“How do you choose when you seem to be equally passionate about all your ideas?”
I received this email from another podcast listener a few weeks back. She writes:
“Dear Arriane, I’m passionate about so many things. I’m into photography, videography, volunteer work, and calligraphy. But the thing is, because I keep doing several things all at the same time, every time I need to introduce myself & what I do, I don’t feel confident at all, and my answer is always sheepishly all over the place! How do you choose when you seem to be equally passionate about all your ideas?
This question resonated so much with me because I feel like that’s the mindset I was in for almost 7 years. I was soooo passionate about everything! It didn’t help that I love learning, so I was always discovering new things I wanted to get into, cool new ideas, and awesome people I wanted to emulate.
As I learned more new things, my list of passions started getting longer and longer.
And I experienced what you described, too – I would attend talks, conferences, workshops, and I would DREAD introductions because I couldn’t quite explain what I did. I tried to position myself as someone who was super busy and into a lot of things (the glorified multi-slasher, right?), but deep inside…
I was wishing that I could tell people what I do with more confidence, clarity, and conviction. I felt like such a fraud: telling people I do all these things, but feeling so insecure, because I was so unsure about what it is that I really do.
The turning point came when I decided that I wanted to start building my own business, which meant quitting my job, and not having a steady monthly salary. This life milestone really backed me into corner: I knew that if I did not focus my ideas, then I’d be entering this new, uncertain phase in my life floundering in overwhelm, procrastination, and half-baked projects.
Read on below for ONE MAJOR TIP I have for choosing which idea to say yes to.
One Big Thing At A Time
I don’t think I could have survived my first year of pursuing my passion full-time, my first year in business, if I didn’t force myself to set clear priorities, and really really really focus my energies there.
I fall under the creative stereotype wherein my brain is consumed by a million ideas all at the same time. I wanna do this, and this, and that, and do this, and that.
But I find that I make the most progress, and I produce my best work, and I’m most successful at following through – when I truly focus on one big thing at a time.
To give you a very concrete example: Right before I quit my job, I got A LOT of offers to do design thinking trainings for various big companies in the Philippines. They were really great opportunities that just landed in my lap. And oh boy: I really contemplated on taking them.
I was so torn! I love, love, love design thinking with fervor and passion, and it seeps into every single thing I do — but…
I also knew, that my #1 focus for the year was to make my main business model my profitable – and that business model is all about teaching leadership and entrepreneurship classes for creative women. I knew that if I took on these corporate clients, it would require a different kind of skill set, different resources, and a very different frame of mind. It would really split my energy and brain space.
So while it would have been a very very profitable opportunity, I said NO to a lot of those offers last year.
Because while I’d like to believe I can do it all, I know that focusing on one goal at a time will get me far better results than spreading myself too thinly throughout several different ideas and projects.
What you should do when faced with idea overwhelm:
If you’re like me and you find yourself in a place where you have many passions, and want to do so many things, and you’re often conflicted about which one to pursue first, or find yourself often starting an idea with much excitement, but then it eventually dies or fades away because you didn’t commit enough to it — then this is my advice to you: LEARN TO SAY NO.
But – I want to take it one step further.
I’d like to introduce to you the phrase:
“No for now, I’ll revisit you later and give you the focus you deserve.”
So instead of just saying NO to all your other passions and ideas, what you’re saying is, I want to give this passion/idea the focus it deserves — and if I try to do it with several other things — I know that my time, energy, and effort will be so divided and I won’t be able to give my whole heart to do this.
So my challenge to you is this: Pick one thing to focus on for at least two to three months. Give that one big idea a fighting chance. Pour 100% of your energy into that goal or project, before pursuing another one. That’s the secret to following through on your ideas. Focus, focus, focus.
Just because you’re not pursuing the other ideas doesn’t mean you can’t go back to them. After three months and completing your first project or idea, revisit the ideas you said “No for now” too. See if you still feel passionate about them. Then go and repeat the same thing: Choose one, and focus, focus, focus.
I’m a big believer that if an idea is meant for you, it will wait. (If you haven’t read it yet, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘Big Magic’ elaborates on this in beautiful detail and provides lots of inspiring examples.)
And if you’re scared that you’re losing out on the other opportunities by just choosing one, believe me, you’ll be losing more opportunities if you just keep starting things but never follow through ’til the end.
If you want more in-depth advice on choosing an idea & actually FOLLOWING THROUGH on a passion project…
I have the perfect podcast episode for you. This is from my very first episode on The Purposeful Creative podcast, and I talk all about:
- How to stop getting distracted with too many ideas
- What you need to determine to serve as the North Star of your passion project
- The two types of goals you need to set before you begin any project
- Step #4 is a step that most people skip: But it is the most crucial step if you want to create purposeful projects
- How to avoid procrastination and perfectionism (and a side story of my own messy battle with procrastination)
- What you can do to become more accountable and to follow through on your idea
It’s a lot more in-depth, and I even walk you through a case study based on my own experience.
Listen to the podcast episode #1 below:
It’s a really good episode, I answered 5 questions from my listeners about how to start an online business. I tackle a lot of helpful topics, even beyond pricing. If that’s something interesting to you, and you want to listen to that, you can either:
- Press play above above listen from your browser with the embedded player
- Or, if you’re on your desktop and you have iTunes, you can click this link and it’ll take you there. (Episode 1)
- Or, if you’re on an iPhone – you can go to your Podcasts app, and search for The Purposeful Creative Episode 5
- Or, if you’re on Android – you can download any podcast app, my favorite is Stitcher, and search for The Purposeful Creative and go to Episode 5.
NOTE: What I like about podcasts is that I can listen to it anywhere, any time, whether I’m stuck in traffic, working out, or doing errands. It’s a great way to learn on-the-go without having to look at your screen.
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