One thing at once

I used to believe the constant business-induced anxiety I grappled with would last forever. I assumed it was the cost of doing business for yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard of or felt the peaks and valleys yourself.

Goes something like this:

You come up with an idea only to to discover how hard it actually is to produce a tangible concept the market will pay attention to and pay for.

Still you persisted and were eventually rewarded for your grit — people are responding to the work! Not so fast though … in the process, they revealed some blind spots that never crossed your radar. So you double down and invest even more time, dollars and effort into this game-changing concept.

That is until you run out of money, which ultimately means you’ve run out of resources to finance your time and fuel your effort.

This is where confusion usually sets in: You know you’ve got what it takes. But you’re not sure why you feel like such a failure. And that self-doubt paves the way for resignation to settle in, unless you’re one of the favored ones who figures out a way to keep on keepin’ on until you cross the ordinary border into extraordinary.

I’m obviously in the game as I type this. I’ve not made it. Sure, I realize I’ve got more access and autonomy than most. But truthfully, I’m just out here trying to make sure our culture doesn’t eat me up and spit me out so I can create the kind of work that enables me to design and live a meaningful life. Though fewer and farther between, I still experience days where Imposter Syndrome gets the best of me. I have an out-of-this-world support system, but even they can’t always protect me or pull me out of feelings of loneliness and homesickness. And the overwhelm — the throbbing sensation that not only does it all have to get done, but it has to get done NOW — has been one of the most sinister villains to come up against me.

My saving grace came in the form of a subtle mindset shift.

I began to focus on what I wanted to achieve each day instead of what I needed to get done.

And once I found that focus, I zeroed on in on the single high-impact task that got me to or around that achievement and poured all my effort and skill into that task — one thing at once.

At the end of most work days, anxiety has been replaced with a genuine sense of satisfaction. And what’s been most rewarding is how that sense of fulfillment propels me into the next day.

Perhaps that's the secret to extraordinary work: A commitment to do something today that improves your tomorrow — one thing at once?

If you ask me, it's at least worth a try.