If you’re like most people, you are constantly starting one thing than letting it go as you move on to something else.
This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that some of the things you quit (or don’t do as often as you should) are activities or projects that would produce the most change in your life or the life of others.
There are probably things that you say are the most important things in you life, but then you go off getting heavily involved in things that are not really so important to you. I would even go so far as to say that possibly up to 50% of what you are so busy with are things you don’t really care much about at all. But you do them anyway. Stinks, huh?
So why do you do it? Why does just about everyone do it? I have no idea. I suppose that it is just emotions or the brain’s attraction to anything new. But I do know (and so do you) that it’s not good. In my own case, it has led me to try a lot of different things, sure, but I risk becoming a sort of “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
Also, enthusiasm in the projects that you deem as most crucial in your life needs to be maintained, instead of moving on to something else that is not on your “critical” list.
So why does your interest move on to other things? In most cases, it is because of exposure to those things. Amazon sends you an email with a book on a new way of doing business and suddenly you’re reading all about it. Which is not bad, unless you haven’t finished building the new process that you read about last month (which you decided was ground-breaking). The same seems to happen with hobbies. One thing catches your eye, then another and you move on. You don’t even enjoy the new hobby as much as your old one, but you switched anyway.
I should mention that I’m not against letting one’s mind go and experimenting with various new ideas and activities. I think that starting new projects is a great way to “change things up” and learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s just that too often these new things lead you away from your primary focus. Then they just become distractions.
So what to do about it? Try these two things:
1) Evaluate all projects and activities that you are currently involved in and decide if they are truly the things that are most important to you. Writing down what you do for a week or two would help to see what activities you are busy with compared to what you might think that you’re busy with.
2) Remind yourself daily of what you consider to be the most important projects and activities. Don’t just make a list. Read a portion of a book each day that is specifically related to the most-important things in your life (or re-read sections that you’ve highlighted, since so much goes forgotten anyway). There should only be between three to six essential projects or activities in your life. Spend about 15 minutes reading about each one. An hour to an hour and a half every day might seem like a big investment, but not when you think about the results it can produce, namely concentration of your time and energy on those things that you’ve purposefully decided are the most important things in your life. I say reading a book, but any format will do. You could listen to a podcast, watch a video online (such as a lecture on iTunes U) or rent a documentary from Netflix. But the idea is to make sure that it is about those areas of your life that you have consciously decided are the most important to you.
There is also a lot of benefit to committing some of the ideas you read about (or viewed) to memory, which I’ll talk about in another post.
It would be a shame for years to go by (or your whole life) and you discover that you’ve done a lot of stuff, but nothing that you really cared about, nothing that really mattered.
Better to decide what you want now.
Then live it.