Warren Buffet’s two-step rule in order to set boundaries and become more successful at saying “no.”
1. Write down your top twenty-five career goals, and then circle the five most important to you.
Before you, you will have two lists. While everything that you wrote down likely has some sort of importance, your top-five list should contain those objectives most meaningful. Before sitting down with these goals you likely saw the list of twenty, in addition to the top-five, as not necessarily “urgent priorities” but still having plans to give them a dedicated effort. This is wrong according to Buffett. Why? Your time and attention are limited, and any effort invested on lower priority goals steals away effort from higher priority goals.
2. Now, here’s the kicker, completely eliminate the other twenty goals you have listed. That’s right, cross them off.
Instead, put all of your effort and energy into achieving everything on your top-five list before even thinking about moving on to others. Why? These twenty items, along with many other opportunities that may arise, are simply distractions getting in the way of reaching what truly matters most, as indicated on your list.
Sure, they are important to you, and trust me you’ll get to them. But eliminate them for the time being. Simplicity is the key to success here. One fully completed project is better than five half-finished ones. Buffett suggests that you don’t just prioritize what’s most important, but support this prioritization by avoiding everything else.
“You’ve ‘gotta keep control of your time,” Buffett says, “and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life.”
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