Why you should strive to have it all

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Most of us think that it is impossible to have it all.

That somehow we are limited in our capacities, and there is no way in hell that we can have everything we want. Sounds practical, right? How in earth can anyone have everything they want?

But what if I told you that it is possible?

What if it is possible to do a PhD, along with running a business, while being in a fulfilling long distance relationship? What if it is possible to do meaningful work, that pays well, have a side hustle, all while having a family to provide for?

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s not.

Most of our time is spent in doing distracted, sub-par work. We are bombarded by messages on WhatsApp while working, pings on Facebook while narrating fairy tales to our children, and even messages on Skype when we are coding our heart out. There is not a single time slot in our day when we forget about the entire world and focus at the task at hand. Cal Newport calls this “Deep work”. In his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, he mentions the importance of being brutally protective of your focus. The quality of your attention determines the quality of the work you produce. Most of us are wasting more than 90% of our capabilities because we are not able to fend off distractions, and that reflects in the quality of our lives and work.

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Once we start doing focused work, everyday, relentlessly, we reach a point when we are pushing our cognitive abilities to the maximum. We are able to make more connections, we are able to remember more, and we are able to learn new stuff much faster.

I did this in college when I was preparing for my finals. I used to turn off my phone and get isolated for 3–4 hours everyday. I not only studied in that time, but I also used to analyze where my thinking is going wrong. I used to think about how am I thinking for a certain problem, what the loophole is, and what my approach should be instead. These 3–4 hours of focused thinking everyday helped not only in the exam, but I got better in all the other areas too. I was better able to maintain friendships, I was less anxious as I was doing quality work everyday, and I was happier in general because, again I was doing something with so much passion and interest.

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But how only doing deep work can help you achieve everything you want out of life?

  1. Once you start practicing focused learning, your productivity jumps through the roof. You are able to do more in less time, and you have more time for your personal life.
  2. You start thinking in a way that is different than anyone else. You start feeling that everything is possible if you put your mind to it.
  3. Your relationships start to improve as you start inspiring and helping other people adopt this habit too.
  4. You start juggling with different ideas and are able to make connections easily.

One more important thing to remember is that everything takes time. So, while deep work is an unparalleled tool to get you to your destination, patience is the key to keep you going in the same direction.