Just one thing

I’ve been reading through my archives with the intention of cutting out any deadwood and tidying up the photo sizes. Ten minutes in I realised this is a much bigger job than I’d first anticipated and will need to be done in short bursts (so my head doesn’t explode). Twelve minutes in I read this post from August 2007:

When there’s too much to be done, I tend to do nothing.  I’ll have a to do list as long as my arm, and every evening more gets added, as tasks from the day are carried over to the next. I could provide an equally long list of things I can’t stand about myself, my lack of motivation being one of them.

As luck would have it, it’s about this time of the month when my hormones start to take over and my mood plummets, down into the cosy basket of the black dog – you could set your watch to my cycle it’s so regular. But this week I’m fighting back, this week I’m trying something new. Enough with the to do lists and procrastinating and excuses. Enough with the fear of failure.

I’ve made a deal with myself – I will do either one thing, or work for one hour, towards my dream, every day. That’s it. Just one thing or one hour. The idea is to break through the fear, push past the inertia and overwhelm, and do something, anything, that takes me one tiny step closer to what I want. The rest of the day I can lie on the sofa if I want to (which obviously I wouldn’t do) so long as I do my one thing.

I started this cunning plan at the weekend, and I’m pleased to report that so far it’s working really well. I can’t do everything; I can’t create what I want in a day. But I can do one thing (one thing which morphed into several things today before I even realised what I was doing). I’m also noting down what I do each day in my journal at night, to make the point to my subconscious that it IS possible to do things and move forward, and not slide down into the ‘I’m not good enough, so why bother’ crap that my mind spews out so easily. I’ve had thirty-four years of this fear and it hasn’t worked, so now I’m trying something new.


Back to 2012 where I am sadly no longer 34 years-old *ahem* ::

I’m sharing this post again because I realised it’s proof that if you chip away at your dream, you really can make it happen. Which sounds so bloody obvious, I know, but when you’re right at the beginning, or stuck in the quagmire of doubt, it’s hard to have any faith. So very hard to trust in the process. Back in 2007 i started chipping away at my dream and did, in fact, make some of it happen. So if that’s the case, maybe if I keep chipping away at my new dreams for London and beyond, I can make those happen too.

One thing at a time.

This is also another example of the blog-as-time-machine thing. Thirty-four year-old me wrote this message I needed to hear today. Amazing.

What one thing could you do today towards your dreams? Share it in the comments below if you’re feeling inspired!

39 responses
  1. Foxglove Lane

    When I started blogging I had read that Edisson quote, how he had learned 1000 ways how not to make a light bulb and it inspired me to do something creative everyday, just as you express so well here. You have reminded me that I may have lost sight of that again! Maybe I will start today by looking out the window and dreaming a little. Thank you:~)

  2. Andrea

    I! Love! This!

  3. robyn

    today i needed to hear this. in the throes of starting something “new” … re-vamping something left dormant really, but it feels new.

    and i’m overwhelmed, and scared, and unsure, and feeling like pulling back and away, despite support coming in from all corners. so hearing this, that i don’t have to do it all at once, that i can do just one thing today towards my goal …

    i needed this.

    so thank you!

  4. cococita

    This is exactly the post that I needed today, as I was thinking about the same plan yesterday!
    There is so much on my dream list and sometimes I get blocked by thinking about it, instead of turning this block/these blocks into action.
    Every day I will do a little something for the plans I made with my little tribe, finding its origin in the Unravelling edition of last autumn (having found these like minded people is such a bless, so thank you dearest Susannah! Without you I wouldn’t have met them). Each day I am reading a little chapter in the books I bought to work on a workshop I am planning to give here in my little country. Every single day I work at least on one creative project. Each day I make time to exercise on my trampoline and to have a walk in nature to conquer my CFS and fibromyalgia, as I want to have my health back, to be able to and get the chance to make my workshop dreams come true … Already found organisations who are interested, but health is the base of everything. During my daily walks I will take some photos which illustrate the beauty of the seasons, as a health organisation chose me to make yearly calendar and I want to show my ‘audience’ the beauty of simplicity, to make them aware that even in dark days, there is always something to be grateful for, often just around the corner …

    Thank you for sharing this post, Susannah: I admire you for the things you realized over the last couple of years and for the future plans you are working on. You are a leading light in my world. I am on the good way to become my authentic self and it wouldn’t have happened in this stage of my life without you!

  5. Suzette Fernow

    That is one smart 34 year old girl! I needed to hear this today too :-)

  6. Cassie

    for me it’s simple: keep writing. i love that 34 year old you is inspiring you today. :)

  7. fiona

    I’ve done my thing for the day, enrolling for a lecture series about my favourite poets, in a bid to be inspired.

  8. TRaci

    Synchronicity. You and Justine Musk are joining forces to make me get off my ass today (and tomorrow, and the day after that).

  9. Carol Nunan

    Thank you for this post Susannah. I have reached the end of today feeling complete overwhelm that I have not tackled that one thing that is holding me back. I’ve done plenty good stuff today but it is all completely pointless if I don’t tackle this one big thing that’s stopping me moving forward. This post helps me see that if I break this one thing down into smaller parts and do just one thing a day I can conquer it

  10. kathryn

    that’s why i’ve hung onto my journals from when i started writing in 1997. it’s fun to go back in time and see how much i’ve changed, expanded and grown…otherwise at times it looks like i’m just treading water…the journals are solid proof of how far i’ve come and to congratulate myself. it definitely wasn’t easy at times!!

  11. Victoria

    Thank you for (re) posting this today. It was exactly what I needed to hear as I try to pursue my writing and photography full-time. The journey from where I am to where I want to go seems so long. One step at a time…

  12. kIMolsonphoto

    It’s so hard to get lost in all of the to dos that we end up doing nothing at all. Too often I feel overwhelmed with all of the things I think I need to do *right* now. But I love your idea of just focusing on one thing. One thing is totally achievable and it does inch you that much closer to your goals. :)

  13. Melinda

    What a sign to myself! This morning I said “tonight I am going to work one hour to clean up my side of the bed”. It is an explosion. And wow I just read that here. I have had to also start a new dream as my old dream poo pooed on me. Ha such a confirmation. I love you Susannah! I did unraveling and photo meditations and check what you are up to all the time.

  14. Ashley

    I finally sent a group of emails that I was dreading sending out (and therefore procrastinating on) and I got two very pleasant responses almost immediately! All that fear and worry for no purpose, in fact something good actually came out it! Thanks for sharing this today. And I love the idea of your 2007 self sending a message to you today, absolutely love it! :)

  15. Beth

    Whoa. This struck such a chord with me.

    I’m 34 now and had some pretty black-dog thoughts about a week ago in the middle of an admittedly hormonally-charged mini-career-and-life quandary… I’m still not sure I’m entirely over it but I’m now pushing myself through that and devoting time to doing that thing I need to do, that I’m compelled to do, which is to write.

    Yep, I’ve been going on and on about writing a novel for years but there’s been more talk of writing than *actual* writing going on so I’ve decided to rectify that.

    You’re a huge inspiration, thank you.

  16. Ruth

    It is amazing watching our bodies of work grow “one thing” or “one hour” at a time. And I, too, love how our younger selves can coach us through difficult times. I wrote a mopey post on my blog yesterday, and did a little browsing at my older posts, as well. I came across something I had written last year that said my “website needs a facelift. And I need a domain name…”. Flash forward to now: done and done. How? One thing at a time. For over a year now, I’ve done two things each day: (1) listed — at my blog — 6 things for which I’m grateful, (2) taken one photograph each day. The littlest bit of creativity has kept me afloat during the times when I feel I’m immobile. Today, my one thing is reading and commenting on some blogs. Connecting with others (in my nerdy, introverted way). So, thank you!

  17. Amy Rebecca

    Hi Susannah,

    Reading your post was a true blush of serendipity. I just loved it! I’ve started a new job search, which requires promoting myself to old contacts. This is a task I dread beyond belief. Yesterday, I decided that instead of procrastinating, I would spend at least an hour or two every day this week writing emails. Forcing myself to commit to the time limit really worked! I sent off four emails today inquiring about work.

  18. Catherine Denton

    One thing? Yes, that I can do. I will write one unflinchingly honest paragraph from my heart. Thank you.

  19. Emily

    What a charming coincidence. I’m actually doing the same thing – going through 4 years of archives to de-clutter, identify themes and re-categorize. The process is very much like deciding to organize one’s garage and suddenly being overwhelmed by the mountain of stuff!

    But, as you experienced, it also turns into an amazing trip down memory lane and a birds-eye view of the landscape we’ve coverage, allowing us to make sense of the journey a bit, see the ground we’ve traversed when we may have thought we were just stuck in the bog.

    Thanks for recalling where you’ve been and best of luck with the task, one chunk at a time.

  20. Briana Morrison

    I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately. In an attempt to make more room in my life to achieve my goals I requested to move to part-time at my day job. Sadly, my request was denied. So here I am with a growing pile of to-dos. One step at a time, one thing at a time, one hour a day. Perfect.

  21. Julie-Ann

    My one thing today was reading this and making a list of baby steps. Thank you!

  22. anne holloway

    Thank you so much – I know this and then I forget – very timely reminder

  23. Sabine

    When I woke up, I immediately had ideas for a stamp collection and put them into my sketchbook. Afterwards I worked on my calendars for 2013, that I will be selling on a craft fair. So, I’m theoretically done for today. But I’ll be working on my project tonight again. Can’t wait :)
    Your post reminded me of the things I need to do on my blog, like resizing the old photos… *yikes* Lots of things on my to-do-list *sigh* But like you said, one thing at a time!

  24. michelle gd

    gentle yet completely inspiring.

  25. Kathleen

    Just reading this – and then all the comments – made me feel better. This is my life, all the way. I have so much I want to do, but my mind just begins spinning thinking about all the to-do’s my dream list will require.

    I like the idea of the “one thing or one hour” each day. Makes it feel so much more attainable. I think I may give this a go. Good luck with the blog clean-up, I love the fresh new look!

  26. Morgan Brig

    I am a list maker too. My thing lately is to have a number of non-dream items on it, and of course I do those unchallenging things first. I feel like I’ve done something, yet my gut knows better! So your suggestion of the one (dream) thing per day totally speaks to me. Today I start, fear be damned!

  27. Kelly warren

    what a perfect post to stumble back across and share again. it, too, have that same “the longer the list is, the more i do nothing” issue. i’m the world’s worst procrastinator. this is a great reminder that little steps at a time, though little, are still progress moving forward. thanks for that reminder.

  28. Carole-Ann Vance

    Hello Susannah, I just read your article in my newly purchased Somerset Life! Loved your pictures, loved your words!
    One hour a day, so manageable, not overwhelming, I am going to start with that…thank you!

  29. Elena

    Thirty-four year old you wrote a message thirty-four year old me needed to hear today. You are such an inspiration to me Susannah! Thank you <3

  30. cLARE

    Oh, thank you so much for this, you have no idea how much this resonates with me right now(hormones and all!) The feeling of overwhelm and uselessness, followed by “what’s the point?!” well you have just proved to me what the point is. I shall be trying your technique from today onwards. Thank you for such encouraging words x

  31. Sally Nash

    After coming across your Exploring the Senses in the Simple Things Magazine (wonderful), I then revisited your Blog. I really do love reading your thoughts. Today I answered the phone without listening them speak on the answer Machine first. Thats progress for me. I did that today before reading your Blog but you brought it to my attention that I actually took a small step today.x Wonderful, wonderful words.

  32. Nina

    So true! I have M.E. (C.F.S.) and sometimes the One Thing I really need to do is just rest, so I work on trying to think of that as ‘doing something constructive’ rather than ‘doing nothing’.

  33. La plume et la page

    I try, every day, to write some lines of my fiction book. It’s hard and I have doubts but one day I’d convice myself that I can do it!

  34. Sylvia

    i so needed to read this today… thanks : *

  35. Shauna

    This is just the best thing to read on a glum October morning, thanks for the reminder 34 year old Susannah. One thing, just one thing! :)

  36. Carin

    Susannah, I’m just catching up on my reader and came across this. This is just what I needed to hear today, after feeling a bit underwhelmed with the progress I’m making. Thank you!

  37. tjmorgan

    Hi Susannah, I am new to your website. So this is a new experience sharing my thoughts and feelings “out there”:) Recently I wrote some thoughts about procrastination, how I was so over it. I am doing much better but my problem is staying focused on the dream and remembering to do the dream daily.
    Thanks for your insights.

  38. Amber

    I will start now and report back after I’ve completed 100 things in 100 days.

  39. Amber

    you know what, I have decided to report daily here (i hope you don’t mind) this will really motivate me :)

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