Focusing on the One Thing


Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

November 29, 2020

Recognising Mediocrity

Childhood Years

I had many dreams during my childhood, and I wanted to do many things with my life. I had dreamt of becoming a singer, a pianist, a drummer, a professional athlete, a martial artist, a world traveller, a polyglot, and more.

Because I had so many goals, I often tried to fit as many of these activities into my daily schedule. For example, a typical day might involve:

  • 30 minutes of piano
  • 30 minutes of drumming
  • 1 hour of exercise/martial arts
  • 1 hour of language studies

While this might seem productive, when I look back on my childhood as an adult, I realise that I accomplished nothing more than mediocrity.

I’m a mediocre piano player, and can barely pass as a beginner on the drums. I’ve tried a variety of martial arts (Karate, Muay Thai, Ninjutsu) but am proficient at none. I can barely understand Chinese and Japanese, let alone French, despite having taken lessons for all of them.

Year 2020

My lack of accomplishments didn’t stop at my childhood. When I entered year 2020, I told myself that I would still go full steam ahead toward early retirement (with my corporate part time job + part time tutoring jobs), while working on 2 different websites at the same time, while not neglecting personal development (reading and exercising).

While I wish I could say that my 2020 ended with a bang, it didn’t. I’m no closer towards early retirement, my 2 websites are kind of stagnant, and my personal development isn’t outstanding. In addition to that, 2020 felt busy, sometimes overwhelming.

From October to November 2020, I decided to step away from work and blogging, and to take an extended break for reflection. And here’s one of the most important things I learnt.

Focusing on Only One Thing

Oftentimes, people try to chase after too many dreams at once. They believe they can squeeze in 1 hour of exercise, 1 hour of meditation, 1 hour of piano practicing, 3 hours of building a business, all while holding down a 9-to-5 job.

However, the truth is that when you stretch yourself too thin, all you’re setting yourself up for is mediocrity. You become decent at these activities, but find it hard to push past that into mastery.

As Greg McKeown aptly puts in his book “Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less”, the image on the left results in the “unfulfilling experience of making a millimetre of progress in a million directions”, while the image on the right results in the “satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that matter the most”.


Similarly, in Gary Keller’s “The One Thing”, he asks this powerful question – “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

The idea here is simple – focus on only a few things, or better yet, just one thing.

That isn’t to say that you’re to drop everything else and do only one thing. What this means is that you should prioritise your one thing every single day by means such as time blocking.

Putting the One Thing into Practice

Unlike 2020, I’m hoping that my 2021 turns out a little differently.

In 2020, I had many priorities, such as:

  • My part time corporate job
  • My tutoring jobs
  • Tracking my finances actively
  • Following the crazy stock market and learning about picking stocks
  • Working on this personal finance blog
  • Working on the niche site
  • Taking courses everyday

However, in 2021, I plan to pare down my priorities to the following:

  • Writing for the niche site
  • Creating videos for my niche YouTube channel
  • My part time corporate job
  • My tutoring jobs
  • Tracking my finances actively
  • Following the crazy stock market and learning about picking stocks
  • Working on this personal finance blog
  • Taking courses everyday

Instead of 7 goals, I plan to focus only on 3.

While I would absolutely love to quit my corporate job, buying gear for my niche site is super expensive so I have to keep it at least for the next 6 months (hopefully, I can last for 12 months).

Unfortunately, I won’t be tutoring anymore so that’s an income stream down, but I’m thankful for the savings that I do have. Also, I won’t be posting as often on this blog anymore (as I find that I’ve been dragging my feet a little every week). Instead of posting every single week, I’ll probably post 2 or maybe 3 times each month.

So basically, for next year, my focus will be my niche site plus the accompanying niche YouTube channel to supplement my site.

With fewer goals, I hope to make a bigger difference in my passion projects.

Are you focusing on too many things at once? What’s the one thing that you might need to focus on?

As always, thank you for reading and supporting this blog.

Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary Book Cover

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  1. Budget Life List

    This was a deeply interesting post, even if I do feel sad by the ending. Mostly for selfish reasons: I enjoy reading your updates! 😬 But I am glad that you are focusing on your values.

    With your insight, I am reflecting on my various goals. Daily I try to squeeze in 15 minutes of reading an investment book, piano practice, and French. Plus, writing two posts for the BuLL weekly. I didn’t feel like I was diluting my efforts…..until now! 😅

    Now is a good a time as ever for reflection especially as we are heading into a new year. It looks like you are setting yourself up for great success in 2021!

    • Liz

      Aww you’re so sweet BuLL! I’m glad at least one person enjoys reading my updates 😉

      I think that if you don’t feel like you’re diluting your efforts, that’s totally fine and you shouldn’t have to change that 🙂 The reason I had to reflect was because I felt that I wasn’t making enough progress on my niche site, and I wanted to improve. Also, I’ve been dragging my feet posting on this blog for a while now, so I needed to think about that.

      I’m really looking forward to your updates throughout 2021 too! 🙂

  2. Catpointers

    I think you have the right idea! But it requires a lot of discipline to stick to one thing. I find once the novelty wears off, i really have to force myself to keep going hard. But the payoff can be huge!

    Why do you need to buy all the products now btw? Can you not just do a few at a time as your site grows and gets more traffic?

    ps. hope you find the time to mail me back


    • Liz

      Hi Daniel! Thank you so much for taking the time to drop me a comment. I definitely agree that it’s going to take a lot of discipline so I’ll just try my best to power through 🙂

      Oh actually I’m not buying that many products now (I’ve barely scratched the surface), just that the niche tends to be extremely expensive. I actually planned out my first 30 affiliate marketing posts, so I’m just buying the products for those posts and no more. I think with those 30 posts I will have a good foundation on my niche site and my YouTube channel and I can start doing outreach after 🙂 I’m not really sure if it’ll work but I’ll just try haha.

      And I’m so sorry for taking so long to reply your email. I’ve been avoiding this blog and my niche site during my break, but that’s coming to an end soon and I’ll definitely repyly! Thank you sooo much for your patience and for your support nevertheless 🙂

      Hope you’re doing well!