I want to recommend a terrific book. It’s The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Here’s my interpretation of its central premise: Identify the one thing in any area of your life that, if done, will make everything else either unnecessary or much easier.
Take career. ‘I wanna write plays I wanna act I wanna have a coaching business’ was my conundrum. I tried sustaining all three for a while, which ended up amounting to dabbling at each.
Which would be fine, if I didn’t apply the pressure of making a living to all three via some miraculous win-fall, or at least by having it contribute fiscally to my existence in order to be considered a valid pursuit. This resulted in a lot of frustration.
The day I heard a colleague say ‘you can’t straddle the universe’, everything clicked into place.
Getting back to the book. That one thing that I needed to do career-wise before anything else was to support my family. Once I’d found a way to do that consistently, I could layer other things back in, sequentially.
Right now I’m all in on the coaching. Happily, it was a great One Thing choice because I get to write and I get to use a lot of my acting skills (listening, connecting, giving presentations).
People will ask ‘are you still writing? Are you still acting?’. I find myself getting annoyed by these question because I’m hearing: ‘Tell me you are, because if you’re not, you’ve failed, and I’ll be disappointed in you. And if you’re not, who the hell are you to talk about ‘profiting from your passion?”’.
Now maybe this is or maybe this isn’t the inquirer’s implication. My annoyance has to do with the fact that I’m projecting that implication, and since the answer to both questions is basically no, I’m the one disappointed in myself, and feeling hypocritical at some level.
When in truth, I’ve made a choice based on a variety of factors.
As an actor and a playwright, I’ve succeeded many times. Success isn’t a final destination.
These days I play-write when I feel like it, and act by invitation, not audition. I do both for pure joy. That such opportunities hold joy for me is success in and of itself.
So back to the One Thing: my practice is growing and my family is benefiting financially. As this happens, I feel the freedom to partake in my other crafts more frequently.
You can do it all. Just not all at once.
As for my health, my one thing is getting 9 hours of sleep. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but when I do it, I’ve got more physical and mental energy for everything else (including a little exercise.)
I won’t go through every area of my life because this is a blog, not an essay. So I can choose to stop wherever I want. Like here. My one thing was to write a blog introducing the concept of the One Thing. I’ve done that.
So what’s your One Thing? In the area of health? Of career? Of community? As an activist? As a parent? Of whatever area? Please post in the comments below.