Less is More: How I Focus on What Matters

I am an American expat in Thailand.

I am single.

And I am running an SEO agency during arguably the most disruptive period for SEO since, well… SEO became a thing.

In other words, my life is filled with decisions.

In this article, I’m going to detail my (ongoing) journey to eliminate unnecessary decisions to leave room for what matters.

Learning from the ultimate deciders

Few, if any, people make a greater number of important decisions than the President of the United States.

As former President George W. Bush said, “I’m the decider, and I decide what is best.”

Former President Barack Obama said the following when interviewed during his presidency.

“I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

“You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

I’m sober because it eliminates a decision

I have been sober since August 2022. Several friends have asked me:

“Why?”

In my first year of sobriety, I struggled to answer them. I wasn’t an alcoholic. I just knew deep down that it was the right move for me.

But now it is clear to me: it removes an unnecessary decision from my life.

I didn’t enjoy drinking that much, but overdid it sometimes anyway. I am single with a very flexible work schedule, and I have friends who are happy to get drunk with me on a weekday afternoon…

Am I drinking too much tonight? Am I drinking too much lately?

I constantly wrestled with those thoughts… but not anymore.

This all-or-nothing approach isn’t easy with every “action.”

For example, I would like to use social media less. There’s a lot I don’t like about it. But it’s hard to give it up completely.

Maybe you have something – like drinking for me – that wouldn’t be too hard to give up completely, something that does more harm than good.

I simplified my investments

My father’s late uncle gave me (my parents) a $50 savings bond around the time I was born (30+ years ago).

I could go into excruciating detail on the process of turning this thing into cash, but I’ll just say it took way too long.

While the above is an extreme example, I used to over-complicate my investments and be really focused on asset allocation – without having enough total assets for it to matter.

$6-7k spread across 4 different investments, for example. That was a small fraction of my liquid net worth.

I was (manually) dollar-cost-averaging into those investments each month with a formula based on my fluctuating income minus my expenses.

How much are they currently worth?

When do I sell?

Tax forms… Notices…

Ughhhh.

Even IF those investments outperform by 5% in a year, that’s an extra $25-30 a month.

Hooray?

I’m slowly cutting down to 3-4 asset categories (one of which is cash).

My takeaway: keep it simple unless you’re dealing with a meaningful amount of money… and even then, consider still keeping it simple.

I (try to) avoid shiny object syndrome with business

The world of online business is like being a kid in a candy store:

I can make a lot of money doing this.

I can make a lot of money doing that.

But lack of focus is one of the greatest enemies to success.

When I’ve spread myself too thin, I’ve struggled.

And I’ve seen the same thing with others.

The most successful online business owners I know have more than one business, but there are synergies between the businesses.

The ones who are flailing? They jump around way too much.

I simplified my wardrobe

Black t-shirts. 1 pair of jeans. 1 suit. A couple pairs of black/white Adidas sneakers that work for an afternoon at a coffee shop or a late night at a club (yep, I go to clubs sober). 1 pair of dress shoes.

Everything is quality.

Everything fits.

There. I just described 90% of my wardrobe.

I spend very little time thinking about what to wear.

Here’s me in my “uniform.”

As I write this blog post, I’m at my parents’ house, and it’s crazy to see signs of my past wardrobe.

My closet had a pair of dress pants that looked like they were from my sophomore year of high school… when I was 9 inches shorter!

We donated a few bags of stuff.

Things that didn’t fit, funky colors, middling quality.

Or, in some cases, stuff that just wasn’t me.

And that’s my advice to you:

Strike the balance between simple and you.

For other things: quality and useful

Being in the US as I write this – and not spending much time in the US over the last 7 years – I am fully grasping how you can get pretty much any item you can imagine on Amazon.

Fast shipping. Free returns.

It’s not like this in Thailand 😂

Anyway…

I’ve bought quite a few things on Amazon, but they are all quality items that will be useful to me.

No junk. Nothing that will sit in the closet for years.

When in doubt, I give it away

I used to have a bunch of things set aside to sell sometime.

That’s worth too much to give away.

But I came to a realization: unless something is worth hundreds of dollars on the second-hand market, it’s not worth my time to sell it. And as an added bonus, a friend or someone in need can benefit.

Another added bonus: acting in this manner pushes me further into an abundance mindset.

Final Thoughts

Life in 2024 is filled with possibilities.

Things to buy. Things to do.

That’s all well and good, but it’s easy to get bogged down by inconsequential decisions. To find yourself in a home filled with clutter… and a mind filled with clutter.

Eliminating the decisions that don’t matter is a necessary step towards a life where you do & accomplish what does matter.

Nick Vasco is a digital marketing entrepreneur and the founder of SERP Builders, dedicated to helping fintechs connect with their ideal audience through exceptional content and SEO. His entrepreneurial journey began in high school when he traded sports cards, fostering a passion for business that eventually led him to launch his agency, SERP Builders.