The ONE THING You Can Do To Get Unstuck

Some of you might have noticed that there has been a significant drop-off in the posts on this blog. Really, there’s been nothing new on this site in months.

Here’s the part where I would normally give off a litany of excuses.

  • Having a baby
  • The holidays
  • Working
  • Losing funding for a movie

And on and on. But that’s not the truth. The REAL truth is that I’ve felt paralyzed. Overwhelmed with the options of things to do.

I’ve spent the last several months starting and stopping a million things. Endlessly researching, weighing options, and basically accomplishing nothing.

And why? Because deep down I had one basic fear: that my real vision was impossible and I needed numerous safety nets before I could even try to accomplish it.

It has been maddening.


Enter The ONE Thing. It’s a book I’d heard about and immediately dismissed as business-world claptrap. (I have a pretty obnoxious habit of dismissing great ideas without ever actually considering them.)

Thankfully, a couple weeks ago, the book found its way into my life. And it’s a goddamn great thing that it did. Because it’s had a tremendous influence on my outlook and activity.

What’s it about? Well, in a nutshell:

The authors showed numerous instances where extremely successful people focused all of their efforts on one single activity. Michael Phelps with swimming, Jerry Seinfeld with writing jokes, et cetera.

And they came up with a beautiful question that applies to both the large and small areas of focus in our lives.

“What is the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or even unnecessary?”

Just one thing. Instead of a million to-do lists and action items, instead of juggling numerous tasks and failing at all of them—simplify everything down to the most important task.

Which was the exact opposite of what I’d been doing. Like that quote from The Great Gatsby:

…that most limited of all specialists, the “well-rounded man.” This isn’t just an epigram — life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.”

In my quest to do everything, I’d just done a lot of things poorly.

— — —

Much has been written about the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 rule), which points out one seemingly universal truth: the majority of your successes come from a small number of actions.

So what if you narrowed down the successful actions to just one? One action that, repeated consistently, would change everything about your life?

For me, the big picture answer was pretty obvious.

Produce my own projects.

Ironic, because that’s the whole point of this site. But I’d lost sight of that. Instead, I wanted to get investors for my movie, start a business, do consulting, and do countless other things so that one day, I could do what I wanted.

And do I want? To write, star in, and direct my own movie. That’s it. So why spend all of my energy doing things that had absolutely NOTHING to do with that?

— — —

It’s dangerous to get precious about your dreams. If you never let your desires touch reality, you’ll spend your life in a state of “one day”. If you never focus your effort, your potential will go unrealized. And if you never start the small actions, you’ll never accomplish the big stuff.

So, what about you? What’s your one thing? What’s the huge thing you really want? And what’s the small action you can take right now to get to that goal?

— — —

And for those who were wondering—yes. The book mentions Jack Palance’s quote in City Slickers: