Caring too much about unimportant things is a waste of time and energy. Not only that, it’s often counterproductive. It can psyche you out. Like when you’re giving a presentation. You want to be prepared, but not obsessed with the outcome to the point where you’re sweating.
By not caring so much — about things you shouldn’t be caring about — you can actually be happier and more productive.
However, differentiating between what’s worth caring about and what’s not is challenging – and actually not caring is even harder.
In this article, I’ll share some of the things I don’t care about and some of the things I do care about. Then I’ll share how to not care about the former.
What Not to Care About
Sometimes people think I don’t care about anything. I do care. About some things anyways. I just don’t let the stupid things bother me. I care about the right things. Here are some of the wrong things…
Don’t care about what other people think.
No one cares about you either. Everyone’s stuck in their own head.
Or maybe everyone is judging you. All the time!
It doesn’t matter. You can’t please everyone anyways.
Don’t care about what’s out of your control.
Don’t care that life is hard. Don’t care that your boss is annoying.
Accept reality. Take action.
Don’t care about the outcome. You can’t control what your gatekeepers will decide or how your competitors will perform. You can only control how you perform.
While it may sound counterintuitive, focusing on how you perform, and not worrying about factors outside of your control, will probably improve your performance.
Don’t care about what won’t matter in the long run.
There are a million and one things that could be worried about on any given day. Most of them aren’t worth the time or energy.
Here’s a quick question to ask yourself to differentiate between what’s worth caring about and what’s not:
“Will this matter 10 years from now?”
Will the guy walking slowly on the sidewalk matter 10 years from now?
Will getting too many emails matter 10 years from now?
No. And no.
If the answer to the question above is “yes,” it will matter 10 years from now, use it as motivation.
Doing your job will matter 10 years from now. Loving your partner will matter 10 years from now. Waking up a little earlier to work on your writing or your business idea will matter.
Think about how you will feel 10 years from now if you take the right action today. I’ve found it helpful for beating procrastination.
Don’t care when things go wrong.
If you don’t try, you can’t get anywhere.
Caring about failure will only keep you from succeeding.
Learn from your experiences. Then take best action.
With a mindset focused on the positive in any situation and what’s in your control in the present moment, you’ll be better equipped to overcome any setbacks.
Don’t care about crappy people.
When you care about crappy people, you let them win.
If someone wastes your time, don’t waste more of it by caring.
Nothing is more valuable than your mindset. Not even your time.
What to Care About
Caring about nothing is nihilism. Nihilism sounds like a bad word. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know. But despite all the things not worth caring about, there are a few that have helped me become happier and more successful. By caring about these things, the things I don’t care about just seem to fade away and good things seem to happen. I realize that might sound like a religion or something. Maybe it is – I can’t really explain it. All I know is that it’s working for me so maybe you’ll try some of it. I hope it works for you, too.
Care about what’s in your control.
Eating well. Exercising. Sleeping. Loving. Being grateful. Improving everyday.
I call these “inputs.” If I do these things, the things that are out of my control seem to go my way.
If I sleep well, I wake up energized. If I wake up energized, I write better. If I write better, I sell more books.
If I exercise, my mood is better. If my mood is better, clients like me better. If clients like me better, I sell more projects.
Care about what makes you happier and more productive.
Some people say affirmations are bogus. Other people say they help. I say if they work for you, do them.
Some people love politics. Other people find politics anxiety inducing and pathetic.
If politics stresses you out — then fuck politics.
If you find politics entertaining — then do your thing.
Sometimes it’s important to be pragmatic. More importantly, don’t be guilted into caring about something you shouldn’t care about.
Care about yourself.
Not in a selfish way. Actually, yes, in a selfish way.
Sometimes it’s good to be selfish. Not in a way that’s harmful to other people. But in a way that is fair to yourself. If someone’s trying to get you to not care about yourself – and to care for someone or something else – they’re probably trying to scam you.
Don’t just care for yourself – love yourself.
It’s impossible to care about stupid shit at the same time as loving yourself.
If you’re not caring about yourself you’re probably caring about something else instead.
When you care for yourself, everyone around you benefits. Your sense of control increases, you start taking actions that benefit you. But in order to benefit yourself you have to benefit other people. Starting a business can make you money but it also provides a product or service that helps other people. Writing is therapeutic, but it helps, or at least entertains, other people too (I hope). Exercising increases your mood and energy and makes you more pleasant to be around and gives you more power to help other people.
Care about what matters.
Does what restaurant you eat at this weekend matter? Does what you order matter?
What matters is who you go with.
Based on your values, and the high leverage “inputs” in your life, figure out what matters to you. Take action on what’s in your control.
How to Stop Caring
Those are the categories of things that I care about and don’t care about. But I know that not caring is not so easy in practice, even when it “makes sense.” We’re guilted into believing that we need to care about everyone and everything. Often by people who stand to gain from our stress and division of attention.
So how do you break free?
Know your values.
Do you value money? Fame?
Or do you value your time? Your happiness? Your independence?
If you don’t choose your values, someone else will choose them for your.
I won’t judge you, whatever your values are. Money is great. Just choose. If you don’t know, that’s ok too. Just be aware of yourself.
Experience caring and failing.
Fail. Embarrass yourself.
Learn that it isn’t so bad.
It could be much worse.
Be grateful that it isn’t.
Then move on. Just keep taking the best action.
Experience not caring and winning.
One time I stopped caring about stupid things. I stopped trying to read people’s minds. I stopped caring about what’s gone wrong in the past and what could go wrong in the future.
Instead, I cared about what was in my control and what mattered. Then I took best action.
I wrote a proposal and sent an email.
I made money.
Don’t feel guilty
There’s a fine line between not caring and being reckless. Mind it carefully.
But don’t feel guilty about not caring.
Anytime you hear something explained by “you just have to” — run. That’s not a reason. That’s a scam.
You’ll adapt to whatever situation you’re in. Be grateful for everything.
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