What does Focus really mean?
Many motivational speakers I’ve listened to talk about how important it is to focus. I’ve found, however, that their emphasis is almost always centered on setting goals, creating successful habits, and mastering willpower. While these are certainly essential on the journey to attaining our personal objectives, I don’t think this approach truly hits the sweet spot of what FOCUS really means – nor do they truly reflect the everyday challenges most people have with focusing.
I believe many personal development preachers often ‘over-simplify’ or generalize what it means to be focused, and only promote a set of ‘focus myths’ based on their own opinions and experiences. Their messages often imply that people that work really hard but haven’t succeeded yet are not focused. I think this is incorrect. The reality is that achieving focus in life is more of a journey than a destination, and every step we make on the right path to fulfilling our truest dreams are individual instances of achieving focus.
Here’s the reality
An entrepreneur failing to hit his or her set profit goals, but working tirelessly for 20-hour days is focused. The sales guy making calls to numerous clients and potential partners, but still falling short of reaching production goals is apparently focused as well. Any athlete who is faced with securing a critical point in favor of their own team during a big game and puts in his/her best shot but fails to score is certainly focused.
All of these different people set goals that were important to them; they probably worked really hard at achieving what mattered to them the most, what they loved to do best, and went the extra mile to make it happen, although they didn’t ultimately succeed. That, in my own judgment, isn’t what achieving focus really means. In fact, it’s only the beginning, because achieving focus is more of a journey than a destination.
Understanding what Focus is
To truly unleash the power of your focus you must first understand what focus really means. Regardless of what our goals are, we don’t function in a vacuum. Every agenda or plan you create will certainly be met with opposing forces, creating challenges, and setbacks. It is only how we manage to retain our consistency and keep working on our goals that really defines what FOCUS really is!
To the sales guy, there are seemingly endless admin tasks to complete, official errands to run, a personal ordeal, unfavorable weather; a car simply refuses to start, and many other issues that compete for his time. It is the ability of the sales guy to continue to give his best work despite these issues that invalidate the popular myth that focus is only present where there is the ultimate achievement.
To illustrate what focus truly is using a Sports example, Legendary golfer, Tiger Woods was said to be extremely focused, not just because he could always take the biggest shots in PGA, but because he was able to do it under intense pressure. Focus lesson 1 is knowing that focus is firstly about performance in spite of obstacles. To really attain focus you must develop yourself to deliver under pressure.
How to Achieve Focus
To develop your focus (and kill your distractions), apply the following four steps:
Step 1: Create a precise goal or vision for your life
Take out some time to clear your head, and find out what type of person you want to become, what you want to achieve by becoming that person, and how far you’re willing to go to achieve it.
Step 2: Know the ‘why’ of your goals
This is a crucial step. If you know what you desire to achieve, but lack a purpose for achieving it, your focus will certainly crumble, as your chances of success. It is important to know WHY you want to achieve what you desire to achieve.
Step 3: Make a plan and stick with it
You can have a plan to get from A to B, but if you lack the self-discipline and consistency to see it through to completion, you’re just going to end up with a bunch of uncompleted plans and ideas that never materialized. The same holds true if you’ve got a clearly defined goal with no concrete plan to accomplish it. Consistency is key!
Step 4: Take daily action
Like they say, ‘Little drops of water make a big ocean’ it’s important to take one action that can lead to the fulfilment of your dreams every day. Also, if you’re somehow unable to achieve your goals for the short-term goals, don’t beat yourself up about it. Realize that the key to achievement is focusing on the journey, not the destination. Remember to enjoy the process.
Step 5: Focus on the Positives
Being negative and bitter about your past failures is a recipe to lose morale fast! Dwelling on unpleasant circumstances and failed efforts mean you are looking at only the negatives. It’s time to let the past go. Every day, you are presented with a blank slate to start over and succeed.
Like Henry Ford put it: ‘Every failure is an opportunity to start over, this time more intelligently’
This is the ‘focus mentality’ you should apply in all aspects of your daily life. With dogged focus, you can achieve literally anything you put your mind to! Your potential is limitless, but it only matters if you can focus on specific goals and see them through to completion.
Success in life begins with the ability to focus on what you want to achieve. But it’s easier said than done. While focus is a simple concept to grasp, it can be quite difficult to master. Every day, our brains are bombarded with a tremendous amount of information, and all that information is constantly ‘tugging’ at us for attention. This constant ‘tugging’ can cause our minds to jump from one choice to another at random.
While it is natural for us to multitask, or be involved in a variety of activities at the same time. To do this or that, to go here or there, to be this or that. Taking everything into consideration at the same time can really just fill your mind with a clutter of information. Thus diminishing your ability to focus. It is the ability to select one option and silence the ‘noise’ in our heads that makes us truly focused.