TIME IS FINITE: Saying No to Things We Want to Do

Image Credit: Josh Nuttall on Unsplash

What am I optimizing for?

The most difficult thing to accept about the human experience is that our time is finite; life is finite and we are finite. One day our time will run out.

No one can promise us tomorrow and because of that, we have to decide what's really important today.

But you know what the hardest thing is about choosing our priorities? Learning to say 'no' to the things we want to do.

The idea of learning to say 'no' has underneath it the implication that we're saying no to things we're not that interested in. But our time is finite and so are we; we can't do ALL THE THINGS because we don't have ALL THE TIME.

We have to choose what's important - really, really important - and then say no to everything else, even the things we might really want to do but unfortunately just can't fit into our schedule.

That's why choosing well is so important, because when we decide to make something a priority, we'll have to sacrifice for it by saying no to the things that will interfere with that priority, even if it's something we also really want.

I love writing; I love being able to sit down for hours at a time and get into a flow state so that I can play with words and explore ideas.

I also love working out; I love pushing my body to the limits and sweating it out. All the frustrations and accumulated annoyances get left behind in a puddle of sweat.

Aside from COVID lockdowns, I've spent every Saturday and Sunday morning for the last four years in spin class.

But that means I got very little writing done on weekends, because mornings are my best time for writing, and spin classes directly interfered with that.

I prioritized going to spin classes over my writing; that was a choice.

But now that I've decided to sit my ass down and do my work - to stop believing the hustle culture lies about "overnight success" - protecting the pockets of time I have available to write is more important than spin class.

During the week, I get up between 4:00-5:00 AM so that I can have a few hours to write before I need to login to work.

Weekend mornings are the only time I have available to write continuously, to really be in a flow state with zero interruptions or distractions. And up until a few weeks ago, I was destroying that flow state by going to spin.

I don't want to miss spin classes; to miss the camaraderie of my fellow cyclists.

But I also want to write.

I want to do both things.

I've tried doing both things, because I haven't wanted to give either up.

It hasn't worked.

If I want to make serious traction with my writing, I need to find pockets of time when I can operate in a flow state and then protect that time by saying no to everything else. Even if it’s something I want to do.

Now don’t get me wrong, working out is still a priority. It’s something I love to do, need to do for my overall well-being, so it’s something I’m going to keep doing.

But it’ll have to be at a different time, and I won’t get to be a part of the Saturday and Sunday morning spin crew anymore.

Because I can’t do both things.

Image Credit: Pat Taylor on Unsplash

Our time is finite.

At some point, we all have to choose.

We don’t have all the time in the world to do what we want to do; we simply cannot do all the things.

We have to choose what matters.

Our lives are the results of the things we choose to prioritize.

That's why if we want to manage our lives wisely, we have to allot time to the things that really matter, and say no to everything else.

Even the things we really want to do.

What am I optimizing for?

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