This Discardian season, which begins today and runs all the way through to October 15th, is all about Quality over Quantity. One aspect of that which has been much on my mind this past week while attending XOXO Festival and musing afterwards about what made it so great, is the nitty-gritty of how we gauge our success.
Quantity is definitely easier to measure. More. Bigger. Faster. These are all straightforward to identify. But they do not equate to better; and particularly not to 'better for you, right now, and for who you wish to become'. For that you need to grasp a more slippery fish: quality.
Many speakers at the conference echoed a theme that I have heard from inspiring books and people throughout my life: You've got to be really excited about what you do if it is to sustain you over the long-haul. Designers Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost of Studio Neat put it very clearly: "Work on something you're passionate about, because if you're successful you'll have to do it every day." You've heard me express the flipside of that same thought: Make sure your every day life reflects and reinforces what you love.
From the men and women onstage and off at the conference, I continually heard about how doing what they love—what they deeply love—has created their happiness. More than a few people in the room have had the good fortune to try out making a lot of money as a potential happiness generator and found that it was not the magic ingredient which pop culture often makes it out to be.
Matt Haughey, who has been running the community site MetaFilter for the last decade, said, "Money is the least interesting problem". Dan Harmon, creator of the show Community, took it farther: "Money will be the death of everything good in your life. Except maybe the first $40k. You need that to buy potatoes and stuff."
Turn your focus from reaching some arbitrary measure of 'big success', to getting to spend more of your time getting to do what you love. As speakers like musician Julia Nunes made clear, that doesn't come in one big break, but in the addition of many moments of moving in the right direction. And that's true whether it's about your career or how you spend your weekends. It's not how much or many you get, it's about what you do and how you connect.
One of the very best things about doing what you love is that you are making yourself available for connections with other people who love the same things. Artist Emily Winfield Martin emphasized the relationships you make along the way and how they give you the energy to move closer to your dreams: "The alchemy that makes your imaginary thing real is the audience." Not having the biggest group cheering you on, but the one that gets your vision most clearly and is most inspired by it themselves.
What do you love?
How are you going to make more time and space for it this Discardian season?
Who shares that love that you can invite to cheer you on?