The wasted energy could be better spent focusing on things you have the ability to affect rather than on things that you’ll never have any influence on.
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In the last few weeks I started a podcast for a new app that I’ve been building with my brother.
In the podcast, I have conversations with other creatives who are working on their own creative businesses. Many are artists, writers, comedians, actors, filmmakers, and other types of creatives. They own their own businesses, often without any other employees or partners.
One thing has already become clear in the first five conversations: focus matters.
Here’s what I mean:
Where You Put Your Focus Determines The Outcome
There are seemingly infinite places you could focus your thoughts, time, money, and effort in your business.
Social media platforms, followers, engagement, emails, conversion rates, profit margin, employees, contractors, finances, software, project management… it’s overwhelming just trying to list them all.
The question then arises, “where should I put my focus?”
Here’s a three step process you can use, right now, to help focus your efforts:
- Ask, “do I have control?”
- Ask, “does this help me reach my bigger goals?”
- Ask, “is this currently a constraint in my business?”
Do I Have Control?
If you look at something like a client who hasn’t paid you and it’s now 90 days late, you have very limited – if any – control over that situation.
Sure, you could start legal action, or call or email them to try and get that money, but ultimately, the client paying you is out of your control.
Why? Because it’s someone else’s choice.
Instead, it would be better to focus your time on the system that gets clients to pay you on time and in full.
Can you tweak your contract? Can you get money in different installments over time? Can you have them pay up-front?
While there may be “industry standard” payment terms, you’ve got to control what you can control.
Another example: your followers. While you can influence the success rate of getting people to follow you, you don’t have any control over each individual follower or subscriber’s decision-making ability to do so.
So rather than trying to convince people to follow you, focus on ways that you can make it easier for the right people to find you, follow you, and engage with your work.
Does This Help Me Reach My Bigger Goals?
Each of us do what we do for a reason. Maybe multiple reasons, but it often stems down to one or two main reasons that drive everything we do.
For example – the need for fame, or fortune, or control, or adventure, or contribution, or growth, or connection.
These deep needs that we all share in some amount drive everything in our creative lives.
If you’re motivated by contribution but find yourself focusing on something that’s motivated by fame or fortune, you’re not helping yourself reach the bigger, primary goal.
There are plenty of people who led lives of immense contribution and made very little money doing so, but were incredibly happy and fulfilled. They knew they were living up to their life’s mission.
On the flip side, there are countless people who are insanely wealthy, yet continue to pursue more, more, more. The will never have “enough”, because they can always look around to find someone who has something they don’t.
You’ve got to figure out what is really driving YOU in your work, and align your actions and your focus to serve that greater purpose.
Is It A Constraint?
If you’re trying to focus your efforts to fix or grow your business, you need to not only ensure that it’s something you can control, and serves the greater purpose, but to get the biggest “wins” in the shortest amount of time, you need to identify the constraints.
A constraint is something that is holding your business back from being what it could be.
Perhaps you’re an incredibly talented songwriter and musician, yet your albums only sell a few hundred copies, and you haven’t yet started making a full-time income from your art.
The constraint could be any number of things. Marketing, awareness, pricing… there’s no one answer that is true for everyone.
What you need to do is look at your business objectively and figure out where the weak links are. Then you can focus on one at a time, strengthening them so they’re now a strong part of your business.
Pick one constraint at a time, and your business will grow much faster than if you just tried to improve on your strengths.
The Superpower Is Being Able To Know The Right Place To Put Your Focus
In this whole process, there’s a superpower in being able to see what’s true. Being able to look objectively at your business, rather than just going with your gut on what to work on from day to day.
Part of this 60 Day Project was to solve one of my biggest weaknesses – awareness. Not enough people know that I exist, that I’m trying to help creatives with their businesses, and that I have the ability to do so.
So, I took action on something I can control. I can write and publish content and share it with people who might benefit from it.
I can improve each new post so that more people share it with others.
I can point people in the right direction through the posts to help them on their creative journey.
All of these things serve the greater goal of contribution and growth that drives my businesses. And by focusing on the biggest constraint, I’m taking conscious action to change the results I’m getting from my business.
You can do the same.