I’ve been thinking it would be fun to do a podcast on self-improvement (or self-improvement attempts). I’ve always enjoyed hanging out at a Barnes & Noble browsing the self-help section, reading a few chapters on fitness, or finance, or motivation, or overcoming fatigue, or whatever other symptom I seem to think is ailing me. I don’t know how effective this self-improvement reading is in the long run, but it can definitely be a feel good to have some “expert” guiding you for a minute, saying, “hey, you wanna have financial security? All you gotta start doing is this little thing,” or “Hey, you wanna be happy, just start doing this,” and I can go, “Ooooooh, I totally get it,” and even if I don’t get it, it feels good.
I’ve definitely made a lot of improvements over the years, and am generally as healthy and on top of my game as I’ve ever been, with the primary exception that I continue to start projects and leave them unfinished, which is frustrating. Instead of spreading myself out with a lot of different ideas, and throwing spaghetti against the wall, I’m resolving to simply focus on this podcast for the next few months, and there are several reasons I think this is the right choice (i.e. to choose something and stick with it until it’s finished – or in the case of a podcast, until it’s up and running smoothly).
1) I recently listened to a Ted Talk called the “Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz (link to the video here: http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html). The talk is about how having more choices makes us happier but only up to a certain number of choices, but then over a certain number of a choices becomes bad. The main example I remember, was about a company that offered a choice of four or five mutual funds to choose from for 401K enrollment, vs. other employees who were given over one hundred mutual funds to choose from. The employees with a few mutual fund options, were much more likely to enroll in their 401K plan, and when they did enroll, they were much happier with the mutual fund they chose. On the other hand, the employees with one-hundred choices enrolled significantly less (most likely due the paralysis of indecision, and putting off all that research for later) and the ones who did choose a fund and enroll, were less happy with their choice (there were so many other options that could have done better for them and more regret). In the world today, we are faced constantly with so many options. I notice it particularly in the world of smart phones, with consumers constantly wishing they’d gone with a different product, and constantly upgrading as soon as the option is available (never quite being satisfied with what they own). Another example Schwartz gives in the day-to-day paralysis is over one-hundred different salad dressings at the grocery store (not counting dressings you could make on your own from oil & vinegar).
I’ve been feeling this paralysis of choice with comedy and career, as there are so many things I could be doing, aside from just writing and performing stand-up. The modern-day comedian makes their own success, as opposed to the comedian of old who could become a household name from doing a spot on Carson. Today you’re supposed to carve out your own success, by doing any and all of the following:
1) Web series
2) Social Media
3) Spec script
4) Original script
5) Audio Podcast
6) Video Podcast
7) Book (fiction)
8) Book (non fiction)
10) TV submissions
11) Festival submissions
12) College, corporate, or club work (but which one?)
13) CD / album
15) Commercial auditions
16) Voice-over work
Or better yet, doing something that hasn’t been thought of yet, which in my opinion, is just too much to think about.
Another reason I’m certain that it’s time to narrow down my focus, is the current book I’m reading called Willpower, which is based entirely on research and studies. Essentially they found that people who create large to-do lists for themselves, end up getting less done, and become more frustrated. The most successful and prolific people on the other hand, tend to have one or maybe two important tasks that they are working on at any one time.
So that’s enough evidence for me to say, “Hey, it’s time to stop juggling all of these ideas, and it’s time to stop reading five books at once.” Right now I’m going to focus on my podcast idea for the next three to six months (or as long as it takes to get up and going and in a groove) as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I also believe a blog would be complementary to that, so hopefully they can go hand in hand. In other words, writing out this blog is preparatory work for the podcast, though a critic might say, “Hey, you’re still doing two things and spreading your focus thin!” I see your point critic, but I think I need to write about the self-improvement topic a little to test out where I’m going with it verbally. In the mean time, I have my podcast outline, I have my first podcast interview/discussion set up for this Thursday, and I have the basic equipment I need to record. I just need to learn how to edit in Garageband and then post for public consumption on a regular weekly schedule.