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Remembering the 'why' to bring meaning to the 'what'

The revelation that lead to a resolution that can change everything

I love writing. I’m constantly writing blogs, tips, whitepapers, web content, and numerous other pieces for my business, my customers, and the D&I and hiring communities. And at the end of a long day, when I need a little time to unplug, I write! Specifically, I write fiction (fantasy).

Recently, I finished the latest draft of my first novel. While waiting for feedback from readers, I took a common piece of advice: don’t write a sequel.

For new novelists, you have no idea if your book will ever be published or picked up, so why write a second if no one reads the first – makes sense, right?

So, I started a new book rather than working on a sequel.

I developed new characters, a new plot, and set it in a new world. I fell into the routine to maintain discipline, writing every night from 9:00pm – 10:00pm. It was not always easy or fruitful, but I plugged along on my new story.

After a few months a reader gave me some great feedback on my first book. I put the new book down, opened the old one, and got to work.

The revelation – a profound shift

From the moment I opened my original story, I no longer needed the discipline to write, I needed the discipline to stop.

10:00 pm would come and go, but I wouldn’t stop until my husband started throwing pillows at me to get me to close my computer. I test dialog in the shower, play scenes in my head as I fall asleep, and grab for my notebook to jot down another idea when I wake up.

I was so busy with what I thought I should be doing to be a successful writer I had forgotten why I started in the first place. I loved my story, my characters, and losing myself in their world as the perfect way to unwind and relax after a long day.

How often do we get swept up in the goals that we think we should have: the next promotion, the next big project, the corner office, that we completely forget what started us down the path in the first place?

Is chasing the corner office worth giving up the passion and excitement that put us down that path in the first place? How much happier would we be if we focused on those things that require discipline to stop, rather than discipline to execute – at least where we can.

The irony is, not only is focusing on what drives us a path to greater happiness, it is also a path for success. Consider how much better the quantity and the quality of work will be when you want to do something.

The resolution – focus on the why, not the what

So, in 2020, I am going to focus on the ‘why’ and not the ‘what’.

I founded to offer a better approach to candidate screening that removes bias from hiring and replaces it with an efficient, effective, and compliant process. I love what we do. I’m obsessively passionate about driving diversity and inclusion, about enabling efficiencies, and solving problems (as anyone who has ever talked with me can probably attest to).

So, when I find myself groaning at yet another email, or forcing the discipline to check just one more box on the never-ending to do list, I will focus on the why – what that email is for, what that to-do will accomplish and turn that discipline to get it done, to requiring discipline to stop.

As for my book – I’m going back to the story I love. I will write those sequels because that is what makes me happy. I won’t lie, I would love to be published one day, but not at the expense of the pure joy of the experience.

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