30 Jun

Feeling accomplished

The last few weeks have been rough. Despite launching a successful new edition of Authority, getting over 100 five-star reviews on Amazon, and having lots of free time to spend with my son, I’ve felt more stressed, sick, and depressed than any other time in the past few years.

My son August was born on May 15th and the first two weeks went remarkably smoothly. He was actually an easy baby (at least compared to my first son, Oliver). Eating well, sleeping as well as you can expect from a newborn baby, and generally being content.

But then about two weeks in something changed. Both August and Oliver (he’s two and a half years old) stopped sleeping through the night, but were kind enough to alternate when they would wake up. Meaning that for three or four days straight I didn’t get more than four hours of sleep each night, with the longest stretch being for about an hour and a half.

I was exhausted.

I still managed to get some time at the gym, which was really helpful for clearing my head feeling like I accomplished something that day. But then my muscles and joints in my left leg started hurting. I’d done moderately heavy back squats, but that should make me sore in both legs equally. This was just my left leg.

The pain and swelling got to the point where I was walking with a bit of a limp. Then it moved into my nerves. I’d never had this combination of symptoms before, so I kept waiting for it to get better on its own. When a rash started developing I had enough and went into the doctor, with no idea what was causing these symptoms isolated to my left leg.


It took the doctor less than a minute to say, “You have shingles!” Followed by, “Is there anything in your life that has caused lack of sleep or extra stress?”

“Ah”, I replied, “I have a 3 week old baby. Does that count?”

Yep, that counts.

With that diagnosis all my seemingly random symptoms made sense. Shingles is the chickenpox virus that lies dormant in your nerves, then it can come back when your immune system is lowered by stress or lack of sleep. It then causes a rash, flu-like symptoms, swelling, muscle and joint pain, and a constant feeling of the worst sunburn I’ve ever had.

Oddly enough you can get it on the left or the right side of your body, but not both. Which explains why it was just my left leg that hurt.

The prescription was for an anti-viral, pain-killers, and plenty of rest.

Staying sane

The first thing I did was get friends and family to watch my older son for a few hours each day all week. Just having someone come entertain him for an hour or two twice a day was incredibly helpful. Then I set my mind to getting work done.

The problem was I had the relaunch of Authority coming up and still had a lot of work to do. Between the pain and cloudy feeling from the pain-killers I had trouble getting anything done. So instead of trying to work a normal amount I just focused on one thing that would help me get closer to my goal. I neglected email, following up on little projects, and corresponding with friends in favor of getting one big thing done each day.

  • Monday: Code new landing page feature for ConvertKit
  • Tuesday: Host the ConvertKit Academy call
  • Wednesday: Write launch posts
  • Thursday: Host self-publishing hangout
  • Friday: Write pre-launch content

Once I accomplished that one thing I stopped trying for the day. Sometimes I’d get a few other little things done, but I set my mind to the idea that once the big thing for the day was done, the day was a success.

Feeling accomplished

I’ve realized that I derive a lot of happiness from feeling like I accomplished a lot in a given day. Being sick and in pain leads to getting nothing done, which means I don’t feel accomplished, which just furthers a downward emotional spiral.

Now that I assign that feeling of accomplishment to one important thing, I am doing a lot better. My products move forward, I feel happier, and it turns out you can still build a business on one thing each day. So long as what you choose is truly important and works directly towards your business goals.

This post is my one thing for today. I’ve already accomplished everything I need to in order for the day to be a success and it is only 7:45 AM. That’s a good mental place to be.

Life isn’t easy right now. It’s still a struggle to be happy, stay positive, and get work done. But this technique is helping.

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8 Responses to “Feeling accomplished”

  1. You got this man! Stay positive :D

  2. Nathan – I appreciate your transparency. I have two sons as well but they are in their 20’s now. The first son was amazingly good and I could take him anywhere. The second son not so much. The good news is “this too shall pass”. Time flies and before you know it, your sons will be in school. I know that you appreciate being home while they are growing up. I remember in your book you mentioned that your oldest son has been to so many countries already in his life. That is awesome for him. Take care and I promise things will get better. I had two students last semester at Georgetown who got shingles from worrying about school. They said it is quite painful.

  3. You are an inspiration for many of us. Get well soon :)

  4. The dreaded depressed days always seem to find their way back into the mix. The thing that I find odd is that even after experiencing success, one is still susceptible to these bouts. Its always great to press forward and triumph each time though, because you feel rejuvenated and ready to take the world by storm all over again. Best wishes.

  5. If it helps, last week I received your book (Authority) as a birthday gift from my wife. I’ve listened to the audio version twice, and enjoyed it immensely. It has helped me to focus on my next move – to write.

    Thanks Nathan!

  6. Nathan please remember that health is wealth. Do try and take of the earlier. It counts on the long run. It’s only when you are alive that you can appreciate the works of your life.

  7. I agree with the comments above. Also, always feel free to reach out to all of us if we can ever be helpful Nathan, even if it is just for understanding. You have a lot of people ready to help. :)

  8. That sounds like just the right mindset, Nathan. FWIW, this post is really inspirational. I can certainly relate to not feeling like you accomplished something in a day.

    I think I’ll follow your example here, and try to focus on that one thing that’ll feel like progress and then let any extras be just that — a bonus.


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