8 min read
Think about the beginning of your day.
In a perfect world, if you could do just one thing everyday that would set you up for success, what would that be?
And I’m not talking about drinking coffee– even though that morning brew does make the rest of the day much easier.
I’m talking about something that gets your brain rolling. An exercise– physical or mental– that puts you in the right frame of mind to get to the work at hand.
It could be something that helps you focus, double-down, relax, center, reimagine, or whatever it is that makes everything else in your life easier.
Or maybe it’s a list of steps you can take to reach a long-term goal you have in mind.
Do you have that one thing?
Today, I want to talk about why you need that one thing, how to figure out what your one thing is, and then how to create a daily ritual with it.
It all started with the real estate mogul- Gary Keller of Keller Williams Realty.
In his book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, Keller poses the question:
“What’s the ONE Thing you could do, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”
Make sense? It’s about being single-minded with just that one activity that helps make the rest of your day easier or automatically checks items off your to-do list.
Does that one goal mean the others don’t matter at all? Absolutely not.
Feel free to have a short list of other goals, but you’ll find that this one big goal becomes the cornerstone for all of the actions you take along the way.
It’s about putting on your blinders so you can move down one path and create the kind of focus necessary to find success in your work or personal life.
Having your one thing defined, written down, and made public will help you set the stage for accomplishing your goals by breaking them down into daily chunks of time. That means instead of wishfully thinking and dreaming about improving your skills, starting your business, or whatever your big goal may be, you’re actually making daily progress on making it happen.
Everyone is going to be different and arrive at their one big thing by taking a different path. But here are a few ways to get started.
The very first step to determining what your one thing is, is to ask yourself what you’re working toward.
I’m sure if you asked yourself right now, you’d probably already know the answer. As a creator, your brain is always thinking of the next project or step you want to take to change how you operate in business or in your own life.
So what is that your next big goal?
This could include a long-term goal you’re moving toward or even just a new way of moving through your day.
Is it writing a book? Participating in an IRONMAN race? Launching a new product? Improving your skillset?
Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s clear, write it down for posterity's sake, and move on to the next step.
Now that you have your one main goal in mind, it’s time to figure out what it will take to get there. This is where the concept of the ONE Thing comes into play.
Your ONE Thing is the daily step you take to achieve your big goal. Not sure what that means? Here are a couple examples:
Get the picture?
Just because it’s called the ONE Thing, doesn't mean you have to do that same one thing for the rest of your life. As your goals change, you’ll also change the activity you dedicate time to every day.
What are those things in your life that you can do without or let go of?
What gets in the way of you doing the important work- whether that’s sitting at your computer to write your next eBook or taking time every night to sit down with your family for dinner.
In Shawn Blanc’s Focus Course, he challenges his students to reduce incoming noise and distraction.
“When we get too absorbed in the platform, the new, and the feedback, then the echo chamber becomes the place where we compare ourselves by ourselves. It becomes noisy. Inspiration runs dry. Our creativity gets stifled. We grow cynical and sarcastic. And, it serves as an ever-present distraction and pacifier from doing work that matters.”
When you’re constantly inundated with distractions, you’ll never fully be able to sync into your creativity. You’ll always be stifled and left overwhelmed and over-stretched by everything in your life.
Identifying the big distractions in your life right now will help you recognize them as they come and consciously put them aside.
Maybe it’s scrolling social media, constantly checking email, or even cleaning the house. Whatever tasks, to-do items, or subconscious habits you’ve created that take up what could be useful time in your day, it’s time to let them go.
You’ve got your plan.
You’ve set aside distractions.
Now it’s time to create space.
Setting up blocks of time on your calendar will make it more likely that you’ll actually start working. If you say, “Oh I’ll do it at some point today,” my money is on the fact that you’re never going to get around to it.
Blocking out those few hours on calendar not only signifies to yourself that it’s dedicated goal time, it also shows other people that you are in a “no distractions” zone. Block those times off as “busy” so no one can set up a meeting or a call with you.
This is your time every day to focus on your ONE Thing. Do whatever it takes to make this time sacred.
It’s about creating a ritual with your ONE Thing.
In her book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it For Life, choreography Twyla Tharp talks about how creating daily rituals takes away doubt and self-questioning and prepares us for the creativity of the day.
“It’s vital to establish some rituals– automatic but decisive patterns of behavior– at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up or going the wrong way…
Turning something into a ritual eliminates the question, ‘Why am I doing this?’
… This, more than anything else, is what rituals of preparation give us: They arm us with confidences and self-reliance.”
Creating this daily ritual with your ONE Thing is imperative to making progress on your goal, not only for the finished product, but also for believing in your own ability to create.
All that’s left at this point is to make it happen.
It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
Just show up every day and put in the work it takes to accomplish big goals.
Finding focus on your One Thing is clearly a process. It’s not something you can accomplish over night.
I’ll tell you right now, there will be days you don’t want to sit down and make it happen. There will be days you don’t feel inspired or ready to show up for creativity. But if you can push through those kinds of days and even just take a few baby steps during your dedicated time, you’ll feel accomplished and closer to reaching your one big goal.
That’s worth the effort, right?
So what’s your One Thing and how are you focused on getting there?
Take some time today to sit down and really think about your future. What’s the next big goal you want to accomplish?
List out what it will take to get there, eliminate the distractions in your way, set up your calendar, and make it happen.
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.