Do what matters.
These are three very important words that came to mind this morning. Perhaps it’s because I feel I’m being pulled in so many directions or time continues to move way faster than I want, but for some reason this advice is gripping at my soul.
Stop trying to do everything. You can’t conquer every mountain. Choose the one that matters and start climbing.
– James Dalman
I don’t know if you’re insane like me, but there are SO MANY goals I want to achieve. There’s the bucket list items, the yearly aspirations, and the t-shirt business I’ve dreamed about for three decades. And then there’s the books to write or the new business opportunities to consider.
Perhaps you feel the same way. Maybe you also have aspirations and dreams you’ve always wanted to do but don’t ever seem to have enough time to accomplish it all. What do we do?
Realize there will always be more.
We will never catch up on all those things we secretly set for ourselves to accomplish. We’ll never be less busy or have that special day where we can take that deep breath to focus on the thing we most wanted to do. No amount of productivity hacks is going to save us. There will always be more to do.
Life is full of opportunities and distractions fighting for our attention and this is never going to change. Once we come to grips with this reality we can start to make the hard decisions.
Understand time is finite.
We all know we have an expiration date on this planet. We are all given a specific amount of time to invest as we see fit. Yet I wonder sometimes if we truly understand this by the way we live our lives. I’ve certainly been guilty of believing there will be “more time later” and wasted opportunities to do what matters.
If our time is finite, why do we stress ourselves out daily on stuff that has no real meaning or that doesn’t fit what we really want to do? Of course there are the responsibilities we must take care of, but there are things we can easily let go of as well.
Make your decision without regrets.
You will have to ask the really hard questions about what matters most to you and what you will regret NOT doing by the end of your life. You will have to determine what mountains you’re willing to climb and which ones to let go. The process is painful and sobering, but it must be done. Then make the decision and go for it.
Only when we say hello to the best and fuck it to the rest will we discover inner peace.
What matters to me?
If I’m being real, this advice isn’t being written for you as much as it’s being written for me. This isn’t some cliché post about how to achieve your dreams in three easy steps; it’s a transparent journal excerpt to help me do what matters.
Are you ready for a real world application? Buckle your seatbelts!
I’ve spent a majority of my life creating, designing, marketing, and writing for clients. It’s been an amazing experience that has allowed us a great income and flexible lifestyle. But for a decade I’ve had the growing desire to unleash all this creativity for my own projects including hand-crafted artwork, t-shirts and other apparel, and writing my fourth book.
Then there’s the promises I’ve made to Donetta to invest in and help grow our Scentsy business. Unfortunately she’s gotten the crumbs of my attention over the years and that sucks. So my priority needs to be on serving my wife and supporting our business instead of making the same lame excuses I’ve made.
Finally there’s the ongoing client work and new exciting business opportunities that have presented themselves. As an Army of One, there’s no way to realistically spread the love and commit to each of these to the best of my ability. Many of these ventures could result in rewarding work as well as financial rewards. But I can’t do them all.
There are other smaller tasks and goals to achieve like actually climbing Pikes Peak or getting rock solid abs. The list is long as you might expect but there comes a point where I have to choose.
So what really matters in this hodgepodge of hopes and dreams? What can I live without and what can I not let go?
Self discovery begins with asking hard questions. It’s usually uncomfortable and emotional, but unless we’re willing to do the work we can never fully realize our potential. I tell the same thing to my clients all the time; the “pain” they experience now brings so much joy later. But now the tables are turned. LOL!
What I know in my heart is this …
- I will never truly be happy if I never try to create the masterpieces in my heart. If I don’t unleash the creativity that has built up over the years, it will affect every area of my life and I will die a pissed off and resentful guy.
- I will never forgive myself for letting my wife down. My involvement might get us to the level we’ve dreamed of or it might not, but I will never know if I don’t try. But not honoring my promise will be worse than business failure.
- I will never get my rock hard abs if I’m not committed. Truthfully I don’t ever expect to have a physique like Dewayne Johnson or Jason Mamoa. However the priority for optimal health and need to satisfy the Drill Sergeant in my head drives me to press on.
These are the non-negotiable desires of my life. And unfortunately doing what matters means I’ll have to say no to LOTS of other stuff.
- No more taking on client projects that aren’t rewarding or that pay me what I’m worth
- No more agreeing to new business ventures even if it means a big pay day in the future
- No more drinking those sweet delicious craft beers at every stop we make
Doing what matters requires sacrifice.
So many people have told me over the years they wanted to do something that really mattered to them. Whatever the dream or hope was, many weren’t willing to make the sacrifices to make it a reality. And I’ve been guilty of this cardinal sin as well.
Excuses are like buttholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.
A crass saying perhaps, yet so very true.
Over the years I’ve made plenty of sacrifices in order to achieve our dreams. But I’ve also made a LOT of excuses — especially in regards to what I profess to care about the most. Doing what matters means we have to stop making excuses and screwing around with pursuits that don’t lead us to things we desire most.
So it is time to make good on those promises to myself and to Donetta before it’s too late.
I don’t know if any of this has been helpful to you but it has brought clarification to me. Writing this out and sharing it publicly also brings accountability. I give you permission to give me a kick in the ass if you see me failing. And if you need some ass-kicking for yourself, I’d be glad to reciprocate.