On your one big thing

I originally wrote this post over on Be Your Own Book Doctor, but I wanted to post it here because it has so much to do with what I’ve been posting about a lot here, on doing the work. The key is doing the right work:

As I know I’ve said, I get a lot of “I wish I could get as much done as you do!” comments. I am never quite sure how I should respond to these. The “I wish I could” is invariably followed by “but.” But I have a day job, but I have a kid, but I have a hobby.

I have these things, too, but that has never stopped me, or, rather, it has never stopped me for long. So when people say, “I wish …” my response is always, “You can!” And because I am a problem solver, I show them how.

But long experience has taught me that people aren’t really asking for my tips about how I don’t watch television, or how I have learned how not to check email every ten minutes when I’m working on an important project, or how every other weekend is unplugged at my house.

And I get it. I wish I were as slender as my friend Kelly, but I don’t actually want to give up my berry pie to get there. I just don’t. I know how Kelly has fought the war against the next size up, and it would require a lot of work that I am frankly uninterested in doing.   So when people say, “I wish I ….” I’m inclined to think it is about wishing, not about action plans.

But this would be a fairly pointless post if I were going to leave it at that. So I am, in fact, going to give you my very best tip, just in case you want it. And that tip is to find the one big thing that would make a difference and just do that.

The one big thing that if you did it, you would be a lot closer to where you want to be. It’s getting your retirement contributions deducted directly from your paychecks so you don’t have to think about it. It’s hiring a personal trainer to get your butt into action. It’s … turning off the television and spending that time on your WIP.

For me the one big thing is devoting the first two hours of the day to my writing. I don’t care what else is on the agenda, the first two hours of the day are for me to get the creative work done. The sky could be falling, and often is, and I still do the work every morning. Every damned morning.

What is your one big thing?


My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here. And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

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