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Why Not Try It All?

Just say no. Assert your boundaries. You can’t do it all.

There’s a time and a place for everything, sure, but is that always the best advice?

Whenever I hear things like “Say no five times for every time you say yes,” I think… “Really?” I take the opposite approach, and it generally works out just fine.

I think that the “say no to almost everything” advice is good for masters. If you’re at the height of your career or skill, it makes sense to be highly selective. If Tiger Woods says no to everything but practicing his swing every day, I get it. If Serena Williams never wants to leave the court, I understand.

But most of us are not Tigers or Serenas yet. Not all of us know what we want to do; not everyone is single-minded towards the pursuit of only one goal. Some of us have more than one passion.

So that’s the idea: why not try it all? Have your cake and eat it too.

I’ve written about living a renaissance life a few times before—see here and here, for example—but this is a different approach. Try this, for example:

Higher Education: sign up for the maximum number of credits. You can drop any classes that aren’t a good fit, but maybe you just have a busy semester of learning. Why not?

Business: Have four ideas and aren’t sure which to pursue? Launch all four. Stick with the one or two that gains traction in the marketplace. Don’t worry about the others.

Learning: Get a dozen magazine subscriptions. As for me, I subscribe to the Economist, Outside, Harper’s, Maclean’s, New Yorker, Wired, MoneyRunner’s World, and several others. (I realize the list could be more diverse. At the bookstore, I read other things too.)

Music and the Arts: Play one instrument? Learn to play others. You may not become a master at all of them, but learning the basics can be a lot of fun. (Similarly, if you paint in one medium, why not try out three others?)

Everything Else: I’m sure you can add to the list. Want to? Leave your ideas in the comments and I’ll update the post accordingly.

I’m interested in simplicity and minimalism (more on that at some point), but not at the expense of missing anything.

If you’re not a master yet, or if you have more than one passion, why not try it all? You might find something unexpected… and welcome.


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Photo by Ron