Sometimes I think being well-rounded is overrated.
I’m a member of the “gig economy,” which basically means I’m self-employed and have a lot of different jobs. But wearing so many hats gets exhausting after a while. I attended a networking event this week and had no idea how to introduce myself. Normally I don’t mind the “What do you do?” question at all, but this time I felt scattered. My friend asked what I wanted to network for, and I didn’t know. And when I pulled out one of my old business cards, I realized I definitely needed new ones. This of course leads to the next question: What exactly do I include on them? (Creative Consultant? Group Facilitator? Private tutor? Graphic designer? Illustrator? Photographer? Writer? Personal organizer? Personal assistant? Social media manager? Babysitter?)
When I met Deepak Chopra last year, I got to ask him one question. I asked: “As a creative person who feels pulled between so many projects, how do I make progress on them?” He replied:
“Focus on the one most important thing…for now.”
It was the “for now” part I was missing. By spreading my attention over multiple projects, I was effectively preventing myself from making real progress on any one, let alone finishing anything.
I’m currently helping to facilitate a group as part of my training, and focus has become a big topic of conversation as of late. The idea is to focus on one thing and create a plan for the next 90 days. No more than that, because – let’s be real – the plan will probably change.
Danielle LaPorte recently wrote an article about the pain of focus. It’s the feeling that comes from shutting out all the other shiny new ideas, from sticking with something even when you start to get bored with the little details. It’s the discomfort of actually seeing something through the necessary levels of growth to make your vision a reality. Barbara Stanny tells us that the mark of a successful person is how well they are able to sit through discomfort. Fleet Maull reminds us that discomfort is okay, that it’s all part of the human experience. The animal brain compulsively seeks comfort, but if we can bear with it, notice it without trying to change it or make it “bad,” we can accomplish great things. Gay Hendricks speaks of expanding our happiness thresholds to allow more into our lives so we can step into the zone of genius.
It takes focused effort to move out of your comfort zone, through the discomfort zone, and into an expanded place where more is possible. We have what we believe is possible for ourselves, so we believe in our comfort zones. To progress beyond that, we have to hold a new vision for ourselves, focus on it, and be willing to sit with the growing pains in the discomfort zone as we expand into more.