“How many have laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing, how much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy, greedy desire, and social amusements — how little of your own was left to you. You will realize you are dying before your time!”
— Seneca, On the Brevity of Life
Learning to say no has been a real journey for me. I was programmed at an early age to please others. That’s the easy way. I choose the harder way. I’ve been practicing saying no for several decades. It gets easier as I practice.
I’m going into 2017 with several goals in mind. One of them, and this one runs across years and decades, is to become a bit more thoughtful. I want to grow my mental real estate. Practicing saying no is a huge part of that. There are so many distractions. So many people who would love to waste my time, energy, and finances with ‘stuff’ that I will ultimately find unfulfilling and of little value. I might enjoy some of the things I’m offered in the moment, and that’s not a sin. However, if I reach the end of my life only to realize that I haven’t used my time wisely, I believe that I will die an unforgiven sinner. I believe I’ll have regrets at the end. When it’s too late to change the story.
There are 8,760 hours in this year. Some of them are already gone. I’ve spent some of them thinking about finishing my debut novel, a few pecking at the keys and searching for the words. I’m spent some of them thinking about my health. I’ve spent a lot of them reading about the way the Stoics approached life. I’m committed to the things that matter this year. Personal mental growth, storytelling, and being a thoughtful partner are my top three priorities.
I’m not arrogant enough to believe I matter that much to very many people. I’m not sure I’d want the burdens that go along with celebrity. However, if you choose to join me for a few moments or hours during the coming year, either as a reader, friend or casual stranger who arrives by accident of circumstance, I hope you’ll take the time to stop what you’re doing and give the idea that ruthlessness can be a good thing some of your mental real estate.
Learning how to say no is a critical skill. Learning the value of your time, which is actually the currency of your life, is paramount to making the journey worthwhile. It is your life and I hope you will live it like you matter. Wishing you a thoughtful and joyous 2017.
Be ruthless to the things that don’t matter.