I’ll keep this article brief since we are just getting away from the holiday season. I’m sure you all need some time to get back into the swing of normal life. Anyway, I was recently thinking about how many talented writers I speak with who never seem to go anywhere in the writing world. At first I figured it was just because the writing game is a vicious beast that chews up talent and spits out mediocrity. Then I began to notice this problem stretched far beyond that of the writing business.
Athletes, artists, musicians, and many other creative people seem to always hit a sticking point in their careers. Usually that point hits just as they’re catching a little bit of attention from people. But for whatever reasons, these folks just aren’t able to harness their talent and combine it with their growing audience in a meaningful way. If anything, they plateau talent-wise and never make more out of their lives. Meanwhile, far less talented people skyrocket to stardom even though the work they put out is hardly incredible.
You know why this is? It’s because they were able to get the absolute most out of their natural talent and through hard work were able to harness their meager abilities to make a nice career. Here are 3 easy ways you can do this as well.
3. Set Small Goals
This is something many of us don’t do well. Even though we all know setting and hitting personal goals is the best way to make progress, we tend to only look towards hitting the big goals. Using writing as an example, many focus on writing a novel, finding an agent, and getting their novel published. These goals are great, but what’s missing are the small things that make these big goals happen.
If you only focus on big goals you open yourself up for failure. Not only failure of not hitting those goals, but failure of not even getting close to hitting them. If you instead shift your focus to achieving smaller, easier to attain goals, you’re much more likely to nail those big ones in the future. For instance, using the writing example again, focus on always writing a certain amount of words a day, chapters a week, and a total of chapters and words a month. Boom! You’ll finish writing a novel faster than you thought possible. This is because you had these small goals to follow like markers on a trail leading to your ultimate goal.
2. Don’t Focus On What Others Are Doing
Focusing on the achievement of others in relation to where you are in life is a surefire way to depress yourself. While some of us can use the achievement of others as competitive motivation, most of us don’t work that way. Instead, seeing how well someone else is doing distracts us from the progress we are making. All you see is the success another person has—not all the work they put in to achieve that success.
When you look at the success of other people you’re much more likely to want to give up. No matter how talented you are you still need to work hard, but your mind will trick you into thinking you aren’t nearly as talented as you really are because it seems others are doing so much better than you. Again, this is only an illusion. If you just focus on your work and making the best out of what you have, you’ll be much more likely to end up where they are. You can’t expect to be the next Stephen King when you spend all your time worrying about what he’s doing instead of what you should be doing.
1. Build Up Your Weaknesses
This is another reason naturally talented people plateau while less talented people continue to improve. If you’re really good at something, you probably make that the focus of your life and your identity. For instance, Michael Jordan was an amazing athlete. He had incredible leaping ability and he was very agile. But imagine if he only focused on that part of his game. He would’ve never became the legend he is today.
This is because one needs to have balance of self if they expect to make the best of their talents. If you continue to build up your strengths and ignore your weaknesses, you’ll eventually hit a wall and stop improving. Sure, you’ll be really good at what you’re strong at, but you’ll reach a sticking point. Now, if you build up your weaknesses to the same level or close to your strengths, you’ll become an entirely different animal.
Think Jordan in his prime who could jump, run, shoot, play defense, and pass the ball with the best of them. Or to bring it back to writing, Stephen King is the master of horror, but at some point he worked hard to develop his skill at telling other types of stories. Now the man can write horror, sci-fi, mystery, drama, and pretty much any other genre if he really wants to. He might not be great at all of them, but he definitely has the ability to be decent. And that’s what you want, to be well-rounded and have very little weaknesses. You don’t have to be great at everything, but you’ll utilize your natural talent at a much higher level if you’re at least proficient in most things related to your craft.
If you found this helpful, you might want to check out these other great life articles!