I did the opposite of being focused and sticking to it but the story is a bit more complicated.
Last week, I declared to pause to work on Studio List, a side project that lists recording studios worldwide so voice artists like myself can find a studio wherever they are. Only two days after I spent a whole day working on it and publishing it. Compared to the weeks before - when I worked on a proper landing page - I never shipped anything to the public because I was too busy making it fancy. When you visit studiolist.io now, you see a plain-text site that loads fast and presents about 50 studios. It’s a beginning.
Finding a recording studio should be easy
Maybe you’re wondering: Aren’t you a voice actor? And if so, why is Studio List (SL) so important?
Yes, I’m a voice actor and no side project will change that. With SL, I’m addressing a desire I personally have: I want to travel while working as a voiceover and still deliver top-notch studio quality. Using the existing studios as stopovers makes sense to me, so I started the project. I hope to help my fellow voiceover colleagues as well.
Enough about Studio List. Let’s get into the takeaway.
Leave room for spontaneous thoughts and impulsive action
Focusing on one thing is important and to actually stick to it even more. Although I’m not contradicting it, I did the opposite. When I said I would focus on voiceover and give Studio List a break, only 2 days after I broke the „promise“. That’s interesting and it seems inconsistent. It also made me think: „Am I unable to stick to what I said?“ It’s not that easy.
I’m in a learning process, always, and what I found out is: Saying „I’m giving Studio List a temporary break“ was not about literally pausing it. I actually was looking for a release of pressure that I’ve put on myself. I simply didn’t know it was the pressure that gnawed on me, which is why I drew a conclusion out of something I hadn’t fully explored yet. At this early stage of SL, I even defined a goal of 2,000 euros monthly revenue. Thinking about money so early can kill a baby project because you’re giving it too much oxygen in an un-born state which makes it collapse and not get born at all. And when I’m saying oxygen I’m actually referring to money because money makes a business (which SL is supposed to be) live, breathe and survive.
Focus helps being in the now and liberates from pressure
As straight forward as you can understand the advice „focus and have the discipline to stick it“ it’s not as straight as you can see. In my specific case I’m taking my own advice the following way: Focus on the small steps after you made clear what the big picture is. Then make it a habit to work on these small steps because they will be leading to the big picture. The goal stays the same (most of the time) only the path can and will change.
In this case, focus was moving away the pressure from me because the big picture is not important in the daily activities. Only in the „visionary“ time do you think of the grand scheme of things and future visions. Speaking of what matters, I remembered a quote from a community I’m part of:
I was just talking to Laci about this last night. We have each other. We have food. We have a roof over our heads. Life is good. The next newer version of the iPhone won’t change anything for you. When you get that new camera that shoots 4K—okay great! Now that will become your new normal. You don’t need to live for the next thing. You have right now. You have the people in your life that matter. Cherish this moment. A bigger house, a faster car, a million dollars in your bank—it doesn’t change as much as you think in terms of happiness.
Yes, strive for big things, but don’t live for tomorrow. Embrace the journey. Enjoy the process.
So, focus releases you from the pressure of big thinking. Focus moves you into the now. That’s a good thing but it’s not all rainbows and sunshine in „focus city“. Focus can be scary because you’re giving up something for something else. As a loyal person this is very hard. I prefer to never give up anything at all and serve everything until I collapse - I literally did not so long ago. It’s not a surprise that this kind of behavior resulted in overexploitation.
However, while focus is hard and scary it’s healthy (it avoids physical and mental burnout) and it’s calming because with no focus I would have never had the tranquility to spend a day working on the Studio List website and publish it.
Also, working the website was rather spontaneous and impulsive. I had no plans to work on that this day. It was only that thought of „Why not make the website a simple plain text version with no graphics at all?“. Out of this spark (or seed) derived the execution. Full disclosure here: I had worked on a very text-heavy version of Studio List in the beginning (and took craigslist as a role model). After some time working on an embedded map via OpenStreetMap, I thought it was better to pause here and see if people would actually be interested in using it. That’s why I started working on the landing page. Then it didn’t move forward a lot because I was stuck at choosing the right top image and colors. What a waste of time. That’s when I needed to stop/pause and release myself from it, and that’s how the current version of Studio List was made.
What a rollercoaster, and this was not even a complex website.
Focus with no aspiration. Just do it with no big thinking, trusting the process. But when it’s visionary time, you express your aspirations as big and as wild as you can. Execute as humble as a monk but think big like a rockstar. Focus is also scary because it’s immediate (in the now) and confrontational (it’s right in front of you, no more procrastination).
Also, because of the impulsiveness out of which Studio List was created I was thinking of Tony Robbins message: „Thought is energy. Where focus goes, energy flows.“ It was just the idea of a plain-text version of the website that acted as an impulsive thought which gave me focussed momentum and therefore the energy to do it - because to be honest: There were some programming obstacles that I was stuck at. As simple as the website looks but behind I’m reading from a CSV file (not a database) - and formatting the data is not easy, at least not for me but that’s because I’m bad at programming despite my computer science background. Wanted to say something about irony? Okay, it’s better to be quiet now :P
Last words: There were no clear two segments today. I mixed the documentation of my journey with the takeaway. It just happened organically. So, if that makes sense in the future, I’ll stick to it because embedding a general takeaway into a story is just more interesting, isn’t it? Probably that’s the reason why I’m being a professor in the Story Creation Masterclass and teach how to write a story and market a story after - for free.