We all have goals and ambitions, whether we’ve written them out on paper or we’ve kept them locked in our heads for months — even years.
Something many creatives struggle with is figuring out what to focus on. Especially those of us with multiple interests who honestly just want to do all the things always all the time forever.
This can make it extremely difficult to focus on even one specific task, whether short-term or long-term. And when you’re trying to move forward while learning a new skill or establishing yourself in a field or industry, there just isn’t time to drop everything until you can “figure it out.”
Even if you don’t like making lists, there might be a way to help you re-organize your interests — and paint a clearer picture of what you want your personal and/or professional future to look like.
Make a list of everything you want to be.
I mean everything. Dog mom. Boss. Magazine editor. Spider-Man Expert. Whatever. Anything you want.
It will make you EXCITED. And kind of overwhelmed. But mostly excited. Probably.
I did this. And it actually lifted me out of a huge personal and professional slump. My list ended up becoming a roadmap, a visualization of everywhere I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there. It’s exactly what I needed to get my life back on track.
I’d show it to you, but it got a little personal. So I’ll keep the details to myself.
The point is, laying out every role you want to play throughout your life — at least right now — can really help you narrow your focus, and ease your anxieties about your uncertain future.
One of the most important reminders I got doing this was that even though there are many things I want to accomplish in my life, I don’t have to do everything right now. Just because I’m saving a particular goal for later doesn’t mean I’m putting it off or that I’ll never accomplish it. It just means I’m prioritizing, and it’s OK if I don’t accomplish something by a particular day or year. There is time.
When there are a lot of Things we want to do and accomplish and “be,” it’s overwhelming. Because we often feel like we have to do everything all at once. We glorify ultra-busyness, when really, the busiest people in your field possibly aren’t even the most accomplished.
Successful people practice focusing on one thing, and doing that thing well. And once they’re good at that one thing, they expand their expertise, and use it as a foundation to start doing other things.
It does not happen overnight. This takes time. And even though it seems like we don’t have a lot of it, you’re much better off pacing yourself than trying to rush into doing 500 things. Because you’re likely to fail at most of those things if you try doing too much in one breath.
Slow down. One thing at a time. Well, maybe one smaller segment of different priorities. Like, I’m sure you could be a dog mom and a boss and a Spider-Man expert all at the same time, if you knew which one was your biggest priority and which ones came after.
Do it. Make a list. Imagine where you want to go, how you’re going to get there, and focus only on what you need or want the most right now. Many things on your list can, and will have to, wait. And that’s OK.
Patience is hard. But it does pay off. I promise.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.