I have a problem. I have an inability to focus on just ONE thing. I’m constantly trying new things out and sticking my hand in every cookie jar. You would think this is good, but I’ve found that too much choice and variability often simply leads to inaction.
For instance, I’ve been trying to start a side business or endeavor of some sort. The problem is, there are so many different avenues and routes that I’m constantly pulled in different directions. Here are some of the things I’ve looked into:
-Real estate, acquiring rental properties
-Kindle Publishing, writing/outsourcing eBooks
-Starting an online business, creating and selling products
-Making money using eBay/Amazon as a platform
-Playing poker in underground games
-Creating apps, hiring developers
-Starting a podcast
-Starting a YouTube channel
The culmination of all this, however, is a sense of overwhelm.
I know I’m not the only one to feel like this, either. Many of my friends have varying interests and have found it’s been difficult to balance work with their hobbies. A girl I know has already switched jobs five times and is a semi-professional dancer, owns her own freelance business, and is aspiring to start a consulting business – and is only in her early 20’s. She has admitted to me that the quality of each of her activities always falls short of her expectations because she’s constantly spread so thin.
I’ve been wondering why I and many others feel we have to be doing so much, all of the time. It might be because the successful people we see across media all branch out in varying fields. The rapper who owns his own record company, clothing line, and NBA franchise. The real estate mogul who produces and stars in his own television series while overseeing Miss USA. The bodybuilder turned movie star turned governor of the largest US state. And so, we feel as if we have to do everything at once.
But what we miss is that they all achieved success in their one thing – their original field – first. They were then able to leverage that success into other endeavors and ventures, utilizing their resources, knowledge, and connections. It may seem like these people are gifted with a greater number of hours in a day and capable of doing everything at once, but we’re witnessing only the apex of their careers. In reality, it’s likely that had they attempted to balance everything when they were starting out, they would have burned out just as the rest of us would.
Another reason may be because there’s a lot of pressure on people, young adults especially, to find their “passion.” We’re bombarded with messages that the only life worth living is one in which you pursue your passions. Because no one really understands what this elusive “passion” really means, a lot of people end up jumping from one thing to the next as soon as the first bout of boredom strikes. There’s this belief that a person who is passionate about something absolutely loves it all the time, and is thinking eating breathing sleeping shitting it 24/7. Again, there’s a divide between conception and reality, resulting in people constantly jumping ship in search for their passions.
The key takeaway here, that I’m still working towards myself, is to choose just one thing to focus your energy and time into, and absolutely master it before moving on. You need to be ruthless in how you prioritize your time on this one thing, and ignore everything else that’s a distraction. If you eventually find that you dislike or suck at your one thing for one reason or another, only then do you move on and try something new. But be honest with yourself – have you really given it a fair shot, are you simply giving up because it’s too hard?
In action, here’s what it might look like:
- If you’re working out, choose ONE specific program out of the millions out there and stick with it for 3-4 months before you reevaluate and consider other programs.
- If you’re trying to learn a new skill and are overwhelmed by the number of education channels, choose ONE course on the subject and finish it before moving on to the next. Avoid skipping back and forth between various instructors and mediums of education.
- If you’re currently successfully doing multiple things, ask yourself if you’d be better off focusing all your energy on just one thing instead.
- If you’ve already found your ONE thing, consider how you can remove distractions and temptations to magnify your focus even more.
I’ll admit that it’s easier said than done. Even though I’ve felt this way for a while, it’s still hard to resist the temptation of balancing multiple things at once. So while I’m fretting about what other side ventures to work on, what I should really be doing is making writing my ONE thing. I can do this by emulating the greats, honing my writing style, promoting my articles, and increasing my publishing frequency.
It’s funny that I’ve only come to this realization now. My ONE thing I wanted to focus on was right in front of me, but without even knowing it I had been pulled elsewhere. Now that I’ve started down this path, though, it’s time to master it. What will your one thing be?