Collecting Doorways

The Art of Collecting Doorways

Some opportunities are big, noisy and easy to notice. If someone came up to you and offered you a million dollar check, that would certainly grab your attention. However, some opportunities, that are just as important, are relatively hard to see. These doorway opportunities are can completely change your life, but you need to know how to find them.

Think of a doorway. Until you open the door, everything on the other side is concealed. Unless you know from experience what lies on the other side, you can never be entirely sure. Doorway opportunities in life are similar in that you can’t see them until you actually take a first step.

Examples of Doorway Opportunities

My first Toastmasters meeting was a doorway opportunity. I had gotten the idea to attend Toastmasters on a whim. I didn’t know anybody in the club, but I was interested in improving my public speaking skills. After I went to my first meeting, I was hooked. The people were great and I learned a lot. I’ve since won two awards, participated in speaking contests and even been on the radio for my involvement in our club.

Doorway opportunities have a similar theme. They start off appearing unimportant or only mildly interesting. Then, when you start getting involved, they have a huge payoff. Toastmasters was just one such opportunity, I’ve had similar events from dropping a chance email to someone I didn’t know or setting up a new passive income stream for my business.

Are You Closing Doors Without Realizing It?

The idea that struck me hardest after seeing so many doorway opportunities was the realization of just how many I was missing. If a few small, insignificant seeming actions could lead to huge opportunities, how many doors was I unintentionally closing?

You might have dozens of doorways surrounding you right now, but you just don’t realize it. Because these opportunities don’t look like winning the lottery, it is easy to disregard them. To say you don’t have the time or energy to pursue them. If they weren’t in hiding, and really did look like million dollar checks, you probably wouldn’t have trouble finding the time and energy to grasp them.

Sniffing Out Doorways

It’s easy to miss doorways, but what can you do about it? You can’t just quit your job and spend your day randomly wandering around. Even if the doorways do exist, how do you filter them from the time wasting piles of garbage?

Although there are no rules for detecting a doorway (otherwise they’d be easier to spot) I’ve noticed a few trends that tend to create doorways. If you can look for these markers, it is easier to separate the doorway opportunities from they dead ends:

Look outside your comfort zone. Ideas that scare you a little are better doorways than ones within your expertise. The reasoning is simple, if you were comfortable, you would have already taken advantage of any underlying opportunities. If there is some slight fear or uneasiness you probably haven’t opened any doors yet.

Search for ideas that pique your interest, but you don’t know anything about. Look for ideas that make you curious. If you don’t know anything about the subject, that’s a sign that you might be looking at the tip of an iceberg.

Watch for invitations. Recently I was walking through our campus when I noticed an advertisement for an improv comedy group’s open house. This is exactly the kind of doorway opportunity I keep my eyes open for, so I made a note of the date before moving on. I wonder how many people would ignored the event to do something safe and predictable like watching television?

Finding the Motivation to Knock on Doors

If you lead a busy life (who doesn’t?) then finding these doorways can be difficult. It is so much easier to just stick within your routine. Especially if you’re finishing your day exhausted and stressed, it is hard to find the energy to go out and spend time on an activity that may give no returns back.

Part of this problem is just perception. If you saw every potential doorway opportunity as a million dollar check, I’m sure you wouldn’t have trouble finding the time. But because these doorways are closed to you until you take the time to knock, it is easy to push them aside.

Another part of the problem is that the doorways just aren’t loud enough. If you don’t have some system for saving them, they are often drowned out in the noise. If I hadn’t made a point of going to that first Toastmasters meeting, everyday life would seem far more urgent. Because doorways won’t yell, you need to find ways to make them louder.

My solution is to keep a list of potential doorways whenever I come across one. Keeping a list isn’t the same as doing something about it, but it’s a start. With a list you can make sure that the chance email from a stranger or advertisement for an open house isn’t lost. Regularly reviewing your list keeps these activities in your mind, so when you finally have an opening in your schedule, you can take advantage of them.

Doorways aren’t loud or impressive, but they can open you to something that is.

Image courtesy of L*u*z*a.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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