Just Say No…to Make ProgressPosted: August 1, 2011
This is a theme I have been focused on lately. Making progress is not about being smarter (it is hard to become smarter) and it is not about being more disciplined or focused (it is, but it is hard to just tell yourself to “become more disciplined”). The thing that you can do, that is actually pretty fun to do once you get started, is to just say no.
Most of us are involved in dozens of activities that we do not really enjoy and that do not contribute meaningfully to our core goals. These are the easy ones. Just stop doing them. Typically, you are doing these because you think someone else wants you to, whether it is your employer, your family, your community. The reality is, if you are not enjoying yourself, you are probably not contributing that much either. Try eliminating one of them and see what happens. Odds are, nobody will even notice that you have stopped doing it.
Once you have cut out all of these annoying things, the next step is to cut out the things that you mildly enjoy, but that are not awesome. Stopping activities like watching sports can be a great opportunity to reclaim your time. I used to watch a couple of NFL games on Sunday, thinking it was a fun way to relax. Another way to think of this is that I was taking a 3-5 hour chunk of my life, and saying “the best way to spend this time is watching TV.” Put in that perspective, there is no way that I thought that was the best way to spend my time. It was better than doing yard work, but that is a false dilemma–since you have already decided NOT to work with this block of time, just go do the most fun thing that you can imagine for 3-5 hours.
The goal is to look for big chunks of repeating time. If you watch the Grammy’s each year, you will gain little by decided to reclaim that time. If you watch an hour of Netflix each night, you may want to ask yourself if that is the best way you can spend that time (and if it is, really enjoy it:).
All right, I hate proof reading blog posts, so I am just going to hit publish…I bet the world will not even notice that I stopped doing this activity that I really do not enjoy!