How To Know What To Focus On

If you’re anything like me, and I’m guessing you are because you’re here, when you’re thinking about new ideas or possible projects, or even just what you could do with your weekend, it’s sometimes hard to get focused.

How To Know What To Focus On

You generate all kinds of great, interesting ways to use your talents and brain power, but then it becomes overwhelming. Too many good ideas, agh! Not a bad problem to have, but still – it’s no fun.

Maybe you have a talent for something, and everyone tells you that’s what to focus on. They say, you’re a great photographer, you should start a wedding photography business! Even though you have zero interest in documenting people’s weddings you think, well, at least I’d earn some money with it.

Or maybe your kids have moved out and you have more free time. A friend asks you to join a committee she’s on, and it seems like important work, but what you’d secretly like to do is learn how to make watercolors. Which doesn’t feel important in the bigger scheme of things at all.

Here’s what I hear from my own inner voice: You’re a good creative writer! You have an MFA in creative writing, for crying out loud! And you have a memoir and a novel ready to go, sitting on your laptop, just waiting for you to polish them up so you can publish and become a literary author!

Sigh. 

To be fair, my writing career started when I published a personal essay in an anthology, and I’ve published creative nonfiction since. But I don’t jump out of bed in the morning to get to work on the memoir or the novel.

I do jump out of bed to write these posts to you, though. And that’s how I know I’m focused on the right thing for me now.

It’s the difference between feeling duty-bound but ambivalent about something – a should – versus balls-out excited about something you love. A want.

That’s how I want you to feel, jump-out-of-bed excited. (And if “balls-out” doesn’t resonate with you, feel free to use your own adjective. 😃) 

So if you’re wondering what to focus on, give it the should vs. want test. When you wake up tomorrow and you have that to-do on your calendar, notice if before you get to it you read the paper, alphabetize your bookshelves, and read every single new post on your Facebook feed. That’s an indicator it’s a should.

Or, notice if you wake up, pour your coffee, and get after it. No dilly-dallying. That would be a want, and that’s what I want you to focus on. The first thing can wait. Maybe forever.

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6 Comments

  1. Sherry in MT March 30, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    Well said!

  2. Martha Goudey March 30, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    In the past year it has been all about preparing to be on the road, then figuring out how to be on the road, how to adequately take care of myself, cook, budget, shower, sleep…but I too have a memoir sitting on my laptop that needs extensive rewriting. I haven’t had desire or energy to face it. Not yet.
    Provocative post. Thanks.
    Martha Goudey recently posted…Casita living updateMy Profile

    • deonne March 30, 2017 at 11:24 am #

      My pleasure, Martha! You’ve had a lot of new skills/plans to get going, so it makes sense you’ve back-burnered the memoir. When your basic needs – taking care of yourself on the road – are dialed in and you’re sufficiently rested up, then you can see if the memoir is the project you should work on first. I’d be curious to hear what you come up with when you get there.

  3. Emilie Vardaman March 30, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    I don’t have a jump-out-of-bed drive. Wish I did!
    Emilie Vardaman recently posted…Mazatlán – the Photos.My Profile

    • deonne March 30, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

      Emilie – It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, and maybe you don’t need that at the moment. 🙂

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