Each Minute Costs The Same

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I love Merlin Mann. He’s an irreverent business guru: he is just as likely to drop some amazing wisdom on you as to make a bathroom joke. However, he will provide insight on why you are not achieving what you want. I recently started listening to Merlin’s new podcast with Dan Benjamin, Back to Work on the 5by5 network. Half way through the most recent show, I had to stop, and download all the prior episodes to start listening from the beginning.

This section from Episode 1 made me stop in my tracks:

Merlin: I want to talk to people who do ship. And everyone out there who thinks they have to live in San Francisco to do something cool to realize that we have all had to carry our own box of t-shirts around Scotland. And the only thing that’s stopping you for doing that [shipping], on some level, not on every level – you don’t get to just push a button and have a TV show tomorrow, but neither did those folks, they had to do a bunch of stuff and then not do even more stuff to make it happen.

I want people think about why they couldn’t ship because of whatever. Because of their pen, because all they have is iPhone 4. Because they are really curious about how this whole Verizon / Android thing is going to shake out. Why couldn’t you ship?

Dan: But in a way, it almost sounds like you are talking about the regular human process of procrastination or making excuses.

M: Yes. I think procrastination is… an effect and not a cause, in my opinion.

D: What’s the cause of procrastination.

M: This is the hippiest thing I’ll say today. It’s when you temporarily forget who you are, and who you want to be. It’s when you forget what it is that you are supposed to be paying attention to. And when you loose confidence in what your options are about doing something about it.

D: But don’t you think that distraction plays into that as well?

M: Why?

D: Because today, I think that is very easy to, if you think back, I’m not talking about when we were kids, I talking about generations prior to us, when the only thing you did on a Sunday afternoon was watch the grass grow or invent something.

M: That’s true. Do you need a reminder to play video games? Do you need a special distraction free..

D: Certainly not.

M: Well, let’s take it a step further. What about Facebook. I’m certain you don’t want to let that go fallow. Do you have to remember to pick up your zombies on Facebook? Is there a web service to help you remember that? If you can do all of that stuff, you’re not really distracted. You’re only distracted if you think one thing is more or less important than another. One minute costs the same. Every minute of your life costs exactly the same. And when you know what you care a lot about, you quit making excuses about being distracted. If you care a lot about writing, you can do on the back of a napkin and than ask, “waitress, can I have another napkin.” You don’t need anything other than the desire to do it. And if that sounds like BS, then you probably haven’t written anything.

Yeah, this got me back to writing and was part of the impetus to write a book. “Every minute costs the same.” So, what do I want to do with my minutes. Write another blog post on resizing images in WordPress? I don’t need to cover that. It’s been done and it isn’t interesting. However, writing is interesting. Why not figure out how to write a book. Why not talk about the things that hold us back from creating.

Caveat: Merlin can get a bit scatological, so you may not want to listen with little kids in the car. Teens or tweens will probably laugh along with you and get some real tips on achieving goal. Just don’t let your spouse know.