As I thought about the causes of my anxiety and feelings of panic, I kept coming back to the word have. I have to do this, I have to attend this event, I have to go to this meeting, or I have to say yes to this. My friend James Altucher wrote a book called The Power of No, and I’ve thought a lot lately about that liberating word — no. I feel in our modern life we fall into “the busy trap” where we say yes to everything. Suddenly, we get caught up in a cycle and we’re going nonstop. We’re overcommitted, burnt out, and drinking energy drinks or coffee to stay awake for it all.
But beyond a few basic needs (eating, drinking water, taking care of family, and working), we don’t have to do anything. We don’t need to say yes to everything or everyone. We can say no. We are the masters of our ship, and if we don’t want to do something, we don’t have to! It’s our lives. Who cares what people think? I always knew this on an intellectual level, but it wasn’t until my eye started twitching and I felt like I couldn’t handle it all that I finally realized it on an emotional level.
I got caught up in the cycle and didn’t realize until I was drowning. I let it get out of control.
So I am saying: no more.
I turned down that keynote. I don’t plan on running tours this year. I said no to all upcoming podcasts and interviews. I cleared the calendar, nuked the inbox, put up an out of office, and let go of some people in my life that shouldn’t have been there.
Now, I am off to Chile, where I’ll take an Intrepid tour of Patagonia. After that, I’ll stay in Patagonia and very slowly make my way back north to Santiago.
A few weeks ago, I watched the movie The Way. There is a great line in it: “You don’t choose a life. You live it.” But I only partially agree with that. I think you do make a choice.
Each day is a chance to get one step closer to your ideal, because if you don’t try to make tomorrow better than today, what’s the point?
As I make my choice to get closer to my ideal, I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I’m on the right path and that brings me a lot of comfort.