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After college, I had a very difficult time trying to find a job and I struggled to find my place in the world. As a straight-A student, every teacher's favorite and overachiever. (Seriously, I was nominated for the math and science honor's society when I wasn't a math or science major.) I had my life together - and more importantly I knew that after graduation I was going to totally win at life.
And that is the opposite of what actually happened.
The next two years of my life was a series of closed doors, failures and one incident where I cried in front of the lady interviewing me at a temp agency because the only job I qualified for with my straight A's, leadership and community service was a receptionist. Even my induction into the math and science honor society meant nothing to her. (Side note: Why did no one prepare college graduate me for the real world?)
I took the job - and the heartbreak that came along with it.
At that moment I decided that if the world (and the snooty lady at the temp agency) wasn't going to choose me, I would choose me. I decided then and there that I would start a blog - and I also got a part time job as a waitress on the weekends.
I started to blog about arts and crafts and parenting (because I was sooo original at the time). After about 6 blog posts, I decided I wasn't making any money so I started working on a project to sell arts and crafts activity kits to families (because my six blog posts meant I was totally qualified to do that). Once I started doing research on what it would take to create these arts and crafts activity kits, I realized that I would need...
(you guessed it) capital.
My new receptionist job didn't quite pay me enough to start a side business so I started to freelance on the side - and when the money didn't add up, I started to study for the GRE.
I didn't have much additional time to study with the blog, researching the arts and crafts kit, managing the social media accounts for my blog, waitressing and freelancing. So I started to wake up at 3AM to study. #teamnosleep
During that low period of my life I learned one thing for certain:
CHOOSE ONE THING AND DO THAT ONE THING UNTIL YOU'RE SUCCESSFUL
In a world of it being common (and even praised) to be multi-passionate or a serial entrepreneur and where everyone seems to be on the constant quest to having "it all" it may seem counter-intuitive to pursue only one thing. (THERE'S SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY!!!)
I've found that's the best thing you can do to actually accomplish your goals and become wildly successful, here's why:
Choosing one goal funnels all of your energy in one direction.
Just take a second to think about how many projects I was working on:
- Blogging + Social Media
- Creating Arts and Crafts Kits
- Studying for the GRE
After work and family time, I would go straight to sleep and my side hustle hours were from 3AM - 8AMeach morning before it was time to get back to work. That means I had five hours to work on any items I had to do that day. That means If I had freelancing projects, I could not study. If I had to publish a blog post that day and schedule social media, I could not work on my arts and crafts kits.
Focusing on one goal means that all of the time you have and all of the energy you have to give can be directed into one thing. Rather than taking your available hours and splitting them between different projects you can focus all of those hours into ONE project. This speeds up your ability to move forward on that project leading faster improvements, bigger wins, and higher probability of success.
Your brain can focus deeply on what you are doing.
When I was working on several different projects at once, I could never focus deeply on what I was doing. For example, at any given time, I could receive an email from a freelance client while I was at my receptionist job or while I was waitressing and it would completely derail my productivity. I could no longer focus on what I was doing. I would try to reply to my clients while I was waiting for food to come out of the kitchen at the restaurant. I would constantly get distracted by an idea for one project while working on another. My brain wanted to solve too many problems.
Your brain is constantly working to solve your problems, even while you sleep! This is great when you have one project that you're working on because even when you're not thinking about it you are constantly working on that goal. Each new idea builds on the last and rather than being a distraction, it's an enhancement to what you're working on.
Once you are clear on what you want, the universe aligns to give it to you.
I decided to focus all of my energy on studying for the GRE because I knew that getting a better job would be the key to unlocking more income and greater potential for myself. I got rid of the blog and stopped working on the crafts business. I even got rid of all of my freelancing clients (except for the highest paying client). I also quit the waitressing job.
Once I knew definitively that I was taking the GRE and going to grad school, I was able to pick and choose only the activities that aligned with my goal. I started to invest my free time into studying for the GRE. My receptionist job, which started off as my source of depression became a huge opportunity because while I was sitting at a desk all day waiting for phone calls, I utilized that time to study even more. I also started to network with people that went to the schools I applied to who gave me insider's information and contacts at the school.
Drilling down to one goal, gives you the opportunity to only do things that will move the needle in pursuit of that goal. Rather than running around being busy and overwhelmed, you can be confident that you're doing what matters most.
You now have time to take care of you.
Pursuing multiple goals is tough business (especially if your goals don't align very well)! The first thing that I lost when pursuing multiple goals was the time for myself. I did not have time to rest properly or have a cup of tea (I probably couldn't afford it at the time if I wanted to). I was constantly serving the executives at the company I worked for, the guests in the restaurant, my clients and my family (being busy is not excuse for not showing up for your loved ones).
Following one goal, means that you can do less but it will amount to so much more - and you can finally take that much needed time to take care of you. #YouDeserveIt
This lesson was one of the first (and most important) adulting lessons I learned. Once I defined the one big hairy audacious goal to pursue, I was able to better plan out my next steps - and the same will be true for you.
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