Right this second, there are probably 37 different things vying for your time and attention. Are you letting the right things get through? Elizabeth Gilbert is best known for her bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love. In a recent Facebook post, she credits turning off the Sopranos with giving her the time to write her seven books (and become wildly rich and successful). Here are selected parts of her post, I left out some parts for brevity:
Yesterday I posted a message about not giving up on your daydream, and a lovely follower of this page asked what you should do if you have “too much family stuff” going on in order to live your dream? […]
But what if you could find 40 minutes a day? What if you could borrow those minutes from the time that you normally spend watching your favorite TV show, or hanging out on social media?
Back in my twenties, I once complained to a successful older woman artist that I had no time to write, and she said, “What’s your favorite TV show?” I replied, “The Sopranos!” She said, “Not anymore, it isn’t. Give yourself back that time. Turn off your TV.”
She was right. So I turned off my TV. And I STILL haven’t seen the last three seasons of The Sopranos. But since that conversation, I have written seven books.
By the same token, I must admit that I always smile when somebody gets on this Facebook page to tell me that they don’t have any free time in their lives to be creative. As much as I LOVE to see you all on this page, my first reaction to such a statement is always to say, “Why don’t you start by signing off Facebook right this minute?”
If you have enough free time to get on Facebook and tell me that you don’t have any free time, then you have some free time.
What would happen if you committed yourself to that time? What if you used it to create, or to meditate, or to exercise, or to volunteer, or to dream…or even to just devote some serious single-minded attention to the process of making an escape plan — such that, five years from now, your life looks entirely different than it looks today. In other words — what could YOU make out of your life in an extra forty minutes a day? Might that be worth exploring?
She also directs people to read a beautifully-drawn Zen Pencils comic by Gavin Aung Than (shown above) that was based on an article by James Rhodes, a largely self-taught concert pianist. Here’s the original Rhodes piece and here’s a short excerpt:
What if for a couple of hundred quid you could get an old upright on eBay delivered? And then you were told that with the right teacher and 40 minutes proper practice a day you could learn a piece you’ve always wanted to play within a few short weeks. Is that not worth exploring?
(Also see: Another Zen Pencils comic about Alan Watts.)
Regular readers may recall that Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway also tells people to work for yourself for an hour each day.
The takeaway is that these are not coincidences! Not everyone has a little voice inside them, telling them something is missing. But if you do, read all the full versions above, get inspired, and take some of your time back.