There have often been situations where we are over-burdened and stretched too thin with a lot of work. These are the moments that make us question if it is all worth it. Let me tell you one thing, it is not. I might be the first person on the internet to say this, but it is true. Well, it is not our fault at all. We are living in a society where every average person is shown the dream “You can have it all”. And it is very easy to get caught in the façade of “You can have it all”.
As Mark Manson in his book “The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck” puts it-
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited number of f*cks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a f*ck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you're going to get f*cked.”
What I want to say by including this statement is that people say “Yes” to every opportunity thinking that they would have enough resources (time and energy) to put in it. But the most brutal fact is that we don’t have unlimited resources and we will run out of them if we won’t use them wisely. We would not be able to give a lot of attention and resources to one opportunity if we are pursuing 10 at the same time. Let me demonstrate this with the help of a diagram.
The ball in the middle is the energy while the arrows represent the opportunities, and the length of the lines represents the progress in the opportunities. Now you can clearly understand what I am trying to put here. As seen in the diagram, the area of the circle is limited, so is our energy. And if we direct the energy to a single opportunity, we can make massive progress in that one.
“You can be good in a lot of things, but you can only be best at one.”
But it is easier said than done. So, let us talk about a few things which would help you pursue only the things that matter while staying away from things that do not matter.
Remember the trade-offs
New opportunities can be tempting but it is very vital to realize that saying “Yes” to an opportunity automatically means saying “No” to one or several other opportunities. For example, if you commit to an early morning jog routine then that automatically means sleeping early at night (no late-night movies, chats, parties) if you don’t want to feel like a zombie for the rest of the day due to sleep deprivation.
Set boundaries and limits
“People tend to water their lawn by your sprinklers.” Set boundaries and be firm about them. Remember if you will not set boundaries people will keep on neglecting the fact that you are the master of your time and not them. For example, all people in my contact list know that I do not pick-up calls after 9:30 pm and there is no exception to this rule. The boundary could be as simple as the fact that you do not want to be interrupted when you are meditating or when you are spending quality time with your family or that you would not receive calls from your colleagues on weekends.
Have clear well-defined goals.
60% of the procrastination happens because of the lack of well-defined goals. If I do not know what I am supposed to do today, then what would you expect me to do (procrastinate ofc). The goal is to have short and well-defined goals so that you can work on them. An example of a clearly well-defined goal is “Keep the phone away and read [xyz] book from 6oclock to 8oclock”. This very well changes the definition of your time from 6 to 8oclock. Nothing is more motivating than progress so when you define a short term goal and nail it in the specified time, you feel happier and more motivated. This motivates you to do it even more than before.
Say “Yes” only after thinking about the opportunity:
The problem with people nowadays is that it is very hard for them to say “No”. Well, if you cannot say “No” at the moment, don’t say ‘Yes’ either rather say that you will think about it and revert to them by [definite time]. Now take that time and think about that opportunity, it’s trade-off, and if you want to do it or not. This way you will get the time to think and analyze if you want to go further in that opportunity.
The things I said in this blog are easier said than done. But, if you can follow this, it can make your life much more enjoyable than before. Keeping our mortality at front and center, we should cherish every moment that we live. We should more often think about freeing time for ourselves and our family than freeing time to pursue one more opportunity. With this in mind, we should regularly ask ourselves “What is essential?” and pursue only that thing and let go of any other thing/opportunity which is non-essential.
Idea of this blog taken from book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less