Narrow It Down

I recently sat down with old student of mine (she is not old; I guess I should call her a former student) who has published her own novel. We were chatting about writing and about life when she came out with the secret of her success: Choose one goal. Just one. And make it count.

Each year, instead of making a long laundry list of resolutions (like I do!) she only chooses one goal. And she makes it a biggie. One year, she completed a full marathon. The next, a triathlon. Now she has written not just one, but several novels, and has become a published author. Listening to her speak about her process, I realized I could use some of that focus.

Imagine paring down your focus so that only one goal dominates your life for an entire year. Instead of trying to lose ten pounds, meditate for an hour daily, learn to make cheese from scratch, renovate your home, sew all your children's clothing and your bedroom curtains, and train your Pitbull to play Ultimate frizbee, you would devote all your extra waking hours to accomplishing just one thing. Are you getting an inkling of how powerful that might be?

I don't know about you, but I am usually all over the place. I love the idea of learning to paint plein-air landscapes and create stunning quilts from recycled clothing scraps. I yearn to travel to all of the National Parks and hike the most beautiful trails in the world. I fantasize about returning to the piano and learning to play well. I'd like to master the tango and maybe the waltz while I'm at it. I think it would be awesome to foster rescued Akitas waiting for their furever homes. And I do have a first draft of that detective novel already written but BADLY in need of major editing and revision.

How do you whittle down your list? How do you pick and choose with so many irresistible options available?

Don't ask me.

But I'm going to try.