Options. There’s a lot of them in this world. Some might even say there’s too many. I would say; it’s not the options that concern me, it’s the additional safety they provide.
Being a fairly creative person, I’ve tried a few different things over the course of my life. I’m only 22, but still I’ve managed to taste a lot of options. Music production, app-development, writing, playing the guitar, endurance sports, poker — to name the good ones.
The reality is that I’ve probably tasted everything form delicious pizza, to dry bread. It’s easy to dispense with the bread however (hence, no bragging about them), but that’s not where my appetite lies. I enjoy the pizza. I have a slight problem though; I never know which pizza to choose.
I never got particularly good at any of the things I mentioned. Sure, I made a few songs in Fl Studio, launched an app on Google Play, and achieved a few decent results in sports. But I never got great. I never achieved mastery in any of these disciplines. I never choose something to get good at. I played my options, and got average on all.
Why is it so hard to choose only one?
You should never play your options when it comes to choosing a partner. Not for long anyhow. That’s not how you achieve a great, sustainable relationship. Why don’t we have the same mentality when it comes to choosing a creative endeavor or career?
The reason it’s so hard to choose one thing, is because having a lot of options feels safe. In addition, you want to make sure that you are choosing the right thing. You don’t want to end up regretting it.
It makes sense. Leaving other options is a scary thing to do. You abandon roads. Possible winners. Perhaps, ones paved with gold. If you’re single minded, however, you don’t have anything else to fall back on. If you lose, you’re entirely lost. No safety net. With no half-built achievements to fall back on, it’s a lot harder to get back up.
Still, there’s a problem with switching lanes all the time. You slow yourself down. A life isn’t all that long, and if you want to be great at something, you don’t have time for all the switching. Not to begin with anyhow…
“Nothing has sunk more creators and caused more unhappiness than this: our inherently human tendency to pursue one goal while simultaneously expecting to achieve other goals entirely unrelated.” — Ryan Holiday
“Sitting down with GaryVee
Putting the bullshit aside
He said you found your lane so grind
It’s just a matter of time” — Rowlan, Born Hustler
You have to decide to do one thing, but bear with me — only to begin with. You need to choose something to get good at, and stick with it until you’ve achieved a respectable amount of mastery, become known in your field, and managed to make a living out of it. Once you’ve established yourself, you can start expanding by adding another skill. Then another one, and then another one…
There’s plenty of people who managed this feat. The feat of conquering different domains. Some examples are:
- Arnold Schwarzenegger. Actor, producer, businessman, author, politician, and former professional bodybuilder.
- Oprah. Media mogul, talk show host, actress, and producer.
- Ansel Elgort. Singer, DJ, and actor.
- Zooey Deschanel. Actor, singer, and model.
I would note that compatible skills are easier to add on top of each other. These are such fields that naturally overlap in some sort, or require some shared abilities. It could be things like singer-songwriter, Author-public speaker, or bodybuilder-model.
Become great, and then expand. Build a safety net once you’re good. Not before you get there.
Some words on how to decide.
Assuming that all options are somewhat equal, you have to decide with the one that feels right. You just have to trust your gut. Or, you could perhaps choose the one which is the easiest to succeed with.
If it’s clear that one is better than the other, but you just can’t seem to finalize your decision, it probably means that you’re scared. Good. That’s an indicator of a meaningful pursuit. Choose the one you’re scared of.
Furthermore, when you start to get good at something, you’ll like it even more. This is a well know psychological phenomenon. You like what you’re good at. Aim to build a skill, and you’re not likely to regret it once you start to get good at it.
Set aside some time for deciding, but don’t waste any more than needed. Wouldn’t you rather use your time on building a skill?
Deciding means ending all doubt. However, deciding to decide is the hardest thing to decide on.