In a recent post of mine, I suggested to do less but better, to choose what to do and stick with it. Yet, doing some research for the next post I wanted to write on procrastination, I had stumbled in the opposite concept: refuse to choose, that means follow that driving force that urges you to chase all your passions. Here a review of the eyes-opening book of Barbara Sher. I had an initial moment of astonishment, and a conversation I had years ago with an old friend of mine materialized in my head.
Allow me to give you some context.
It comes natural to me being pulled in many opposite directions, jumping enthusiastically from one interesting topic/hobby/activity to the other. I love to dive in everything my curiosity is driving me to, but I used to not accomplish anything, as I have so many rabbits’ holes I frantically need to dig in.
What my friend told me was something like: Sabrina, you never follow through any of your amazing projects.
I have to admit, this statement hit me strongly, and I got mad with a whole world with no apparent reason. In the attempt to understand my reaction, I started a personal growing journey that brought me to take actively my own decisions, rather than let decisions taking me. I will always be grateful for that piece of advise.
But what if that wise advice was wrong? or maybe only partially true? I love all my crazy projects, how can I work exclusively on one? and I really want to follow through all of them, but how?
So, doing less or doing everything?
I discovered that these two concepts can, and probably need to, coexist. It is all about the definition we give to success.
Success is deceptive, but here is the secret: we don’t need to be expert in everything we do.
Success is subjective, too, so here is one other secret: don’t let anyone else define your definition of success.
Let’s also recall that multi-tasking is not a thing.
You can do anything but maybe not everything, and especially not all at once.
— Kristin Wong in Puttylike
That said, we should look for the activities that are resonating with us. Could be a hobby we are curious about, a subject to learn, a new skill, a different career path, or some old projects we left behind.
Now we can choose (!) one or two items, and we have to clarify our personal definition of success for them.
When our amazing project can be considered accomplished?
It can be mastering a small skill towards an ability, taking a little step pointing in the right direction.
And then, we can toggle among our favourite activities on a monthly basis.
Adding one micro goal to the other, we could eventually reach a keen expertise in one field, or, on the opposite, we could be content with what we have reached so far, and go on for the next one without feeling bored or guilt for having quitted.
Sometimes, it is just about proving to ourselves that we can do something. For example, it took me a certain amount of budget in yarns and specialized magazines, not to mention the number of evenings, but once I have learnt how to knit beautiful baby blankets, I saw no point in knitting further. It is not quitting, it is having acquired a skill at a level that was fine for me, and moving on to the next one. Although, I feel I should really close the blanket I started for that baby who is turning 9 soon.
Journaling in practice:
It could be useful to think by categories. A mind map can help here.
Do the planning and dedicate a couple of time boxes per week to your chosen activities.
Look back at your mind map regularly, and acknowledge your achievements. Never cross away something that you have done because it is done, as if it was never part of your journey. That is the trace you have realized so many things, and tells you where your path in going.