’t just numbers. It’s a statement of values.

2. Take one day off per week to rest from the work that brings you income. It doesn’t have to be the same day every week. But it needs to be one full day.

3. When you mess up either of these (and you will, just like we all do), don’t quit. Just start again. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being intentional.

Let us know how it goes! And, as always, we’re cheering for you!

We’re so proud of our online shooting & editing course students!

 

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25 comments
filed in: Education, Personal

    Eric

    Thanks for this, guys. <3

    Amy & Jordan

    We're so happy to hear this was encouraging to you, Eric! :)

    Jamal

    I love how you guys tie your faith into your posts. It puts everyday life into perspective. Thank you for being a real blessing. I must admit i have been guilty of hustling because i want to see the fruits of my labor so soon and I've been feeling a little insecure about how business has slowed to a 2 month hault ???? I will definitely try to implement this advice.

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw! Thanks so much for sharing that with us! That means everything to us! A lot of us are guilty of that, Jamal! It's all about the balance between work and rest! We're cheering for you!!

    Andrea

    I was just having a conversation with my significant other about this topic last night. I'm also a natural hustler and lately have been putting an insane amount of time into working on my business, sometimes sacrificing the little time I have for quality time with my SO. But it's hard because I'm trying to set up and run my business while I have another full time job that consumes 10-12 hours of my day each day Mon-Fri. I've also been getting frustrated lately because I feel like I'm putting in all this work and my business is going nowhere, but that's a topic for another time.
    Thank you so much for the tips! They definitely came at the right time. I like your ideas of establishing (and sticking to!) a daily routine and taking one day to rest. I should really do a better job at that.
    P.S. The photos of you two are so cute!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Andrea! We've totally been there and understand how you're feeling! We're so glad this was encouraging to you! We hope getting into a routine will be helpful!! We're cheering for you!! :)

    Heidi Shartrand

    Y'all. Y'ALL. YOU JUST UNDERSTAND. Seriously you two, thank you. You're clearly teachers at heart and it shows when you help others. I needed this because I'll admit I am the 'quitter' who stops after the first pair of shoes. Actually, I don't even wait until the shoes get broken in. I quit when I get blisters. I'm not proud of it but it is 100% who I am. (I totes don't want to stay that way, fyi!) I'm 'restarting' for the umpteenth time on this business stuff, but I want to hustle with proper proportion to my rest. Your advice and instruction is always my go-to because it is just plain good to the last drop. ❤️

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw!! Haha! We're so happy to hear this was helpful and encouraging to you, Heidi!! You're so sweet! We're cheering for you!! <3

    Tammy Johnson

    Thank you for all you have done to encourage and inspire new photographers~by sharing your expertise, optimism, your love for the art of photography, and your love and attentiveness to each other in your relationship. It's great to be reminded to be aware of what we can do to improve (not just what we do in the field; but also in-between sessions) to be balanced in all things.

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Tammy! Aw!! Thank you so much for being so sweet! That means everything to us! We're so glad this was encouraging for you! We're cheering for you!! Hugs! :)

    Shannon D.

    LOVE THIS!

    Amy & Jordan

    Thanks so much, Shannon! <3

    Courtney Adams

    You've heard it a million times, I'm certain, but I've never felt more inspired to get going. Thank you for sharing your story and most of all for incorporating God. I'll be a student soon! :) Blessings, Courtney Adams

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Courtney! Aw!! Thanks so much for sharing that with us! That means everything to us!! We can't wait to have you in the course one day! Hugs!! <3

    Ruth Carlsen

    I love this! It is something that I have always known but always need to be reminded to keep it in play. My pastor as well as taught on this subject over and over again. I will start again tomorrow and Implement a new schedule one that fits me better for today. Thank you so much for instilling Godly beliefs into your business! I truly truly appreciate that.

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Ruth! Thanks so much for sharing that with us! We all need this reminder from time to time! Hugs! <3

    Peyton

    This is best thing I have read all week!!! Maybe all year! You have hit the nail on the head for me and I am so inspired by you two spiritually and in your business. I've purchased both the SEC and PC and have learned more than I can thank you for. Your investment to give a huge piece of yourselves to people like me is incredible and to know you both do that with a servant's attitude and grace is so awesome to be a part of.. Thank you so much A&J. You two are one of a kind and God is honored by your kingdom work in this way.

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Peyton! Aw!! You're so sweet! Thanks so much for sharing that with us! That truly means everything to us! You just made our day!! Hugs! <3

    Alisa

    WOW! I read this the day after I purchased your Posing course and I am blown away! (Loved your free webinar and can't wait to get started on the course!!) Such a wonderful reminder about priorities and being intentional. So awesome to see the section about the sabbath, too! I have learned this the hard way over the past few years. As a homeschooling mom, freelance graphic designer, and budding photographer, everything came to a halt when I was trying to do too much—chronic fatigue syndrome was diagnosed. (I thought you guys might be believers!) Anyway, thank you for sharing your heart, philosophy, and your faith with all of us. You are an encouragement to me!! PTL!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Alisa! We're so sorry to hear that. We hope you're doing a lot better! We're so happy to hear this post was encouraging to you and that you're in the Posing Course! We're cheering for you!! <3

    Alisa

    WOW! I read this the day after I purchased your Posing course and I am blown away! (By the way, loved your free webinar and can't wait to get started on the course!!) Anyway, this is such a wonderful reminder about priorities and being intentional. So awesome to see the section about the sabbath, too! I have learned this the hard way over the past few years. As a homeschooling mom, freelance graphic designer, and budding photographer, everything came to a halt when I was trying to do too much—chronic fatigue syndrome was diagnosed. So thank you for sharing your heart, philosophy, and your faith with all of us. You are an encouragement to me!! PTL!! Please keep sharing your faith.

    Jackie

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! Thank you for sharing your insights, your hearts, ...your ADORABLE pictures of yourselves! ...and the game... may i suggest another: Ticket to Ride US and TtR Europe(more complicated) :)
    Many bunches of blessings, you two!

    Amy & Jordan

    Aw!! Thanks so much, Jackie! We'll have to check that game out! Thanks for the suggestion! <3

    Thank you for this excellent article. So timely and truly accurate. I am about to begin your business course and I am excited for sure... But it seems you are good people of great faith, and I LOVE supporting that! God bless you both.

    Amy & Jordan

    Thank you so much, Shawn! We're so glad this was helpful! We're so excited to have you in our business course! :)