“How do I define Renaissance Souls? In a nutshell, we are people whose number-one career or hobby choice is ‘Please don’t make me choose!’ We’re much more inclined to pursue a slew of interests than to narrow our options to a single one.” – Margaret Loberstine in The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life
You can’t seem to decide on one thing.
No matter how much you try.
It doesn’t matter how much the loved ones in your life implore you to just pick something.
You love too many things and trying to just pick one leaves you tied up in knots.
The bad news? Nothing gets done.
But what if you could do it all?
No, not all right away, full steam ahead leading to exhaustion and feeling like a loser that you failed. Again.
But, what if there was a way where you didn’t have to give up anything, and you could do all the things that you love?
The following seven levers can help you with that.
Lever #1. Play
Rather than turning into a mean task master forcing yourself to stay on task, give yourself room to play.
When you allow yourself the space to play, you can relax, experiment and feel happier.
Surprisingly, you can get more done. You’ll also come up with unexpected solutions to solve problems that are hard to crack.
Dr. Stuart Brown, Founder of the National Institute for Play (NIFP) has studied play – for kids but especially for adults — and its benefits in a systematic way. He has interviewed thousands of people and noticed that active play is leveraged by the very successful. You might be surprised to learn that he found compelling evidence that negative consequences accumulate in a life deprived of play.
You can listen to his TED talk to get more information on why play is vital!
Lever #2. Explore
Rather then trying to select just one task to the exclusion of all else, give yourself permission to explore.
Exploration and play are often found together, though they work in different ways.
Being curious is another way to think about exploration.
When you are curious approaching a problem, you remember more, learn more, and have positive feelings wrestling with the problem. Leigh Weingus talks about even more benefits at HuffPost.ca.
Give yourself permission to explore widely. You’ll learn more about yourself, what you like and don’t like. More importantly, you’ll discover the common thread lying at the heart of what appear on the surface to be divergent and varied interests.
Lever #3. Commit to a long game
Playing games like Monopoly and Chess are long-term commitments. They’re not like Checkers and Snakes-and-Ladders, which can be played over-and-over again in the same afternoon.
Both types of games are invaluable, though they require different sets of approaches to achieve success. They also invoke different levels of entertainment value and learning requirements.
In a way, it’s the difference between tactics and strategy. Tactics are things you can do right now. Strategy is longer-term thinking.
Instead of worrying about excluding something you love, focus on a few things you really care about right now. Work at accepting that the other items you are not prioritizing right now are not excluded but are just simmering in the background of your subconscious.
You might not have everything you need right now, but as you dream your dreams, and imagine the possibilities, you can begin to see patterns surface that will bring you closer to what you’ve visualized for your future. Within these patterns, you’ll be able to identify tactics to make you more effective.
While you play and explore – i.e., have fun making mistakes – you will be able to draw on those lessons to help you further refine the actions you need to take to align with your strategy.
Committing to long-term thinking allows you the emotional space to relax because you’re not giving anything up — just slightly postponing.
The best part about this approach is, just like a chili or a stew tastes so much better after they have simmered, so will your interests and ideas benefit from stewing on the back burner of your subconscious.
Lever #4. Complete micro-commitments
There is a natural momentum that develops when you complete the things you set out to do. Unfortunately, the opposite happens when you look back and witness a string of incomplete projects trailing behind you. On top that, you might have to deal with feeling ashamed or guilty about the lack of progress — which slows you down even more..
There is a simple fix though.
Apply your project management skills to break down the bigger tasks into 15 to 30 minute chunks. In some cases, you might want to break it down into 5 or 10 minutes chunks.
Then, challenge yourself to complete up to three of these micro-tasks in a day. It’s so much easier to do something that takes ten minutes then it is to find an hour to complete a longer task.
You will feel satisfied that you completed those three things, rather than feel guilty and mad at yourself because you supposedly didn’t have the will to make the time. You’ll have completely eclipsed the need to bring out the task master, and the emotional mess you’ll have to clean up after you finish beating yourself up.
If you want to know more about why this approach works, consider what Monica Mehta says in Entrepreneur.com. The science shows that when you succeed at something often, your brain will remember the information longer. Why? Because your brain releases a chemical called dopamine. This affects your brain as it relates to fun, learning and motivation. This means that you’ll want to do that activity more, which allows you to deepen your learning. Before you know it, as you accumulate completed tasks, you’ll start creating momentum.
Lever #5. Celebrate
Celebrate everything. Every step, every misstep, everything.
Celebrate the process. It’s way more fun getting somewhere when you’re having fun along the way. There are no wrong turns, only experiences to draw on when you take the next step.
Celebrate with the people you love.
It doesn’t really matter how you prefer to celebrate.
The key here is that you are savoring the moment, appreciating it for what it is. Gratitude is an unlimited source to support your success.
The more you can appreciate the small things, the more room you are making for yourself at emotional and subconscious levels for more cool things to show up in your life that you can celebrate even more.
When you appreciate – when you feel gratitude – you are easily invoking many benefits to support you in your day-to-day life. Amit Aman at the Happier Human.com shares 31 benefits from an analysis compiling forty studies on gratitude.
He reports that he was completely surprised to learn that gratitude impacts five major areas in your life:
See the graph from the Happier Human website for a high level overview. You should definitely check out Aman’s post if you want to dig deeper into the benefits of gratitude.
Lever #6. Accept and embrace how you work
Why wouldn’t it be okay to enjoy multiple things?
Do you really believe that focusing on one thing only is the only way to do things? Why?
The key here is to figure out your process for yourself. How do you learn? What do you like? How do you really do things?
With this information, you can make much better decisions playing to your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses.
You can’t change who you are. You can’t change your process.
But, you can understand who you are and what your process really is like so that you can make those insights work for you more effectively.
This could mean accepting that you really are a night person, or a morning person, and arrange to do your thinking work at a time when you are the most alert.
If you tend to fall asleep after lunch, then arrange your schedule to be interacting with people in the afternoon.
If you find yourself drifting into areas of study that have nothing to do with your task, then consider how you could reward yourself with an hour of free-flow drifting once you complete one hour of on-task work. Remember to keep your promise to yourself or you’ll be dealing with a mutiny at the subconscious level. Then, the guilt and frustration will kick in, and then you’ll have an emotional mess to mop again.
Be patient with yourself, and work with what works best for you.
Lever #7. Set intentions to co-create your achievements
Who said you have to do everything alone?
The results you can achieve are so much greater when you refine your skills leveraging the power of intention-setting – essentially allowing time for your ideas to mature while you’re working on something else.
It’s important to remember that we set intentions all the time. We say things like… “I wish I could…” “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” “I hope that…” And so on.
Experiment with refining your skills setting intentions. What I mean here is deliberate and focused thinking to imagine clearly the outcome you desire. Be clear about the what, but leave the details of how to your subconscious.
Before long, you’ll start feeling nudges to do things you would not, could not, have planned for. You might find a book you would have never considered reading, or taken an earlier bus that connects you to an old friend, or notice an interaction between two people you don’t know that get you thinking about people you do know. And on it goes.
For details about the science of intention, consider reading the book The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton, PhD. He explains how the mind influences matter. He shares many scientific examples and experiments to support his observations.
You could also read the book The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and Your World by Lynne McTaggart. She reports on and summarizes the key conclusions of scientific experiments as it relates to the power of the observer to change the outcome of matter.
I stumbled upon an extremely useful strategy that showcases the power of intention to co-create.
Whatever you’re working on, whether grand or small, write out in draft the pieces you do know. After you’ve written down what you know, attempt to provide a rough structure within which the written elements you’ve captured would fit. Leave the gaps open to be filled in over time.
For example, you might be trying to decide how many steps you take to get a certain task done. You’re not really sure about the number of steps. You certainly don’t recall the specifics of each right at the moment. What you do though is insert headers listing the word “Step” with an underscore to represent the number and specific step. Leave them blank. Take the content you drafted and insert it whole or in pieces in the areas that make the most sense to you. Review the whole piece where you can note the gaps. Then, forget about the document for a month or two, and get on with living your life. When you return to this document in a few months, you will be surprised by how many new pieces of information you have within easy grasp to fill in the gaps.
That’s the power of co-creation at it’s finest.
You frame up a rough structure and invite your subconscious to supply the answers.
My Commitment to Myself
When I hit 40 years of age, I realized that I hadn’t accomplished any of the things I wanted to do in over two decades. Sure, I was in my childbearing years, and I was working a full-time career in a day job.
But, when I decided to be completely honest with myself, it became clear that the real reason I didn’t get anything done was that I couldn’t decide what to do. When I tried to properly focus one thing, nothing got done. I felt bored by allowing myself only one thing. I also felt sad that I had to give up the other things.
The net result: I didn’t do much that leveraged my personal talents and abilities.
I swore to myself that when I came to the end of another decade – this time when I turned fifty – I would be able to look back and say that I accomplished things that were related to my innate interests, gifts and talents.
So, here I am doing it all because I have two decades of experience under my belt knowing that trying to choose one thing led me to getting nothing done.
What will I accomplish by fifty? I have no clue, but I’m running this experiment and I’ll let you know then.
What is Your Commitment to Yourself?
In the meantime, I invite you to join in the experiment with me.
What are the things that you don’t want to give up? What are the things you feel compelled to do?
Give up on making yourself choose. Embrace it all. Commit to the long game. Leverage the power of intention to allow some of the work to happen on your behalf.
Share what you love and are passionate about that you committed to achieving over the long haul. And see what happens.