Mike Flint was Warren Buffett's personal pilot.
After realizing Flint had been working for him for 10 years, one day Buffett approached him.
Buffett wanted to know Flint's goals and help him achieve his goals.
So Buffett asked Flint to make a list of his top 25 goals - career goals and life goals.
After careful thought and consideration, Flint made a list of his top 25 goals and shared them with Buffett.
Buffett then asked Flint to prioritize and pick the top 5 goals out of the 25 he had listed.
This exercise proved to be very difficult for Flint since all 25 were important for him but after considerable thought and time, he jotted down his top 5 and shared them with Buffet.
Buffett asked Flint how and when he planned to achieve his top 5 goals.
Flint replied that he would be making his top 5 goals a priority and start working on them immediately.
Buffett then asked Flint what he was planning to do with the remaining 20 goals in his list.
Flint replied that while his priority would be his top 5 goals, the remaining 20 were also important for him and that he would be working on them intermittently as and when he found time amidst working on his top 5 goals.
At that point, Buffett strongly advised him,
"No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your ‘avoid at all cost list’. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”
In her book, 'Choose Wonder Over Worry', Amber Rae shares a similar story when she was feeling pulled in all directions struggling to focus and engage in quality work.
Rae attended a workshop hosted by Elizabeth Gilbert where a woman asked Gilbert, "How do you make time for everything that's important?"
"That's when Liz told us about the time in her life when she was struggling to become a writer.
She was working a few jobs, barely making ends meet, and rarely having the time and energy to write.
When she shared her predicament with a wise older woman, that woman said, "What are you willing to give up, in order to have the life you keep saying that you want?"
Liz said, "You're right - I really need to start learning how to say no to things I don't want to do."
The wise woman corrected her,
"No, it's much harder than that. You need to learn how to start saying no to things you DO want to do, with the recognition that you have only one life, and you don't have time and energy for everything."
You need to learn how to start saying no to things you DO want."
I can't agree more.
Treat your time like gold because it is.
As Susan Fussell said, “You can have anything you want... But not everything you want.”