“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act. but a habit.”
I’m thinking out loud here.
Finding what you’re good at isn’t hard: what takes time is finding something you love and are good at. I honestly haven’t been giving these things as much thought as I used to do – work tends to take away your thoughts and replace them with more immediate concerns, and you return to those abstract dreamings only in those long bus journeys where you have nothing to do but think or sleep. A few hundred bus journeys later, I’ve realized that old man ‘totle was right.
We are what we do. And if practice makes perfect, a habit of doing something repeatedly makes us the best at that thing.
Now the thing is to focus. I have always suffered from the reverse of tunnel vision – I have so many grandiose dreams, all viable to some extent, that it becomes hard to pick one and stick with it. Things that I complete, I treasure. My games: independentgaming.net: the novel that I’ll never show to anyone else, but nevertheless has a beginning and an end and is thus complete. At any given point I have so many ideas floating around in my head that I get lost inside them, and nothing comes out of it.
If you suffer from the same, I can help you out by quoting something Mark Twain once said – that the secret to getting ahead is getting started. After that, the snowball effect comes into play. The middle of anything is easy: it’s the beginning and the end that are the hardest to pull off. All you have to do is find the things you can excel at and start. I say “can excel”, because like Aristotle said, you can excel at anything if you put enough work into it.
I am a good writer, and always have been: I realize now that it’s not because I started off better than everyone else, but simply because I’ve been practicing ever since I could string a couple of paragraphs together. Everything I have written, for competition or for fun, complete or incomplete, has forged enough practice to instill in me a habit. No matter what my workload, I’ll write. If I don’t have enough time, I’ll make time. It’s something I don’t have to struggle to do.
It’s probably my one excellent habit.