If you’re having trouble staying focused on a project you started but can’t seem to finish, step back and think about what you’re doing. Is this something you really want to finish? If it is, then look at the situation because maybe that’s the problem. We think of ourselves as being consistent in how we work, but in truth, we shift gears on a pretty regular basis depending on the environment we’re in.
To get your best work done, you want to be jazzed up about what you’re doing AND you want to be energized about where that project takes you.
Say, for instance, you’re trying to write a book but you’re an extrovert. You have a clear goal in mind, and writing is something you love to do. But to write a book, you have to spend a LOT of time alone and that environment may be what’s not working for you. Extroverts get jazzed up when a new idea occurs to them, and they love working on something that has an exciting social component. Their energy drains when they have to work alone in a quiet space. And what could be quieter than spending hours alone thinking, writing, and editing?
If that’s a wall you’re hitting, theater, public speaking, podcasting, or setting up a YouTube channel might be a better way to get your ideas out to the world without spending so much quiet time.
Conversely, if your big goal is to travel the world and you’re an introvert, the idea of travel sounds great, but you hesitate to head out because it means you’ll be meeting strangers, you’ll be in unfamiliar surroundings, and you’ll have very little quiet time. Introverts get jazzed up when they have quiet time to deeply think about a new project and then work alone or with a small team to make their vision a reality. Introvert’s energy drains when they spend time in loud places with a lot of people – which pretty much defines travel!
An introvert might be better planning small trips to quiet places, or traveling to one place and staying awhile rather than attempting to be a globe trotter.
If you’re not sure if you’re an extrovert or introvert, here’s a quick test from “professional introvert” Susan Cain. If you aren’t familiar with Susan or her work, here she is in a great TED talk. What I like about Susan’s 10 questions in this quick quiz isn’t so much how they define you, but how they help you see that you’re different in different situations – and that you might be an ambivert where you’re sometimes more comfortable as an extrovert and sometimes more comfortable as an introvert.
Bottom line: You’ve got big ideas that bring you energy. To finish them, you want to work in situations that bring you energy. You want to work on things that when you think about doing them, you feel a bubble of excitement. When you’re working on them, you’re all in and completely focused. And when you look back on them, you smile and think, “That was awesome!”
I’m sending you high energy today to get stuff done.
Art below courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts’ great exhibit on Robert McCloskey