You Are What You Prioritize

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jul 29 2021

“I don’t have time” is the killer of dreams. How many times have you said it? How many times has it become your go-to excuse and that of your pals? Dreams are killed because we don’t have time. Or is time the excuse for not pursuing our dreams?

You want to be fit, but don’t have time to work out. Your dream is to write a book, but you don’t have time to write. A cupcake bakery has been in your head for years, but you don’t have time to bake.

Do you really not have the time? Or are you prioritizing everything else before your dream? I’m going to answer that for you. I promise that you have the time. There’s always time, you just have to make it the time for your dreams.

The Power of No

I have no more time in any given day than you, but yet I built and run a thriving business, agent for my clients, walk Olive 60-minutes a day, and still manage to read 50 books a year. I also make a homemade meal nightly (not always impressively). I’m not bragging, but I am really good at telling people no.

Saying no is not something that has come naturally to me, but it’s a muscle I’ve built out of necessity. Like you, I have a busy life, 30+ clients to care for, 10+ team members to mentor, and a family who actually wants me around. I also have me, the most important person in my world, because if I’m not tending to me, I’m not able to tend to all the rest.

This is where and why I’ve learned the power of no. Those magical two letters have taken me from dreaming to doing.

With the power of no, I don’t do things unless they either lead to achieving my dreams or bring me joy. I’ll happily host a party for 25 people, but I will not attend a baby or bridal shower. I don’t like them and I don’t like the amount of time they take from the things I love–my family, my job, my freedom. I have friends who love a shower. More power to them.

I really enjoy being with my children and watching them excel at their passions. Volunteering for the PTO, while absolutely worthy and important, doesn’t bring me joy, or time with them. In fact, it takes away from that. I don’t do it.

My dreams in life involve me being President of BookEnds, not President of the PTO. That’s someone else’s dream and I’ll gladly let them have it.

The Importance of Non-Negotiables

I have a number of non-negotiables in my life.

My work schedule. When I’m in the office, I’m working. I’m not driving carpools, running committees, lunching with friends, or (usually) on Twitter. I’m working with the agents of BookEnds, mentoring agents in and out of BookEnds, working with clients, and all the other things that build a company and a career.

My workouts. I walk or work out daily. I also meditate, journal, and drink coffee. Nothing gets in the way of these things. They make me better at work and life and calmer, kinder, and stronger in all ways. They are all steps to my dreams.

My weekends. I work hard during the week and protect my schedule resolutely. The weekends are my time for play. I don’t take work email, texts, or phone calls from editors, my agents, or clients. This is time with my family, friends, and for me. Sometimes I will read submissions and check QM, but I have noticed the better I rest, the better I work on Monday.

The minute I start to give away my non-negotiables, to prioritize someone else’s dreams over my own, is the minute I give away my own dreams. And at the end of my life, is that really what I’ll be happy for? That I made damn good cakes but never opened the bakery I really wanted. That I was too busy saying yes to others to say yes to myself?

No isn’t hard. For anyone who has ever spent time with a toddler, it’s pretty dang easy. It’s also empowering and it can be kind. Saying yes to something you’re going to hate takes it away from someone who might love it. It also makes you a miserable person to be around. There’s no reason to do it.

I guarantee some naysayer is going to comment, or want to comment, that it’s too hard to say no, or they have to say yes to all the things. You don’t. Not unless those things are you and your dreams.

One response to “You Are What You Prioritize”

  1. Avatar Christine Ellington says:

    I read this essay at a pivotal time when researching for an agent to represent my writing. I love the message as well as the title. It will stay with me for long time. It brought to mind when I was outdoors today deadheading some flowers. Beauty is important to me and deadheading is a necessary task for abundant flowering. And if I don’t have beauty I don’t pursue my aims with joy. I’m glad deadheading was my priority today because it lead me to my computer to advance my writing aims.

    Thank you, Ms Faust, for reminding me how valuable prioritizing is on a daily basis.