I have a confession to make. I like to think I can do anything. When I’m coaching, I routinely tell my clients that they can do anything they choose to.
But there’s a catch.
You can’t do everything. More and more over the years, I’ve realized that the one thing that holds me back from doing the things I know I can do is the idea that I can do more than one thing at a time.
I typically have a main gig – the things that pays the bills – and then I have a bunch of side hustles. I write books. I launch new websites and online communities. I start businesses. I have great ideas, and each and every one of them seems awesome at the start.
But with so many balls in the air, I almost never give them the time they deserve. A few hours a week is about the best I ever do with my side gigs. Sure, sometimes I put the pedal down, and for a month or so I really push on one thing. But the more time I spend on one cool project, the greener the grass looks somewhere else.
When you get serious about a project, you get down into the details. You go from the thrill of ideation to the reality of slogging through the trenches. Everything seems to slow down to a crawl. And from that new perspective, crawling through the mud, all your other great ideas up in the sunshine start to look much better than the one you chose.
Why did I choose to write a book when the cool people are all launching apps? Everyone else always looks like they are doing so much better, having more fun, getting more traction and here I sit, pounding away at the keyboard.
The truth is I don’t see their slogging moments, I only see the highlights when they announce big wins. And they don’t see my struggles either.
Starting something new is hard work. Work that is not always glamorous or fun. In fact an awful lot of it is frustrating, and tedious beyond belief. The glamour of entrepreneurship is in tiny moments of triumph which punctuate long hours of relentless effort.
It took me years to learn this.
But what I also learned in those years is that it can be done. I’ve experienced success, and I’ve seen lots of other people do it too. What I see from those successful people are posts like this:
“I’ve decided to close this community because I need to spend 100% of my focus on creating an awesome product.”
We say this with regret, with shame, feeling like failures. When we go through all the projects and commitments and time sucks that eat up our productive time, we feel like we’re letting everyone down.
But it is essential. Systematically eliminating things you could do is what allows you to truly focus on what you want.
It’s hard enough to do that one thing. Believe me.
It’s so hard, in fact, that if you have ANYTHING else that you could possibly do, you’ll want to do that first. There have been many days as an entrepreneur when cleaning the bathroom looked like a great gig in comparison to what I needed to do to move my business forward.
You can do anything.
You can’t do everything.
You have to choose.
But by making that choice, and by eliminating all of the other things that you could be doing, you’ve opened the door to potential success.