Focus on one thing

Dick Van Dyke looks like he can pull it off, but he also had the benefit of a pre-recorded soundtrack.

Dick Van Dyke looks like he can pull it off, but he also had the benefit of a pre-recorded soundtrack.

I believe it’s very difficult to be successful at any one thing if you are doing many things.

And I get it, you’re creative. You’re talented. You can sing, dance, play guitar, act, draw, sculpt, and write. And it’s sexy to be a Renaissance (wo)man, a multi-hyphenate . But you’re not going to reach those 10,000 hours to be an expert at any one of these if you are splitting your time amongst all of them.

And the truth is no job is JUST that job anymore. Success means you also have to market yourself and network and be seen on social media. And more than likely all of that in addition to a day-job. There’s just not enough hours in a day.

So how do you choose your “one thing?”

1. Which one fulfills you the most?

Which one can you NOT not do? Which creative passion hurts the most to let go of? Which one do you find the most satisfaction, not in the results, but in the process? Which one do you dissapear into and find yourself thinking “where did the time go?”

2. Which one have you found the most success at?

There’s probably a reason for that success. Maybe it’s natural talent, or maybe it’s because you’ve put more time into it than the others. Either way, previous success is a good barometer for what you need to be doing.

3. Which one can you see yourself doing ten years from now?

Maybe playing in a band is something fun while you’re in your 20′s but do you wanna be doing it in your 40′s? Then why put so much energy into it now? We’ve only go so many hours on this earth, lets get to it!

It should be noted that I don’t take my own advice on this. I run a poster company, a freelance design business, co-run a production company, write essays for this blog, and write movies and comic books. But that’s at least just two industries – design & film. And the design stuff pays the bills, my day job. The writing also pays some bills, just much smaller ones. And I’m working on “slimming down.”

What about you guys? Did you used to stretch yourself thin? How did you focus in on your “one thing?”

6 comments
  1. Scary Kerrie said:

    I am having a hard time focusing on my one thing. It’s going to become more difficult soon, too. I’m a university student and the new term begins on the 9th.
    I’ve had an almost equal amount of success with writing and with photography ( a bit more with the photography…) and I find that I cannot do without either of them. They both add so much to my life. I need to try to focus on making them a bigger part of my life, though. Since they make me so happy, I’m going to try my hardest to focus on them as much as possible during the school year, and after school is finished. My main concern has to do with this being my final school year… after this it’s time to enter the “real world” (as so many of my elders refer to it as :p ). How am I going to make my passions into a job on which I can support myself? Or, will I have to do something less satisfying for the majority of my time so that I actually have a place to live and food to eat while I pursue what I really enjoy? Ahhh.. the thought of that isn’t very appealing. Sorry if I went of on a tangent there. My worries about that are one of the many things that have been taking my focus away from my one thing(s) aha.

    • Who needs a house or food, right?

      Two thoughts:
      1. I wonder if you could somehow merge your passions? You don’t mention what kind of writing you do, but maybe you could do a blog that pairs one of your photographs with a story/essay/poem, etc.

      2. Practically speaking, photography is a little easier to make a go at. Especially if you’re working for yourself. You have the benefit of social media and the web to immediately get your photography out there and easily gather clients through word of mouth. And one of the benefits of being self-employed is you can spend your free time writing!

      Seeing as you’re still young and just about out of school, you should at least give it a shot. The older you get, the harder it’ll be to take those risks. Good luck! Keep me posted on what you decide to pursue.

      • I really like the idea of creating a blog that combines my photos and writing. I could certainly do that with both non-fiction, and fiction, writing that I do. Getting some stories ready for that will be a great way of getting me to focus on practising my writing. It would also be neat if I had a story written and needed to take a new photo to go along with it. It’s always exciting to get new sources of inspiration for my photography. That is something that I haven’t done before. Thanks for the great idea!

        The only problem I face with my photography is that I don’t really focus on any type of portrait work. I have done some photo shoots with people in the past but my passions are found in landscapes/nature/wildlife photography. The problem that I’m trying to refer to here is the clientèle issue that I face given the content of my photos. I have been submitting my photos to magazines and websites that I would love to be published in, and I have a deviantart, a tumblr and a Facebook page dedicated to my photos. I just need to get some published where I’ll be noticed and get people to buy prints! You are so right about how useful social media is, so I think that even without being hired to do different types of portrait sessions I could still be successful with the tools that I have at my disposal. I JUST NEED TO FOCUS. ahaha.

        Thank you so much for the response and again for the great idea/advice that you’ve given me. Once I start up that photo and writing blog I’ll send it your way.

  2. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately. I can’t find balance between all my activities, because I really need to be focusing on that ONE THING!

    • Glad to hear others agree! I was expecting someone to comment on here about the dozen things they find success at and prove me wrong. Good luck with your passions!

  3. Multi-tasking usually means sacrificing something. For me, often that means a social life. One way I streamlined my life was to stop taking on gun-for-hire Producing jobs on music videos/shorts. Too much work – overworked and under-appreciated etc. I’m all for it when it’s my own project, but that’s different right?

    I’ve always multi-tasked, but found that it has to be something creative, and something uncreative. Back in university I was a pro Drag Queen, and studying Graphic Design at the same time – and both suffered.

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