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On Purpose: The Busy Woman’s Guide to An Extraordinary Life of Meaning & Success | Tanya Dalton

Eric Partaker


Do you spend all day working through your to-do list to then go to bed and feel like you’ve accomplished nothing? Join Tonya Dalton (Author, Business Coach, Podcaster, Speaker and founder of inkWELL Press Productivity co.) and Eric Partaker as they share tips and insights into how you can break free from the 98% and join the 2% of people reaching their full potential!

Pause For A Moment And Reflect! – When you look backwards, then can you start moving forwards. It is important to remind yourself of who you’ve been in the past, the good, the bad, the really ugly. All of that will help you find your purpose and grow you into the best version of yourself.

What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger – The hardest challenges in life cause the most growth. That is your most fertile ground. It’s when you peel back the bandages and allow the wounds to heal that you can really see the life that you have created. 

Numbers Don’t Define You!. – Whether it’s the numbers of followers, the number in your bank account, or the number of likes you have on a post, you cannot let that define you. Constantly striving for numbers is exhausting, it’s like chasing after a finish line that is constantly moving. You will never reach it.

Prioritise Your Priority List! – Get rid of your to-do list and start making a priority list. Your to do list is taking you everywhere but where you want to go. The problem with to do lists is your brain naturally wants the high from checking off your wins. So you check things off that aren’t important, that are not priorities. So make a priority list. It is essentially a to-do list with intention. 

Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail – Spend 5 minutes a day mapping out what your days are going to look like. Create your priority list and prioritize what you want to get done that day and make sure it’s attainable.

Work Hard, Rest Often – Periods of rest are not rewards for great work. They’re requirements for work to happen. Stress + Recovery = Growth. Take a break! 

Adaptability Is The Secret To Survival! – Life happens. Some days are going to be easy, some days are going to be hard. Allow that to be ok.



Tonya Dalton: If you want to be seen as a serious business owner, stop calling it a little shop. I think the biggest mistake that people make is they think it’s all about quantity. The things that are hard are the things that we’re really going to grow the most from. That’s our most fertile ground. 

Eric Partaker: Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of The 2%, where, as always, we’re interviewing peak performers in all walks of life to give you the tools, tips, and strategies that you need to close the gap between your current and your best self. And I’m super excited to have on the show today Tanya Dalton. Welcome, Tanya. 

Tonya Dalton: So good to be here. 

Eric Partaker: And you are a nationally-recognized productivity experts. You’re a speaker and business coach for women entrepreneurs. You also wrote the Joy of Missing Out, which was considered one of the top 10 business books in 2019 by Fortune Magazine. That’s pretty cool. 

Tonya Dalton: Yeah, it was pretty cool. It was a little bit… It was kind of one of those things I was like, wow, that’s like… It’s amazing to be recognized for it, honestly. 

Eric Partaker: And on the back of that, you have another book coming out in October?

Tonya Dalton: I do. I do. My next book is coming out October 12th. It’s called On Purpose: The Busy Woman’s Guide to an Extraordinary Life of Meaning and Success. 

Eric Partaker: Awesome. So what made you focus on that topic and for women? What’s the draw there?

Tonya Dalton: Yeah. Well, first of all, the topic, I think especially with everything our world has been going through, it’s one of those things that’s really been at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. I think more so than ever before. Purpose has always been something people have talked about, but I think more than ever, with the way that the world has been flipped upside down and our lives have dramatically and drastically shifted, it’s led a lot of people to wonder like, “What have I been doing? Why am I doing things this way? What if I do things differently?” 

Just the way we work alone with working remotely, or doing hybrids, or doing all of those things, being in lockdown. Having all those things happen has caused a little bit of a shake up. And I think there’s… If we’re looking for a silver lining, and we need to look for silver linings anytime that we can, that’s the silver lining and everything we’ve gone through, is it’s given all of us an opportunity to step back and say, “Hold on. Do I like the way that I’m living?” 

When I was contracted with HarperCollins to write this second book, we had agreed I was going to write a book on goal-setting. And I could easily write a book on goal-setting. I’ve talked about goal setting. I’ve taught it to thousands of people. It’s one of those things. And when I started writing the book in the midst of a pandemic, which is a challenge in of itself, I really started to stop and recognize and realize it’s not just about the goals, It’s something bigger. Goals are not the goal. 

And in thinking about these conversations that these people were having, and thinking about the conversations that I myself was having throughout this whole epidemic going on across our world, it really became, how do we make goals about something even bigger? How do goals tie into creating a life that it feels meaningful, that that feels incredible, that feels successful? And goals are really the vehicle to get you there. 

And I think that a lot of the books out there really focus in on goals as being the finish line. And yes, it’s good. Goals are great. And we talk about goals in the book, because, again, goals are the vehicle to get us to that life we want, but ultimately, we want to live bigger than today. So that’s really what the book is about. 

Living on purpose is not about this heavy word or this like, oh, purpose defines you now and forever. It’s got a lot of weight to it. And people get a little bit scared of it. It’s a little bit daunting. Living on purpose is really about living bigger than today. Really seeing what you want in your future, and then figuring out what do I need to do today to move closer to that future. Because when we focus in on the things that matter most to us, when we do tasks and activities, when we participate in events that are bigger than today, that’s when we go to bed at night and feel satisfied, feel successful. 

I really believe that far too many people run around chasing busy, right? There’s a to-do list that’s three miles too long, checking a thousand things off that list, falling into bed at night, and then they say, “Oh, why can I get more done? I should have done more. I should have worked harder. I should have worked…” Even though they were busy all day long. Right? And that’s because we’re doing all the things, instead of things that are most important, doing fewer more important things that drive us closer to that future we want. And that’s when we go to bed and feel good. 

Eric Partaker: And so how does somebody zero in on that? How do they figure out what is their purpose? 

Tonya Dalton: Yes. Well, I love that question because it’s a question I’ve asked myself in the past. This is not something I don’t… I think that’s a fallacy that people feel like people are just born and they know their purpose. We’re all fumbling through life. Right? And we all have moments where we’re like, “Is there more to life? What do we need to be doing?”

And so I’ve had that moment in my own life, but what I like to tell people is when it comes to purpose, we feel like we’re starting with this blank slate, this blank page in front of us and we have no idea what that looks like. This is why it’s so important to recognize you have a whole history. You have a whole library full of history, all about the most important subject in the world, which is you. 

So we start the book with reflection because when we look backwards, we can start to move forward. And I think it’s really important to lean in on who we’ve been in the past, the good things, the bad things, the really, really ugly things. All of that helps us find our purpose. And I don’t think it’s uncommon for people to say, I have no idea what I want to do. When really, if we go back and we mine into who we have been in the past, we can really start to discover these little tiny nuggets that let us know, “Oh, these are the things I like.”

So I’m happy to dive even further into that if you want.

Eric Partaker: Yeah, absolutely. 

Tonya Dalton: Because I think this… Yeah. So I think there’s a couple of ways we can look at our past. First of all, we don’t really like reflection work. If we’re being honest, there’s about a thousand things we’d rather do. Cleaning out the cat’s litter box going on the cleanse diet we’ve been putting up, we’d rather do that than looking backwards. Because some of what we have in our past is painful. Some of it’s filled with trauma and failures and frustrations and things that we couldn’t control. And we’d like to just shove that under the bed. Right? Like, yeah, I’m not going to think about it, but it’s still there. Right? Yeah. And we’re not pulling it out. 

And we do that because there’s great things in our past. We love to hold those up as like shiny trophies, right? Like, oh, this is proof that I’m good. It’s the things that we don’t like that become hard to pull out. But I like to tell people the things that are hard are the things that we’re really going to grow the most from. That’s our most fertile ground. It’s really when we peel the bandages back and we allow the wounds to get some air that we can really see the life that we really want. 

We are more likely to push against something we don’t like to move away from pain than we are to move towards pleasure. That’s just how our brain is wired. So when you know what you don’t like, when you know what you don’t want, when you know the things that you don’t like in your past, we can push against those and find the opposite. This is how we can turn regret into resilience. 

So for me, as an example, I had a season of my life where I own my own business and we have physical products and we had a whole warehouse of products come in. Literally a giant… We have two warehouses filled with product. A hundred percent of it was damaged. Thousands and thousands and thousands of products that were damaged. It was awful. This was years ago. So we had to like take everything apart. We had to try to figure out what we were going to do. 

I ended up spending three months with like 14, 15-hour days. The kids went off the bus straight to the warehouse. Week on the weekends, we’re at the warehouse. And I spent three months just nonstop trying to salvage my business, which we did. That part was good. But I got to the end of that three-month period and I thought to myself, “How do I feel about how life has been?” And I felt terrible. I felt awful. I felt like the world’s worst mom. Because I hadn’t been giving my kids the attention that they really deserved, the attention I wanted to give them. They were getting off the bus and going straight to the warehouse, sitting in the warehouse all day, making them work, doing all those things. 

But here’s what happened out of that season. I looked at that and I could have just stuck there with I’m the world’s worst mom. But instead, I was like, what did I not like? What made me, in my opinion, the world’s worst mom? Well, I worked too hard. And out of that season, I made the decision, “Okay. You know how I’m going to run my business? I’m going to leave work every day at three o’clock. And you know what? I’m only going to work Monday through Thursday. And I’m going to take Fridays off.”

So I have for the past, I guess that’s four or five years now, I have left work every day at three o’clock. I work Monday through Thursday. I take Fridays off. I give my team Fridays off. And I run a seven-figure business. So it’s absolutely possible to do, but you don’t see it sometimes until you get to that pain. So that’s a perfect example of pushing up against regret, pushing up against the pain and doing the opposite. 

So that’s a one way. With your past, you can also think about what were the things that I loved when I was a child? What were the things that I really enjoyed and found a lot of passion about before that whole cloak of adulthood hit, where I had to worry about what other people think?

Eric Partaker: Does Star Wars count?

Tonya Dalton: Star Wars totally counts. It totally counts in my house, at least. Without question, there’s a lot of Star Wars love in my house. So yes. But this is the thing. It’s like we think, okay, something like Star Wars or, or Wonder Woman is an example I give in the book, we think that’s silly. But if we dive into it and we ask ourselves, why did I love it? What was it about it? It’s deeper than just, I love Star Wars or I love Wonder Woman.

Was it the fact that, for like Wonder Woman, that she stood for justice, that she was a truth teller? Was it that she inspired a generation of girls to rise up and be confident? What was it? Was it that she worked with other people to make the world a better place? So see, you can dive a little deeper, right?

We don’t like to ask that question but if we channel our inner two or three-year-old and we ask why, why, why, we start to get to the heart of who we are? And we lose sight of that in becoming adults. I have a 14-year-old and I watched her as she navigated through middle school. The things that she loved and she was passionate about suddenly you can’t talk about anymore, right? Or it’s not cool or it’s… And we keep that with us as we move into our twenties, our thirties, our forties, and beyond. And we forget about those things that we love. 

So right there are two very easy ways that we can dive into our past and use that as a little bit of a starter, right? A little bit of a springboard, a little bit of momentum to help show us what our purpose is really tied to. 

Eric Partaker: And does our purpose change or is it static? 

Tonya Dalton: Oh, do you change? 

Eric Partaker: Yeah. Every day.

Tonya Dalton: Okay. Then yes. Hopefully, the thing is thank God we change. I’m glad I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago. Sometimes I’m glad I’m not the same person I was five weeks ago, right? I think that’s the thing with purpose, is people feel like it’s so late and heavy that it does define you now and forever. And it doesn’t have to. Something that is your purpose now might shift and evolve. 

I know for me I’ve had several times where I have shifted and changed. I used to have this little saying where I would say plans are written in pencil, goals are written in ink. And that was the dumbest thing I could have possibly said. Goals should totally be written in pencil. Because you should be able to erase them. You should be able to change them. You are not the same person you were five years ago, 10 years ago, sometimes, like I said, five weeks ago. As our life changes, we change. And that purpose of ours is going to shift and evolve and grow. 

And leaving that behind isn’t a failure. It’s showing that you’re growing. If you’re not constantly evolving, you’re staying stuck in the same spot, right? You’re not really moving forward. 

Eric Partaker: Now, you talked earlier, too, about how people can get to the end of the day and they feel super busy, but they feel unfulfilled. And I know one of the things that you you’ve talked about in the past is how your calendar could be so busy, but your soul is empty.

Tonya Dalton: yeah.

Eric Partaker: What leads to that? Why do you see people get trapped in that and are unable to get out? 

Tonya Dalton: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Are we filling our calendars or are we filling our souls? It’s a big question, right? Because our calendars are, they’re not just full, they’re crammed, they’re jammed, they’re like an over stuffed suitcase, right?

Eric Partaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tonya Dalton: And what happens is we’re so busy worrying about what everybody else thinks. We’re chasing a definition of success that we’ve never really taken the time to truly define for ourselves. So we look around, we crane our necks, we look left, we look right, we look up and down, we look what everybody else is doing and we think, I should do that. I need to do that. And we just start amassing all these different things that we are doing. And we don’t stop to ask ourselves, do I like what I’m doing? Do I want to do the things I’m doing? Or am I doing them because I think this is what I’m supposed to be doing? Or that I should be doing because everybody else is?

Eric Partaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tonya Dalton: So I think it’s really important that we take the time to really define success on our own terms. For some people, success is to defined by the amount in their bank account. But I think for most people, it’s not really about the money. It’s really about what the money money does for us. What it becomes a vehicle for. 

So when I work with people and we’re working on defining success, a lot of times we talk about the money last. What does it look like for your relationships? What does it look like for where you live? What does it look like for what you’re doing in your daily life? Okay. Now how much money do you need to make to have that lifestyle? 

Eric Partaker: Right.

Tonya Dalton: And a lot of times it’s a lot less than you even realize or you think, but we let those numbers define us. Whether it’s the number of followers, the number in our bank account, the number on our paycheck, the number of likes that we had on a post, we let those things define us. So we’re constantly striving. And striving is exhausting, because it’s like chasing after a finish line that is moving again, and again, and again. It’s like a mirage in the desert. We’re never reaching it. And yet we’re always chasing after it. We’re always thirsty. 

Eric Partaker: And you have this focused on women, which I think is absolutely fantastic. I just look at, for example, so my wife and I work together in our business. 

Tonya Dalton: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eric Partaker: She works per part-time in the business, I work full-time. But it’s like the part-time word is just kind of irrelevant because it only applies to looking at the sliver through the lens of what she’s doing in the business and not the fact that she probably puts in even more hours than I do, because she’s just so divided across so many other things. 

So I kind of feel like that’s where you’re coming from, but I’m not completely sure when you talk about the Busy Women’s Guide. I would just love to have you expand upon that and hear your true sense on that.

Tonya Dalton: Yes. So I love speaking to women. And everything that I talk about really does apply to men. I have a lot of men who read my books or who use my products or who listen to my podcast. And they’re always like, “We love the messages and they work for us.” And I’m like, that’s great. Honestly, I speak directly to women. And for thousands and thousands of years, we as women have done the same thing that I’m asking men to do. Like the messages have been for men and we’ve twisted and turned them a little bit to work for us. 

And so that’s kind of, as I’m talking to women, it’s really… The messages work for men just as well, but I love speaking directly to women because the way that our brain works is different. I talk about that in the book. And I think that’s something that’s a beautiful thing to be celebrated. That’s what makes our world amazing, is that we’re different. And the biggest difference, I think for men and women, are, I like to say women are the CEO of the office, and then they take that CEO hat off, and then they go and they’re CEO of the home. And they’re running the show there. 

I mean, even me, my husband works alongside of me. And he helps out a lot at home. He’s a fabulous partner. He makes lunches. He runs carpool. When the teacher calls, she wants to talk to me, right? When other parents want to have a conversation about whether Kate can come spend the night, they want to talk to me. They want me to run the show.

And I think there’s a lot of that obligation in society that falls on women, even with amazing partners. Even though we have spouses or significant others who do an incredible amount, I know that my husband does an amazing amount of things to really support and help me, it’s still we are torn in so many different ways. And because of that, there’s a lot of guilt that goes along with it, if you’re a mom about spending time on the things that matter to you. 

We’re kind of taught that we should be fulfilled by motherhood. Society tells us that. And then they society wonders like, well, why do you need to work? Or, are you going to go back to work after you have a baby? Nobody asks a man that. Nobody asks a man if he’s going back to work. But there’s this obligation that we have. So really speaking to women and really helping to uncover some of those beliefs that are built into us. 

There’s a lot of beliefs about what a good mom does, what a good friend does if you’re a woman. Men don’t have… They have different rules. And women, this is one of the things that I think is really interesting that we dive into in the book. One of the things that really holds women back is we’re so intent on playing by the rules that we are afraid to step out of line. If there’s a job opening and you as a woman have 40% of your resume that tick the boxes, they won’t apply. They won’t apply unless a hundred percent is there. 

But men on the other hand, two out of three men, even with 40% will still apply. Studies show that.

Eric Partaker: So interesting. 

Tonya Dalton: Because it’s… And this is what’s fascinating, is we feel like we have to play by the rules. And this is why we find that girls are more successful in school. There’s all the of studies that talk about why girls are successful at school because they play by the rules. They play nice. They color inside the lines. And we do all these things to make sure that we’re nice, that we’re ladylike, that we’re being nice girls.

And boys are raised in a different way. And that’s true whether we like it or not. So we have to break through some of those limiting beliefs that we have as women. And so that’s part of what I do in the book, through the stories and through some of the studies and the things that we talk about, is really breaking through some of those stories that we tell ourselves. So we can start to see, “Oh, there are all these opportunities, there’s all these choices.”

Eric Partaker: Okay. That’s fascinating. So that’s a great example. I know one thing that women are doing, but shouldn’t be, playing too close to the line, following the rules too closely. What are some of the other ways that you think women limit themselves or inadvertently cage themselves? And how do they break free?

Tonya Dalton: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, the other thing that we have found is that women have a very hard time defining themselves as experts, even when they are experts. There’s this really interesting story that I share in the book about, there was a room full of people at a conference. And the presenter said if you’re a breastfeeding expert, raise your hand. And the room is filled with men and women. One person out of that whole room raised their hand. It was a man.

And he said, I watched my wife breastfeed for three months. But there were all these women who had actually breastfed their children, or read books on breastfeeding, or had best friends who had breastfed and were afraid to define our as experts. And again, it kind of goes back to that whole nice girl syndrome that we tend to play into. It’s the same thing we find with that word boss, that a lot of women really struggle with that word. And so they’ll soften it with girl boss, or lady boss, or mompreneur. 

Men don’t feel that need to do that. And the reason why, I believe, is because when girls are overconfident, when they’re younger on the playground, we’re told that we’re bossy. Stop being so bossy, right? 

Eric Partaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tonya Dalton: Boys are not told… You never tell a boy that he’s bossy. A boy is always told that he’s overconfident, right? Which is a much more positive way of putting it. But that creates this fear in these women of being the boss that we’re going to be perceived as being bossy, as being too assertive, as crossing over the line. And that tends to hold us back. So really, again, it’s about breaking through those boundaries. 

The second chapter of the book is about choosing how you want to identify yourself. Every chapter is a choice. That’s one of the choices we make. How do you want to identify yourself? If you are an entrepreneur, stop calling yourself a small business owner. Or like, oh, I just have this little business. I have this little thing that I do. Because then you get upset when other people don’t take you seriously.

Well, you have to present to the world how you want to be received. So if you want to be seen as a serious business owner, stop calling it a little shop. Stop calling it a little business, stop calling it this little side thing that you’re doing. Stop calling it a side hustle. Call it what you want to call it. Call yourself what you want to call yourself. I’m a successful entrepreneur. I run an amazing thriving company. I’m running an up and coming company. I’m running a startup. I’m running a… How do you want to define it?

And what happens is we wait for other people to give us the definitions. We wait for other people to call us the expert or to name us as successful. And we have that power to do that for ourselves. So again, it’s that whole idea of breaking through and really seeing the choices that we choose, how we identify ourselves. And how we identify ourselves is how other people receive us. And that becomes this cycle.

Eric Partaker: Fascinating. So some of the things there that are very clear then is be willing to break the rules, don’t hesitate to state your claim, plant the flag, state your expertise, be bossy.

Tonya Dalton: Be bossy. 

Eric Partaker: I don’t know what [crosstalk 00:23:03]. And don’t go around the neighborhood talking about this little home business that you have.

Tonya Dalton: Right. If you want to be taken seriously, then treat it seriously. And I think that’s a big one because… I actually did, I did an article recently for Entrepreneur Magazine. And I put out this call for women to talk about how they feel as being experts. And almost, it was like 95% of the people who were responded, which was thousands of people, thousands of people said, “Oh, well, I can’t define myself as an expert.” These women were like, I can’t do that. Somebody else has to tell me. I’m like, why do we have to wait?

Eric Partaker: Yeah. Exactly. I would love to talk about, go a little bit deeper on this, also with productivity in mind.

Tonya Dalton: Yes. 

Eric Partaker: One of the one of the things I’ll often hear my wife talk about is how she’s trying to stay focused. But that all these other concerns and things might come into the picture and she really struggles sometimes to have those uninterrupted blocks of time, maintenance of focus. What productivity tips can you share with the women out there who are listening that would help them wear these multiple hats and still remain as productive as possible? 

Tonya Dalton: Well, do you have three days for me to answer this? Because I can talk about productivity all day long. Well, I like to say that we’re redefining productivity through the work that I do. We’re redefining productivity to understand it’s not about doing more, it’s doing what is most important. 

Eric Partaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tonya Dalton: And I think when we really understand how to prioritize that, when we treat all things as equal, it means nothing is a priority. I think when we really start to internalize some of those lessons as women, especially, we are we’re people pleasers, we love to make everybody else happy, but ourselves. So we say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And we feel guilty for saying no.So there’s a lot of that we can do. One of the first things is, and this is one of the concepts I dive into in my first book, the Joy of Missing Out, which I think is actually available in Portuguese. Interestingly enough. One of the languages.

Eric Partaker: As I’m sitting here in Portugal, that would be very relevant.

Tonya Dalton: But that’s one of the things I dive into is get rid of your to-do list and start making a priority list instead. And that’s usually a real shocking. People are like, “What? But I love my to-do list.” And I get it, because we love crossing things off that to-do list. It feels really, really good. We get a dopamine hit in our brain. It’s like a little chemical, like high. It feels great. But your to-do list is taking you everywhere, but where you want to go,

Eric Partaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tonya Dalton: We talked earlier about this idea of chasing busy and the to-do list being three miles too long. That’s the problem with the to-do list, is our brain naturally wants that high. So it’s going for the easy wins, the quick wins. So it’s checking things off the list that are not really important, they’re not really priorities simply so we can get that, “Oh, that high feels so good.” Checking something off our list or writing something down so then we can check it off right away, right? We’ve all done that.

Eric Partaker: Yeah.

Tonya Dalton: So I like to say that when you make a priority list, it’s essentially a to-do list with intention. It takes the same amount of time as a to-do list, just a little bit of intentionality. I can walk you through it really quickly if you’d like, because this is one of my favorite things.

Eric Partaker: Let’s do it.

Tonya Dalton: Yeah. So the priority list has three sections to it. And what we do is we start at the top and we work our way down. One of the things that I hear most often… And this is true for women and men in all walks of life in all industries. When I say, how are you doing? How’s your business doing how’s life? How are the kids? One word comes up again, and again, and again. And that word is overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed, I have so much going on. I’m so busy. I’m overwhelmed by everything.

I like to say overwhelmed isn’t having too much to do. It’s not knowing where to start. And that’s the beauty of a priority list. You start at the top and you work your way down. So the priority list has three sections. We start at the top with escalate. And escalate tasks are tasks that are important and they’re urgent. So important tasks are things that are connected to your north star, your mission, your vision, your core values, they’re linked to your goals. 

They’re things that are an investment. They’re a time investment that if you do it today, it’s going to bear fruit in the future. So they’re important and they’re urgent that they have a deadline looming, right? They’re ping at you. They’re a fire that’s burning. So we start off by doing the things that are urgent, but they’re also important. So they’re driving us closer to that life we want.

Underneath the escalate tasks, we have cultivate, that category of cultivate. And the biggest secret is this should be the biggest section of your day. Because these are tasks that are important. So again, driving you closer to the north star, tied to your goals, tied to that bigger vision of where you want to go, but they’re not urgent. So they’re not an urgent fire. 

What’s amazing is if you spend time on the important tasks here when they’re under cultivate, they don’t become urgent fires. So you have more time to dedicate to them. And this is where you see so much growth. This is where it’s things like investing in yourself by doing some coursework or doing a program, reading that book that you’ve been wanting to read, that’s going to help you grow, doing a family budget, working out your marketing plan for the next quarter, if you’re an entrepreneur. Doing tasks like that, that are really important but they don’t have that looming deadline. So you have that time and space to really spend on them.

So that’s a second area we work on. And then that bottom area, that’s accommodate. So those are task that are not important, but they’re an urgent fire. They’re like screaming out at you. These are the things, when we have a to-do list, that we cross off first. Running to the dry cleaner, returning to the shirt to Target, taking care of everybody else’s needs. Things that aren’t really important to our goals, our purpose, but they’re important to other people. 

So we start at the top with escalate, move down to the cultivate area, and then we move down to accommodate. So we just basically are ranking those different things that we want to get done in the day and we work our way down. And when we do that, we find that we’re so much more successful. Because I think the biggest mistake that people make is they think it’s all about quantity. How many things can I cross off my list? When it’s never about quantity. It’s always about quality. 

If I were to tell you to take 50 steps and I’m not going to tell you what direction to go in, you can go in any direction you want, where are you going to end up? Oh, you could end up further behind from where you were. You might end up right in the same spot. But if I said, instead, choose five intentional steps in a forward direction towards that direction you want to go in. Five steps. Where are you going to end up? Closer to where you want to go. Five is far less than 50, but five intentional things is what’s going to end your day feeling like, “Man, I did good today.”

Eric Partaker: Perfect.

Tonya Dalton: And there are far too few people ending their day saying, “I did amazing today.” I would ask your listeners that. When’s the last time you answered that question for yourself? How do you feel today? Amazing. I did such great work, even if it was five things.

Eric Partaker: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. It’s not about doing everything. It’s about doing the right things.

Tonya Dalton: Yes.

Eric Partaker: And so how do you recommend that someone… So where should they keep this list? How often do you look at it? How often do you update it? 

Tonya Dalton: Yes. Well, I love that question because I actually go through a whole process for structuring your week. Hold the 5Ps in the Joy of Missing Out. I really believe that you do a purge list. So that’s the first P. You do a bird’s eye view of your week. Not mapping out what you’re doing every single day. I think that’s always an issue because what people want to do is they want to sit down on Sunday or Monday and plan out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, right?

Eric Partaker: That never works for me. 

Tonya Dalton: Well, it never works because what happens is maybe Monday’s amazing, maybe Monday’s incredible, but Tuesday, maybe a kid crawls into your bed at three o’clock in the morning and you haven’t gotten any sleep or maybe you wake up with allergies. And Tuesday’s a mess. Well, if you’ve already planned out what you’re doing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you’re behind the eight ball already. And no wonder you feel exhausted before you even get out of bed, right? 

Eric Partaker: Yeah. 

Tonya Dalton: So really, taking that idea of creating like a bird’s eye view, and then each day you process. That’s the second P. You process each day, what do I think is achievable for today? How do I feel today? Did I wake up and meditate and exercise? And I feel like I’m on fire, I can do a few more things? Or did I wake up today and I had to down like Claratin and day cool and everything else? Is today going to be a rougher day? Let’s make our days achievable.

So spending five, 10 minutes really mapping out what your day’s going to look like. And while you’re doing that, you’re doing the third P, which is prioritizing using that priority list method we just talked about. Prioritizing what you want to get done for the day, making sure it’s achievable. 

And then the fourth P is to protect your time. Once you decided these are your priorities, treat them like priorities, block them into your calendar. And don’t forget to block in your breaks as well, because that’s really important. Periods of rest are not a reward for great work. They’re a requirement for work to happen. So that’s our fourth P.

And then our fifth P is to propel. Take five minutes to just really assess how you’re feeling for the day. What did I accomplish? We forget all the good we’ve done. We only think about the negative. We think about all the things we didn’t do, right? One minute to do that, one minute to assess, did I put too much on my plate today? Did I feel stressed? Did I feel overwhelmed? Okay. I need to adjust for tomorrow. So we can adjust. 

One minute for gratitude. One minute on what you did to get closer to a goal. And then one minute to get all those ideas out of your head that you want to work on for tomorrow onto that sheet of paper. Leave that piece of paper on your desk. The next morning you come in, guess what you’ve got? a springboard sitting right there on your desk. You start off focusing on those wins from the day before. That feels pretty good, right? 

Eric Partaker: Yeah. 

Tonya Dalton: Starting off with those springboards, thinking about what you were grateful for yesterday, you have an idea of what you did for your goals, what you want to do in moving forward, and you have some water in your well to draw from, for what you want to accomplish for the day. 

Eric Partaker: Awesome. Love that. 

Tonya Dalton: So all of that… Yes. That was a really quick and dirty 5Ps. But yes, that to me creates that structure which allows you to feel more successful, to feel happier. And I think that’s really what it’s all about.

Eric Partaker: So cool. Cool. So a lot of this relates to creating good habits, habit that will help take you to the next level. All habits aren’t created equal, of course. 

Tonya Dalton: Definitely. 

Eric Partaker: Which ones have you found to be most powerful? 

Tonya Dalton: Well, doing the processing each day, that’s a habit that I’ve established for myself. Doing even… I mean, this is a thing, is we feel like it’s the big things and we like to blame things on discipline. I need to be more disciplined or I don’t have enough willpower. When really, it’s just a series of small habits that we build that we stack one upon the next. So it feels like we’re doing really good things. 

A really simple habit I established myself was drinking eight ounces of water within 10 minutes of waking up. Because you wake up dehydrated, and I was grumpy, and I was cranky. And I thought I wasn’t a morning person. For years, I identified as not being a morning person. And it was really just that I needed to wake up and have a glass of water. And then I’m like, “Oh, I feel so much better.” little things, right?

So doing that five minute activity I just walked through. Making sure that I’m meditating a day. I like to meditate in the morning. I generally do a meditation sometime after lunch. I find that that just refreshes me and-

Eric Partaker: For how long are you meditating? 

Tonya Dalton: It depends. It depends on the day. Ideally, 30 minutes each time. Sometimes longer, if I have the opportunity for more time. Sometimes less. If you it’s kind of one of those days where it’s just not working out with the way the schedule looks, kids have things going on, I’ll do like a five minute or a 10 minute. And I think that’s one of the things, is people think, “Well, I should do 30 minutes. If I can’t do 30 minutes, then forget it. I’m just not going to do it at all.”

Eric Partaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Tonya Dalton: It’s okay. Life is messy. Life needs to be flexible. Allow yourself the grace that yes, ideally, you’d love to work out or you’d love to meditate for 30 minutes, or maybe it is workout for 30 minutes. Whatever it is, it’s okay to do a little bit less. The main thing is to keep that motion going, because what happens is we think to ourselves, “Oh, I didn’t do it. Fell off the wagon” And then we think, “Well, I can’t get back on the wagon. Just forget it.” Right?

Eric Partaker: Yeah. 

Tonya Dalton: When even a five-minute meditation, even a 15-minute workout, if we’re talking about working out. Those little things, till they get you that moment, they still get you moving forward. And that’s a lot of that flexibility. I talk about that in the book On Purpose that we need flexibility, we need grace. Because life happens and it’s giving yourself the allowance that some days are going to be easy, some days are going to be hard, and some days are going to be really, really, really hard. And allowing that  to be okay.

Eric Partaker: Yeah. I totally agree with that. My general target is 80%. 80% is pretty darn good. If you want to go to the gym, say five times in a week and you do four out of five, great.

Tonya Dalton: Fabulous. Yeah. 

Eric Partaker: Four out of five meditation sessions. And I totally, with regard to meditation, completely agree that just adjust it to whatever works for you so that you can at least fit it in. I typically only do a five-minute meditation in the morning. And it works for me. Sometimes I do 10. Sometimes I do 15. In the past, I have done 30 and longer, but just do whatever works for you, right? 

Tonya Dalton: Yeah. If five minutes is worth for you do five minutes. If five minutes feels like, oh my God, that’s an eternity, do two minutes of focused breathing. You don’t even have to turn on a meditation app. Just do two minutes of just breathing, not looking at a screen, stepping outside. That makes a huge difference. I think, for me, that that feeling you get at after you’ve taken that time to just focus internally and just focus on you and your breathing, you come back refreshed. And it’s like, why wouldn’t I do that? Right. If I can give myself that gift, why would I not give it to myself? Even if it’s only two minutes. That’s okay. That’s absolutely okay. You do you what we’re works for you. 

Eric Partaker: Exactly. Whatever works for you. Tanya, I have one more question for you. So what do you believe that few others also believe? 

Tonya Dalton: What do I believe that few…? That’s a big question. Well, I don’t believe in the word hustle. I think hustle is just maybe the worst word on the planet. And I feel like that’s the mantra that we hear hustle, grind, repeat. Hustle, hustle, hustle. And I feel like when you’re hustling, you’re just wearing yourself out. 

Eric Partaker: Totally.

Tonya Dalton: So I am very much the anti-hustle crowd, which is a smaller group, but that when you don’t hustle, not only are you more successful, but you’re happier. So, let it go.

Eric Partaker: Totally happy. And that really fits so well with everything that you’ve said today, because those that are in the hustle community, they’re probably just doing too many things. And what you’re all about is you got to do the right things. And to even determine what those right things are, make sure that you understand what your purpose is, what your direction what your vision is. So you’re doing the right things and not everything. So I totally… Yeah. I’m also anti-hustle. So that’s two of us. 

Tonya Dalton: I love it. 

Eric Partaker: Tanya, where can… So you got your book coming out in October, of course, On Purpose: The Busy Woman’s Guide to an Extraordinary Life of Meaning and Success. So very excited for that to come out. The Joy of Missing Out is, of course, already out. I think you wrote that couple years back, right? 2019?

Tonya Dalton: Yes. Two years ago. Yes. 

Eric Partaker: Yep. So that’s a fabulous book that’s already out. And then if somebody wants to get in touch with you, how do they do that? 

Tonya Dalton: Yeah. I think the best place to find me is You can find links to my books, the Joy of Missing Out and On Purpose, there. On Purpose is available already for pre-order. And Joy of Missing Out is of course already out. You can also find links to my podcast, which is called The Intentional Advantage. And you can find videos. I have lots of YouTube trainings and things like that, that you can really take a lot of what we talked about here and see them in action. A lot of times you’ll see me doing them with my family. So you can see how I do team planning and all kinds of things like that. So is the best place for all things related to me. 

Eric Partaker: Awesome. Tanya, you are a real inspiration. Thank you so much for everything that you’re doing. Thanks for helping all the women out there, especially those who want to break free from the 98%, join the 2% that are operating at their full potential. Thanks for helping them achieve that, help them do that. And yeah, thanks for being on the show today. 

Tonya Dalton: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me.

Eric has been named "CEO of the Year" at the 2019 Business Excellence Awards, one of the "Top 30 Entrepreneurs in the UK" by Startups Magazine, and among "Britain's 27 Most Disruptive Entrepreneurs" by The Telegraph.

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