The Only Thing You Own Is Your Time

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    113 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Two things for you to think about

    There’s no such thing as, “I don’t have enough time.” You always have enough time. You don’t have the right priorities.

    Living well means spending more time on things that matter. Living poorly means spending more time on things that don’t matter. Wisdom is knowing the difference.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    A bajillion things for you to ask yourself

    What are you spending your time on that doesn’t matter? Why are you spending time on it? How can you stop?

    What are you not spending time on that does matter? Why aren’t you spending time on it? How can you start?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Choose one thing you waste time on. Stop doing it for the week. Similarly, choose one thing you value but don’t do often enough—make sure to do it this week.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to let go of a problem you’ve been struggling with in your life by simply no longer seeing it as a problem.

    The first reply I received was from a long-time frustrated writer:

    This email was like a reinforcing gong for something I’ve been realizing for a while now. I’m a fiction writer and my whole creative journey thus far has been a string of failures. Nine years, 20 novels, dozens of short stories, and barely anything to show for it. I started down this road because I loved writing, but lately writing itself has become this impossible task, something I want to do but can’t seem to actually accomplish. It’s become the biggest “problem” in my life, making me depressed, anxious, and frustrated.

    But your email—among other signals—reminded me that this is not a real problem. I’m employed, secure, and happily married. My day-to-day life is great, and I have a creative craft I still love. The only “problem” is that I’d let my expectations of what I wanted to happen take over the actual act of doing a creative thing, which is always rewarding in itself.

    Our definitions of “success” are maybe the most common way we torture ourselves with arbitrary standards and made-up problems. It’s one reason I advise people to be careful and hold their goals lightly—because while goals may motivate you in the short run, a poorly defined version of success can really make you suffer in the long run.

    Meanwhile, Kristin is letting go of society’s expectations and embracing her singlehood:

    It’s funny you bring this up this week as I was *just* having this thought yesterday. I’ve been single my whole life and don’t have any children. Being 52 years old makes this seem strange by societal norms. So in turn, I’ve felt strange. Felt unlovable, and that marriage/love was for others but not for me.

    As I reflect on your email I realize, this does not have to be a “problem” in my life anymore. I have such a full life with a job I enjoy, friends who are amazing and a pretty great family to fall back on. Things didn’t turn out the way I hoped or dreamed they would, but that doesn’t have to be viewed anymore as a problem to be solved.

    It’s so freeing to look at my life through a different lens and accept that my life is still great, just the way it is. It’s just not worth missing what’s in front of me to spend so much time feeling like something is wrong. I know it’s not always as simple as that, but sometimes it is!

    I can relate, Kristin. I went through a similar realization when it became clear that my wife and I were unlikely to ever have kids. My life is full and great. There are many ways to foster a life full of love, meaning, and value. A family isn’t the only way.

    Finally, therapy, which I have and will always recommend, is helping another reader let go of problems that aren’t really there:

    Therapy made a huge difference in how I manage situations and “problems.” Through CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) I learned about cognitive distortions and my tendency to jump to conclusions. I assume someone’s bad mood or problem is related to me and stress myself out over something that I don’t actually know anything about.

    Once I learned to identify those thoughts, take a step back, and identify what I actually know versus what I’m assuming, I was able to eliminate a lot of the manufactured problems in my life.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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