“The attempt to create a complex professional identity most often buries us in layers of insulation through which it is impossible to touch our best gifts…The day may be full, we may be incredibly busy, but we have forgotten who we are and why we are busy.”
- David Whyte, “Crossing the unknown sea: work as a pilgrimage of identity”
We all say “yes” to lots of things that take our time, energy and attention. If we were to be really honest with ourselves, we know that 25-50% of those things are not helping us reach our goals. Every month I assess things I am saying “yes” to that I really need to say “no” to. Maybe not “no” forever, but “no” for right now. I then try to focus on the things to say “yes” to that I want to attract more of. These activities and relationships that energize me and will more quickly get me to my goals.
What activities or people are a distraction, annoyance, a drain for you? What’s the risk of ignoring them or telling them “no” or “not right now?” What’s the cost of Not doing this? We are so often afraid of making people mad and of missing out on an opportunity that we get overwhelmed, have a hard time prioritizing, and just get plain tired.
We all like to be “busy” and feel important. It is so easy to equate activity with productivity. As modern professionals, most of us are addicted to activity and are bombarded with requests for our attention. Deep in your gut, you know that 25%-50% of your professional activity is a waste of time and energy.
Let go of a few activities / obligations / relationships that are not a priority for you right now. Focus on the most important and energizing activities and relationships that will get you to your goals. Notice any fear of making others mad or of missing out on something if you say “no.” Notice any compulsion to be “busy” and doing lots of stuff, that’s probably not the best use of your attention right now. I love the FedEx commercial with the guy sitting in the office saying “Busy, Busy, Bee!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWM5EYI65wo
Do more of the right things with your valuable time and energy. Risk saying “no” to everything else. Try it for two weeks and see what happens.
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