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Raking it in without
breaking your soul

Singing into the Ocean

I just made one of my dreams come true. I launched an online course while I was at the beach.

I’ve always wanted to be in such a well-prepared place that I could put some work on auto-pilot while I snorkel with sea turtles and lobsters.

I arrived.

I answered a few emails each day from prospective students who wanted to join the Data Visualization Academy. But mostly I drank mojitos.

You’d think it’d be all sunshine and starfish but I have had a teenager in tow, who was being very teenager-y. Why is it so hoooooooot? Why is there sand evvvvvverywhere?

My teen was (rightfully) irritated after an unexpectedly long and sweaty hike back from an unexpectedly amazing tide pool. How looooooong until dinner?

When I told him it would be another 90 minutes, his mood turned so sour, it would have aged me 10 years had we been making direct eye contact.

We diverted to a beachside bar and ordered pineapple juice (with added rum and mint in mine) to see if that would turn that tide.

It didn’t.

But while we sat on the top of a picnic table, watching the sun set into the waves, I spotted this week’s hero.

Just as the sky was starting to turn colors, this guy at the bar faced the water, turned up the tunes playing in his headphones, and danced in the sand.

He sang along, too – loud enough for us to hear him, even over the ocean waves. I couldn’t tell what song he was singing but let me tell you right now this man was doing something holy.

Even though signs from Kohl’s like “Dance like nobody’s watching” makes my guts cringe, that’s exactly what was happening here.

He didn’t seem to care about the cranky teenager brooding nearby.

He didn’t pay attention to the two young girls ripping around the courtyard threatening to put everyone in their Tik Tok video.

He didn’t get distracted by the cook and the bartender, who were married and in a screaming match.

Dude put on his red LED headphones and jammed.

Just him and the music and the sky and the water.

At the risk of romanticizing what was going on in this guy’s head, let me stop here and pull out the lesson for the rest of us.

Prepare for In the Zone time.

You know The Zone. It’s when you’re in that coveted state of flow, where it’s just you and your task/project/focus. Where time passes without you knowing it. That’s The Zone I’m talking about.

It doesn’t just happen by chance. Being In the Zone is a result of how you set up your circumstances.

Like, this guy needed to be at the beach. At sunset. With his headphones. And his playlist. He wouldn’t be singing into the ocean without those ingredients. He came ready.

What circumstances do you need to prepare for your In the Zone time?

For me, I need my mornings. After a cup of coffee and a meditation. With my phone on silent and my social media tabs closed. That’s when I’m at my best.

Because I know that about myself, I don’t schedule meetings in the mornings. I protect the time when circumstances are most favorable for being In the Zone. What takes me a half hour when I’m In the Zone would take me 90 minutes in the afternoon.

What works for you? Write to me and tell me.

I also gotta point out:

he didn’t over-engineer the circumstances. He didn’t demand to be surrounded by silence and good vibes. He didn’t sweat a lot of what could have been distractions.

It’s really easy to find reasons (excuses) for why you can’t just get to work. This is why people have the most beautifully decorated home offices but generate zero income. Time to stop shopping for succulents and publish that website.

We tend to prop up a goal of perfection so that we look productive without actually producing. Actually producing means that people will see our work. And they might point out our flaws.

Next time I find myself lacking the courage to do something I know I want to do because I’m too scared of what my peers on social media will think, I’m going to recall Jam Man on the beach in St Croix, doing his thing.