Many of us are stuck. At least we feel stuck. We feel powerlessly trapped doing things we couldn’t care less about, but feel like we have to or should do. When our true goals aren’t reached or even attempted, frustration and confusion set in. “How do I break out of this cycle? Why can’t I find the time to do the things that are important to me?” What we should be asking is, “Why haven’t I been making the time?”
You have the same amount of time that Ben Franklin, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King Jr., and Frank Sinatra did. Possibly more. Your time depends on the choices you make. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to make choices on the fly without a reference point -- a grounded purpose or set of beliefs -- to apply when making those decisions and choices. What you need is more Focus-ed time. The way you live your life, from the career you choose all the way down to the food you eat, should fit within your values and beliefs, purpose and priorities.
To make better choices, filter out the time-eaters that are actually optional. (Do you really need to watch that much TV?) The hard part is knowing the difference between what’s important and what isn’t. What’s important are goals that support each other and the roles you have. What’s not are things that get in the way of your contribution.
In life, you can either be the hammer or the nail. You can apply force and energy where you want it to go, or you can react to the force and energy of others. The more you react instead of act, the harder it is to set your own direction. And the more likely it is that you'll wake up one day and wonder where you "went wrong."
The first step to achieving goals “on purpose” is to define success. You can go as far as creating a personal mission statement or just find a picture of your hero. Even the shortest of short-term goals don’t happen by accident. You have to purposefully decide what to do, where it fits in your day, and how to get it done.
Without direction and a map, you can get off course and end up in places you never wanted to go. A typical day can be choked with 50 things to do, many of which have nothing to do with your Focus. When your mind and efforts are scattered like that, nothing gets done well, and some high priorities may get set aside or forgotten. With Focus, distractions are kept to a minimum and your days are spent in a meaningful way. You regain control over your life and no longer feel like you’re wasting time.
First thing tomorrow, see if you can find five things in your day that you might call a distraction from your goals. Focus on getting rid of one at a time.
Focus helps you grab onto your goals with ferocity. Focus won’t let go until the job is done. Focus is persistent and stubborn.
As you learn to live with Fire, a motivating Focus becomes even more important. Your Fire will help you carry out your goals with passion and energy, but focused meaning gives you a solid foundation to work from. It’s great to care about what you do, but you need to be moving in the right direction.
People are naturally more motivated when they have a clear sense of Purpose. Have you ever had a work assignment that you couldn't see the purpose of? It may have been important to someone else, but certainly not to you. How motivated did you feel, how much did you look forward to doing that assignment? Chances are, not very much at all.
On the other hand, consider the pictures of family in your office. That’s a heckuva work purpose right there. Visual reminders like this help you through those tough times, when you’re just unmotivated and not really into what you’re doing. Visual, written and mental cues work so well as motivators because they crystallize your thoughts and remind you of your Vision. Try creating your own personal motivation vision: find a picture that represents what your ideal outcome would look and feel like. Look at it every day.
Motivation can also come from a focused benchmark that measures progress and improvement. With meaningful targets, you can see how far you’ve come and be motivated to go even further.
Try these things today, and you'll find yourself living with more Focus:
- Pay attention to doing one thing at a time.
- Talk to people who believe in you and your Purpose.
- Simplify your life and slow down by eliminating one headache of daily life.
- Update your priorities.
- Think about recent decisions and if they did or did not correspond to your Values & Beliefs.
- Practice arguing against yourself. Be your own "devil's advocate".
- Draw your vision of an ideal life, or an ideal outcome to a specific situation.
- Read stories of success.
- List the internal Reasons Why you're pursuing a certain goal.