Isn't it amazing how masterful we can be at denial,
procrastination, and avoidance, constantly making excuses for why
we aren't accomplishing the goals we say we want? A lot of energy
gets wasted in this department. Usually there is far more talking
and not enough doing. People generally have good intentions, but
good intentions are not enough.
We have 24 hours each day
How many times have you heard people say that they don't have
enough time to get something done? How many times have you said it
yourself? Be honest. The truth is that we all have the same 24
hours each day to work with, and there are people all over the
world having it all. Why then are some people successful, living
healthy, prosperous, balanced, and joy-filled lives while others
are not? In a word - focus.
Each day presents challenges with any number of distractions coming
at you. Usually that means a lot of people who want something from
you - your kids, boss, significant other, co-workers, family
members, friends, staff. Sure, this makes the art of focus even
tougher, but it can be done.
Tune out technology
Instant accessibility is a byproduct of technology, and I think
it's both a blessing and a curse. It certainly strains our ability
to focus our attention. Too many people allow their BlackBerrys,
cell phones, fax machines, and laptops to run their lives. It's
important to keep in mind that on the other end of that technology
is a person--someone who wants something from you. Your job is to
carefully consider the requests that come at you fast and furiously
every day and manage them in ways that support your goals first.
Where this phenomenon started is anyone's guess, but today people
are being trained to respond 24/7, perhaps out of fear that they
won't get the sale, receive the promotion, or be offered the job.
Worse yet, maybe they are afraid that they'll lose their job. (To
which I would say, walk away now, but that's just me and the
subject for another article.) Whatever your reason, reacting to
situations leaves you rudderless and without any personal power.
Being at everyone else's beck and call leads to poor choices, and
it does nothing to help you achieve your goals.
How then do we focus?
According to The Power of Focus authors, Jack Canfield,
Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt, successful people don't drift
to the top. The authors say success takes focused action, personal
discipline, and lots of energy every day to make things happen.
They go on to say that "the habits you develop from this day
forward will ultimately determine how your future works out. Rich
or poor. Healthy or unhealthy. Fulfilled or unfilled. Happy or
unhappy. It's your choice, so choose wisely."
Reading books, going to time-management seminars, creating goals,
or listening to motivational tapes are all worthy and important,
and they won't do you much good if you don't make the choice
(constantly!) to incorporate what you've learned into your daily
life. Change is hard, of course. It's easy to find ourselves
operating on what I like to call default mode instead of
implementing the changes we say we want.
Decide, plan, act
Napoleon Hill said it best when he noted that achieving what we
want depends upon having a definite purpose backed by a plan, which
is then supported by intelligent action. As he was to discover in
doing his research for Think and Grow Rich, the 2 percent
of the population that is widely rich and successful all had a
clearly defined purpose. They knew what they wanted! They then
created a plan to achieve that purpose. That plan was then
supported through action and persistencesometimes over and over
again. Thomas Edison is a great example. Did you know that it took
him more than 1,000 tries through a period of years before the
light bulb came into being? Now that's the amazing power of
deliberate focus! Edison never wavered from his purpose, and he
stayed focused on the results he wanted.
As a business owner myself, I'm not immune to the challenges of
managing time in ways that drive the results and success outcomes
I've established as being important to me. I suppose in some ways
I'm more acutely aware of what happens if I don't focus my time on
the right priorities. What opportunities have you missed because
you lacked the focus you needed to see it through?
It is a choice
The genesis of all of this is that you need to decide quickly what
is important enough to warrant your valuable attention. My good
friend, marketing and PR guru Jennifer Koon, says, "You have to
protect your time." I agree. It's about personal choice. We choose
how we respond to whatever is happening in our day, understanding
that life doesn't just happen to us.
You've got to focus your attention on those things that help you
get what you want, which means you need to figure out what isn't
important and for that matter may never be important. All of which
is tough to do if you have no clear and definite purpose, goals
that are written down, a course of action to get you going, and
willingness to focus on nothing else. That means learning the art
of saying "no" until you reach your destination.
Focus is tough. There are myriad things coming at us every day. Yet
I am willing to bet that each of you, like me, has experienced the
amazing power of deliberate focus at some point in your life. For
me, the key is to keep that power flowing constantly and
consistently each and every day.
Every passing second is another opportunity
Don't be discouraged if you haven't achieved all that you know you
can. Put aside regret for the goals you've not yet conquered, and
while you're at it, shelve the criticism stick. This isn't about
being perfect. It's important to start where you are right now in
this moment. Get out your paper and pencil and jot down your goals.
Set timelines, get into action, and stay committed to focusing your
attention on those things most important to you in spite of what
everyone else wants. Remember to take a moment to reflect on those
powerful words noted above. Make them your new mantra, because in
spite of our missteps and questionable decisions, we always have
another opportunity to turn it all around.