The Joy of Missing Out

By Noah Graff

I’m not releasing a podcast this week because next week or perhaps the following week I’m going to become a father, so I want to have a podcast episode in reserve. Podcasts take a lot of time and energy to produce, items I fear will be scarce commodities in the coming weeks.

Very soon, everything in my life will be turned upside down. Many of my normal daily routines will never be the same. That’s what I’m told at least, and I can envision it happening.

Lately I’ve been listening to two books, Atomic Habits: an Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones and Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. Sometimes I listen to the two books one right after the other. Their messages sometimes clash, which I kind of like.

Atomic Habits is giving me tools to manage my time. The book is filled with methods to help me take on new activities to make me healthier, more successful, and hopefully happier. 

Meanwhile, the message of 4,000 Weeks is that rather than trying to optimize time in order to squeeze in everything, sometimes it’s best to just choose one activity over another. The book’s author, Oliver Burkeman, a former time optimization zealot, argues that if we try to squeeze in too many tasks, we may never feel satisfied with what we are already doing. We will always want to use the new saved time to cram in new tasks. The title, 4,000 Weeks, stems from the fact that if we live to age 80, we get a mere 4,000 weeks on this earth. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time to me, so I better make that time count. My conundrum is, what does “making time count” mean?

The author, Noah Graff, outside the Graff-Pinkert office

Burkeman says that when he first became a father, his inclination was to try as hard as he could to optimize his time. He would keep tight schedules, automate and outsource tasks, etc. But that didn’t lead him to feel increased satisfaction or fulfillment.

One concept he talks about the book that really struck me is what he refers to as “the joy of missing out.” This is the opposite of the popular term nowadays, FOMO, the “fear of missing out.” 

Burkeman believes that making a choice to do one activity rather than try to cram several into your schedule makes that chosen activity meaningful. It’s special because you chose it over something else.

I want to write these blogs and make podcasts. I want to dance and see friends. I want to excel in my profession, the art of turning overlooked, imperfect equipment, into gold—the job that pays the mortgage. I also want to be a great father and husband. I want to spend time with my loved ones. At 42 years old, if I’m fortunate, I should have a good 3,000+ weeks left. Soon I will have to figure out how to fit the myriad of great gifts in my life into my crowded schedule. At the same time I will have to decisively choose what wonderful stuff to sacrifice.

Question: Does anybody have advice for me?

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20 thoughts on “The Joy of Missing Out

  1. Marc Klecka

    Noah – As God chose your namesake to perpetuate the human race, you also have been chosen. You will do fine. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time, remembering that love conquers all. We patiently wait for the great news!

  2. Todd Miller

    As a father of three sons, ages 32, 29, and 25, I can tell you from experience that you will make time for what’s important, and you won’t miss what you decide to forego. You will also find that you have more energy than you may have imagined, and you will focus that energy more sharply than you may have previously because you are now responsible for a person who is unable to fend for himself or herself. Congratulations on becoming a father. I wish you and your wife all the best as you begin an exciting and fulfilling chapter in your lives.

  3. Misterchipster

    I would second Todd’s post and add 2 things: first, you are their father not their best buddy – parent accordingly, tough choices are inevitable. Second, dad’s lead, not follow. Children emulate the adults that they hold dear. If you think independently so will they (in their own way).

  4. jim

    I disagree with misterchipster. you are their dad and best buddy. if your family is your no 1 priority, you wont have to deal with issues where you have to be their father. spend as much time with your kids now and you will have a wonderful relationship and you wont have to hire lawyers later to get them out of trouble. you can never spend too much time with your kids. i have 2 kids that are around 30 and they both call me everyday. best investment of time i ever made.

    this statement that you made is completely out of order.

    “I want to write these blogs and make podcasts. I want to dance and see friends. I want to excel in my profession, the art of turning overlooked, imperfect equipment, into gold—the job that pays the mortgage. I also want to be a great father and husband. ”

    it should read
    i want to be a great father and husband. i want to support my family. if dancing is more important than your family, just take me off your list.

    1. Renee

      Agree Jim!

      Noah, Congrats on the newbie, many happy days and (nights) ahead…the quiet, dark, precious nights are not to be missed.

    2. Noah Graff

      Hi Jim,

      You are right, that family will come first. Text just came out that way. I was saving the best for last! 🙂

      Thanks for caring to comment! And reading. And hopefully listening.

  5. Bill Badura

    Wishing you and your growing family the best, and I can’t say anything better than the fine advice above. One thing though, only 2000 weeks left at 42. Sorry, to point that out.

  6. Mark Rollinson

    Hi Noah
    I attended a smoking cessation group once and they had a saying:
    “Don’t anticipate the horrors”
    It applies here.
    I am the father of (now adult) 3 children.
    Twin Girls and a boy and we had them over a period of 15 months.
    Crazy, BUT I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
    You’ll be just fine. You’ll be surprised how quickly the parental instincts kick in (especially your wife’s)

    Good luck and God Bless!

  7. Claudio Polverini

    Dear Noah, soon you will become the greatest example of someone and know a new kind of love, and this old world that you know, will recreate itself before your eyes making you teacher and student simultaneously. Try and enjoy.

    1. Noah Graff

      That’s a very interesting and profound way of looking at it, my friend.

      I appreciate the wisdom. And I appreciate the wisdom of everybody on here reaching out to me.

      Thank you!

  8. Noah Graff

    Thank you to everyone on here to cared enough to congratulate me and give me advice! It means a whole lot to me that you all care.

  9. Lloyd+Graff

    As your father, Noah, I do not have the slightest doubt in you being a wonderful Dad. I have had the privilege of watching you develop from a baby to the adult who now coaches me. Your enthusiasm and insight illuminate each day I spend with you. I hope your child is born with and cultivates those qualities and your loving nature. Noah, you are a truly remarkable person. I don’t know how you developed into this Noah, but I hope I had a positive impact.

  10. Rick in NYC

    First and foremost: May the Good Lord Bless you and yours!

    The Polish birthday wish is “Sto lat” which means “One Hundred Years”
    They have a more positive outlook of 5000 weeks!

    Remember it is about the journey, not the destination!
    The destination is a pine box and hopefully far, far down the road and something much greater in the heavens!

    I too, am an older parent, I was 45 when my child was born some 15 years ago.
    I grew up without seat-belts, helmets, tracking devices, phones, and we drank from the garden hose. OH MY!!!
    We roamed freely.
    As a more mature parent, I hope you “don’t sweat the small stuff!”
    My kid is “free range”, responsible, and situationally aware, especially here in NYC.
    Please, Don’t be that helicopter parent !!!
    Bumps, bruises, breaks, accidents, mistakes, sniffles are all part of learning at the school of hard knocks.
    It is said, we all have to each a certain amount of dirt each year to maintain our immunity system.
    It takes us a while to learn, and some never do.
    Our 45th President, Donald J. Trump said in his self help book: “The Art of the Deal” (A great read, and one of the few self help books I read).
    “Always try to learn from other people’s mistakes, not your own- it is much cheaper that way!”
    It takes most of us lots of pain and too many years to learn that lesson.

    But don’t waste too much time reading self help books, usually, the only ones it helps is the authors’ wallet.
    Either you have the drive, wisdom, knowledge, upbringing and support, or you will revert to your DNA and if you are a unmotivated and lazy slug, the book, most likely, will not help!

    The other self help book I recommend is Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” !!!
    He says: “Live like no one else, so you and your family can LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE!”
    Your new bundle of joy will greatly appreciate it someday.
    It is about the simple things in life.

    Most of the self help books can be boiled down to some sayings and proverbs from your grandparents.
    That is where the true wisdom and knowledge is.

    As for the remaining weeks, just lost a friend who always said:
    “Live each and every day like it is your last, because one day it will be!”
    The other day it was.
    He should have had many more days and weeks on this earth, but it was not to be, so use that advise with your new addition!

    4000 weeks is a lofty goal.
    Just lost a BUNCH of friends this past year, most from heart attacks!
    Right after either their second or third jab…
    they only had 2300 to some 3000 weeks
    Don’t worry! The government told us: “It is safe and effective”.
    And they will release all the data in FIFTY FIVE YEARS…
    Nothing to see here. keep moving and keep following orders.

    As for the advise trying to choose one thing over the other, and “making time count”, pack it all in!
    The unknown twists and turns of the journey are what usually become the MOST memorable!
    Pack it all in, you will have plenty of time to rest when you take that final Dirt Nap…

    Enjoy and Stay Safe!!!

  11. Ian

    Noah – As a retired machinery dealer ho spent more than 40 years in the business I recently reviewed my old diaries and discovered just how much time I spent away from home. My wife was, some of the time, virtually a single parent. Looking back I wish I had spent more time with my kids. I am fortunate that I had two great sons and now have four wonderful grandchildren. Be aware, don’t let the business overtake your family time!

    I wish you and your family all the best!

  12. Hugo Mendivil

    First, congrats and you’ll see the best is to come.
    My life was turned upside down for the best way imaginable a few years ago when I was your age, I’m sure you’ll find that drastic twist really exciting as well.
    I really liked the phrase “the joy of missing out” and agree with the approach, as we grow up we collect immense “choices” in the form of activities, interests, friends, and so on, so as our life becomes fuller of choices we just can’t keep up with them all, and you may find yourself not missing anything as you choose what brings you the most joy.
    Happy parenthood!

  13. jo

    Noah, I’d like to add my congratulations to those of the others. They’ve given a lot of good advice, here’s mine (which you may have already learned from your Dad):
    Give your kids the opportunity to help when their help makes the task take longer than if you did it alone. As often as possible. That way they’ll learn, they’ll WANT to help when they’re old enough for it to really count, and you’ll have kids like the gentleman whose sons call him daily.


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