Think about what we do as students and workers in order to have a better chance of success in our futures. If you’re a student, there’s a good chance you’re probably striving to do your best in all the classes you’re able to. This is so you can not only eventually get a degree, but be well-rounded enough to keep potential job opportunities open for you. If your focus is on a job, you might be trying to be well-versed at the many facets that your job encompasses, so as to be able to be considered more valuable if a promotional opportunity were to arise. This mentality is perfectly rational and I believe it is a part of the inherent survival-mentality that we humans have. However, the fact is our society today is abundant with a workforce of “well-rounded” individuals, and without knowing it many people today are actually making things more competitive for themselves by doing the things they thought would provide themselves with a “safety-net.” Besides the fact on how this broad approach doesn’t fit into an economy driven on innovation and specialization, this approach is also the deterrent to experiencing true freedom in the pursuit of the things we would like to do.
Limitations are the keys on setting us free with the things we want to do. People work better with constraints and limitations. For example, if a teacher had given an assignment to write a paper on anything, any format, any style, any page count, and the only requirement was that the teacher had to like it, it could quite possibly seem much more limiting on what you have to say, than if the teacher gave a three-page paper on why you believe Barack Obama is a good president or not. The second proposal is very specific and limiting, however, I could bet that you already thought of more things to say for the second assignment, than the first. The more we limit ourselves, the more we free ourselves from the shackles of trying to be everything we can be. Alternately, as human beings, we can only really focus on one task in a particular period of time. There’s really no such thing as multitasking; we just switch our attention from one thing to the next, and with most times being at the result of a significantly lower quality of production. So by limiting ourselves to one specific pursuit, we are sacrificing being good at many things for the moment, so that we may allow ourselves to be great at something, and “great” is what matters today. Also, we are not limiting ourselves indefinitely to any one pursuit we decide on; our focus can always change, and a pursuit can always be revisited, but one can only begin to surpass “good” once their efforts become focused. I believe my favorite quote from John Steinbeck really captures this idea at the root of this message: “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” The world is too big, and there are more things in this world than we could pursue in several lifetimes, and the sooner that is realized I believe the better off we are. Don’t worry about the endless amount of things you want to do, just pick one and go all out.