Finishing One Thing
Many new parents complain that they lose themselves a bit after their child arrives. It’s hard to stay on top of anything related to creativity, fitness, and nutrition.
I’ve always been a guy who does a million projects at once. So I devised a plan when my son was born. I would touch each one of my projects every day, so that I would remain connected to it. The thinking was that if I don’t do this, I’ll be distracted by not finishing my work (this is a real thing for artists). And if I manage to touch them all, I will be in the present moment when I’m with him.
Well, it worked, kind of. Every day I spent 5-10 mins on each project (a book, an album, an app, this blog, and learning how to play jazz guitar). And even if I just played one chord or wrote one lyric, I would count it as fulfilling the habit each day.
And when I was with my son, I was totally focused on him. It was kind of a relief. I wished I had done the habit tracking trick sooner.
The projects on the other hand, were slow as hell.
In trying to do a lot of things at one time, and spending only a few minutes on each project, I had a habit and a routine, but I didn’t have enough space to really move the needle. Mostly I’d start something small and then would switch to something else, not really getting to digest or dig in to any sort of work.
It felt nice to get things done, but it was far from fulfilling. And so I scaled back to creative habits to just one – writing the book. And a few months later, as in now, I’ve finished the first draft of the book.
The whole experience made me realize that I find more fulfillment in finishing just one thing than I do in staying engaged with many multiple projects at once. Pushing something new into the world is a thrill, and all the work that leads up to it is fulfilling, but only if I’m meaningfully engaged and not just checking an item off of a list.