You Don’t Need More Time, You Need to Decide What Matters | by Chase Arbeiter | Mar, 2024

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It’s impossible to live a deeply abundant life without learning when to say ‘no’.

Early in his career, Matthew McConaughey received a phone call from his film production company. In mid-reach, to pick up his phone, he paused. “Why would your hand pause to pick up the phone from people you pay salaries to, from people you like, from an office you pay,” McConaughey told Ryan Holiday on The Daily Stoic Podcast, “it’s your production company.”

What McConaughey did next requires an energy we all need to channel sometimes in life, “As soon as it quit ringing I picked it up and called my lawyer and said, ‘shut down the production company, shut down the music label.’

I’m making B’s in five things. I want to make A’s in 3 things.”

Do less. Better.

An approach to life that seems so simple, so easy to execute.

Then, you look up 3 months down the line and you’ve overcommitted yourself, stacked your calendar, and now feel the pressure of it all sitting on top of your shoulders. Stressed. Frustrated. Agitated. Unclear about the true direction of your life.

And you think to yourself, ‘I need more time.’

But just as we know 2+2=4, we know that more time isn’t an option.

In his memoir Greenlights, McConaughey writes this about his decision to scale back his focus to his acting, foundation, and family:

“Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.”

The Art of Focus

The true meaning of focus goes beyond concentration.

In our overstimulated lives filled with endless choices, focus becomes the superpower we need to improve our lives.

Former Apple Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive who worked for Steve Jobs said, Jobs would ask often, “How many things have you said ‘no’ to?”

A question worth asking in our own lives.

“What focus means is saying ‘no’ to something you with every bone in your body you think is a phenomenal idea,” said Ive, “and you wake up thinking about it but…

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