The tremendous burden that is lifted when you make 1 decision

We’re all experts in something. Therefore, you’re a target for podcast interview requests.

I have had hundreds of requests to appear on podcasts over the last 6 years, and about 4 years ago, I made one decision that changed how I approach decisions.

I accidentally made the decision by saying no to a single podcast interview. That one no became a precedent. Every time a podcast interview request arrived in my inbox, my mind was already made up.

What is overwhelming about saying no to podcast interviews is that you feel ungrateful. It’s an honor to be interviewed, yet when you say no, it feels odd.

You think in your head “How do I say no?” or “What if they are upset?” or “How do I say it this time?” or “Will they think I’m an a-hole?”

All these questions become a burden. Before I made the decision to say no to all podcast interviews, I went through this decision-making process over and over. It drained my energy, time, and willpower.

You think each no will be the same but it’s not. It depends on how you’re feeling that day. If you have just watched a man be freed from prison after thirty-seven years because he was wrongly convicted of a crime, you may find your human nature gets in the way. Saying no on that day will be different.

As a writer, I find the need to be everywhere online a challenge. I want to help people, but doing too many things burns me out quickly. I have a high appetite for writing and a low appetite for many other types of content.

The podcast requests are usually entirely selfish and have nothing to do with anything I care about. A podcast is an attention grab. And I’m not trying to get attention; I’m trying to be helpful and that’s the burden I’ve chosen to carry.

Your burden might be different. Keeping your boss happy might be your burden. You may crave to please them in the hope they one day give you that promotion that makes you feel like it’s all worth it. Saying yes to your boss’s requests becomes your burden. Saying no can feel like death.

The crazy thing is we choose our burdens. I chose to be a writer; therefore endless podcast requests come with the territory. The way you remove the burden is by making one decision that cuts off future decisions.

Writing makes sense for me. Podcasts do not.

To make a landmark decision that removes hundreds more, it’s crucial to know what makes sense for your life. I like to have time and show up to create content when I choose to, not when a podcast interview tells me to. It’s weird but it’s what makes sense for me. I can’t do what I do at the drop of a hat — there’s a process, and podcast interviews are not part of my process.

The same applies to whatever burden is keeping you awake at night. Time with family might be your highest priority and therefore serving a bad boss who couldn’t give a damn about your career might not make sense for you.

Many requests of your time are made at a moment’s notice without too much thought. The requests I get for podcast interviews are an afterthought.

Less than a handful of people who have asked me to be on their podcast have ever sent me a follow-up. If the podcast interview was really so important, wouldn’t they spend the time to check I got the email? Surprisingly not.

Requests of your time are often just someone “trying s**t on.”

They saw your work somewhere and thought it might be good to talk with you one day. They sent off a template message they use for such occasions and then hope for the best. The next morning they have completely forgotten that they went on a rampage the night before asking people to do stuff.

This is why having no response as your default first decision can pay off. That way, before you’ve even had to look at a request of your time, you’ve eliminated most of them before you’ve even started.

When it comes to making a decision that removes hundreds more just like it, I’m sorry to say there will always be an exception. I say no to all podcast requests by default, but if Tim Ferriss called me up I might make an exception.

I’ve found the key is to prepare for exceptions to your decision-making process in advance. Here is what my exception criteria looks like for podcasts:

  • If it’s a conversation with a close friend and they want to record it as a podcast, then I’ll consider it.
  • If it’s a virtual mentor like Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss or Tony Robbins, then it’s an automatic yes.
  • If it’s linked to a charitable cause I already support, then I’ll consider it.

Decide in advance about exceptions because they’re guaranteed to occur.

Burdens feel heavy. They weigh you down and prevent you from reaching your potential and unleashing your creativity.

It’s hard to be creative when you’ve got a pile of unread emails that all need a decision to be made, especially when you’ve answered those same requests many times before.

Since deciding not to do podcast interviews, I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. There is no more fear of missing out or feeling bad for saying no.

The mental clarity of batch decision making is incredible. It gives you the space you need to be yourself in this noisy world and get the work done which can truly help those you choose to serve.

Do away with the tremendous burden of daily decision-making and make one decision to each of the common requests you get. It will give you peace of mind.

This article first appeared on Medium.

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