My Java Journal

On Priority: Time To Say No And Find Focus


I’m tapping out. At least from a few things. I’ve taken on too much, as evidenced by my inability to post the last two weeks. It is time to establish some clear focus.

Make no mistake, I am happy and grateful for everything in my life. Indeed, I wake every morning fully aware of the good fortune I enjoy.

I am tired though, and am finding I cannot focus on, nor become proficient in any one area. I shared recently my thoughts on the value of Saying Yes and Showing Up. These mantras have carried me forward for almost two years; and there have been so many opportunities created as a result. Indeed, it was a necessary mindset and it got me to where I am now; which is exactly where I should be.

However, having dabbled in so many things now, I am having trouble advancing or becoming proficient in any of them. When I wrote about saying yes and showing up I identified that a time may come when I might have to say ‘No’. My default has remained ‘Yes’, but it is time now to start saying ‘No’ to some things.

“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” – TomRath


I have been reviewing the myriad things I have taken up in the past couple years. I find now that I am having to aggressively prioritize as I have been working based on a ‘what’s next’, vice ‘what’s priority’ or ‘what’s essential’ approach.

So I got back into the books and reviewed my notes. I found some insightful aids on Essentialism and Non-Essesntialism. Here I will again direct you to The Art of Manliness, and specifically AoM Podcast #331: Essentialists and Non-Essentialists. I took my notes on this podcast back in January of 2018. What brought me back to this podcast was it’s historical account of the origin of the word priority.

It relates that when the word priority entered the English language back in the 1400’s, it was singular. It stayed singular for 500 years defining the first thing, the prior thing. (You can find many great resources and links on the AoM website and episode #331’s show notes). It suggests that one can’t have priorities, only a priority. I found supporting points in my notes in references to multi-tasking being a fallacy, and not even really possible. Try this article for a start point on the multi-task fallacy.

If You Don’t Prioritize Your Life, Someone Else Will

I’ve analyzed my commitments, tasks and the things that bring me joy. I have considered them all now. I have done so from two perspectives. The first is based on separating what I like from that which I want to like. For example, I like to ride my motorcycle, but I want to like being a gear-head and be passionate about things like engine displacement and torque; I don’t. Riding is a passion and basic knowledge and maintenance is necessary, but turning wrenches and constantly upgrading my bike is not. I am happy with my stock bike and its performance.

The second is considering what is non-essential from those that are essential. Understanding that essentialism is a competency, a skill, and that determining importance is critical to setting priority has been helpful. My intent here is not to go into that list nor detail my (ongoing) prioritization work. Rather I want to state that I am now better prepared to focus, and in fact need to start saying ‘No’ and figuring out what is most important and priority. I don’t plan on saying no to anything I have agreed to date, only that I will be much more judicious moving forward.

Right off the mark, and perhaps more broadly, I have always held that health needs to be the priority. It enables me to be at my best for everything, and everyone. This is slipping. Skiing has kept me physical and I still get in my planks and body-weight workouts, however consistency has dropped. So I’ve been working, again, to establish routine, but more importantly I am trying to make good decisions every time. I am making an effort each time to eat right, slow down, get to bed earlier, do those workouts and walk at every opportunity.

This doesn’t address the tasks and work I am doing however. If health is the priority, I still need to find my priority as it relates work, goals, relationships, etc. I’ve noticed that my roles as husband, father, son, sibling and friend are also slipping. When it is hard to relax into the company you keep and the family you are part of it, it is time to take stock and make some adjustments.


I do want to recognize that I do enjoy, and need this blog. This post marks the two-year anniversary of My Java Journal and I have some objectives with the site I wish to realize. Why not head on over to My Java Journal after reading this post and have a look at some of the changes. It’s a start point. This blog is essential to me. Missing two weeks of posts wasn’t an easy decision.

I also know that family needs some tending. I think this has to be done in the little gestures and displays of love vice any big muscle movements. The simplest, and probably most important thing right now is to just say no to a few of the pulls that take me from the house and family in the evenings. It’s not about being more engaged with the family, but more so to just be around and present, available. Again, a start.

It’s been an interesting journey, this life thing. Taking stock now and again, and making the necessary adjustments is important. I see clearer now my priority, but I am also aware that I will need to manage my current commitments and be deliberate with those I agree to in the future. I will need to start slowly letting some things go so I can better focus on, and become more proficient in the essentials.

So, after two years of My Java Journal and the growth, catharsis, and focus this platform has fostered, the journey continues. And once again it is clear that the journey is the destination, and that life balance is not a state but rather an active process of balancing and making nuanced adjustments.

I wish you well on your journey and thank you for joining me on mine.