Success is Hard. It Takes Time, so Your First Step is to Stop Wasting Time

Clocks, ticking away the hours
Ticking Away

Usually on Sundays, when I’m prattling on about success, I write about seizing an opportunity, or building out your skill stack, or maintaining focus, or similar. Yesterday I got to thinking about crossing the midway point of life and how that changed my perspective on time. I think that lesson also applies here.

What is your goal?

It starts from your goal, or (better) your process. I’m not big on goals, except in a general sense, I’m more about creating systems that will result in favourable outcomes. If you have a good system, you will end up with a good result, even if you miss a specific goal.

A couple of months ago I announced my intention to launch a podcast by mid July. You know, last week. Well, since you haven’t seen it (or heard it) it’s pretty obvious that I missed that goal. However, the process of launching a podcast has several similarities to launching a pilot course.

I’m working on a pilot course, which is rather time consuming, and the work on my pilot has delayed working on my podcast. However, the processes of researching a podcast and researching a pilot course are very similar, so much of the work transferred over.

My ultimate aim is to build a new income stream. The specific vehicle for generating that income? I have a number of irons in that fire, but they all have one thing in common, the need to extend my reach. To have more people hear my thoughts in the health and wellness space.

Everything I do is part of a process to expand that reach. So, did I miss a specific goal? Yes. But, did the system provide a favourable outcome (albeit a different one from what I had expected)? Also, yes.


What does this have to do with time? Yesterday I reminded you there are:

  • 60 seconds in a minute
  • 60 minutes in an hour
  • 24 hours in a day
  • 365 days in a year

When those seconds, minutes, hours and days are gone, they’re…gone. And they ain’t a-comin’ back. So don’t waste them.

Whatever you’re doing, ask yourself:

  • Does this advance me to my goal? Or, is it getting in the way of my goal?
  • Does this work my system? Or, is it opposing/sabotaging my system?

Yesterday, I wrote about the personal. If someone has become toxic, let him go. Don’t waste your precious hours, minutes, even seconds on those who not only do not improve the quality of your time, but degrade it, so curate your time.

Does what you are doing serve you?

Ruthlessly curate your time. As with the personal, so with business, or career, or even pursuing your favourite hobby. If what you are doing serves no purpose, why are you doing it? Now, the purpose of what you are doing may have nothing to do with business, or career, or hobbies, or whatever. That purpose may be invisible to others. Just make sure there is a purpose.

My lovely bride occasionally comes upon me, sitting in a darkened room doing… nothing. She finds this tremendously peculiar, and can’t understand at all why I do it. I do it because the dark is quiet. Sitting silently in the dark allows me to slow down, to decompress. Make no mistake; sitting doing nothing actively serves me.

And if it doesn’t serve you?

A number of years ago I noticed that there just wasn’t much fiction being written that I actually enjoyed. Favourite authors had become stale and new ones weren’t coming up to replace them. I found that my old book a day science fiction habit wasn’t serving me, in any way.

I was wasting time trying to find something good to read, where nothing good existed so I’ve returned to the classics (I’m working through Jane Austen at the moment).

As with reading, so with movies. Although we do occasionally watch something new (like Bad Boys for Life, just this week), my wife and I find that Hollywood is pumping out poorly made, retread, reductive, boring, tiresome crap.

We used to go to a movie every week. Now we would only go if there’s something for the kids. For ourselves? We’re about to embark on our 3rd viewing of the BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries.


Worse, does what you are doing actively sabotage you? If you are doing something that doesn’t help, that’s bad enough. If you are doing something which actually harms you, BLOODY WELL STOP.

Social media is a cesspool for your mind and a black hole for your time. Would you dip your body in a pool of feces? Of course not, so why would you dip your brain into the emotional and psychological equivalent.

And guess what? Your mainstream (and not so mainstream) media are no better. To update the incomparable Mark Twain,

If you don’t watch the evening news, you are uninformed. If you do watch the evening news, you are misinformed.

Don’t believe me? How about bestselling author Scott Adams, writing on the topic. I recently read his newest book Loserthink, How Untrained Brains are Ruining America. He devotes his second chapter to warning you about the news media.

Page from "Loserthink" describing the media business model
Scott Adams on the media

It’s as toxic for your mind and soul as Twitter. Does it serve you? Are you a media commentator? Are you paid to watch this crap? If you answered “no” to those questions, take your time back, and put it into something useful.

Curate your time, ruthlessly. Even if you are blessed, as I am blessed, with good health and time, understand this, your time is still limited. With every tick of the clock, one second fewer remains in your account.

Don’t waste the ones you have left.