One Focus

January 14, 2015

Do you want to do something great? Well, you need focus. Focus only really happens when you have one thing you are focusing on. So, when I have a goal, it is a single goal, a single focus. I pick one thing and stick to that.

You don’t get two focuses

I don’t think that most people understand the meaning of focus because they lack the discipline to say no to other opportunities or things they want to do. How often have you heard of someone who wants to be a singer, dancer, actor, producer, model, and fashion designer? It’s like a bad joke.

Yet, for as silly as that sounds, we all do the same thing in our own lives all the time. It is now common to hear phrases like work life balance thrown around. What that really means is people want to be able to achieve multiple things without sacrificing anything. That is just not possible.

I personally contend that if you are trying to have an incredible career where you hit the top of your field, you will be missing time with your family. I am positive that if you put a lot of focus on your family, that you won’t reach the top of the mountain in your career. You might have some kind of hobby that you are really interested in, and that’s great, but it is distracting you from the other things you are doing.

I’ve even sat in company meetings where the boss talks about how important it is to be focused, but then proceeds to talk about how there are three big opportunities that are “the focus” and under each opportunity there are about 10 things that need to be accomplished. All of a sudden having a focus means focusing on three things which really means focusing on thirty things. that doesn’t seem like focus at all.

So, you get one thing and that is your focus.

How this plays out

For me, this means I do my best when I have one big goal that I am working on. I prioritize my life around that goal. Everything else that I do is secondary to that goal as much as possible.

For example, my current goal is weight loss. I’ve been at it for a while and I am planning on it taking me more or less a whole year to reach my goal weight. To reach my goal, I have to eat the right food, get enough sleep, and periodically exercise a bit. The only way I will reach my goal is if I don’t make mistakes and stick to my diet the whole time. I can’t take a week or a month off. That doesn’t work.

I have other things that I would like to do. I would like to push an update to Weight Tracker, I have some really interesting software design ideas that are worth pursuing. It would be really cool to speak at a programming conference about some of my ideas. It would be fun to push out more products for Retro Mocha.

Yet, I am not actively pursuing any of those great opportunities. I am focused on my weight loss goal as my first and primary focus. Anything that becomes a distraction I avoid as much as possible. I have a mental priority list and I push distractions down the list.

The projects and ideas I am working on are generally in support of the weight loss goal. For example, I am working on writing my own ebook about my weight loss journey and what I’m learning along the way. That project supports my effort because it keeps me accountable. I can’t write a book about weight loss if I don’t lose the weight.

The Retro Mocha Show helps a bit too because as we grow the audience, there is more accountability around what we do at Retro Mocha. If we get 10,000 people listening to our show and I tell them I’m losing weight and putting a book out, if I don’t hit my goal I’m going to look stupid and lose credibility.

Even this blog post supports what I’m trying to achieve with weight loss because it reminds me that weight loss is the one goal I have for the next year. It’s my one focus, my one project.

If what I’m doing doesn’t support my weight loss goal, I probably shouldn’t keep doing it.

Minor caveats

Having one focus doesn’t mean that you stop living your life or spending time with family or working or anything like that. So, don’t read that you need to have one focus and then start ignoring your family. That is foolish.

What having a single focus is the lens in which you should see and judge your world. It lets you ask yourself “is this helping me reach my one goal?” Sometimes that is going to mean you give up some things to get what you want.

For example, I’m giving up foods that don’t fit my diet. I have to eat a particular way and if my friends or family don’t support it, then I will do what I have to do to stick to my diet, even if that means less social activities with people I care about.

Clarity of purpose

For me, the most valuable thing about having one focus is that it gives you a clarity of purpose around what you are doing. I know that I need to lose weight and I know exactly how to do it. There is no ambiguity. I know why I want to lose weight - to live a more awesome, healthy life with my family.

My purpose is clear, my goal is set, my choices are easier to make.

Having one focus gives me the best chance of reaching my goal. I’m going to reach it.

What is your focus? What is your goal? Will you reach it?

About The Author

Brian Knapp is one half of the dynamic duo that runs Retro Mocha. You can follow his hilarious puns on Twitter.