Anyone who’s knows me decently well knows that I’m a project person. I have a thousand burners going at the same time and I’m always hopping from one thing to the next. It’s how I’ve always been. Even my 2nd grade report card has a note from my teacher commenting on how she couldn’t believe I was able to multitask and juggle things so well. It’s the thing I’m most proud of and the thing that frustrates me most.
Last night I was tinkering on one of my many projects when, in a moment of clarity, I took a step back and looked at the number of social media channels I had tied into my Buffer account. It looked like I had a mild case of schizophrenia. Or at the very least an undiagnosed case of A.D.D. I realized it was getting a bit ridiculous.
Completely coincidentally, or perhaps not, I had been listening to some podcasts and TED talks over the course of the day (because, as you now know, I can’t do one thing at a time). One stuck with me. It was from Andrew Stanton from Pixar. Which again shouldn’t come as a surprise because I basically worship anything Pixar does.
While the talk itself is about storytelling, what stuck with me was his idea of the singular driving force behind a character. The thing that compels it to do what it does even if it’s not the best choice. I’m not sure what my singular driving force is yet. I have some ideas, but it’s not fully baked. But what I do know is that I need to learn to harness whatever it is into something of meaning instead of spreading myself so thin.
I’ve always been a breadth person. A classic generalist. A Jane-of-all-trades. A utility player. It’s worked really well for me up until now, but I think I’ve reached the point in my life where it’s time to focus downward. Time to pick the things that I do best and do them even better.
So I took stock. I wrote down everything I have on the burners. Everything that takes up even a small piece of my day or my attention. And then I ruthlessly started to cut things out. The choices were all pretty clear. To succeed in what I want to do, I need to go all in on it. I can’t keep throwing everything at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.
I made some decisions.
I decided now is the time to focus on my freelance and consulting career. It’s the thing that will let me do everything else. It’s the thing I love to do most. It’s the cause rather than the effect. It’s the thing I’ve been trying to do for the last 3-4 years to no avail, because I’ve been trying to do 100 other things at the same time. Now is the time for focus.
What does this mean for my projects? Well, earlier today I posted on Ready Jet Set that I’ll be going on an indefinite hiatus. I put Accompl.sh up for sale on Flippa. That one has been a long time coming. I also listed the domains for the random projects I’ve had in the back of my mind but haven’t had the time to dive into. Getting them out of the way will clear that space for other thoughts. Wanderling will remain my only side project because it’s fun and takes about an hour a week of my time. I figured that’s an acceptable compromise.
This leaves me with little ole me and my professional work. No more side projects. No more maintaining a thousand different blogs and twitter accounts. Just doing what I do best: leading teams toward building awesome products for the digital world. It’s kind of a relief, really!
It’s also pretty daunting because not having the safety net of all those other projects means this one is a sink or swim affair. And to swim, I need to be the very best. But now that I have no other distractions other than to eat, sleep, and breathe working toward my goal, there’s really nothing to stop me from getting there.
So here’s to focus. And to letting go. And to keeping my shiny object syndrome at bay.
I’ll be counting on all of you to keep me in check.
PS: My current client will be wrapping up next month and I’m looking for my next few projects. Details on Accomplsh.co.