Whether you want to focus on one thing at a time or simultaneously pursue multiple goals, make sure you like the life you're creating.
The choice to do it all
We’ve talked more than once on the show about the idea of identifying what’s most important to you and focusing your time, energy, and attention on that.
We’ve considered the principles Greg McKeown discusses in his excellent book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
(e.g., TPW032 - Choose What’s Essential, Eliminate the Rest
) -- the idea of less, but better, for example.
We’ve discussed Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing
, and his concept of refining our goals and tasks down to the one essential thing.
I do believe, personally, that a more peaceful and productive life will come from eliminating commitments and activities and focusing on the few most meaningful things. Spreading myself out over multiple areas is a recipe for stress and a feeling that I’m not giving adequate attention to any of them. I need white space in my calendar to feel good about my life and to be at peace.
But that’s me.
Others prefer to fill all their days with activities in the multiple areas that are important to them.
When we talk about these ideas of finding the “one” thing or pursuing only the “essentials” and cutting other things out, there are those who object, who say it’s not workable for them. And they have reasons why--reasons that are meaningful to them. They have lots of ideas, lots of things they want to do and accomplish, and they feel they’re all essential.
I would never suggest they shouldn't pursue everything they've identified as important, but there are some things to consider.
Human beings can't do more than one thing at a time. Our brains are not meant to be focusing on more than one thing at a time.
Furthermore, time, energy, and attention are finite resources. There is only so much you can do in a day, week, or month, and the brain can only focus for a finite period of time.
That being said, I don’t believe one approach to goal-setting, to goal-pursuing--to life--is better than the other, or best for everybody. We are unique human beings, and we get to choose. It's about creating the kind of life you want. Nobody can tell you what that should be or has to be. I just encourage you to be intentional about it.
If you're the type of person who likes to pursue multiple goals at the same time, thoughtfully consider these questions.
* Do you want to fill every day and hour with tasks for the various goals, etc.?
* Are you willing to sacrifice sleep, self-care, time with friends, to accomplish ALL the things?
If so, that's okay. I'm not saying you can't. If that's the life you want, then go for it. Love the life you're living.
Develop the skills of organizing your time and materials and space so you can maximize every minute. Also, be sure you’re okay with making slower progress on each goal, project, or task than you might if you focused on each one at a time.
But if you're tired, constantly feel behind, and stressed, perhaps you'd like to consider a different option.