Sunday, August 28, 2022

When I was on maternity leave after having my first child, I started to imagine having my own business. I had a lot of ideas and did a lot of research.

For a while I delved into creating and selling nameplates made out of fabric so children could also easily carry them around and play with them. I came up with a name and created a prototype for a friend’s daughter. It wasn’t half bad. Especially considering I wasn’t much of a sewer.

It took me a long time to make that prototype. All the while, I was fantasizing about having an online store where parents everywhere would be clamoring to get these amazing nameplates for their children.

It was intoxicating. So fun to imagine what my business would be like. Making all that money and getting interviewed about my smashing success.

I never went beyond that first prototype.

But I continued to imagine different businesses over the years.

Now that I have a business, it looks very different than any of my fantasies. Because ultimately a fantasy or vision is imagining the end point. The outcome. When we imagine, we don’t think of all the minutiae, the struggles we’ll face, the choices we’ll have to make, or the boring stuff we’ll need to do.

Your mistake was not in imagining things you could not know—that is, after all, what imagination is for. Rather, your mistake was in unthinkingly treating what you imagined as though it were an accurate representation of the facts.
― Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

So it’s natural that when we first commit to doing something, we are motivated by the outcome.

The outcome is the fantasy. And making that vision come true isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
There are a lot things to do in the middle. As you work toward the end point, the middle can feel frustrating.

When you’re somewhere in the middle, it’s hard to keep going.

You’re not getting much return on your effort yet. This is where your doubts gain momentum. And you question whether it’s even worth continuing. You were so excited about having a podcast that people would love but working on creating it is much harder than you’d imagined.

Ah yes. You never really imagined the middle.

Making the fantasy a reality is all middle. It’s where we live most of the time. Sometimes we get to the ‘end’ and many times we don’t.

We dream in endpoints but we live in the middle.

The truth is there’s a lot of discomfort in seeing something through. But there’s no way around it. To make real progress and do meaningful work, you must focus on only one or two main projects. Otherwise, you’re diluting your efforts, making very little progress in numerous areas.

Intuitively, you know this. But you keep adding more to your plate when another cool opportunity or idea comes up.

Why do we do this?

1 – Fantasies have no limits.
Our imagination is wonderful and humans are the only species that can think of the future but those fantasies don’t have the limits of reality. The limits of what we can actually accomplish within the constraints of time, obligations, needs etc. don’t factor in.

2 – It feels less risky to do more things.
If something doesn’t work out, it’s not so terrible because you’ve got lots of irons in the fire.
You can just pick one of those up when one of them falls apart.
The irony is that the more irons you have, the more chances you have of getting burned. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. 🙂

3 – We love beginnings and novelty.
It is so much fun to start something new. To immerse yourself in all the possibilities of this new thing. So when we’re in the middle of something and it’s not so fun and exciting, we turn down that discomfort by starting something new.

4 – You have many interests.
You’re a curious person and you want to try and explore many different things. As an entrepreneur, you likely started your business because you wanted to have more creative freedom. More opportunities to try different things. How unfair to have to choose!

I’m here to tell you that the middle can be rewarding and fulfilling. You can get better at choosing what to work on and at enjoying the process.

So how do you choose what to focus on? It’s not always easy but it’s also not as complicated as you might think.

Next week, I’ll explore the power of being choosy.

See you then,
Lynn x

FOCUS TO FLOURISH

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