I usually give great advice, but often have trouble following it myself. However, this subject- focusing on one thing at a time, and doing one thing well- is something I am very good at. I couldn't survive any other way (believe me, I've tried). I always have a lot of different things going on at the same time- writing for several websites, publishing other writer’s work on my sites, promoting my work, networking, consulting, marketing- it’s a never-ending, constantly growing list of things to do. So I do the only thing that makes sense, and chip away at that list, one by one. And at the end of the day, it’s amazing what one person can do.
Of course, it helps that I write it all down. Before I ever had a computer (age-reveal alert), I would sit at the kitchen table in the morning with my coffee and go over my list, making changes, adding new things. Simply having that checklist is a sure way to help you get it all done too, and that’s a habit I developed way back in the last century. That habit alone has helped me become the writer and entrepreneur I am today.
Doing one thing at a time is important, but do it well.
My grandpa once told me that he was a jack-of-all-trades and a master of nothing. I really took that to heart, and thought he was pretty cool- and he was. When I was a young adult, I was a jack-of-all-trades too- and I was proud of it- for a while. After trying several different business ideas early on, I realized- if I was ever going to be really successful, I’d have to be the best at something- Grandpa was wrong.
But there was another thing holding me back, and it took me years to realize it- I was working for the money. I kept brainstorming about ways to make money- and I still do to some degree. But the fact is, I do what I do because I like to do it (and I get paid).
If you do what you love, the money will come.
Let’s face it; you can make pretty good money digging ditches. People need ditches. But who wants to dig ditches? Certainly not me (especially since I hurt my back a few years ago.) But I do love to write, and I love having my own business. I always envisioned myself as somewhat of a Steven King, or a Dean Koontz (although I’m not there yet). It came from deep inside, even at an early age. I didn't realize it until I looked back at it one day. But I always did love to write.
When I was in college, I studied English literature and music. I thought I wanted to be a musician- and I am one. But I went to college specifically for music. What made me take those English classes? It was an inner voice at the time that knew; somewhere deep down, that I really wanted to write. Even as a musician, I wrote… songs. Maybe they weren't the greatest songs, but it was writing that I automatically, always did.
Study the competition, and do what they do, only better:
When my websites didn't do so well, I wondered why? Other, similar sites did well. So I studied the competition. I saw what they did, and I copied it the best I could (without actually copying them). Sure enough, my sites gained in stature (according to Google anyway), and popularity. But even that was writing- writing for my own websites.
These days, I know exactly what I want to do when I grow up. I want to write. I like to tell stories, explain things, argue, learn, and above all- scare kids.
Hindsight is 20/20
I know this has been all about me so far. But I’m here to tell you that you can do it too. If a poor, fat kid from Chicago can find his niche, so can you. Start with hindsight. Look back on your life and ask yourself these questions:
- What is it that I wish I could be doing for a living?
- If I had all the money I’d ever need, what would I do with my time?
- Through all of my changes, what’s the one thing I know a lot about?
- Through all of my ups and downs, what’s the one skill I have that I can always count on?
- What successes have I had?
- How can I take that to another level?
The answers to those questions will help you analyze your life and find your niche. Chances are, you knew it all along.
Ken Skaggs is a writer, web designer and idea man. He has been published by Ten Four Magazine and Careers in Gear. He is an entrepreneur at heart.