As you age, you start to value your time more. You start to look around and wonder where you're wasting it and where you are spending it wisely. It becomes clear to you what is a priority and what is not, who is a priority and who is not, and who makes you a priority and who doesn't. As Laura Vanderkam says, "Everything you say you don't have time for is not a priority.” I'd also supplement that by saying everyone you say you don't have time for is not a priority, just an option.
If you're serious about something like writing a book, starting a business, or learning a new skill, you find the time. I don't know a single published author who says, "I can't find the time to write."
If you like someone, you find the time to go on a date with them. If you're lukewarm about them, it's not a priority.
When something is a priority, you always manage to find the time for it. You might say you don't have time for something, but maybe it's just not a priority. Stop bullshitting yourself and other people.
One Way Friendships
One of the decisions I made at the beginning of the year was to stop putting effort into one-way friendships, the friendships where you're the only one who makes an effort to keep in touch. I stopped reaching out to these people and realized I'd never hear from them. There was no sense in putting any more energy into these relationships. While it made me sad, I also saw that whatever connection I had with any of these people was a facade. It's worth asking yourself where someone is being a one way friend and maybe even where you are being a one way friend. I've applied the philosophy “higher quality and lower quantity” to my friendships as well.
Creative Projects and Essential Priorities
You probably have tons of them on your list. You might have books you want to write, businesses you want to start, etc, etc. You might even tell yourself, “I'm too busy”. But maybe you're not busy. Maybe that's bullshit. Maybe it's not that important to you. If you can admit to yourself that something isn't a priority, you can make space for what is.
Between 2011 and 2013, I was looking for a day job while writing and creating the podcast. By 2013, I realized when somebody said to me, "This job has to come first," that it wasn't a priority for me to find a job, and that allowed me to intensify my focus on my writing, which subsequently lead to making a career out of it. But that doesn't mean you should just leave your day job or jump out of a plane without a parachute and hope you'll land.
A few months ago, I found that I was having a hard time making decisions about guests who pitched me for the podcast. I reread Greg Mckeown's book and instituted a personal rating system. If I rated someone at an 8 or above, I kept them. But if the rating was below a 7, and I realized that it wasn't even close to a hell yes, I passed.
Important Life Events
This is a tough one. When I was dating my first girlfriend, about 7 months into it, we hit a rough patch. I ditched my sister's college graduation party to mend a relationship that eventually ended. These days, 98% of the time when my parents call and tell me that my sister and brother in law will be home for the weekend, I make a point to be there.
Fortunately, during my sister's wedding planning, most of their requests were things like, "Hey, do you want to come to the Indian restaurant that's catering and try EVERYTHING on the menu?" Yes, hell yes... For the food and the people that will be there.
The only exceptions are if I'm out of town for something work related or on a long trip.
One of my biggest regrets from the last decade was missing the weddings of some of my closest friends. Some of them lived in other countries which made it prohibitively expensive. But when my friend Gareth asked me if I'd be the best man at his wedding, I said yes. Despite the fact that I had to put the entire trip on a credit card in one of my most financially challenging years, I'll never regret spending almost a week in Jamaica with him. I made it a priority to be there no matter what.
By being brutally honest with ourselves about what is a priority and what is not, who is a priority and who is not, we can create a lot more space for who is and what is.