“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.” — Lily Tomlin
Specificity is a skill.
The ability to be specific about what you want, say, and do directly influences your ultimate success.
That’s because specificity unlocks three crucial attributes that are key to performance.
It creates uniqueness.
The more specific you are with something, the more likely it is to be unique, which makes it more likely to get noticed, which makes it more likely to succeed.
It enables focus.
The more specific you are about a goal, the better you’re able to direct your attention and effort to the necessary elements required to accomplish it.
It forces clarity.
If you struggle to be specific about something, it’s a sign you lack clarity about it. Forcing yourself to get specific prevents you from moving forward with half-baked ideas and sets you up to win.
Sold on the power of specificity, but not sure where to start?
Here are five areas where it’s helpful to be as specific as possible…
1. Be specific with your goals.
The more vague your goal, the less likely you will achieve it.
Be specific about what you hope to accomplish and how you measure your progress. This gives you a clear North Star to pursue and makes it easier to optimize your effort as you go, which ultimately will get you to the finish line faster.
For example, it’s harder to accomplish the vague goal of “becoming a good writer” than it is to “publish 50 blog posts” or “reach 1,000 readers.”
Learn more about how to set goals here:
How To Set Goals In A Way That Helps You Accomplish Them
Four keys to setting more effective goals.
2. Be specific about your audience.
Creators and businesses too often chase a general audience instead of a specific one and that doesn’t end well.
A comedian who describes her target audience as “people who like funny stuff” is doomed.
Aim your work at somebody, not everybody.
When you get specific about who you want to reach, you become more conscious about what you create and how you promote it.
Your best shot at finding an audience is to know who you want them to be.
3. Be specific in your communication.
Your ability to communicate in a way that accurately explains your intent and value is the single most powerful lever you have to pull.
If people don’t understand what you have to offer, they’ll never want it. If they don’t get what you’re looking for, they’ll never give it to you.
Vague communication creates confusion, frustration, and indifference.
Specific communication drives interest, understanding, and resonance.
4. Be specific in your requests.
The most common reason people don’t get what they ask for is because their ask is not specific enough.
The way to get help from someone isn’t to ask them for help — it’s to ask them for EXACTLY what you want them to do to help.
If you don’t understand something, don’t just throw your hands up and say, “I don’t get it.”
Ask someone to explain the specific aspect you struggle with.
The best answers always come from the best questions and the best questions are always specific.
5. Be specific about success.
I spoke with someone recently who excitedly told me about a new initiative he was launching and everything that went into creating it.
I asked about his expectations for the project and how he will define success for it and he responded, “Uh, I don’t really know.”
You don’t (and can’t) ever fully know what to expect when you embark on a project, but if you don’t have a specific definition of success for it then you set yourself up for a disappointing— or at least incomplete — ending.
It’s tough to succeed when you haven’t defined the term.
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