If you haven’t read Oliver Burkeman’s book, “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals”, let me summarize it for you (and before you think this is a shake-you-by-the-shoulders “You Only Live Once!” post, hear me out!)
4,000 weeks is about the average lifespan of a human.
Which is not a lot of time.
Staring straight at that number often elicits panic or pressure – it doesn’t do us any good – so what Burkeman so brilliantly poses in his book isn’t trying to fit everything in, but to ruthlessly audit – to get really fucking clear on what’s really important to you and to stop squeezing yourself dry with the rest so you spend your 4,000 weeks on the few important things you actually love.
And it sounds so simple, but it’s soooo difficult.
We want to do everything, ram our schedules, and have our hands in every pot.
But it doesn’t work.
“We are finite people living in a sea of infinite possibilities,” he says as he introduces us to the idea that not only is the realization and acceptance of our limitations – of our 4,000 weeks – healthy, but it’s what leads to the emotional experience of freedom we’re working so hard to find.
Yet, it isn’t just a ruthless audit of what’s important and not important, but letting go of some of what’s on our important list that’s truly powerful – a thought echoed in a small exercise attributed to Warren Buffett.
- Make a list of your top 20 goals.
- Pick the top 5.
- Throw out the rest. *Don’t leave them for later, but let them go entirely or they’ll only get in the way and distract you from your top 5.
It’s ruthless, I’m telling you!
But it’s the only way to live a meaningful and impactful life.
We need to stop pretending that if we were just more efficient or productive, we’d find a way to do it all.
We won’t and we can’t. We need to accept that and then choose very, very carefully.
So, sit down and make that list.
Ask yourself some questions like:
- Do you know what’s most important or does everything feel important?
- Are you giving a sliver of attention to everything, but not enough for any area to really grow?
- Is there anything on your list that’s someone else’s or not even true to who you are anymore?
- What are you going to accept that you cannot get done?
- What 1-2 things rise to the top of your list?
Then bring your ruthless edit into real-time and right now:
- Are you waiting to make the ask?
- Are you waiting for a better time period when you’ll be less busy or less stressed or in a better place to take that big action?
- Are you really where you’re meant to be or are you simply treading water where it’s safe?
My hope is that you start to feel the clarity and freedom you can get from a good and hard audit and that knowing you have 4,000 weeks frees you up to the work you MUST do and not all the work there is.
IT’s TIME TO BE A POWERHOUSE
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You’ve never doubted that.
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You feel stuck in imposter syndrome, in perpetual burn-out, in old beliefs that keep you in old behaviors, in fighting tooth and nail for every promotion and position. You want to feel sought after, not invisible, confident, not passed over, in charge, not at the whim of corporate winds.
There’s a better way.
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