There’s a balance between being open to the new opportunities we’re not pursuing or seeing and focus.
What matters is looking at your current quest and validate against what else you could be investing your time in. Because always looking at those alternatives can be a distraction preventing you from fully committing and executing on your core vision. Yet making a choice and blindly following it is definitely not the way to go. I know this to be true. Because over a decade ago I fervently pursued a photography career, diligently researching the market, developing my skills and connecting with prospective buyers. I had a first-rate portfolio that resonated with many creative I connected with. Creatives that many of whom soon lost their jobs in the dot com crash. I can blame the economy and the rapid change the profession saw as it transformed to digital and it become easier and easier for anyone to make good pictures. To make it you had to be so much more. The pie was shrinking. Just as it is in so many other jobs that are disappearing today.
The other piece was me. I recognized that I wanted to do more than just make pictures. To play a bigger role in the process of building and leading creative teams. It took me awhile to recognize this because I was blind to it. I also didn’t trust myself to shoot the images I really wanted to shoot, focusing instead on what I thought the market wanted. Big mistake. I was slow to recognize where I really excelled and belonged.
I also know distraction. As someone who thrives on new opportunities, who wants to explore all the options before choosing, I’ve often found myself distracted and paralyzed. Especially since my first big commitment failed. It becomes easier not to choose or to put off making a choice until tomorrow while I continue looking at the possibilities. So days become weeks, weeks become months, and the months become years.
Lately I’ve come to think it was because I hadn’t settled on what that quest should be. My focus is on circling around, testing, validating, rejecting and iterating. More quickly and decisively. Absorbing the lessons I’ve learned before and allowing things to sit a bit – especially the euphoria of a new idea. If it’s still there in a month or mutates into something different but related, I know I’m getting closer. I’m a late bloomer and know that the path I’ve taken thus far – bumpy, turbulent and haphazard has shaped me. It’s setting the stage for what’s next and I’m arriving at a new level of purpose and confidence and sense of forward momentum. I can see the path I need to choose and am taking it but remembering to enjoy the journey along the way. Because as Nike said long ago, there is no finish line. When we get where we think we want to go, the bar is raised, the goal moved and a new challenge awaits us.