Just One Thing

In the movie, City Slickers, crusty old cowboy Curly (Jack Palance) told city boy Mitch (Billy Crystal) that the secret to life is “just one thing”. Not a one-size-fits-all “thing”, but the one unique thing each person chooses to focus on; whatever matters most to them. The other part of that conversation was Curly saying that “everything else don’t mean”?!#”. When you put it like that, Curly… I get it.

In other words, decide what ONE thing matters most to you and THEN put your focus there.
You might choose to:

  • Spend spare time with a loved one
  • Commit your volunteer energy to one organization
  • Focus on one business activity each week
  • Learn one new hobby or subject this year
  • Tackle one room in your house at a time to redecorate
  • Choose just ONE thing and do it well. THEN, choose another.

Wait a sec…
“What about my ever-growing To-Do list and my finely honed skill of multi-tasking?” you hurriedly ask.
“Ain’t no such thing as a skill of multi-tasking”, I answer assuredly.

Not anymore, anyway.

I must confess, my multi-tasking skill is finely honed too and has helped me leap tall buildings while accomplishing tons of my own To-Do’s. However…
Brain research is showing that it’s catching up to us. Our amazing little brains cannot handle doing two different tasks at once, and then remember the fine points of either. Ever been in a meeting where attendees are “listening” while answering emails or texting? According to research, they’re not doing either particularly well in that moment. They’re basically just keeping that chair warm.

Our brains are working overtime and skimming the surface of all the information and demands coming our way. We’re losing our ability to focus…to concentrate…to really dig into something and analyze and come up with solutions. All this because we just don’t, or can’t, do one thing at a time anymore.

So where does that leave the grand To-Do list? Here are some thoughts about that:

  • Carve out planning time on Sunday night/Monday morning and revisit that list.
  • Cross off anything not crucial to you, your business or someone else’s well-being.
  • From the remaining items, choose ONE thing that MUST be done.
  • Prioritize the others in order of importance.
  • With dedication and diligence, accomplish the ONE thing, then choose the next thing and accomplish it, then the next and so on.
  • One at a time, check the items off your list.
  • TA-DA! To-Do’s accomplished!

Sounds pretty simple!
And kind of slow-moving and boring and not very fun.
Think quality over quantity. Think brain and body health over stress.
Give up the need to jump from one thing to another without finishing any of them. It takes practice. I’ll be doing lots of practicing this week. How about you?

Give yourself a break and focus on one thing at a time, in order of importance to you. Great things will be accomplished and you’ll peacefully, confidently sit down yet again next week with another list of To-Do’s. YOU can do anything…ONE anything at a time.

See what focus and sheer concentration on just ONE thing can accomplish. Watch Nik Wallenda’s amazing walk – blindfolded!! – between 2 skyscrapers here.

Choose to have a great week!


  1. Dennis says:

    Amen. And it has become much easier to do now that I am retired. When I catch myself hurrying on to ‘get it done’ so I can move on, I slow down and realize it is more enjoyable to do what I am doing without trying to ‘get to the next thing’ on my list. Thank you again for hitting the nail on my head!!

  2. Vicki Hamilton says:

    Great post Debbie! Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Robert Speakman says:

    Debbie; You are amazing. You know exactly what I need “to hear”, again, each week. Thank you so much.

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