Jamila Souffrant 0:00
You're listening to the Journey To Launch Podcast. How To Change Overthinking From A Super Problem To A Superpower With Jon Acuff.
T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast with your host, Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave Journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real wealth. Join her on the Journey To Launch to financial freedom in five, four, three, two, one.
Jamila Souffrant 0:40
Hey, Hey, Hey, Journeyers. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast. As always, I'm your host, Jamila Souffrant. And I'm thrilled, super thrilled, that you are here with me today. So listen, we're gonna be tackling a problem that we all have had or probably just need to get over and that's over thinking. So, I thought who better to tackle this and help us get through this then the author of the book, "Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution To Overthinking," which is Jon Acuff.
Who is Jon Acuff? So, Jon Acuff is a New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including the number one Wall Street Journal bestseller, "Finish: Give Yourself The Gift Of Done." He's an INC magazine Top 100 Leadership speaker, and he's just, I mean, you'll hear it. He was dropping straight gems in our conversation. And I just think that this is so important for all of us to understand. That what we tell ourselves how we think leads to our emotions, and what we do. And so once we can figure out how to rewire our brain, so that we can have positive soundtracks, and we'll talk about what soundtracks are in the episode, we will be unstoppable. Hello? Right, Journeyers? So I'm really excited to talk to John and I may or may not put out the video interview. So, John and I recorded this also as a video, but I was living one of those Mom/Entrepreneurship lives, because my daughter, Blake was home. And so we were going through some things, but this was such a great episode, that I said to myself, "We're gonna get through this, we're gonna do what we have to do." And so, go to my YouTube channel, the video may or may not be out, but go check it out. And even if you're not gonna see the video, I do have other video interviews on my Journey To Launch YouTube channel. So go over there and check it out. You can just type Journey To Launch into YouTube, or check the description in your show notes or wherever you listen to this.
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If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned, and so much more. Also, whether you are An OG Journeyer or are brand new to the podcast, I've created a FREE Jumpstart Guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes to listen to, stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources, and so much more. You can go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.
All right. Hey, Journeyers! I'm really excited to have on today's guest, John Acuff. Who I have, I read his book, and we're going to talk about that, "Soundtracks." And I've also, you know, followed up on your work, John. I first heard you on another podcast. And I know that this is a personal finance podcast, but what I really love talking about is all the things that matter and how we make decisions around our money and which is our mindset. And so, this book was perfect that you wrote, to talk about why we do the things we do, how we can improve the things we tell ourselves so that we can make progress towards our goals. So welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast, John.
Jon Acuff 4:47
Yeah, thanks for having me! I'm looking forward to it.
Jamila Souffrant 4:49
Yeah, so first, I don't know how familiar my audience is with you. Hopefully they get really familiar and then they're like...
Jon Acuff 4:54
They're probably huge fans. If I had to guess. I mean, that's... that's my assumption. They're like, "Oh my gosh, finally, John Acuff! He's so tall. He's so tall. I can't wait."
Jamila Souffrant 5:05
But I mean, this is not your first book. You have had a, just a, long run in writing and in the space of just personal development and help. Self help, if I can say that. And so I'd just like you to give a background, just people who may not be familiar with who you are
Jon Acuff 5:20
Sure! I spent about 14 or 15 years in corporate marketing. So I worked for brands like Bose and Home Depot and Staples. I started kind of blogging and realized there's a lot of, there's a lot of fun people out there and the Internet has leveled the playing field with sharing ideas. So I started to really get into social media and blogging, and then that got the attention of a guy named Dave Ramsey. And so I spent three years with him. Touring and speaking and doing radio stuff and got a really great kind of PhD in personal branding and personal finance, and after that, wanted to start my own company. So about eight years ago, I started my own company, and I've written seven books. The latest one is "Soundtracks," and then before that, there was a book called "Finish," about finishing your goals, and before that was a book called "Do Over." The other thing I do-- I write books, and then go speak about the book. So I do about 50 events a year for companies like Comedy Central and Microsoft and FedEx. And so that's the other side of my work.
Jamila Souffrant 6:16
Yeah. And so I love -- I didn't read like the subtext of your book, it's really "Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking." And I think it's interesting you had like the background with Dave Ramsey, who was personal finance and kind of like being on this show. And I have a different approach than Dave, but I think all together, like this, the overthinking, can apply to overthinking about going to get that promotion that you know, you know, you deserve or want. Over thinking about where to invest. Over thinking about going after a goal. So I want to start there with why this topic? Like how did you know that it was time to write about this?
Jon Acuff 6:52
Well, when you... I think that any best selling idea, whether it's a podcast, whether it's a speech, whether it's a book, whether it's a business, always needs three things in common? Number one, you need to identify a need. Do people really need it? Are the listeners asking for this? Are the people in my community? When I'm speaking to people, you know, is this a question I get? So you find a need. The second thing you find is a personal connection. Am I personally connected to this? You care about personal finance, and that comes through in your episodes. There's a personal connection to that. If you're going to talk about this, you want to have a personal connection. The third, is you find a place in the marketplace. So you say, "Okay, it's not so crowded that I can't find my spot." So with overthinking, the PhD, this guy named Mike Peasley, who helps me with research, we asked 10,000 people if they struggle with overthinking. So, huge study, and 99.5% of people said yes, they struggle with overthinking and mindset. So we knew, "Okay. Wow. The need is there." Second thing, changing the way I thought changed my own life years ago. Changing a few simple thoughts, because your thoughts, turn into your actions, turn into your results. And most people over focus on their actions, and they never change the underlying results, which are steering the whole ship. And they're confused why they keep running into the rocks. So I had a personal connection to the topic. And then when I went into the marketplace, I realized there's a lot of great resources about overthinking and mindset, but a lot of them need to get really holistic and fuzzy, there's nothing practical, it's kind of like throw your idea out into the universe and the universe will take care of you. And that's not true for a second. The universe doesn't care about John Acuff. It's busy, like ramming boats in the Suez Canal. Like it... that that is never a life plan. Like, if you gave financial advice that was like, "Just say what you want out loud, and it'll happen automatically," like, well enjoy being broke, because that's what's gonna, like, that's what's going to happen. And so they were really holistic, or they would say, "Stop it. Stop it. Stop overthinking," and my opinion was, "Why would I ever turn off this amazing machine I've got? What if I just fed it with good thoughts? With good soundtracks?" This phrase I use. Imagine what I could do then? Because I really believe you can turn your overthinking and your mindset from a super problem into a superpower. And with neuroplasticity and understanding now, we have scientifically, that we can change the physical shape of our brains with our thoughts. There's all this new research that we have that says, "Okay, you can do that." So once I had those three things, I knew, "Okay, I need to spend years on this topic." And that's what I did.
Jamila Souffrant 9:08
Yeah. So it's evident that you did the research. And I love that you mentioned you know, that's the thing too, it's it's like, sometimes what people call "woo-woo," or just, like, kind of like this, manifestation of things and just saying things. It's like, sure. For some people that works. With a lot of people, that doesn't, if you're very analytical, and so finding that merge, we can almost basically show why at the end of the day, the thoughts matter from a scientific point, is important.
Jon Acuff 9:32
You need both. I mean, you, you definitely need both. You know, and I'm not a... I'm not a positive person by nature, but I always tell people fear comes free, hope takes work. You don't have to look for negativity, it'll find you. You've... every listener has been in the grocery store and had a negative thought hit them out of nowhere on a mistake they made three years ago. That doesn't happen with good thoughts. Scientifically, that doesn't happen. So you have to work at it. So it is a combination and so I'm a big believer in the power of positive thinking and affirmations, but I'm a big believer in tying those into actions, because I can, you know, according the New York Times, 81% of Americans want to write a book and every year less than 1% do. So 81% said they want to, and 1% do. And so the idea of just saying it out loud, but never sitting down to write, doesn't mean you ever get to write a book. The idea of saying, I want to start a business, but then you never do the work of doing it, the business doesn't exist. And so I'm big on positive thinking, big on the power of that, but I'm even bigger on attaching that to tangible action, which turns into tangible results.
Jamila Souffrant 10:33
Right, like aligned to action. Like that's what it is all about. Okay, so help us, John. Help us all figure out how we can stop overthinking. So where's the place to start? If you know that you are... some people know they're over thinkers. Like, they just know it. So they're like, "Oh, this is for me!" Like they saw the title of this podcast, and they were like, "I need to look at this." Some people actually don't understand how much they overthink and how much it is stopping them. So let's -- if there's a difference in approach for those two people or two sets, how would you do that? Or if not, how would you then just for someone listening-- How do I stop overthinking?
Jon Acuff 11:03
So, I'll give them-- I'll give you two quick things you can think about? One is, people often say, "John, I'm not an over thinker. I'm just analytical." You know, like some of your audience would say, "I'm analytical, I'm detailed, I'm unprepared." Awesome. The difference between being prepared, and overthinking is being prepared leads to action, overthinking leads to more overthinking. So if you said to me, "John, I've been researching all these investment options, and then I invested." Awesome, you're prepared, like, be prepared. That's the best. If you say to me, "John, until I have all the information about investing, I won't invest." I have terrible news for you, you'll never have all the information. We haven't lived in an all information world in 100 years. It's impossible for you to have all the information. You have enough, and you take a calculated risk and you make some smart decisions. The second thing I'd say is, the fastest way to determine if you have a broken soundtrack. So, soundtrack, again is a repetitive thought around your money, is to write down a money goal or money desire. And it can be anything. It can be, I want to pay off my credit card debt, I want to be able to buy a house someday, I want to retire at a certain age. Write that down and then listen to the first thoughts you have. Every reaction is an education. So when you write down, I want to save this amount of money and your first thought is you'll never be able to do that, your parents didn't set you up right, other people had better advantages. All the sudden you have negative thoughts, and you've got a broken soundtrack. And you've got some work to do.
Jamila Souffrant 12:25
Well, first of all, I'm glad to define soundtrack, because we didn't really define what it meant. So I'm glad you said that. It's like, you know, that repetitive thought process. But you know, what's interesting to me is that, like I know I have a negative-- some negative soundtracks, but they'ew sometimes to me, so subconscious. Like, I don't ever think through. Like sometimes I'll say, "Oh, I need to do this thing." And then something quickly, I can hear or feel that negative thing. But it's quick. It's never really played out. But it still impacts the way I act, like. And so I think that's something too where people are like, "Well, I don't ever really say to all those things."
Jon Acuff 12:56
Well, part of it is learning to listen to yourself. I mean, the problem is, the more times you say it, the easier it is to hear it again. Like for instance, families have broken soundtracks. So I talked to somebody and his last name was Scoggins. And he said, "Our, my dad used to say, "Scoggins don't get ahead, they get by."" So as a child, he heard that broken sound track over and over and over and over again. So that one is ingrained. The second you know-- or "must be nice." When somebody else has something good happened to them. If your mom or dad or uncle or whoever said, "Must be nice, must be nice, must be nice," then, all of a sudden, they're telling you, you don't get those good things. You don't like... they must have... you know, and it creates all these broken sound tracks. So a lot of times, it's a practice. It's learning how to listen to the stories you're telling yourself about yourself, about the world, about what you're capable of, about the work you do. And so and that takes time. There's times in life where knowing a single truth can change everything. For instance, I worked with somebody, and he was terrible to get along with, just the worst, horrible coworker. And I learned that his wife had cancer. And that changed everything. It completely changed my understanding of who he was. There's other times, where you've had this broken soundtrack for 10 years, and you're going to have to put in some effort to go, "No, I'm going to have a different soundtrack. I'm going to believe a different thing about myself." And it's going to take work and action and time, but I'm going to do it.
Jamila Souffrant 14:16
Yeah, there's a lot of self responsibility and a need for being radically honest. Because there's no one else that can, you know, unless they know you really well, but ultimately it's still you that has to say, "What is really going on in my mind?" And sit with that.
Jon Acuff 14:29
Yeah, and then take the ownership to work on it. You only get to fix problems you own. One of the worst best days for me, was when I realized that I'm the source of most of the chaos in my life. Like, I'm the source. And that was the worst day, because then I couldn't blame other people. Couldn't blame my past. Couldn't blame circumstances, whatever. It was the best, because then I could go, "Okay, knowing that what can I do? What can I change?" Now, the good thing, like you said, having other people in your life, they can be a mirror. There are times where you need a close friend that'll go, "Hey, you're saying this, but this is what you're doing so there's a disconnect. I want to hold up this mirror, because I care about you." And I want--- I don't think you can see, like, if I use that relationship example. Sometimes you're in a bad relationship. And it's like you're so close to the painting, you can't see what it really is. And friends are 10 feet away, and then go, "Now that is a terrible painting," but you're so close to it, you can't tell and then you break up with a person. And months later, you go, "Hey, why didn't you tell me this person was so terrible," and your friends go, "We did, like constantly, but you are so close to it." So we do need other people that are outside of the situation and go, "Hey, I care about you. You know, here's something I think you need to think about."
Jamila Souffrant 15:35
Okay, so we just touched upon how one can even know if they're having negative soundtracks, these thoughts that keep repeating. You have to sit with yourself, you have to be honest, radically honest. And it's not going to be overnight. Because some things is so subconscious, you don't even know that it's happening. Once they find out like, "Wow, I do have a lot of this going on," what should they do?
Jon Acuff 15:56
Well, so there's three steps. And that's what the book teaches. You retire your broken sound tracks. So you figure out you identify them, you retire them. The second thing is, you replace them with new ones. And then the third thing is, you repeat the new ones so often, they become as automatic as the old ones. So retire, replace, repeat, because it's not, it's not that you're not going to have any thoughts. Like it's insane to think, "Oh, just stop thinking," you're thinking machine. Thinking is one of the things that separates us from the animals. It's, you know, it's how we're wired. So you're going to think thoughts, it just becomes a matter of going, "Okay, what are the thoughts I want to think?" most people don't understand, they get to choose their thoughts. And then the third thing is "Okay, well, how do I repeat these new ones so often, they become automatic?"
Jamila Souffrant 16:39
Right? Do you have an example in your life where you consciously reprogrammed your soundtrack?
Jon Acuff 16:44
100%. I mean, I have one written on my wall. I grab it right off. So this one note card says, "I love writing this book." And that was from November 6, 2019. Because writing a book is hard. It's challenging, but it's also a huge privilege. It's a huge privilege. And so a lot of writers ruin their books, because they have these broken soundtracks that say, "Writing is easy. You just open up a vein and bleed on the page. You're like, I gotta go to the coal mine." Like what? And so I needed a reminder, like, and this isn't sexy. This isn't hokey, like anybody could write these exact same words. I need that reminder. Another one would be this. I wrote, "Ask for more," on a note card. I wrote that August 27, 2020. Because I found myself undervaluing my work in negotiations. So I needed a soundtrack, on the wall, that I saw 100 times a day that said, "Ask for more," so that when I was doing a negotiation, when I was doing a pitch, I'd go "Oh, that's right. Like I need to up the fee like, Oh, that's right, the thing I'm doing has value. Oh, that's right." You know, and then the third one, I'll show you, this one just says, "People are trying to give you money, people are trying to give you money." So, it's really easy when you've had a bad financial situation, to walk away with broken sound tracks that go, "People are gonna take advantage of me, people are out to get me," and then you go into a new situation with your hands clenched, and clenched hands have no open hands for new opportunities. And so it's kind of like when you go to a restaurant, and the waiter or waitress is rude, and you're like, "I'm just trying to give you money. Like, you're a restaurant, you serve food, like, I'm not in your kitchen. Like, if I was in your living room, you should be like, "What are you doing in my house this is..." but if I'm like, if you're in an outfit at a restaurant, like all I want to do is give you a baller tip. But if you've got a terrible attitude, then you, like, you hurt the relationship." And so for me, that was a reminder, when I go into business situations, the reason we're in these situations is: These people are trying to give me money. And my attitude and my optimism and my effort and my hustle should reflect that.
Jamila Souffrant 18:38
Yeah. I love that, and you have visual cues. Hopefully, we can release this video so you can actually see that he pulled, he actually pulled off, like, index cards and was showing us, for just the listeners right now. And so, it also sounds like, and I know you talked about this in the book, like you have to be reminded. However much that takes, you know, is to be reminded, like, where you see something. Not, like, you tell yourself, "I'll remember that," you may not. You have to see it too.
Jon Acuff 19:00
No, you won't. You won't remember that-- I mean, your brain, you won't remember the good things. Your brain tends to mis-remember things. There's so much research about it remembering negative things faster than positive things. I mean, imagine this, like, if somebody says to you, "I want to get better at not comparing myself to other people," and they spend two hours a day on Instagram, average american to two hours and 24 minutes on social media. They're being reminded every day 1,000 ways to compare themselves and they don't even have a single note card in the opposite direction and then they go, "It's so weird that I can't change that out." It's not weird, dude. It's not weird at all. You're giving Instagram a two hour headstart every day. Then don't say the goal. Or, say the goal. Own it. Have a note card. Have a no cut on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror. You know, talk to a friend about it. But don't go, okay, I'm going to look at Instagram for two hours, feel terrible, like, I'm going to feel terrible about comparing myself and then I'm going to tell somebody, "I just wish I didn't compare myself so much." Like, no, like, that's a good goal. Let's work on it. Let's do some stuff.
Jamila Souffrant 19:59
All right, I have really exciting news. For the first time in 2021, Teri Ijoema of Trade and Travel and I are teaming up, once again, to do a live webinar and class for you. So a lot of you guys may have known that we had done these live classes last year in 2020, where people wanting to learn how to make money in the stock market, learn more about Teri's course, Trade and Travel. So we did a couple of those live last year. And I didn't do any live classes with Teri this year at all, but I decided that, you know what, it's time that people are asking for it. And you guys are always saying, "Hey, when can I join something live to learn more about Teri and trading and to learn more about the Trade and Travel course," so now's your chance. We are teaming up on October 20th at 8:30pm, Eastern Time. Teri will be dropping all the gems about trading and making money as a side hustle. Or maybe you're full time hustle, who knows, and dropping all the gems. So if you want to join us go to journeytolaunch.com/tradeclass. Once again, go to journeytolaunch.com/tradeclass to join us for free. And it's going to be on October 20th at 8:30pm. Eastern time.
Well, this is also very timely. I just, I mean, when this episode comes out, it'll be a couple of weeks after when we're discussing this. But I just came back from FinCon which is the personal finance, or finance conference, and I was a Big Idea Speaker. And one of my, well, my theme, was about just starting, like, instead of starting with the end in mind, that we typically are taught. That it's more important to start with the beginning in mind. So you just start and you can dream big, but you need to think small to execute. And they loved it. And for me, it was like such a simple, like, not simple, but, you know, I was like, "Wow, it's such a simple thing," but it's so important to understand and know. And it's reminds me of kind of what you're saying about, like, the overthinking. And to me, sometimes when we have-- we're visionaries-- and we have these big goals for ourselves, and we're far from them, it can be easy to not know how to get to that end goal. And therefore, think of the million ways it's possible to get there and then just say, "Okay, forget it, I can't, I don't even know which one it takes, I'll just stay still."
Jon Acuff 20:52
Yeah, we get overwhelmed. We overwhelm ourselves before we've taken the first 10 steps. I mean, there's situations where I'll say, the growing is in the going. Like go, go to the land, I'll show you. Like, the growing is in the going. And so you won't learn these lessons until you're in motion. And so you've got to get in motion, and you've got to figure it out, and it won't be perfect. It's going to take you-- every book that's ever been written was not the book they intended to write at the beginning, because every book changes along the way, and it should. In a year, you want to learn new things, you want to add new things, people are going to change it. And so if you said to yourself, "I have to have the perfect plan." Same with finances, you're going to have opportunity, like no one listening to this should think they have to be in control before they make a decision, because last year taught everyone you're not a control. You're, you're 100% not of a lot of things, you're in control of a lot of things, like your attitude and your effort. And there's definitely things in your control. But there's a lot of financial things that aren't and you've got to be willing to pivot as the situation changes and teaches you something new.
Jamila Souffrant 21:48
Yeah, I mean, that's what I find is a common through line for most successful people who have been on the podcast and even seeing how I've navigated my finances and entrepreneurship. It's literally, like, I can't, like, it's more about being resilient, and overcoming and if you have the thoughts, I think this is important too. Just because you have negative soundtracks or even if you have worked on it, and you think you're you made it, you're not still gonna be all positive, like you will revert back to negative thoughts. But it doesn't mean you failed, right? You just keep going. You, you bounce back and you say, "Okay. That's... that's, that," but what are your thoughts on that for someone who, who's being hard on themselves?
Jon Acuff 22:23
Well, I wrote a book about perfectionism called "Finish," where we studied that, about what does it take and the first chapter was the day after perfect. And it's the hardest day of a goal. When we, we saw, we did a 30 day test of when people quit their goals in a 30 day period. And most people think, "Oh it's day 10 to 12." It's day two, and it's the biggest drop off was on day two, because it was no longer perfect. I mean, the thing I the thing I tell people all the time is 80% perfect and shared with the world, beats 100% perfect and stuck in your laptop. And so yeah, I think that's part of it, is giving yourself that grace. To me, resilience is the ability to try again, like it's the ability to try again, because you fell down and realizing, okay, you know, I've got to give myself the grace to do that. I've told every parent in the world that, because I met so many parents during the pandemic that would tell me, "Jon, I'm the worst at virtual schooling, I'm the worst, I'm the worst and worse," and I go, "Yeah, you should be because you've never done it." And the hardest time to learn something new is in the middle of a global pandemic. You probably suck at hang gliding too, cuz you've never done that. You should be terrible at virtual schooling, you've never done it. And so the soundtrack that I had people write is, "This is my first global pandemic," every mom, every dad, should write on a post it note, "This is my first global pandemic," if it was your 10th I might be like, "You got to get it together." But this isn't it's your first, so you should suck at it. And there should be stumbling and there should be COVID weight and all the stuff that people deal with. Like, we should forgive ourselves for a lot of the things we're struggling with because it's new.
Jamila Souffrant 23:49
Yeah. How do we balance that? First of all, I love that, because I was one of those parents and I'm just like, "What is this?! Like..." But there's that like fine line where you want to change your soundtracks and think positively, but then also act so it's not just you know, throwing out just toxic positivity. But that's the thing. Like, some people will say, "What's the fine line in being honest with yourself and not being too hard on yourself?" and then like toxic positivity-- where things are, are not going well and it literally is, like, or people will tell you, "Oh, no, things are fine." No, they're not. Like, so what's that fine line with the thinking your internal thinking of not making it that you're delusional, in a way?
Jon Acuff 24:26
Yea, I mean, I think part of that is your relationships. I think that an honest conversation with a friend who's not a cheerleader can be helpful. We all have cheerleader friends and they're awesome. They're great for certain moments where you just need somebody go, "You're the best You're doing great." But a friend who loves you enough to tell you the truth. The thing I say is leaders who can't be questioned end up doing questionable things. Show me a business that fell, show me a church that fell, show me a team that fell, I'll show you a leader who is isolated and can only be told things they wanted to hear. So we do need people in our life that love us enough to tell us things we want like. That love us enough to go, "Hey, Here's the situation..." So we do need that there. And then, so much of this comes down again, to actions or how you spend your time or, you know, the things you're actually doing. So yeah, toxic positivity to me often has no degree of action. It just has a whole lot of words. And, you know, I'm married. I've been married for 20 years, and one of the things I've learned in marriage is that it's easier for my wife to trust my actions than it is my announcements. If I go, I'm doing this thing she can't, like, that's hard for to get on board with there's no, there's nothing real. If I go, "Hey, I've been getting up all week at 5am to run in the morning, I think I'm gonna try to lose 10 pounds," she can support the heck out of that, because she's supporting my actions, not my announcements. So many people, when it's toxic positivity, they only make announcements, they never transition to action. And so I think that's one of, that's one of the fine lines for people is, okay, well, what are my actions saying? What is my calendar saying? What is-- what are the last three jobs I've had said? Like, what are you know, what can I see that's true, versus just a bunch of things I said?
Jamila Souffrant 26:02
Yeah, and I have a lot of people who are-- who listen and they have jobs and I think you can be creative and you know, a nine to five. Be an intrapreneur, like you know, you have that spirit and/or you're, you have a side hustle that you want to become your main hustle. You're a full time entrepreneur. And one of the things you talk about is like if some of this could also just be your your creativity being blocked, and how to surround yourself with just outlets that help unblock that, and that help you maybe, create those soundtrack. So can we talk a little bit about that for people who are feeling uninspired or stuck-- what they can do?
Jon Acuff 26:33
Yeah, so I mean, I, you know, when I first kind of started to go down this path of writing books and doing, starting my own business, I really realized, "Okay, I can't quit my job. Right now. I've got two kids under the age of four, I've got a full time job. I've got an Atlanta commute. I've got freelance clients," but I still wanted to write a book. So one of the things I did was I would get up early. Like, I would... you know, the principle I taught was be selfish at 5am. You know, who's not asking for my time at 5am? Nobody. Nobody's asking for like, but if I'll do the work and get up and do that, then I get to feed that. And then the big thing with a day job versus a dream job or a day job versus a side hustle is, you don't get to be lazy five days a week at your day job and think you'll hustle on the weekend. You're practicing being lazy, and you think you're gonna flip a switch? Like no, no, no, no, one of the things that nobody likes to admit, but is 100% true is, if you want to crush it on the weekend, or your side hustle, be in motion during your, during your day job. Like show up, be present hustle work, because all of that is contributing to you being really good at your side hustle. So for me, seeing that I was one person, not separate people, like, seeing that I was, you know, focused on the side hustle stuff, too. And then the other thing I would say is, I think it's really powerful to learn how to do a side hustle before it needs to pay every bill. So the big thing is if you've got a side hustle, go learn in a smart way. When somebody tells me,"Jon, I want to open a coffee shop." I'll say, "Okay, have you ever worked at a coffee shop?" If they say no, I'll say, "Go work at Starbucks for six months, get paid, you're gonna get paid to learn, and you'll discover if you hate coffee and humans." But a lot of times, we want to just go for it. And I'd much rather you go, here's the practice, here's the patients, here's what I learned. Here's the things I did on the side. So I think there's really smart ways to do a side hustle. And there's really, you know, foolish ways to do it, too. And so I think when you can, to do it at the right pace, and to really prove to yourself and the people that are in your life supporting you that, okay, no, I'm putting in the work I'm putting in the effort.
Jamila Souffrant 28:31
Yeah, and I mean, I'm curious more about your personal journey as you evolved in this space and made a name for yourself, and a living, how you knew when to let things go and pivot, like how you knew when to spend more time focusing on writing and speaking, versus something else that maybe other people told you you should do? Because I'm sure you still, now, even probably get requested to do certain things. And it's like, well, that's not what I what I should do. So can you talk a little about that journey that how you find yourself yet here?
Jon Acuff 28:57
Sure. I think there's a there's a number of things I kind of think through. One is, you're never done. Like, I never have arrived. Like, there's still-- there's still moments where I'm like, "Oh man that blew up in my face, like, what did I learn?" And I think of it like a test. So for instance, last March, I'm a live event speaker and every live event got put on pause. So you know, 60% of my business's revenue got impacted. And so, like, I was frustrated and grumpy about that for a period, but eventually I said, "Okay, you know, I can I can pine or I can plan .I can pined for how things used to be. Or I can plan. Okay, it's time to plan like I've had enough grumpy, whatever it's time to plan." And so the question I asked was, "What would have made this year easier?" What, you know, like, what could I have had that would have made this year easier? And then I realized, "Wow, having a podcast would have made this year easier." Because then I would have had another revenue stream, more ways to connect with people. So I started a podcast called "All It Takes Is A Goal," because I knew a year from now, I wanted that to be healthy. And so I always tell entrepreneurs "Okay, what.. you know, what do you need to build that a year from now is in a good place?" Like, start building it now. And then the other thing is that, I, you know, for my type of business, it's about having five to seven different sources of income and revenue. I think of them like faucets. So that when four of them get turned off, you have three already going and you can work on the next four. So, when, and that's, that's my approach. So when live event got put on pause, I said, "Okay, well I got to turn on the virtual event. Okay, let me figure that out. Let me get a studio. Let me work it out. How do I figure that up? Okay, let me get a podcast Let me try YouTube for a year. :et me do online challenges." Like we've had 20,000 people go through online challenges this year, where last year we didn't, because I said, "Alright, I'm going to work on these two things while I you know, while I wait for this other one to come back," and so that's always been my approach. As far as when I knew to do it full time? A big question I tell people is: Are you missing opportunities because you're not? So if somebody told me, "Jon, I want to be a full time writer." I would go, and say they had a day job, I would say, "Okay, do you write before work right now? Do you write on your lunch break? Do you write after work? Do you write on the weekends?" and if you said no to me all those, you don't want to be a writer. You like the story of being a writer, but you're not doing any of the action, so why would you quit? You're not even using the crevices of your day right now for writing. Why do you think you'll magically do that when you quit? Like, no. But if somebody else said, "Yeah, Jon. I alrady write. I've been writing in the you know, my car." Like, I was doing radio interviews for my first book on my lunch break. I would use vacation days to go to speaking gigs. So, like, I knew. And then our change in the bathroom stall and go back to my day job. So I knew, like, okay, I've got, you know, the end-- and it's easier for my wife to go, "I'm seeing a lot of hustle. I'm seeing a lot of actions not just announcements." So that's kind of the, the way I think about it. And I would rather you get pulled to an opportunity, then push your way there. So an example that: Sometimes I'll see, like, a wedding photographer who has one good wedding season in the summer and goes, "I'm going for it!" and they push their way there. Versus they have one good one, they have a second good one, a third good one, a fourth good, and what now it's such a big opportunity, it pulls them there, versus them impulsively jumping their way there and I think there's a big difference
Jamila Souffrant 32:09
Yeah, that is such good advice and because literally people will ask me that too. Like, you know, I talk about financial independence here but I prefer people to find freedom. Like, not to think that having, you know, if they were to retire early or quit their jobs at all, their answers would be solved. Like, I would-- my goal is, like, that people can experience a level of energy and time freedom as much as possible, depending on their responsibilities in the moment. Like, to me, like if you can't find it somewhere in your life now and you're blaming, you know, things on everything else-- the circumstances, which can be also not great, is that when you do get the final freedom or all the money, not saying that won't solve some things, but if you don't work on the internal stuff first and where you are right now, like, it's still not going to be great and I think usually feel worse, because you are all work. You know, you're hoping that this thing will be the final answer. And it's not.
Jon Acuff 33:01
It's not. Like, one of the saddest moments is when you've made an idol of a situation and you finally get it and you realize the car didn't fix you, the dream job... I mean, I you know, my, my story is, I was like, "Okay, I'm stressed on Sunday nights, it's probably because I have a job I don't love." So then I got a job I loved it and I was like, "I'm still stressed." If I worked for myself, then I wouldn't be stressed on Sunday. I start my own company. I'm still stressed on Sunday nights. So finally I had to stop and go, "Wait a second, I should work on that internally not go, "it's the jobs fault."" Because I kept changing and it kept-- the only thing consistent was me. And so I needed to go, "Okay, well maybe I need to deal with that." So yeah, I tell people all the time, my income has scaled, and my happiness didn't scale at the same rate. And if I if I get confused by that, then I'm just even more unhappy. If I go well the next number, the next number, the next number. And so yeah, I've, I've experienced that in my own life. And so I would rather know how I'm using the time and which lives I'm impacting. And that gives me a joy more than, okay a certain number or a certain pedestal that when I get there I go, "Oh man, it wasn't what I thought it'd be."
Jamila Souffrant 34:07
The other thing I wanted to just talk to you about is that, you know, I also have aspirations I should say, you know, I consider myself a writer. You know, I'm journeying into the book publishing world myself and starting that. So, it's very timely that we're having this conversation and now I'm like, "Oh, I need some index cards," right? Like, I need to create an environment where it's it's cultivating my identity as a writer now, but for people listening, one of the things that you mentioned was like you realize that every Sunday, even as your circumstances changes, as your income change, you still have that issue. And same here like, okay, I'm gonna quit my job and then I'll feel better. And I quit my job. And have my business and I'll feel better, but no, I need to make more money and then I'll feel better. And still, right? And so for someone who's like, "Alright, I feel that way now, Jon and Jamila. So what can I actually do to not be on this broken soundtrack or this broken action of thinking things will be better and they're not?" What should they do right now,
Jon Acuff 35:03
One of the lessons in the book is about the difference between a dial and a switch. And so I interviewed this person named David Thomas, who is a counselor here in Nashville for this amazing counseling center called "Day Mark." And I asked him about that and he said, "Well the problem is most people want there to be a switch. They want to find one thing that turns off all the stress forever. So they say, "When I start my business that'll be my switch. Or when I do yoga, yoga will be my switch. Or when I have my own podcast, whatever," and it works for a little while. Like yoga chills you out, you have a good week, maybe even a good month. Maybe even a good whole quarter. But then life gets stressful again." And he said, "The reality is it's not a switch, it's a dial. your dial is going to go up to 11 sometimes." There's going to be a pandemic you didn't expect. Your daughter's going to get a cold. Like, whatever, and then in those moments, it's about figuring out how to turn your dial down, because if you have a switch mentality, you continually are on a switch hunt. You find the one, you go, "This is it!" And then it doesn't work and so you go, "Uh got to find another one, another one, another one, another one." And it's really stressful, versus a dial approach, you go, "Oh wow. I'm noticing that I'm feeling really stressed." Or, "Oh no, I'm noticing that this situation with my family, or this situation at work, or I haven't been, you know, getting enough exercise. I haven't been sleeping well. It's got my dial at 11. What are the things that I can personally do to turn it down?" and there individual for each person. Like, for me, I love to run. There's a lot of people that hate running, but running for me is good endorphins, it's easy to do, I can just go right out my front door. Some people like cycling. I don't like cycling. I don't like any activity that involves getting hit by cars, like, that's just kind of how I think. So you figure out what are some I might turn down techniques. And then how do I apply them when I sense that my dials and 11
Jamila Souffrant 36:44
Yeah, I'm laughing when you talked about running, because I literally just posted. I run too, but I don't like it, but I should stop saying I don't like it, because then that just makes it not a great experience.
Jon Acuff 36:52
Yeah. You should, no, no, yeah, you should-- what you should say, the soundtrack is, "I'll feel awesome after. I'll feel awesome after." Cuz you will!
Jamila Souffrant 37:00
Right, which is the reason I run. Like, I feel like the only reason I run is because of the endorphins that stop and like I feel invincible. I'm just like...
Jon Acuff 37:07
It's the cheapest therapy ever. It's the best.
Jamila Souffrant 37:09
But I don't understand, you have to help me, Jon. While you are running, you enjoy it? Because while I'm writing, I want to, like, I want to fight everybody. I want to fight myself. It's like, it's just, I just...
Jon Acuff 37:20
There's moments, there's moments, where I go, "I'm so glad I did this." But also, like, I'm telling myself that I focus.. I over focus on the end and ignore the beginning. I don't focus on how cold it is. If it's dark out, if it's rainy out, like, get my gear on, I don't focus on that. I think about the beginning in black and white. I think about the end in Technicolor. So I imagine: I'm sitting on my on my front step and I've got a coffee and I've done it and I'm sweaty and I'm so proud and that the numbers add up and Strava and like so no. I'm over focusing on the payout, versus what it's going to take and then during it, I'm either listening to a podcast or I'm listening to an audio book. I listen to an audio book for the first couple of miles and then I'll turn it into hype music at the end. So like I'm being very deliberate about the process to kind of gamify it in a way that I actually enjoy it and then and then, like, but, like, when I run half marathons, every time at mile 11 I'm like, "This is stupid. Why did I sign up for this? Why do people keep letting me do these?" And then, like, by the end of it though I'm like, " That was dope. I just did another half marathon. I should do another one," but at mile 11 I'm furious. I'm furious and may I'm furious that, like, life in the road like everything.
Jamila Souffrant 38:26
Well, first of all, Jon, I love that your mile 11, is my mile one. I'm just like...
Jon Acuff 38:30
Yeah, well I mean that's that's part of the process, but, like, I have friends that run 50 miles in the woods. I'm like... I, like, no that's, that's way too many miles. So it's all relative to how long you do it.
Jamila Souffrant 38:42
Alright, but, you know, I love that you said that, you know, I talked about before, like, starting with the end in mind, but in some instances that works better when you are more looking forward to the end result in the beginning.
Jon Acuff 38:52
Sucks. The beginning of a run. Like, I don't want to do that. Like, it's cold out, it's dark like, no like, Ugh! Like no, not at all.
Jamila Souffrant 39:00
Okay, I love that and I'm going to now be more conscious and more deliberate about how I'm thinking about it when I'm going in. Okay, last thing, I want to understand or talk to you about is financial independence and freedom. So you seem to have a very successful business and from the outside looking in life and one of the things that I'm always questioning or asking people who have that is, if you didn't have to do this anymore, like would that be your choice? Could you make that choice? Or is a choice right now it's like I do this because I want to and what is your idea of what freedom looks like for you?
Jon Acuff 39:29
Yeah, I do it because I want to. I, financially, feel very fortunate for where things are right now. But I would do it still. I need-- I enjoy the purpose. I enjoy helping people. I enjoy being on stage. I enjoy doing a podcast. So for me, yeah, I really enjoy it and i know that-- I mean, I'm only 45, I need purpose. So if I, you know, if somebody said, "Tomorrow, you have to retire and not do anything." I'd say, "That doesn't sound fun." And so my, you know, financially, could I retire today, maybe? Would I? Never. Like, that's not, I, if you love what you do, why would I do less of it? I want to be 65/70 and be like the elder statesman still going to help companies, still going to help and, like, I don't have a job I'm trying to escape from. I have a life I love and that I get to do this and get paid for it is amazing to me. So, the, I feel like there's there's definitely financial goals. And we, we, look at kind of a 15 year window and a five year window and a 10 year window and we do all the planning and we've, you know, we've worked really hard at that, but, I, yeah if, if somebody, if somebody gave me $20 million tomorrow and, and was like, "Here. Like-- you, now you don't have to work." I'd still work, because I love it.
Jamila Souffrant 40:41
Yeah. I love that and I think, I hope.. I-- that's my wish for everyone. Is to, like, have the financial stability, but be, be able to reach that. Jon, thank you so much. This was an amazing conversation. Tell everyone where they can find more about you and your book?
Jon Acuff 40:55
Sure. Well I mean the best thing would go be check out the podcast. I have a podcast called, "All It Takes Is A Goal." Listen to the Colleen Barry episode. She lost her job and had to take four jobs to survive and one of them was as a receptionist and she changed her mindset. Now she's the CEO of that company. So, if listeners are like, "Okay, I need some inspiration." Colleen Barry on "All It Takes Is A Goal." She is a baller. And then the book is available, soundtracksbook.com and I'm jonacuff on all the social media channels.
Jamila Souffrant 41:23
Awesome. Thank you!
Jon Acuff 41:24
Of course, have a great one.
Jamila Souffrant 41:31
All right, I really hope you enjoyed that insightful conversation with Jon Acuff. Here's the thing, like I said and like we talked about, this is something that we all deal with. We all have an internal track, right? A soundtrack that we play. And I really love when we talked about the subconscious soundtracks that we play, because sometimes we don't even know that we're playing it. It comes so quick, and so I really thought that this was going to be helpful for you on your journey to reach your life goals, your money goals, whatever goals you have, because at the end of it all, it's us We are the rocket. We are the fuel. We are what will get us to the next place and location in our lives and destination of journeys. So, we have to make sure we are operating in the best vehicle we can. We have to make sure we're putting the best fuel into our bodies that we can. And so it's not just food and how we feel about our environment, but inward to outward. How are we talking to ourselves? How are we thinking about things, right? And so I really hope that this interview helps you go further and farther.
By the way if something stood out to you or you got a quotable from this interview, tag me and Jon. So I hang out on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I always love your feedback. I'm @journeytolaunch, but take a screenshot, share it on your social media, tag me @journeytolaunch tag Jon, @jonacuff. He's on Instagram over there @jonacuff. Tag us in your stories, on your main feed, tell us a takeaway, tell us something that you're going to change about how you think. What's the soundtrack you need to turn down? Alright, I can't wait to see your responses.
Okay! Don't forget, if you want to join Teri Ijeoma and I on October 27th to hear more about how to learn to trade as a side hustle, or your full time hustle to reach your goals, come join us. go to journeytolaunch.com/tradeclass. The class is happening on October 27th at 8:30pm eastern time. So come join us! journeytolaunch.com/tradeclass.
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