The 7 W’s of a Wonderfully Grounded Day

We hadn’t even gotten home from the vacation we had just taken, and there I was…doing it again.

Mid-flight, headed home with our family, and I’m incessantly scrolling through Zillow looking at homes in Florida. You know, because a second house is really practical right now as we stare down the barrel of 5 pending colleges and 4 pending weddings.

Especially the houses I was looking at.

And then my attention moved quickly from the vacation house idea, to the vacation Airstream one.

A friend and I had been texting about Matthew McConaughey’s new book, Greenlights. It’s a must read, full of wonderful insight. But his mention of an Airstream got my Enneagram 7 wanderlust rolling.

I justified the wild goose chase with the fact that we could buy a $125,000 Airstream, rent it 44 weeks out of the years, and then use it for the remainder (none of which is at all practical).

Not only could we have the rolling freedom for perfect family vacations (highly unlikely considering all 7 of us would have to jam into it and not ride in it legally while driving hours on end), but WE COULD EVEN MAKE MONEY AND TURN IT INTO A SIDE HUSTLE.

I even emailed a few Airstream dealers from the plane, in cool places of course like Oregon and Colorado.

Can you imagine the adventure of driving all the way to Oregon just to pick up the Airstream? Damn, what an epic adventure.

You’re following my sarcasm, I’m sure.

It took less than an hour, for me to open my email, remember the bills and responsibilities we were coming home to, and get a little more settled into reality.

For clarity, I’d still love a house on the water in Florida. And a brand new Airstream would be sick.

But those pipe dreams are perfect distractions for doing the work that needs to be done today, in order for that to ever be more than a fantasy for some future version of me.

I don’t know if you daydream like I do, but in order to build some boundaries and some definition about what a wholesome and wonderful day looks like for me, here are the 7 W’s that I try and fit in every day to help future proof my randomness, and bring me into the discipline of a day well lived.

I’m far from perfect at all 7 of these, every day, but these are a good guide towards a good day.

  1. WHO – Without a strong identity, rooted in something deep, all hell breaks loose in my soul. Take the God stuff or leave it and find something else that works for you, but for me, here’s where the day begins:
    • Meditate: 10-15 minutes of silence, and focusing on my breath, helps my monkey mind slow down, find stillness, and bring the Airstream thoughts back to what’s real.
    • Read + Pray: A simple reminder that I’m part of a bigger story.
    • Declarations + Intentions: 15 sentences I say out loud to remind me of who I am, why I’m here, and what should get my focus today.
    • This is scheduled at 6:30am on my calendar during the week, I usually start about 7:00am after some coffee, and the whole process is 30 minutes.
  2. WRITE – For me, this breaks out in two main ways:
    • Private: this sometimes is a written prayer, it’s sometimes a massive immature vent session, it’s sometimes something I’m wrestling with, it’s sometimes a doodling of an Airstream.
    • Public: I resisted this for years, but I committed to myself to share one thought a day through email and my blog. I blame Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield.
    • During the work week, I have blocked 8:30 – 9:30 am (our house is a bit of a zoo between 7:30 – 8:30 am while we’re getting kids to school, getting ready for the day, etc.) to write. I make it a priority like I would a client meeting. And when the time gets hijacked, I make time at another spot throughout the day.
  3. WORK – Being self-employed the past four+ years has been great. But, left unchecked, there are seasons that look more like workaholism than freedom. Worries and anxiety instead of the pursuit of meaningful work. Further, lots of studies and science show that we each really have about 5-6 good, productive hours of focused work in us. This is an always evolving schedule for me, but what I block on my schedule for WORK is 9:30 – 3:30 (there have been days where working three hours was insanely productive, and others when I’ve worked 14 and it was a shit show). I have a long way to go, but I’d like to even start to getting to a point when the days are something like:
    • Monday: Internal (team meetings, client planning, leadership meetings, etc.)
    • Tuesday – Thursday: External (client status, new business, partnership meetings, networking, etc.)
    • Friday: Project (podcast, vision, big projects)
  4. WALK – Ever since stumbling into Trevor Blake’s work last fall, I’ve been on a walk kick. Admittedly, I kinda feel like an old man, but a 20-30 minute walk during the middle of the day has been a refreshing, resetting game changer for me. Ideally, I do this on a trail, in the woods by myself. But many times, I just walk the streets by my office or home office while on a call (sorry to my colleagues who have heard me huffing a bit while chatting about work stuff).
    • During the work week, I have this scheduled for 12:00 – 12:30 pm, but many times this gets shuffled to earlier or later depending on other meetings. And the days I don’t get this walk in, it’s noticeably different for me.
  5. WORKOUT – One big antidote to anxiety is some form of daily exercise. While a walk counts towards the WHOOP Strain score for sure, a walk is usually more for a mind clearing session. Getting a good workout in, with weights or a run for me, always pays off in many other ways down the road. Better eating, better sleeping, lower anxiety, better connection, etc.
    • During the work week, I have this scheduled from 4:00 – 5:00 pm.
  6. WELL – Midnight nachos, an all too often nightcap, that third helping, the trip to the custard shop, the 17 cups of coffee. All of those (and plenty more) have been contributors to my coping over the years. I’ve slowly (and sometimes there are massive failures and falls off the wagon) evolved into a lifestyle low on sugar, high on fiber (through fruits, veggies, legumes, and other plants), free of alcohol (another post for another day), with a game over time at 8:00pm each night.
    • During the work week, I drink black coffee and water for the first few hours of the day, typically have a pretty decent size lunch, then a big homemade dinner at night as often as we can. For me, I’ve found that simple, routine meals (that I once would have thought were boring) become areas that provide consistency, without burning lots of decision energy.
  7. WITH – I block 5:00 – 10:00 pm each night to be WITH. It’s not so much that I have lots of evening conflicts any more, but it’s a word reminder to be WITH my family when I’m with them. Whether it’s taking them to practices, watching their games, making dinner at our house, playing poker together (our crew has been on a poker kick since Christmas), or just all doing our own thing, it’s a good reminder for me to stay present, physically and emotionally. The six people I live with who share my last name are the most important people in my life, and yet, I’m often quick to respond to a text, check a work Slack, or carry around some burden that can be dealt with the next morning.

The goal isn’t perfection. The goal, for me at least, is consistency. Guide rails. Best practices. Develop good habits. Boundaries.

Because without them, I’m prone to plan the purchase of an Airstream, while eating nachos at midnight.

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