The Deceptive Luxury of Choice
We all tell ourselves that we want lots of options. After all, what better than to have your pick? Plenty of food options on the grocery store shelf, all kinds of clothes to choose from, nearly any art supply you could want...
My lightning bolt moment came when I was looking through my studio to pick a medium to work in: pastel, marker, watercolor, liquid graphite...the possibilities were endless. But you know what happened? I didn't create anything.
I was paralyzed by too much choice.
This is our postmodern conundrum. We suffer, not from a lack of possibility, but from too much. We're drowning in information and images: books, newspapers, magazines, Twitter and Instagram feeds- plenty of distractions. We freelancers feel the urge to take on every project, most that seem worthwhile in the short term, but are really just busywork. The low-hanging fruit is a distraction that pulls us away from our mission, and sucks the energy out of big-picture plans.
What we need is to weed.
Like the hugely popular book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo, we could all benefit by taking a hard look at our possessions, interests, and connections, to determine which are truly serving us. Kondo encourages us to get rid of the things we don't love- but what about the WORK we don't love?
When making a business all things to all people, we can not do justice to any of them. Dividing our attention constantly is detrimental to projects' quality and depth. In this era of multi-tasking, sustained, laser-focus is the holy grail. Notice those around you who succeed; they have a plan, which is very discrete, and they work to execute it bit by bit. They may feel just as overwhelmed as the rest of us, but they are more successful at eliminating distractions and always re-dedicating themselves to the mission - and the projects that support that mission.
Surround yourself with such people. Emulate them. Write, and hone, your true mission statement for your work. Hang it up on your wall. Learn the art of saying "no", without fear.
It will lead to more "Yes!" than you could ever imagine.