Respected editor Sarah Knight quit her job in a major publishing house in New York last summer to start her own business as a freelancer.
Sarah says the day she quit her job she eliminated a whole category of things on which she had previously wasted time and energy: supervisors, co-workers, her commute, her wardrobe and her alarm clock.
The 36-year-old was conscious that she was “sliding down that corporate ladder faster than a stripper down the last pole of the night” but felt compelled to make massive changes.
“I got to the point where I was so unhappy. I was good at my job. People were saying ‘Why would you give up?’ But I decided to prioritise things that make me happy. I had to disentangle myself from my life,” she says. Sarah found that she had time on her hands once she had been released from the “yoke of corporate ennui.”
She started thinking about social obligations and vowed that she wouldn’t spend her time, energy or money on things that didn’t make her happy or improve her life.
She called it the “Not Sorry Method” and came up with the idea of writing a book for individuals bogged down by the expectations of others.
Her book The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k has received enormously positive feedback particularly at a time of year when readers are bombarded by improvement tomes.
Sarah stresses it is vital that people stop worrying about all the things they feel they should be doing and start focusing on what they want to do.
“Our time is a finite and precious commodity. There is so much pressure on people in January to start an exercise regime and my book turns that on its head. If you don’t want to do it don’t do it. I would say to people be selfish but don’t be an asshole. We are so conditioned to do things for other people rather than ourselves. It is a misguided social norm,” she says.
She advises readers to divide their time into what they care about and what they can eliminate.
She no longer cares about “what other people think, having a bikini body, basketball, being a morning person, Taylor Swift, Iceland, passwords, going to the gym, feigning sincerity and calculus.”
Sarah argues that being selfish shouldn’t be a “four-letter word” as if you prioritise your time you will be a “nicer well-rested spouse, colleague, child and employee.”
She says the difference between her quality of life five years ago and now is extraordinary, and she owes it all to caring less.
“I had to decide to stop giving a f**k. I would compare it when you are on a plane and you are told to put on your oxygen mask first before you tend to others. I have had a fairly equal balance of readers so far.
“But specifically I have had a lot of women contacting me. Women apologise so much. If you don’t want to do something there is nothing wrong with a polite ‘no thank you.’ You only have so much time.”
Sarah believes there are certain things that devour time that can immediately be eliminated.
“Useless paperwork is a scourge on our society and it’s up to you to stop giving a f**k. The more useless paperwork you acquiesce to doing, the more you’ll have heaped upon you. Yes there is some paperwork you have to fill out. The kind that makes you get paid for instance. That’s useful.
“She insists the benefits of “ceasing to give a f**k” include “time, energy and money.” “Sometimes all you want is a free hour to take a leisurely bath and clip your toe nails. By not giving a f**k about making an appearance at your neighbour’s vegan BBQ you get back that hour. You want that Caribbean vacation so bad. By not giving a f**k about your grade school friend’s wedding that you don’t understand why you were invited to in the first place, you can march on over to JetBlue.com and reallocate the thousand dollars.”
Sarah wrote her book in a “not recommended” manic four weeks. Her publishers never had an issue with the expletive in the title but she is finding it is a stumbling block in the mainstream media in her native US. It is not an issue in the UK, Ireland or Australia.
“Sales in the States have been fantastic so I expect the media will catch up. It’s an uphill battle with TV and radio. We live in a whole culture where there is a series about Kim Kardashian but you can’t use the word f**k.”