“I Wish I Would Have Worked More” – On Being a Time Tyrant

“Then there is the most dangerous risk of all– the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” — Randy Komisar, The Monk and the Riddle

Vague social pressure– social inertia– was a problem for me in my 20’s. I found it difficult to identify the things I wanted to spend my time on. Instead, I’d often go with the flow and be disappointed that me and my group of friends weren’t ‘doing more.’ Not cool!

I’m mostly over this now. I have clearer ideas on how I want to spend my time, and I don’t mind expressing my priorities to others.

Although pretty rare in the normal population, protecting time is common amongst people committed to their work and art. It’s rare to meet people like this, and I treasure every time I meet or read about somebody who gets energy from their work.

Stephen King, who has managed to write a lot of books, wrote that he wakes up everyday and works until he puts 2,000 words to paper. With very few exceptions, he’s done this every single day. He’s set up his environment and relationships to support his routine.

Ernest Hemingway, who also wrote a lot of books, hired a large man to stand outside the gate of his Key West home. The man used to say to visitors, who were hoping to meet the famous writer, “I’m mista Hemingway!” 

Steve Jobs, who is known for putting the sum total of human knowledge into your pocket, is famous for calling vendors, co-workers, and journalists at any hour of any day. Anytime, it seems, was a good time to be changing the world.

99% of people aren’t entrepreneurs. 99% of people don’t write novels. 99% of people don’t have a mission. 99% of people have different ideas on how time ought to be spent.

The cliche goes that nobody has ever been on their deathbed saying: “I wish I would have worked more.” And I’m sure that’s true if they were doing something just for the money.

But imagine if somebody’s work was their passion, their energy, their life and mission. But instead they sat around at bars. Or they got a job they hated. Or they went back to school to get a degree they didn’t need. Or they got guilt-tripped into an overbearing community group. Or they picked up the phone every time and said “yes.”

“I wish I would have worked more” might be exactly what they’d say.



PS, check out Stephen Fry: “the work is more fun than the fun.”

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