What Are You Willing To Give Up?

I couldn’t get through Eat, Pray, Love. I’ve heard from a number of people that it’s a really incredible book and I respect that, but I’ve never been able to get into it. On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s a really incredible speaker and her TED talk is exceptional. There’s one particular point that she makes that I find particularly interesting;

“What are you willing to give up?”

It’s a loaded question. On the one hand, it sounds super inspiring. Sacrifice has long been an obvious lauded as the key to success. But times, they are a changin’ and these changes bring with them some hot new takes on the topic.

For starters, why do we have to give up anything? Obviously starting or running a business is hard work and it takes some long hours. But why do we need to give up anything? Really? Why do we need to sacrifice the things we love to make something?

Well, we do…and we don’t.

We might have to give up some sleep. We might have to give up Game of Thrones or Metal Gear Solid or The Chicago Cubs. We might have to give up beers on the patio. Or do we?

I sleep somewhere from five and a half to eight hours a night. Most successful entrepreneurs that I know sleep somewhere around seven. So you don’t need to give up sleep. You might need a little tiny bit less sleep. But you still need to sleep.

You don’t need to give up Game of Thrones. You can be totally caught up. You can beat Metal Gear Solid. You can watch 172 baseball games. You can have a couple of beers on the patio. You can, quite literally, have it all. But how?

It’s all about making and keeping a schedule. It’s hard. I get it. And I’m not being flippant about that. I do, actually, get it. I’ve got two kids of which I’m the primary caregiver and both myself and my wife are self employed. My wife also volunteers extensively and we spend a great deal of time on the weekends as a family. So I get it.

But a schedule, a REAL schedule, is a game changer. There are a lot of ways to do this, but I thought I’d share a couple of them with you.

The first is what I call “the spillover”. It’s a relatively chaotic way to do it but for some people, chaos works.

Write down everything you want to do. Try to keep the list under 30 items to fit on a page. Set aside two hours. Get started. The idea of the spillover it to help you figure out how much work you actually need to do. If your list is 11 items and you can accomplish 8 of those things in a day…and you add another 11 things tomorrow…and you can accomplish 4 of those things, you need to do one of two things;

  1. Make a smaller list.
  2. Spend more time.

If neither of those things work for you, you need to really reevaluate things. By giving yourself 2 hour blocks, you’re able to keep yourself focused. Anything over that time and you start to slow down and anything under that and you’re not going to be able to focus properly.

I recommend that you don’t put your list in any sort of order but rather evaluate on the fly what you want or need to do next. This will create a system whereby you will be forced to consider what’s important and what’s not.

The second is what I call “really little wins”. This method relies on breaking your work down into smaller and smaller pieces. Breaking each task down into individual components means that you feel a better sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed a dozen tasks over a short period of time instead of MAYBE completing 1 or 2…or even not getting to check ANYTHING off because you haven’t FINISHED something. This process means you always finish something (or at least you should).

There are a million ways to make a schedule and to get ahead, but the important thing is that you have SOME semblance of a plan. If you DON’T have a plan, there’s a good chance that you WON’T know what’s going on with Game of Thrones, you won’t have ANY idea what the score was in last night’s Cub game and you’ll spend very little time on patios.

Most importantly, you won’t get to spend time with your family and your friends.

So what are you willing to give up? How about being lazy? If you give up being lazy, you’ll get shit done and STILL get to do all of the things that you thought you were going to miss out on.

Give. Up. Nothing.