They are jumping into the latest new trend, or have discovered some amazing hidden opportunity.
You envy their enthusiasm and optimism. They seem so alive, so curious, so plugged into what’s happening. Their eyes sparkle, their level of energy is contagious.
In fact, you pretty much want to do what they are doing. It looks like a fun life, and a fun way to make a living.
But…when you step back and look at them more carefully, you see they are not particularly successful. They seem to make just enough money to get by. They are always looking for the “big one”, but never find it.
Why aren’t they achieving massive success? It’s because they lack focus.
They lack the self-discipline to choose one path, and then remain focused on that “one thing”, week after week, month after month, and year after year.
The most successful freelancers and entrepreneurs remained focused on a single topic, or skill, often for their entire careers.
For example, Jakob Nielsen’s site, useit.com, has been focused on web usability since 1995.
Danny Sullivan of searchengineland.com has been covering search engine optimization since 1995.
And I, a relative latecomer, have been focused on writing for the web since 1998.
By remaining focused on “one thing”, you build an incredible body of knowledge and expertise. You also attract a large following, which allows you to monetize your work effectively.
Does this mean you have to go through your career wearing blinkers and ignoring every new innovation that comes along?
Danny Sullivan has written plenty about social media. But he writes about it from the perspective of how it impacts search engine optimization.
I also write about social media, because it impacts writing for the web.
But what we don’t do is lose our focus on our core topic, that “one thing”.
It is by having that one, immovable thing that we are able to filter signal from noise. When bombarded with a zillion shiny new innovations, we pay attention only to those that are relevant to our core topic and skill.
When you do this, it streamlines your work life. It makes you more efficient. It allows you to filter out everything that is irrelevant to your path.
And ultimately, in my view, mastery of one skill is a lot more satisfying than dipping your toes into a dozen different skills.
What’s your one thing? And will you still be focused on it ten years from now?
NOTE: I defined my path with the publication of my book, Net Words, back in 2001. How are you going to define yours?
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…