Life is just too busy.
There’s always too much going on.
If you’re young, there are parties to go to, friends to meet, movies to watch and places to visit.
If you have a family, the kids take up all your time, and what is left is spent tidying up and trying to get some sleep.
If you’re older, perhaps the grandkids keep you busy. Or there’s holidays with the friends, cruises and charity work.
Is this a good thing?
Possibly. Many people have worse lives and struggle with daily living.
But the fact that others have it worse doesn’t change the reality of the life we live.
So, what can you do about it?
There’s a great ad that Saatchi and Saatchi did for The Health Education Council.
It just says No. And below, it says still the most effective form of birth control.
And this is good advice with almost everything we do.
The point is that we spend a lot of our time doings things others want us to do.
At home, we need to deal with asks from family.
We exchange our time at work for money, and get told what to do as a result.
And, if we want to be nice and useful and not get fired, we do the things we are asked to do.
But, at some point, we could lose track of why we are doing anything in the first place.
What drives you, what do you really want?
And is what you are doing every day getting you closer to or further away from what you want.
Perhaps we can’t remember – all the years have buried our real wants under layers of reality, demands and expectations.
A good tactic to peel back the layers is the perfect day exercise.
Imagine your perfect day. The one that would make you totally happy. What does it look like?
Where do you wake up. What is the room like, the bed, the view?
Maybe it’s not a room, but a hammock on your beach hut in the Caribbean.
What’s the first thing you do? Who is there with you? What is breakfast like?
How do you spend your morning? Do you jet off to a high powered meeting in NYC or LA or are you having brunch with friends in Paris? Or walking the dog in the highlands of Scotland?
Describe your day in detail, from start to finish. Write it down quickly, without censoring yourself. No one is going to see this, so be completely honest with yourself.
Then, look back at what you have written and compare it with what your life looks like now.
If you’re dreaming of being a documentary film-maker but spend your days doing forensic accounting for waste management companies, then something has happened along the way to nudge you off course.
It’s not a problem.
You have the rest of your life to get back on track – starting right now.
And the way to get started is by saying No to the things that take you further away from your perfect day.
Not to all of them, not all at once – that will just get you fired and ruin all your relationships.
But, perhaps – that’s what’s actually needed in some cases.
For most of us, we need to correct course, not sink our boat and swim, spluttering and flailing, towards a new one.
Try saying No to more things from now on.