Unless you want to become a neurosurgeon or an airline pilot or an astronaut, this question is veritably useless.
Most of the individuals I respect and admire do a great many things, some completely disparate, and most do them concurrently.
But you want to know a sad truth?
I have personally known people who have been in a proverbial holding pattern for years because they feel as though this question needs to be answered in order to start doing anything different. They feel as though they need to know what they will be doing 20 years from now in order to start changing things right now. And so they wait. As if Doc Brown is going to fly the DeLorean back from 2043 right to their doorstep, hop out with his crazy ass future glasses and tell them exactly which direction to head in.
In my experience, those who achieve great things and who most of us admire, leave behind a series of vignettes or projects – some that generate revenue, some that don’t, some that are creative, some that are helpful, some that are longer term, some that dissipate as remnants into the ever flowing tide of the Web.
Yesterday, on day 14 of my trip around the world, as the sun beat down on the sandy shores of Santa Barbara, I decided to take a 4 mile run, which evolved into an 8 mile run as I began to ruminate about the great variety of things my friends actually work on.
Here is a sample:
Jonathan Fields – In the past, Jonathan has started a fitness center, a yoga studio and produced a video yoga training program. Currently, he publishes at jonathanfields.com, runs a site called Tribal Author, produces a web show called the Good Life Project TV and is running a year long program with 14 entrepreneurs by the same title. He has published a manifesto about getting past unemployment and one about the truths of book marketing. He has published a book about entrepreneurship and one on uncertainty, he speaks professionally, and has provided a bit of one on one coaching to individuals.
Chris Brogan – publishes regularly at chrisbrogan.com on a huge variety of topics from GTD and life to marketing strategy and content plans. In the past, he worked for New Marketing Labs and served as an advisor to the Pulse Network. He founded Podcamp. He writes for a couple different magazines. He is a consultant to a handful of larger companies, is a professional speaker, and runs a company called Human Business Works with Rob. He recently published a digital program about becoming a better writer, plays in a band called D3one3 with the inimitable Jacqueline Carly. He coauthored two books and has solo written two more. I’m pretty sure he also writes fiction and draws cartoons which he never publishes, but I wish he would. 🙂
CC Chapman – CC founded his own digital marketing agency which he sold a few years ago. He currently publishes at cc-chapman.com on everything from storytelling to parenting to travel. He writes for Workshifting.com, produces a podcast called Managing the Gray, produces a web show called Passion Hit TV, helped launch a website for geek dads, is an avid (and exceptional) photographer, has published two books, recently went on a trip to Ghana to amplify the work of world changers, is an advisor to two non-profits, and helps his beautiful daughter publish the coolest blog in the world.
I just published a 54 page manifesto about changing the world.
I publish here at [pursuitofeverything.com] about living with intention, doing work that truly matters and changing the world.
I am currently on a 1,880 day trip around the world.
I am training for a marathon.
I am a photographer (all of the photography on this website is either mine or Melissa’s)
I am a graphic designer.
I founded the coolest company in the world.
In June, I flew to Malawi and launched this project with WaterAid that has already raised $2.5 million for my friends in Malawi.
In the past, I’ve launched projects to help communities in Tanzania, South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. I’ve worked with Martyn Sibley to launch a series of webinars, an online conference, a video guide and an online magazine geared towards empowering disabled people. I’ve worked on a wide variety of Shakespeare-related web projects in England (yes, I am a nerd) and I designed and helped relaunch workshifting.com
I built a web app a few years ago that didn’t really work out.
Right now, I’m thinking and actively planning towards producing live misfit workshops, launching an online conference, writing a book, launching an online art store and buying an RV next week.
Here is my guess.
You are not a one thing type of person either.
You are a multi-dimensional human who wants to do work that actually matters, achieve personal or creative goals while directly benefiting those less fortunate than you.
The first project (of any kind) I ever created was to raise funds and awareness to build a school in Leer Sudan. Back in 2008 when I launched that it, I envisaged that I would be doing it forever. But when we raised our goal in 9 months, I quickly realized that this project wasn’t the end, it was simply the first trail on a hike through the Appalachians.
There is no One thing.
It is a myth.
A thought your mind produces to inhibit you from altering reality right now.
Believe me, I know. I spent a great many years waiting around for the One thing, until I realized this cold pressed truth – all you have is the ideas you possess in your heart at this very moment, and the decision to muster the courage to act on them or not.
Start there. Make one thing happen. And when you’re done, take a deep breath and do it again.
The world is waiting for you.
Your Fellow Misfit,
Written from: the best cafe in Santa Barbara and my friend Lisa’s kitchen table.
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