Years ago, I owned a house with a big backyard and a decent sized front yard.
I would spend almost all of my Saturdays mowing, raking, or maintaining that yard. It would sometimes take 8 or 9 hours.
My wife and I sold the house and moved into a condominium. We did this on purpose. That simple move handed me an extra 250 hours, or so, each year.
Since I spent many Saturdays writing Visual Latin, it is no stretch to say the move paid off.
This week, I ran across this short article by author Robert Bly. It sums up exaclty how I feel.
In his book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Success”(Crown Business, 2014), Greg McKeon writes:
“The overwhelming reality is that we live in a world where almost everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”
His recommendation: Pick the one or two things in the world that matter most to you, and focus almost exclusively on them. Jettison all else. Be narrow, niched, focused, and selective. This is how I have lived for my entire adult life. Aside from family, which is more important to me than anything else, I focus nearly all my energy and effort on my work: copywriting, info marketing, speaking, consulting, and book writing.
Some successful people are admirably well-rounded, but I am not one of them. I am a dedicated workaholic, and aside from work and family, I have chosen to take a pass on most other things in life. If you see me as having achieved a reasonable level of success and productivity, I must tell you that I owe it mostly to being an Essentialist.
– Bob Bly
It’s the same for me. My life drastically changed when I became an essentialist. I used to feel bad about it. No longer. These days, my conversations look a lot like this:
“Hey, Dwane! Want to get together for coffee?”
“Hey, Dwane! Want to watch the football game?”
Me: “No. And you should watch the movie Concussion.”
“Hey, Dwane! Can you help me move?”
Me: “No. Pay a high school or a college student to help you move. If you need help, help them. They have the time, and they need the money. I don’t have time, and I don’t need the money.”
“Hey, Dwane! You should come to our meeting?”
“Hey, Dwane! We need to schedule a phone call?”
Me: “No. Sum up the main points and email them to me.”
Does this attitude make me a jerk? Possibly. In fact, it very likely makes me a jerk.
But, I don’t worry about it. There are thousands of mothers out there who have been told that they must teach their children Latin. Now, they are struggling. They were having a decently good time educating their children when someone added Latin. Now, they hate homeschooling. And, their children hate homeschooling. Now, they are thinking of putting their kids into the public schools. This is a disaster.
I can help them. I will dedicate my time to my family, and to these struggling homeschool families.
You can find someone else to help you move. You can watch the football game with someone else.
Someone else can mow the grass in the condominium development where I still live.
I have better things to do.
So do you, by the way. As Zig Ziglar used to say, “Focus on the contribution you can make.”