In How to Focus: 20-20-20 Vision, I explained how focus works and why it is essential in many areas of our life. I compared mental focus to clear vision. If we see well, we function well. If we are able to stay focused mentally, we also function well. Easy!
As I said before, when we focus on one thing, the rest is blurry. It is important to remember that we cannot stay focused on everything with the same level of intensity.
It is as if we juggle too many balls at the same time. Even highly trained jugglers can handle no more than six or seven balls at a time and they train for years to reach that point. If we want to juggle the things we need to do in life, we need to train for years, and the sooner we start, the better.
Children’s life is very secure. Their parents and the systems that take care of them handle most of the juggling for them. The kids just need to focus on their lessons in class, but the do not really practice focus.
If you let children juggle chores, homework, hobbies and, God forbid, time to watch TV or play on the computer, they will collapse. Focus is not the best skill of many of the kids and grownups I work with. They are bad jugglers.
I do not blame them. We are not born with fully-developed focus and we need to learn it as we grow up. Sadly, we need good role models for it and if our parents are not good jugglers, we will not be good jugglers either.
When a juggler throws the balls, he keeps his focus on one ball. The rest of the balls he sees are blurred. If we want to bring clarity into our life, we need to consider the balls as goals. We cannot juggle too many.
The first rule of focus in life is having goals. One goal requires no juggling, but there are so many different areas in life that we cannot afford to have a single-task mindset.
In every area of life, we need to aim for something. We need to pay attention to something and keep our eyes on the target. I know that goals seem like something taken from the marketing of motivational seminars and some people consider their goals to be a wish list. In fact, goals are not wishes.
Let’s go back to the glasses. In order to walk safely in life, we must know where we are going, see what is in front of us and start walking. If we do not know where we are going and do not consider what is in front of us when we start moving, we will be stuck. We must have all of these three components.
Living without goals is like coming out of the airport, getting into a taxi and saying to the driver, “Take me!” without a destination. The “driver” part of our brain will not move without directions.
Having goals but not being aware of what is in front of us is like coming out of the airport, getting into a taxi and telling the driver to drive while ignoring others on the road, stop signs and the law. Without this awareness, we will have many accidents.
Knowing where we are going, considering the circumstances but not moving is like coming out of the airport, giving good instructions about the destination, considering what is on the way, and then asking the driver to wait there for days and months.
To get more focus, write up to seven goals at a time and work on them actively. When many new things come up, write it down on a separate list of future goals and stick to your active ones. When you achieve one of your goals, start a new goal in its place.
Consider things you want to accomplish or improve in the areas of health, wealth, family, spirituality, personal growth, career and social activity. If you feel strongly about something in an area, write a goal about it.
To focus ever further, give each of your goals a priority. This will help you device what to work on when you do not have enough time for everything. Then, write down a list of action steps to achieve each goal, starting with your highest priority one.
Remember, in order to get clarity, “something’s gotta give”. Successful people do not browse through life. They design it by prioritizing daily what stays “front and center” and what remains in the blur, at least for now.
Until next time, stay focused!