Finding Your One Thing

Guest Post by Donna Small

I’ve always been the sort of person who completes a task, performs a cursory review, and then shrugs my shoulders thinking, “Eh, that’s good enough.”  I’d like to say it’s when I’m asked to do something…well, unpleasant.  But truth be told, I think that a lot.  And probably much more than those around me might like.   I’ve often wondered why I’m like this; this sort of giving eighty percent or so to pretty much everything in my life.  It’s not that I don’t want what I’m doing to be good, it’s just that I truly think after exerting a medium amount of effort, “That’ll do.”

After saying this statement internally for years and years, it finally occurred to me – If I desired something more than anything else, would I give my all to achieve it?  My days were relatively normal- work, then home to cook dinner for the family – so there really wasn’t anything in my life that challenged me or drove me to perfection.   I mean, who gives one hundred percent to cleaning their house or preparing macaroni and cheese? 

Upon further inspection, I found that this…attitude, if you will, bled into other areas of my life as well.  For instance, there are days when I’ll head into work, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready and excited to face the day.  Now this is saying something because during the day, I work as an accountant. 

I walk into the office, turn on the computer, then glance at the to-do list I prepared the day before.  There are normally several things that are pretty easy – those five minute, take-a-cursory-glance-at-something items that require my signature, approval, or both before I send them off to the next person to do with whatever it is they are going to do with it.  What happens nearly every day is that something on my list slows me down.  Maybe there’s a piece missing.  Maybe I need to call someone to get some information.  Inevitably, they are not available and I must wait for a return call, thus throwing a wrench into my smooth-sailing work day. 

Enter frustration. 

In that moment, I’ve lost my mojo.  And then my mind begins to work.  I begin to wonder how I can complete the task without the information I initially thought I needed. This is my eighty percent kicking in.  It’s the little voice inside of me saying, “It’s good enough.  Move on.”

Suffice it to say that I’ve been this way most of my life and have listened to this internal justification when something seems just a bit out of reach and may require more effort than I want to give at the moment.   Thoughts enter my mind.  Do I really want it that badly?  How much effort am I willing to give?  Most often, the answer is that I’m willing to give enough to achieve my eighty percent performance rate. 

This all changed when I finally figured out what made me tick; what made me want to get better and better. 


Writing is the one thing that I want to do more than anything else.  It is the one thing I will work tirelessly at despite the fact that there may never be any reward.  Many of us will never be able to support ourselves with our writing alone.  Despite that, I pursue the dream…the dream of publication. I am fueled by the desire to succeed in this industry.  I long to walk into Costco or Target and see a stack of my novels there.  I fantasize about sitting on an airplane and the person sitting next to me pulls out a book to read…and it’s mine. 

But the popularity?  The notoriety?  That’s really the icing on the cake.  It’s the actual writing that makes me tick.  I like to say I have voices in my head – voices that just won’t shut up.  These voices constantly tell me their stories and I feel compelled to write them down.  

To me, there is something about words that just makes sense.  A song written with great lyrics just seems more beautiful to me.  Watching a movie that has great dialogue can make us feel emotions that we may have forgotten we had.  Words are powerful.  And there is always a word that describes each emotion, situation or event perfectly.  Nothing else in life is that reliable or that complete. 

My definition of pure bliss is reading something I’ve just written and knowing I’ve just written something that explains exactly the way I intended it; the way I saw the scene in my mind.   Of course once that occurs, I proceed to write twenty pages of pure crap hoping beyond hope that by some miracle, I’m able to achieve that perfection once again. 

But that’s another blog.    

So, having now determined what I desire more than anything, I write.  I write despite the sunshine and perfect temperature outside.  I write despite the piles of laundry, the dirty floors and the mold in my shower.  And in an effort to find more time to write, I will confess to having shuffled my children off to bed early for the most minor infraction just so that I can have a few extra moments of silence.  Then, I will stay up so late that I will need an extra cup of coffee (or two!) in the morning to achieve the aforementioned bright-eyed/bushy-tail status for work. 

Because as the saying goes…anything worth having is worth fighting for. 

So find it…that one thing that makes you tick, whatever it is. 

And fight for it. 

Donna Small fell in love with the written word a very early age, frequently ignoring her teachers in order to discreetly read a book while hidden behind another student and below the wooden desks in her Catholic School.  After graduating from college, she moved to North Carolina and began working in the non-profit world writing business plans, grants and anything that required putting pen to paper, thus proving to her parents that her accounting degree was worthless.  She is a former contributor to and and is the author of the novel, Just Between Friends, which is forthcoming from Second Wind Publishing.  She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two daughters, and their beagle, Charlie, where she is at work on her next novel. 

Posted on July 27, 2012, in Personal Growth. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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