If you’re one of those people who has many goals and feels compelled to do everything at once, you’re probably familiar with the disappointment of accomplishing very few of them. This is likely because you’re pursuing everything at once, thinking of them all as goals you have to accomplish now, rather than taking them one at a time and planning your success over the long term.
Derek Sivers, founder and former CEO of CD Baby, offers up the story of Buridan’s donkey to illustrate the problem:
Buridan’s donkey is standing halfway between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. It keeps looking left and right, trying to decide between hay and water. Unable to decide, it eventually falls over and dies of hunger and thirst.
The idea is that if you’re constantly trying to do everything, it’s difficult to make any real progress. In fact, if you’re spending so much time trying to decide what’s most important it’s unlikely you’re not going to finish it. Sivers suggests taking a goal a year or two at a time. I’d also add that if you’re not sure which goal is best to start with, organise them in order of expiration date. Most of your big goals are probably things you can accomplish at any point in time, but there may be one or two that are highly dependent on the way things are now. Start there, and then work through your evergreen goals later. It may be hard to let go of things, but the feeling of accomplishment will more than make up for it.
Trying to pursue many different directions at once? [Derek Sivers]