This practice itself is not that difficult. Figure out what you want to do, and do it. Pretty simple. It’s the obstacles life throws at you that will make the journey to taking back your time and attention more…interesting.

Freedom isn’t free, as the saying goes. I’d love to tell you that the world, your boss and your loved ones will welcome your 10s with open arms and a supportive demeanor. It is not that they don’t support you, it’s that they have their own 10s, whether they are conscious of them or not. And we all fight for our own 10s. As I journeyed this road, I found myself in unfamiliar territory, running into situations I hadn’t anticipated. I needed to pick up new tools along the way if I was to take back the reins of my life.

You will need courage on this journey. I do not know where or when your “stuff” will come up, but it will. It may be a tough conversation, setting a boundary, or simply saying out loud, “I want to do this.” It is different for everyone.

For me, asking Earnest (my overextended, really nice, alter ego) to leave the room, and not be the “nice guy” in every situation was like facing death every time. My stuff, not necessarily yours. Just know some resistance and obstacles will come up in some form. Then know, sword in hand, you can and will face your demons – and you are always at choice to move forward when and if you want to. You can choose to back down or move ahead. Be kind to yourself, but choose. Watch your choices, and see what those choices reap. Trial and error alone will propel you ahead. You can’t fail.

I can promise very few things with this way of living, but I promise that you will need to accept risk. As with courage, I am not sure where, but at some point you will need to close your eyes and jump, and maybe not see where you’ll land. It may be saying no to staying late at work, it may be showing your art for the first time, but it will feel like a risk. Go for it, or don’t, but be aware of what each choice costs you or brings you.

Tough Conversations
Sometimes the only thing standing between me, and what I want, is a conversation I don’t want to have. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, I am embarrassed, I think they will get angry, I’m being unreasonable. These thoughts are examples of the ones that have preceded important conversations I have had. Sometimes it is only this scary chatter that stands between me – and my 10. It’s fear, so I need to stop and decide which is going to get to be that 10.

It’s true. “No” is a complete sentence. Use it. “Yes, but,” is also a good default response to cultivate. “I will do this for you, but I need _____ in order to be able to accommodate your request,” is a good way of making sure you are leveraging your time and attention in a way that works for you. Often, I do not know my answer right away, so my automatic response defaults to “yes” – and I often regret it later. It is ok to answer with a pause. I have gotten into the habit of answering, “I am not sure, give me a few minutes and I will call you back.” Then I can do my inner work to decide the best answer for me.

Good fences make good neighbors. Clear boundaries make for good relationships. Boundaries are the antidote to resentments. 9 times out of 10, if I am angry, or carrying a resentment, it is because I didn’t set a boundary. You know the people in your life who set boundaries. Chances are, if you have a hard time setting them, you judge them pretty harshly, at least at first – but I bet you respect them. The people you meet with the best boundaries are usually the ones living their 10s.

Love and Kindness
The point of all these decisions is to live a full life, filled with the activities and people that I love. When saying no, setting a boundary or having any tough conversation, love and kindness is always appropriate. It is the tool to ground all the others. The more I treat myself with love and kindness, the easier it is to allow myself to focus on my true 10s. There is a difference between self-care and “being selfish.” Making sure that love and kindness are guiding principles for all concerned, including myself, ensures I can keep the people in my life a 10 while I also pursue what excites and inspires me.

For more on shoring up your toolbox, I highly recommend Steve Chandler’s Time Warrior. Frankly, the journey would have been a tougher road without reading Steve’s invaluable insights and suggestions.