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Most people are doing too many things at once. Either you have a lot of passions, or you have a lot of new ideas for your business and you want to try them all.
The problem is you can’t multitask. You can really only switch between things. This switching wastes your energy. It’s wasting your focus and that makes you less effective at each thing you’re doing.
There are a number of reasons you might be afraid to do fewer things: you may feel like you’re going to miss out, you’re saying no to a part of you forever, or you’re going to disappoint someone—possibly yourself.
If you have a bunch of things that you want to do and you’re having trouble deciding or narrowing down, I’d first like to encourage you:
Saying no to something doesn’t mean saying no to it forever.
In fact, if you truly want to do something—if you truly care about it—often the best thing you could do is say no to it now.
Designer or Musician?
I’ll give you a real example to make this more tangible: let’s say you want to be a designer but you also enjoy playing music. You might be inclined to try to build an audience for both at the same time. After all, you’re a musician at heart and if you were to not play music, you’d feel like you were saying no to a part of you.
But saying no to music now doesn’t mean saying no to music forever. It simply means that you’re not focusing on it in this season. By saying no to something, you’re actually saying you care about it enough not to do it right now. We often don’t realize that it takes the same, if not more, passion and dedication not to do something. If doing it right now means doing multiple things and splitting our focus, we’re actually doing it a great disservice.
The half focus we’re able to give something right now may not be enough to make it feasible. As a result, we could end up deciding that something just isn’t working out when really, it might have worked out just fine if we were patient enough to pursue it when we could give it our full focus.
Split Focus Destroys Your Effectiveness
Can you have an audience for multiple things? Yes, it is possible but only when you focus on growing one at a time.
The people that are known for multiple things didn’t get there by pursuing them all at once.
They focused on one, grew an audience for it, and then moved on to something else. If you try to grow an audience for multiple things simultaneously, you will end up burning yourself out, doing shoddier work, and confusing your audiences. How much more effective could you be if you focused all of the energy you’re spending on a single thing?
It’s actually faster to spend time growing one thing before moving onto the next. You’ll ultimately accomplish more things in less time if you don’t do them all at once. This applies to your business as well. Maybe you’re not torn between pursuing multiple passions, but within your single business, you have numerous things you could be working on. Maybe you heard on a podcast that you should start a newsletter and use email marketing. Maybe on a video you saw someone tell you to build a membership site. Maybe you read on a blog that producing physical products is a great way to connect tangibly with your audience.
These are all good things, but trying to do them all at once is going to kill your business. When you see established businesses talking about how great all of these things are, you need to remember that they didn’t get there by doing them all at the same time. It’s been a slow, gradual growth of adding things intentionally and only moving to the next one when everything is stable.
Focus on One Thing
Split focus makes you less effective. You have a lot of options in front of you, but which one is the best? Which one should you do now? Focus on one thing that will make the biggest difference right now. Remember, it doesn’t have to be forever. This is not the only thing you’ll ever do for the rest of your life. Saying no to other things you want to do feels like you’re saying no to them forever, but you’re not.
Your situation won’t stay stay this way indefinitely. You’re just being purposeful about what you’re doing in this season. You’re being purposeful about what you’re choosing to do right now so it will have the greater impact, so you will establish the most clarity with your audience—so people will actually get what you’re about.
I want you to audit yourself: what are some of the things you say you care about? What are some of the things you want to be doing right now? Here’s my question for you: do you care about them enough to say no to them right now?
Do you care about the things you want to do enough to say no to them right now, so you can give them the focus they deserve later?
If not, you don’t really care about them at all.