(• Reading Time: 3 minutes •)
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are... I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done...” — Steve Jobs
Say no to good
You can't always say no.
If you have only a single option and nothing else in sight, there's no luxury of ‘no’.
But if you're in a place where you get a good amount of yes, then you have to skip the good for the exceptional.
This isn't easy; it comes with training.
If you say yes to too many 'good', you overload yourself to say yes when the 'exceptional' shows up. It doesn't matter if you say yes to the exceptional at that point.
Because you'll show up half ready to give it all.
And if you force it, something else in your life will give in:
- Personal health.
On the outside it may look like you're killing it.
But on the inside, things are killing you.
Speed ≠ Progress
It's tempting to pack too many things, line them up back to back, and run forward as fast as possible.
But speed doesn't guarantee progress.
Imagine going on a road trip. And driving at 200mph on a free road. In the wrong direction. No matter how good this makes you feel, your efforts won't cut it.
If you're moving fast, stop once in a while and ask:
Am I going in the right direction?
FOMO < Focus
If you're like most people, you start off focused.
Then see what others have hyped.
And everyone is doing it so why not jump in. So you change course a "little" – because FOMO (fear of missing out).
Soon your single, little exploration has turned to chasing every trendy thing that comes out. But hype comes and goes. You need a steady head.
Too many = burnout
The more you pack on your plate, the higher your chance of a burnout.
You may accomplish a lot in the short term. Imagine finishing 1 week's work in 1 day. You feel incredible.
Next, you feel way too exhausted.
And suddenly things that usually take you an hour start taking 5 hours. Work that should take a day is now a week.
Everything is slow.
And you find yourself spending the next four weeks procrastinating and avoiding your work because your deep down your mind doesn't want to go through the previous intensity and pain your put yourself through.
Every time you burn out, it's harder to trick yourself into going back.
Your brain is ready to avoid you.
Saying no is an art
It takes a while to learn.
If deep down you don't like the idea of people becoming upset with you, saying no becomes way tougher.
But you need this.
It's a lifelong skill to practice over and over until you perfect it.
Thanks for reading
I enjoy writing for working professionals and small startups to re-focus on what matters. Not just finish busy work.