Your life is too short to work on tasks you aren’t good at or don’t like. Remove unnecessary tasks and I’ll bet you’re happier AND have more money.
Recently, I was reading an article from Edmunds, Stop Changing Your Oil, where its author, Phillip Reed, contends that the vast majority of people mindlessly change their oil every 3,000 miles – and not because it’s needed. Today’s cars can drive further, sometimes twice as far, between oil changes – but because we’ve been conditioned and trained by our parents, grandparents, peers, and service mechanics for years to do so, we change it more quickly than necessary. Reed suggests that not only is this a waste of money and oil (replacing good oil before it’s ‘used up’ is bad for the environment) but it is part of a much larger ‘plot’ (my word not his) between the oil industry and consumers to up-sell and cross sell us into thousands of needless expenditures over our car’s lifetime. Interesting read, to be sure.
Stop wasting time
But this made me think: What are some other things in our lives that we should stop doing? Or maybe stop doing so frequently? I’ve written many times about my thoughts on the purpose of money; money can and should be used to provide for oneself later in life, but needlessly sacrificing pleasurable things today so that my great-great-grandkids can inherit sixty-four million dollars is ridiculous. So, in my life there are things I don’t do, not because I can’t, but because I can trade an hour of my time working in the yard for an hour prospecting for new clients or perfecting my putting stroke – both things I like doing immensely more than weeding the garden, fixing the power or mowing my grass. And I’m perfectly comfortable with that exchange.
Part of my goal when giving something up is to exchange that freed up time with something else that provides me increased marginal utility (my economic professors are smiling ear-to-ear). Notice how I didn’t say, “provides me with more money” or “more free time,” but rather increased utility. To me, that can be any number of things: spending time with family and friends, watching a great basketball game, playing golf, acquiring a new client, marketing, or maybe even just reading a good book. But, if I can eliminate something that I’m not terribly good at or like to do with something I do like to do or am good at doing – I’ve increased my utility.
Said another way, utility = happiness.
Remove the “Junk”
Eliminating things from one’s life becomes a liberating experience and frankly, it doesn’t have to be anything as big as changing a job or selling a couple kids (although the thought has crossed my mind). It can be as simple as cleaning out a closet or even organizing that dreaded kitchen junk drawer. Ask anyone who’s started selling stuff on eBay and you’ll likely find that they found the experience quite addictive – cleaning up or eliminating things from one’s life is addicting and you cannot wait to find something else to clean up. Just last week, I asked my team whether there was one particular client who we should fire – just so we’d remove that headache from our lives.
The same can be said for reducing the frequency of useless or draining activities. In the Edmund’s article, Reed doesn’t say we shouldn’t ever get our oil changed or car serviced, but rather reduce the frequency of doing those activities. Ask yourself the question: What things should you reduce? In the money/finance world that could be something like frequency of dining out or dare I even say, trading in your stock account! Maybe I’ll write an article titled: Stop Trading in Your Stock Account. Nah, that’ll never pass the review board.
Take a second, oh dearest reader, and ponder this question: What’s the one thing you could eliminate in your life right this second that would measurably increase your utility? The logical follow-up to that is: What would your life be like, if you did it…today?
Photo by: The Next Web