People often say “I don’t have enough time” for things they should do but are not doing. To me, the question of whether you should spend your on something depends on another question to be answered first, “What are your priorities?”
You have to know your priorities first, then schedule your time accordingly. Not spend your time doing random things all day and then complain you don’t have time to do the important things. It’s about prioritization. It’s about being intentional in your work and how you manage one of your most important resources—your time. It’s NOT about doing everything or anything you can or should do in a day. It’s about strategically doing the few things that move you the fastest, closest towards your goals and deliberately ignoring the less important tasks—first things first, second things not at all.
People tend to avoid what’s most needed to be done. I’d say if you’re going to procrastinate, procrastinate on unimportant things until you have to do them.
The reality: Doing a lot of unimportant things doesn’t make them important, it just wastes your time without getting much results. However, it does give you the illusion of getting things done. But like a hamster running feverishly inside a hamster wheel, ‘your busyness’ is nothing when you can’t get results. And results is what ultimately matters. The question is, are you willing to take a reality-check:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- Are you spending your time in the most effective way to achieve those goals?
- And what are the results?
You need time to achieve results yet the achievement of results doesn’t necessarily depend on how long you work or how hard you work, it depends more on how effective your approach is. Not having enough time could be an excuse for not figuring what’s actually required to achieve a result, which often leads to doing the same thing over and over again without questioning the effectiveness of your approach. You can’t continue what you’re doing and expect different results.
An excuse is a rationalized fear. When you rationalize, you are fixated on a conclusion first and then you find reasons to support this conclusion. Obviously, if this is your default approach to things you’ve never personally tried, you’ll find biased evidence to support your viewpoint. Rather, your starting place should be a hypothesis—an educated guess of how you can reach your goals, what’s the process from A to B, what are your key assumptions and then systematically test those assumptions. Caution: Your initial guess or assumptions might be totally off and that’s okay, this is a necessary part of finding the right answers. Only a loser clings to his opinions in the face of overwhelming evidence that his opinion is wrong. That kind of person is more interested in being right rather than being successful. I don’t care about looking stupid as long as I get results. I have found that over the years, no one really cares about you anyway. They only—and rightfully should—care about what you can do for them first and then maybe they’ll entertain you by hearing your plea for how hard you worked.
The point is to test the critical, key assumptions that prevents you from achieving your most important goals like a career change, starting a business, finding a partner or moving to a foreign country. Again, prioritization.
If you don’t want to try something, fine, don’t do it. But if you want to do something, you’ve set it as a goal but manage to convince yourself it’s not worth the effort in trying based on some subjective opinions how you can’t do something or it won’t work out without ACTUALLY trying it—that’s an excuse! Excuses are never grounded in evidence, excuses only requires careful self-deception. You’re the biggest loser if you don’t systematically test your most important assumptions. Here’s a clue: Whenever you catch yourself saying ‘I can’t do THAT—ask, what am I assuming here? How can I test my assumptions before living with this assumption my whole life?’ I don’t know, you might find out you’re capable of more than you thought you could ever be—isn’t that worth a try?
Lastly, don’t ever confuse your confidence in your own personal beliefs with the validity of your own assumptions. Because your belief is what you like or hope for, which a personal preference but the basis of your assumptions should be how accurately your assumptions reflects the reality of the real-world—just because you honestly and sincerely believe in something that it has to be true in the real world. You can be honestly wrong. Beliefs are personal, assumptions demand evidence.
For example, how many entrepreneurs honestly believe they’ll be successful, profitable with their ventures 2,3 years into the game? I’d say ‘All of them.’ How many do actually succeed and turn a significant profit to keep going? ‘Probably one in every ten, or even less’, according to documented stats. See, confidence is a necessary but not sufficient condition. You can be confident all you want but if your planning is weak, your execution is poor and undisciplined, you don’t know the numbers, you don’t have a overall strategy and you mismanage your time doing useless things leaving the important things to help the business grow till tomorrow—you deserve to fail. Because you were too lazy to test your assumptions, learn from it and make intelligent decisions on what you should do and should stop doing.
It’s ego and it’s fear of failing again, again and again that prevents us from truly being bold in taking new directions in life.
To me, I see it very clearly, when you pursue a goal: you either achieve it or you get an experience that you can use to adjust your approach to reach your goal faster. More often than not, when you attempt completely new goals with no prior experience or limited knowledge, by the default, you will make more mistakes, get lost than being on the right path and making progress. It’s just the reality of what it is. This is why you shouldn’t waste a mistake. Not wasting a mistake means learning from it—learning from a mistake is NOT simply saying so, you must back it up with a plan, action, new behaviors, and you must force yourself to do the daily grind until you’re not the person who thinks and acts in a way that caused you to make the mistake in the first place. Otherwise, to phrase it articulately, you’re full of shit and you don’t even know it.
Never say you ‘don’t have enough time’—decide what’s important to you, figure out and systematically test your assumptions and follow through until you reach your goal or is educated by an experience of how to smartly approach the problem the next time. It’s either do or don’t, there are no room for excuses.