It’s been said that focus is the art of exclusion. I’ve found this to be tremendously helpful in my life and work. So often I have tried to find focus amidst a bunch of things I have going on, and it has felt nearly impossible. The problem was that I wasn’t able (or maybe ready) to choose one thing over all the others. I was trying to choose one direction, while still maintaining all the other options (that mental picture alone is exhausting).
Roughly once a month for the past year a small group of people have gathered in a wine cellar tucked away beneath a restaurant in Seattle. We gather to tell stories.
This group was birthed from a desire to use this beautiful space and a desire to create a place for people to bring parts of themselves that they want to be known to others. The structure of the evening is quite simple: each time we gather, one person brings an experience to the group and the group then interacts around it, with it, and in it. We start the night with a couple bottles of wine (ok, sometimes more than a couple) and some hors d’oeuvres. We then gather around a long, large wooden table— 16 seats attentively occupied. And then, the person of the evening (chosen by volunteering and/or some gentle pressure) begins to share.
I’ve noticed something interesting with almost every person as we’ve prepared for their night. At first, you don’t know what to share about. As we talk about this group (which goes by many names) with each other we often ask, “do you know what you’re going to share on your night?” Most reply, “I have no idea.” Or maybe, “I have a vague idea, but I’m not sure.”
I’ve never been great at being scheduled. In some ways, time can just be difficult for me. That probably sounds crazy, and I wish I was joking, but I’m not. I have a hard time estimating time, and sticking to a schedule.
Though being unscheduled can feel really nice, it can make getting things done rather difficult. As Stacia and I have pushed further into the things that matter most to us, I’ve come to realize more and more how important it is to have a routine and to make use of a schedule. If you expect the things you’re doing to be successful, then you need to treat them like a job— particularly if you are self employed or if the things that matter most to you are self-initiated.
Confession time. I have a starting problem. I LOVE starting things! And I’m really good at it. I can start so many things, that you’ll loose track of them. In fact, I can start so many thing that I’ll loose track of them. I can get so excited about the ideas behind things that I want to just jump in and start. And I do.
I can think of a handful of small projects that I’ve decided to start– often they are things that I’m making or building. I go to the store and get supplies. It’s all so much fun, until I get back and then realize how much work is ahead and how it may be really really hard work. If I’m not careful I can do a lot of starting things and not finishing them.
Starting has its limits.
Can we talk about that “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for a moment?
We hear this a lot, and it’s all really exciting, but I want to pick it apart a little bit.
“Once-in-a-lifetime” things are electric. They give us butterflies in our stomachs. They feel as though, if we play our cards just right, we will go places and experience things that we couldn’t otherwise.
- that job,
- that project,
- this risk,
- that trip,
- that guy/girl,
- that client, etc.