Good evening, Next Five Years subscriber!
First up, let me say that next week marks the one-year anniversary of this publication! In celebration, consider becoming a financial subscriber:
Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at the question of Time.
Time is the only thing you have.
Time is actually what money represents.
Time is the most valuable thing in your life.
A shocking realisation and an immediate change
In thinking about how I assign and allocate my time for about the billionth time this year, I came to the realisation that I have essentially structured my entire life (and my business) with an eye-and-a-half on other people.
Then I read Why you should stop caring what other people think, which was shared by Tim Ferriss the other week. It went into my spam folder. It’s remarkable I saw it at all!
After thinking about the perspective in that article, it dawned on me how other people control what I do.
I don’t mean that literally.
I mean, that they do it by proxy.
That proxy is largely inside my own head. My own woolly mammoth, if you like. (That’ll make sense when you read the linked article.)
And so in Major Moves This Week, I pulled Brutal Pixie out of coworking for the third time, and am forcing all non-client meetings to take place via videocall.
It’s funny how you are tested as soon as you make a game-changing decision.
Not 24 hours after I cancelled the coworking membership and removed face-to-face meeting options from Calendly, I got a lovely connection request on LinkedIn.
The person is new to freelancing and wanted to have a coffee with me.
I took a deep breath.
Would I go for that coffee? I love spending time with people. In fact, I love it so much that it destroys my ability to get stuff done.
So I paused. I recalled to myself the actions I’d taken literally the night before. And I replied:
Actually, I'm not doing coffees any more, because each one takes up to 3 hours out of my day. BUT I'm happy to share a bit of time virtually… [link etc]
To which I got this reply:
Fair call - guess I'm old school. I prefer real coffee, vinyl records and face-to-face.
And this response shocked the crap out of me.
It wasn’t the brevity of the message.
It wasn’t the assumption that a meeting is pointless unless it’s face to face.
It wasn’t even the total disregard that I’d agreed to share my time in a way that would work for both of us.
It was the assumption that preferring vinyl records is incompatible with video calls.
I have more than 2000 LPs in my house. I listen to them while I work, and new ones arrive on an almost daily basis…
Safeguarding your time pisses other people off
We’re raised to be nice to others, and kind to others. We are instructed to put other people first in all regards.
There’s a massive problem with this.
It’s the problem that almost all women face, because they tend to be caring, giving people. Many men do, too, but nowhere near to the same extent.
It’s the problem that you put yourself last.
It’s an uncomfortable irony that if you’re going to achieve anything in your life, you have to put yourself first. You have to prioritise your own structure; your own way of living. You have to recognise that your partner and your kids (if you have them, and if they’re not toddlers) are self-actualising creatures and are capable of looking after themselves and each other. You have to acknowledge that if something isn’t working in your life, you can either fix it or suffer.
In my experience, almost all of my suffering has come from either putting someone else first; or expecting that, by putting others first, they’ll do the same for me.
Most other people can’t stand it if you put yourself first.
If you become someone who’s in good control of your time and your attention, other people will make snarky comments about you being ‘so busy’; that they can’t book a meeting with you for this week; that they’re just going to leave it because they can’t have their way right now.
If I had $0.10 for every snarky comment I’ve ever received from someone, I’d have enough money to buy a fancy steak pie with sauce.
And you know? That’s ok with me. At last.
So here’s my thoughtful takeaway for you this week
Find a way to be the person who puts the most important person in the world first.
That person is you.
Nobody else is going to do it.
And if you’re worried about doing it, recall to yourself that it’s probably just your woolly mammoth being a bully. So feel the fear and do it anyway.
You’ll be incredibly happy that you did.