I have a shrink-wrapped cork board leaning against the wall to the right of my desk, clearly within view. It’s been standing sentinel in the same spot for months, waiting for me to deal with it and daring me to get on with it already. Its purpose is to be a vision board of sort, a place for me organize my goals, to lay them out in a way that my left-leaning brain can process and check them off, mixed together with other bits designed to spark my still developing right-brain to creativity. I look at that cork board regularly with the same dread that someone with writer’s block stares at a blinking curser on a blank screen.
The problem isn’t the absence of ideas about what to put on the board. I have well vetted lists: my “19 for ‘19”, my word of the year, roles and goals, and measurable “small steps” designed to help me accomplish … everything. My stumbling block to designing the board is the fear that there simply are too many things I want to do to do any one of them justice. Like many women, I wear many hats. The hours of my day are filled with competing demands between all of life’s categories, with additional passing distractions (“Squirrel!”) pulling my attention away. (Hello social media, new Netflix series, email popups, and alerts on my watch). I know from experience that my various roles in life sometimes tangle together, and I struggle to sort one from the other or prioritize one over the other without feeling that if I put one goal higher on my list then I will be failing at whatever it is the drifts lower on the list or off the vision board entirely.
In this paralyzing conundrum, however, there is this unescapable fact: If I continue to let my goals compete with one another in concept, and if I do not truly commit my energies in a direction where my greatest passions lie, none will get done.
So, step one out of the current mess is to finally just put it all down. But, as anyone who has spent the first month of a new year making resolutions and next eleven months breaking them knows, finally committing my goals to the board will not ensure success. So, what will?
Queue self-realization part two: In my quest to maximize my time and fit as much as possible into my days, I actually waste time by trying to do too many things at one time and giving short shrift to each in the process.
I can walk and chew gum at the same time. But if I am trying to read heady and complex stuff, I know that Outlook email pings only divert my attention to something that, 99.9% of the time, actually can wait. If I am talking with my son about his day, a phone in my hand open to social media does nothing to further actual engagement in personal conversation and connection with the very important person who is actually standing in the room with me. If I’m eating an extraordinary meal in a once-in-a-lifetime restaurant, taking photos of my main course does nothing other than to ensure that I will be eating cold food.
Life is about decisions and priorities, both big and small. There will be goals that will make the hit list on my board, and others that, for now, necessarily will need to move over to make room for experiences that will bring the greatest fulfillment and purpose. And I know that if I have any chance at success, it must begin and end with this:
Do one thing.
Do it well.
Move onto the next.
And don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way.