Say no to 1,000 things

Everything in the universe at this moment is telling me that my biggest lesson in life is about saying “NO.” Each day I find an article, read a book, have a conversation that reiterates the ongoing dilemma I have with life. What can I truly handle? Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Yes, and no. It really depends. I do know that I need to figure out a way to scale back. Part of that means that I have to say “No” more and more and more. How does one do that when your modus operandi is to help others, solve problems, and to try to make the world a better place one day at a time?

I wanted to share a few of the ideas that have been bombarding my thoughts these last few days. I came across this Steve Jobs quote:

“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. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

If I could truly do what Jobs said, maybe I could have a fraction of the success he had in life. It has become a common theme for me these past few weeks and months to figure out how to scale back at work and at home and yet life feels like it is a treadmill on the highest speed, and sometimes at the highest incline. At times it feels like the buttons are inoperable and I am not able to adjust to the appropriate speed, so it means running crazy fast and then wondering how long I can sustain the speed.

There was this Fast Company article called: “The Exact Amount of Time You Should Work Every Day” that shared this idea:

Make Realistic To-Do Lists: “We often bog down our to-do lists and make them not feasible for us to accomplish [plus] we underestimate how long it’s going to take us to do something,” says Sexton.

Prioritize tasks. Choose three major tasks to focus on for the day and add other tasks as they pop up throughout the day to a separate list, readjusting your priorities throughout the day if required. It’s a lot easier to look at a list of three tasks than 30. Once you knock off the first three items, choose your next three priorities from your lengthier list.

I do not feel like I have a problem with To-Do Lists, tracking what I need to do, or prioritizing my tasks. I feel it is having too much happening at once. Too many projects to track on, too many deliverables, and not enough time or bandwidth to execute or strategize on how to make it all happen.

How have you learned to say, “No?” Teach me. I want to learn. I want to know what has worked for you.

A life full of opportunities, building, and being smart

I want to talk about this. I want to talk about this poignant acceptance speech by Ashton Kutcher flying around the Internet and Facebook. You have probably already seen it. I want to say a few things about his speech. Ashton is twice as old as many of the teens watching the Teen Choice Awards. He is also a midwest boy (Iowa) and went through a lot as a kid with his sick twin brother, his parents divorce, and the trouble he got in as a teenager. He is not just Hollywood fluff. He has lived.

I loved what he told teens in 2013. Teens that might be obsessed with those that have money and power. He did not talk about that. Not about all the glam, money, and fame that he has had in his life, but about working hard. That life does not just come to us, that we have to work for it, show up, grow into our next phase. My favorite part is when he said the sexiest thing is being smart. I hope that those teenagers watching understand what he means. Here are a few excerpts, but be sure to also watch the video below:

Opportunities:

“And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

Being Sexy:

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart, and being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap. I promise you…it’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. So be smart, be thoughtful, and be generous.”

Build a life:

“Everything around us that we call life, was made up by people that are no smarter than you. You can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life, don’t live one.”