When it comes to my career, I know exactly what I want. I want to write books that inspire millions of people — to make a change, to inspire others, or even to pick up the pen and write their own.
Despite this, I constantly doubt myself. Is this the right book to work on? How much time should I spend on other, more money-oriented projects? What if this chapter isn’t well-received? What if I can’t get my point across in this paragraph?
When it comes to concerns, we all have thousands more than we can reasonably address. Fortunately, most of them never come to pass, and out of the ones that do, only few will prove to truly be worth worrying about. So which concerns should we bring up? Which ones do we focus on, share with others, and commit to resolving before we move on?
If we voiced every little concern we might hold about our relationship, for example, we wouldn’t do our future a good service. “She forgot to put the soap back where it belongs.” “He never cooks.” “What if we don’t get along after we move in?” Were we to point out all of the small and big issues in real-time, our partner wouldn’t thank us for it. They’d say we’re a complainer, and they’d be right. After all, we’re spending all of our time pointing out problems and none of it solving them!
The problem with problems is that you can solve only one at a time. Once you go into the realm of real time and energy, there’s only so much you can spend on any given issue before you run out of steam, another becomes more important, or it escalates to the point of rendering the solution moot.
The best thing we can do under these constraints is to pick the problem that seems most important and pressing and go all-in on it while keeping our mouths shut about the rest — at least for now.
Yes, sometimes, you’ll choose the wrong challenge. Sometimes you won’t make it in time, and your situation will change altogether. But to try and fail at eliminating the real consequences of a concern is still far better than to spout “Fire!” left, right, and center without running for any of the extinguishers on the wall.
The truth is that we’ll rarely know in advance which obstacles will break our backs. Half the reason they do is because they come out of left field! Still, most of our time is far better spent addressing whatever important issues we can see with real blood, sweat, and tears than lamenting on and on about the million ways it might all go to hell.
It’s hard to swallow your concerns, and yet, it is often the right thing to do. Don’t swallow all of them. Think carefully about which ones you’ll voice. Do force the most critical seeming ones into the spotlight, but then get right back to work. There are books to be written and meals to be cooked — and whether they’ll be our first, last, or one of many does not matter nearly as much as completing the one right in front of us.