A few years ago, my weekly schedule consisted of The Walking Dead, Survivor, American Idol, The Voice, Arrow, The Following, and a few other TV shows. When Monday hit the calendar, I would immediately think, "Oh, it's The Voice night tonight." The following days would fit this template - "Oh, it's <INSERT TV SHOW HERE> tonight." Everybody would be talking about the latest zombie special effects, or who got humiliated on American Idol, or who got voted out of Survivor, and so I found nothing wrong with it.
But there was really something wrong with it.
Last year I began the first draft of my upcoming novel, initially titled "What Are Friends For", and was forced to make a choice. Watch TV shows or write your book. The greedy bastard that I was, I said, "Screw it. I'm going to do both." I wanted to embrace the new and didn't want to let go of the old. That decision, or rather that non-decision, would soon be proven foolish. Working on my dreams required more time than I initially thought; I couldn't keep the two. I had to make a choice.
If you were asked to choose between your dream and your not-dream, what would you choose? I chose the right thing.
Hoarding TV shows is a race where nobody ever wins. Worse, no prize awaits for anyone at the end as well. When I look back at those earlier years I spent keeping up with the multitude of TV shows for consumption, I realise what a waste it had been.
All those nights I spent participating in that race, I could've purposefully spent them working on my dreams. When I began working on my dreams, the truth became clearer.
Embarking on a journey to fulfil your dreams is like riding a boat to get to an island of paradise. You can only take so much things with you to the boat or else it will sink. To keep your boat afloat, you must throw out what you don't need on your journey. To manifest your dreams, you need to let go of things that will not take you closer to your objective.
In his book Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown defined its three core truths: "I choose to", "Only a few things really matter", and "I can do anything but not everything." Let's put emphasis to these core truths.
I choose to <INSERT YOUR DREAMS HERE> and so I must devote my time only to the things that really matter because while I can do anything, I cannot do everything.
"I choose to write a book for the world to read and so I must devote my time only to the things that really matter because while I can do anything, I cannot do everything," - Xeno Hemlock.
In order to achieve your dreams, you must have a love affair only with the essentials. For us who were deeply programmed by society to follow its template for mediocrity, it may be a hard concept to accept at first and to apply second. Below, I list the five things I discovered that held me back from working on my dreams. I'm sure they're holding you back from yours too.
Unless you review TV shows for a living, watching them doesn't really add anything valuable to you. You watched hours of soap operas with redundant storylines plus the hypnotic commercials in between segments when you could've delegated those hours to doing something productive. If you don't want to completely drop TV out of your life, then make the tough choice of trimming your list. I decided to keep Survivor (because I observe the social dynamics of it), The Amazing Race (getting a glimpse of other countries feed my creative hunger), and Orphan Black (because Tatiana Maslany is a goddess; well seriously, her acting is living example of good characterisation). The rest didn't make me lose sleep when I stopped watching them. In fact, I don't miss them at all.
While movies are only one to two hours compared to TV shows that are about 20 hours per season, watching too much movies is definitely a waste of your time. Participating in a race where you have to watch a lot of movies and keep up with the latest cinema releases also take a lot of time from working on your dreams. While I'm not completely against watching any movie, for a good one can nourish a person's creative needs, trying to watch them all is counter-productive. Learn to be very selective in watching them. You save them, and money as well.
NEWS and CELEBRITY GOSSIPS
The news is littered with negativity. It tricks our brain in believing that the world is a truly horrible place, it makes us pessimistic, and it causes us stress and worry. Unless you are a politician or an activist, the news doesn't bring value to your life. A good alternative is getting updated with current events online, through short news feeds and headlines. That way, you don't spend too much on them.
Most of celebrity "news" and gossip is fabricated by the entertainment circus itself so they can sell you their products. What importance does Kim Kardashian's life bring to you? Why is Taylor Swift's next victim relevant to your life? Does Justin Bieber's next antic bring significance to your dreams? The answer to all these questions is a big NO.
Playing games on your computer or tablets. Browsing your Facebook News Feed every chance you get to. Stalking people on social media. Continuously checking your tyrannical e-mail inbox. Hanging out at the mall because it's so cool. Getting drunk in bars and clubs. Sum the total number of hours you spent doing those things. Too much, right? Do they have a meaningful purpose to you? I'm sure they don't. Eliminate them and save those wasted hours.
PEOPLE WHO PROVIDE NO VALUE
You can only be as great as the people you hang out with. Having relationships with other people is an important need for the social animal in us. Having good relationships with good people is an essential in living a purposeful life. Simply put, you must avoid the lazy, the unmotivated, the negative Nancys, the always-gloomy-and-bitter, and the never-accountable-and-responsible. Don't be afraid to cut ties with people who are not aligned to the direction you want to go to. You need to make room for those who are. Be friends with people you have a common future with instead of a common past.
To invite the new (your dream) you must let go of the old (these non-essentials). You save time and energy when you do. Time that could've been spent doing things that do not matter goes to things that take you closer to your dream instead. From this day forward, whenever you wake up in the morning make this your mantra - "I choose to <INSERT YOUR DREAMS HERE> and so I must devote my time only to the things that really matter because while I can do anything, I cannot do everything."