Hola! It’s been a long time, friends. I’ve moved yet again to a new home, which is making me think of the early days of this blog when I discussed moving into a tiny apartment in order to pay off our debt. Our family went through many changes recently, including my son starting daycare. I took a break from the blog during this time to adjust, but now I am back and ready to continue chronicling my writing journey.
I’m currently reading and listening to the audio adaptation of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This book has my mental gears turning like nothing has in a long time. I have a feeling that many of the self-help and personal development thought leaders of today have taken much of their philosophies from this book, because reading it feels like seeing a picture in its entirety for the first time, when I’ve only seen a corner previously. I’ve heard snippets of this book’s philosophy my entire life in various other mediums, but never before in totality like it appears in this book. For example, the teachings of Tony Robbins and of the podcast The Daily Boost, both have ideas that I believe hearken back to this original text, even if it was merely coincidence.
Major Definite Purpose: A Parable
One of the ideas is that of a major definite purpose: an obsession that you follow no matter what and which hones your focus and crowds out anything that doesn’t help you toward your one main goal. To really understand this idea, you’ll need to read the book yourself, but I did want to share a thought I had about it that made this idea stick in my brain and has made it so that the concept has taken hold of me and won’t let go.
My son has a whale-shaped bath toy. It’s essentially a cup with small holes in the bottom that let the water through. One of his favorite activities during bath time is for me to fill the cup so that he can feel the water pouring out from all the holes with his hands, or sometimes to catch the water in another cup.
Last night, we were playing this familiar game while the lessons from Think and Grow Rich were stirring in my subconscious. I watched him take this cup from me and flip it over so that the water all came streaming out at once from the open side, instead of through the small holes in the bottom. I started mimicking this action back and forth: letting the water run through the holes slowly, and then filling it a second time and letting the water rush out of the opening all at once.
Our effort, thought, and time, is like this cup. When we divert our attention, time, and energy in many different directions, letting it pour out in small openings, the progress is slow, and it takes a long time to reach the “goal” of getting all the water out of the cup. When, however, we choose one goal and pursue it with all our effort, time, and attention, we have all of that power concentrated in just one area and are able to reach our goal much faster. Then we can turn our attention to a new goal at that point.
I don’t really believe that either method of reaching goals is wrong, and there are certainly times when we can and should pursue several goals at once, but I think it’s hard to argue with the mere fact that time, energy, and attention are finite resources. It’s also important to be aware of this principle and how it might be affecting how quickly you’re attaining your current goals. If you are fine with a slower rate of progress on many things, that’s great! It is something to be aware of.
I hope this thought exercise might inspire you to think about your own personal goals and where your time, energy, and attention are going. For me, I’m currently making plans to flip the cup upside down on my writing and work toward one major definite purpose.