There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it. - Mary Wilson

Letting shit slide

Posted: August 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments »

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Sunset at Inarinjärvi

Talking to a coworker yesterday, he told me that he now has his wife schedule each weekend in his lotus notes calender so he can track what he’s supposed to do via blackberry (lotus notes ugh, blackberry ugh).  He has so many things he must do that he must schedule them every weekend and if he wants to do something leisurely like going fishing with his dad or son, that must be planned far in advance.  The usual result of all this is that he spends most weekends doing things he’s supposed to do and few weekends doing things he wants to do.  There’s no time for the thing I like to call “life.”

This is completely insane.  If you want to have control over your life, if you want to achieve anything important, you must give up on the idea that you must attend every birthday, every family outing, every conference call, every TV show, every wedding, every stupid thing that other people guilt you into attending.  Because, in the long term, none of them are important, and the things you could be doing instead, are really fucking important.

If you are like most people and spend 5/7 days slaving away in a cube you’ve only got a handful of days for doing important things.  How many birthdays, family outings, church functions, funerals, weddings, and company pick nicks happen in a year?  Well, how many people do you know?  Chances are if you looked you’d find one every weekend.  All these sound like important things, but I’ve attended two important funerals and one wedding in my life.  How many funerals have you attended where you didn’t know the dead guy?

You can be the person that is involved in everything, shows up for every unimportant meeting, and puts in a token effort for a charity or you can be the person who does one huge thing that actually matters.  You can feed a thousand people in Africa or you can volunteer to bring 7up salad to the church BBQ.  You can’t do both.

To do something important, such as feeding a thousand people in Africa, you have to be an asshole.  You must hurt peoples feelings, stop going to work, skip calls, be unresponsive to email, miss birthday parties, etc.  These are all the characteristics of an asshole, but their also the characteristics of people who help lots of people.  Because to do something important you have to have time.  There’s only so much time, the more spent doing other shit, the less you have for big things.

I actually have a coworker who takes a month off every other year or so to go to Africa and feed kids, build schools, whatever in Africa.  Can you believe that fucker doesn’t respond to my email for like a whole month?  The audacity!

So instead of spending your life doing what other people want you to do (mostly likely they will get over it if they even notice) why not spend your life doing something magnificent, something that people will remember for the next 100 years.  I’d venture to say that Beethoven didn’t attend a lot of conference calls and Van Gogh didn’t go to many of his third cousin’s birthday parties (what a bunch of shit heads).

A couple strategies I’ve used while still working for the man:  When you get off work, go home lay down, meditate, think, listen to calming music, do yoga, whatever you want to call it, but decide what is important to do right now to improve your life.  Not what you are expected to do, but what will get you to where you want to be.  Doing this simple reset will descrable your brain for the most important 4 hours of the day, your “free” time.  Do this every day.

The second tip, do this same thing when you get to work.  Don’t try to check off 20 items that seem urgent, urgent tasks are rarely important.  Let those urgent tasks go and pick the one task that will move you past all the stupid bullshit.  Do this before checking email.  Email is not a task list.  You know what you have to do today because chances are you’ve needed to do it for a week, month, or more likely a year.

If you move from stimulus to stimulus responding to whatever comes up, you have no control over your life.  Decide instead what you want and then skip everything else.

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