I used to say "yes" to almost all good opportunities, but now I say no to the majority. I thought anything that seemed somewhat congruent with what I wanted to accomplish was an "open door," but I've learned walking through every open door means I'm rarely making progress in any one direction.
I moved back to Birmingham the fall of 2013, married Lacie in October, started a new job as an insurance agent in November, and continued the pursuit of traveling and playing music. Additionally, I was pretty apt to jump on other extracurricular and social activities.
Have you ever noticed how drinking a lot of caffeine creates a very brief, euphoric moment of focus and energy, but is eventually followed by a collapse? That was me for much of my life: pile the plate high and go until you crashed. I would say yes to everything that sounded good, but then I woke up and realized I hadn't made significant progress in any one direction.
Greg McKeown got it right when he said, "Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter."(book notes)
In our caffeine-infused, technology-driven, fast-paced society of endless options and paths to follow, we run a serious risk of "cognitive overload." There is a maximum capacity for what we can focus on as humans, and if the majority of that focus isn't in one direction, towards a meaningful goal, we will find ourselves burned out, having accomplished very little. We will cannibalize the most important things, for the average success in a few lesser things.
The point is that prioritization is the most important thing we can do, because until you admit that you can't do it all, you're hurting yourself significantly. I'm not okay with that opportunity cost.
So I've picked one thing, and I want to be an expert at that one thing, not an amateur at ten others.
Do you know yours?
Books I recommend: