Are you at a stage in your life where there is more that you want to do than time to do it? Tell me if this sounds familiar. Each morning I work out for up to an hour as well as spend that much time reading and meditating. I have a day gig that requires most of my day. I develop and promote real estate. I’m part of a team building a software platform for enabling real estate promoters like myself to manage their investors via their own portal. I have a wife and two wonderful kids whom I dedicate three hours a day to. I write for this site as well as the real estate crowdfunding platform. Among all of this I am constantly exposed to compelling new opportunities. I can’t do them all, but I am tempted to spend some time on other pursuits. How do you manage all of this without going crazy?
Daily practice makes it stick
The simple way I use to decide if I can take something on is to decide where it would fit in my daily calendar. Anything that is going to be a permanent fixture in your life is going to take regular maintenance and care. Think about the things that you have done well in your life. Do you spend time on them every week, every day? Diet and exercise are the perfect example. You can’t just do it once and be done. Only daily practice will make a lasting impact on your health.
Most of us must go to a job every day to secure income. If you play an instrument, you’re only good if you practice regularly, and when you stop you lose that skill. Speaking a foreign language daily is what makes it stick. Did you take language lessons in high school or college and get quite good at them? How about now? Do you retain that level of proficiency without regular practice?
Block the time
If it’s important to me, I assume that I need to be able to do it every day. This is sweeping the floor. It keeps getting dirty, so you have to sweep it every day. I’m considering getting my kids into a martial arts program, but to do so, something else will have to come off the schedule. Often we find ourselves compromising and doing things half way so we can squeeze more in. This does us a huge disservice by not being able to dedicate the time required to get the best yield out of that activity. If you plant a crop, you can’t water it half the time and expect to get anything out of it. So if you’re half watering two crops, you are just wasting your time.
Anytime you want to add something to your list, find room for daily practice. Ask yourself what you will have to stop doing in order to take on the new thing. This will allow you to quickly weigh your existing activities against potential new ones. Don’t raise dead crops.
Beware of shiny syndrome
We’re often bored with what we do on a regular basis. Even if we’ve developed an extreme expertise, we are doing the same thing over and over. After a while that can get dull and we have the temptation to move on to something new. What we often fail to see is that we are repeating the same thing we did when we got into whatever skill set you have already achieved some level of expertise in. That shiny new thing will eventually become boring as well. This can lead us into becoming a jack of all trades. Be sure that is what you are after if you want to switch your area of expertise. Be prepared to climb a new ramp of skill. This can be very fulfilling, just know what you sacrifice.
Extreme experts are more rare and they are sought after because no one else has done the level of practice that an expert has. Jacks of all trades get benefits of considering new approaches to problems by being familiar with vastly different areas of expertise. A good example of this is a patent attorney who knows both law and engineering. While they may not be masters of each, they can bring a technical perspective to law which many lawyers lack and thus that combination becomes very valuable.
Personally I tend to be a jack of multiple trades. My focus is on where software can improve the real estate industry. I second guess myself and wonder if I should just pick one. I have resolved to choose two and be ok with it.
Other areas of expertise are being made obsolete by technology and will require that you take on something new or risk being made a commodity. We all fear missing out on something that could be great. Here is the secret, anything can be great! It doesn’t matter what you pick, they’re all good. So choose one, stick to it, make daily practice non negotiable. You will reap the rewards of a well tended crop.