The Watering Hole Blog

Focus on What You CAN Change

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Focus on What You CAN Change

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“Chunking down your time and demanding that you focus on one thing and one thing only creates urgency, maximizes your productivity, and frees up more time for you to do other things.”

Jen Sincero, “You Are a Badass at Making Money”

If they handed out awards for repeatedly putting too much on one’s (metaphorical) plate and subsequently spreading one’s self too thin, I would be a contender.

How about you?

Due to what I now (not so affectionally) call “My Mexico Sickness,” in which I was pretty much out of commission for six weeks ☹ earlier this fall and therefore had far too much time to think, I finally had to throw up the white flag of surrender and admit to myself that my strategy of writing an hour or two a day on a large writing project, such as a screenplay, was no longer working.

Correction: it was working just fine – if I only intended to complete one screenplay within the next seven years. But at that rate, seeing as I’m already 54, I wouldn’t be pushing my walker across the stage at the Academy Awards to accept my Oscar for Best Original Screenplay until I was…um, 137. Because apparently, it usually takes oh, I don’t know…a few dozen screenplays until you actually get somewhat decent at writing the damn things.

In other words, I realized I had to up my writing game. A lot.

Problem is, I am…well, human. Unfortunately. But there it is. Alas, there’s not much I can do to change the fact that I cannot physically sit at my desk for ten hours straight anymore. Those days are done.

What I CAN change, however, is how much time I spend writing in a day, how much time I spend on any given writing project, which project I focus on and when…and so on.

In fact, the more I thought about it (thank you Mexico Sickness and subsequent emergency root canal, crown, and filling…I’m falling apart!), the more I realized there actually was quite a bit I could change, in my daily sked and overall strategy, that would significantly increase my productivity…without jeopardizing my health.

In his book, “The Obstacle is the Way; The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph,” author Ryan Holiday suggests we focus solely on what we CAN change…what is up to us.

And what IS up to us?

“Our emotions, our judgements, our creativity,” writes Holiday, “our attitude, our perspective, our desires, our decisions, our determination.”

That’s quite a list!

“In its own way,” says Holiday, “the most harmful dragon we chase is the one that makes us think we can change things that are simply not ours to change.”


“Focusing exclusively on what is in our power,” he says, “magnifies and enhances our power.”

“But every ounce of energy directed at things we can’t actually influence is wasted – self-indulgent and self-destructive,” he says. “So much power – ours, and other people’s – is frittered away in this manner.”


“To see an obstacle as a challenge, to make the best of it anyway,” writes Holiday, “that is also a choice – a choice that is up to us.”

I think this is a very important reminder. I certainly needed it.

And so…I’ve been working on shifting away from perceiving my mammoth writing goals as an overwhelming task that (in my most whiny voice and stamp of the foot) I will never get done – and more towards perceiving my life’s work as an exhilarating challenge that will continue to help me grow and learn and change for the better.

I may not meet all my writing goals by the time I die (or get dementia and can’t remember them), but I do know this:

When the time comes for me to bid farewell to this life, I want to be able to look myself in the mirror and know I gave it my very best shot…for reals. Click To Tweet

“Every second counts in our lives, but we tend to forget about this urgency and spend our precious time on Earth procrastinating, whining, focusing on and believing in thoughts that hold us back instead of getting the job done.”

Jen Sincero, “You Are a Badass at Making Money”


“If you feel like you have all the time in the world to do something, you will take all the time in the world,” writes Sincero. “If you have twenty minutes, the task will take you twenty minutes. Chunking down your time and demanding that you focus on one thing and one thing only creates urgency, maximizes your productivity, and frees up more time for you to do other things.”

“Time comes to those who make it, not those why try to find it.”

– Jen Sincero

Amen, Sistah.

As for the Oscar? Well, I have no control over whether I ever actually win one someday or not. Being chosen as a winner is not up to me. In fact, I have very little control as to whether or not the screenplays ever get produced as films! But what I do have control over is my small but significant piece in the process: getting the damn scripts finished and sent out into the world.

Oh…and should the opportunity ever present itself, I will also have control over how glitzy I glam up my walker 😊

How about you?

Is there something in your life that you could…up your game on? Click To Tweet

Or is there perhaps something going on in your life that you can’t change…but maybe you could approach it and/or perceive it in a different way?

Related blogs by Maryanne:

Focus Like a Laser Beam; Daydream Like a Believer

Feeling Discouraged? Do NOT Quit

Obstacles ARE the Path – Say WHAT?

Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a co-founder of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive Maryanne’s blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.

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4 thoughts on “Focus on What You CAN Change”

  1. Boy can I relate to this! As you know, I desperately want to get my book out into the world, but instead of doing the research on how to do that, I spend what little energy I have on pretty much everything else. Here’s a thought. Would you like an accountability partner? I could definitely use one. Let me know if that appeals to you. FYI, I’m still waiting to find out if I was accepted into one of the mentorship programs, but I don’t know when they’ll make the final decision.

  2. Oh ho! Sounds like this blog hit a chord with you, Rochelle! I do have several accountability partners in my life right now…and they are SO helpful! But if you like, you can be accountable to me. Tell me (via e-mail) what your goal is (just ONE goal) and when you want to achieve it. Then choose a date to follow up with me, as to whether you did or did not achieve it. And if not, why not?

    My primary accountability partner is my life coach, Rob Flichel. I strongly recommend working with him. Here is his e-mail, if you want to touch base with him at some point:

    In the meantime, shoot me an e-mail ( and let the accountability begin!

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