(ACTION 2: PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT SERIES)
1. WHAT IS FOCUS?
After reading my previous blog on dreams and goals, one young member of my family called me. His challenge was that although he has big goals and he is working on many of the actions suggested in the blog, but still he is nowhere near his goals. We discussed his dreams, goals, and actions. He is presently working with an MNC and busy for 9 hours a day. In order to achieve his ambitious goals, he has to use his spare time after his job working hours. I found that he is very sincere about his job. But when it comes to his life-changing goals for which he has to use his spare time, he is quite casual. He has a plan, but he is not serious about implementing it. He has not set his priorities right. He is not willing to miss his favorite TV shows. Facebook and Instagram are his companions without which he can’t survive. He spends half an hour in reading newspapers. On weekends he enjoys parties with his colleagues and takes his family for outings. In short, I found his attention divided. In other words, his focus is not pinpointed.
Focus is when you concentrate your energy on something and neglect all others. For example, let us say that your goal is to earn Rs. 100000 p.m. in addition to your current profession’s income. For this, you will have to use your spare time. Now, if you are using your spare time as my young friend, you will never be able to achieve this goal. You need to concentrate your energy fully and use it during your spare time. Each of your actions during this time should take you towards your goal of extra income. You have to say NO to all other activities, temporarily till you achieve your goals. This requires a very strong focus on your goal just like my focus on studies when I was in class 11th. This is described in a blog for which the link is given below. Please go through this link to understand how one has to close his mind from all other possibilities and focus sharply on just the goal:
The best example of focus is that of Arjuna. While shooting, he was seeing only the eye of the fish and nothing else.
So, it is essential to do a mental dusting of all other unrelated thoughts or actions which are not useful in the process of achieving your goals. In short, you need to have a strong focus on your goals.
Why is focus so necessary for achieving your goals? Think what will happen if the pilot of your plane keeps doing several other tasks viz. gossiping with the air hostess, sipping coffee, singing his favorite song, and reading an e-book on his mobile. Do you feel safe flying with such a pilot? Friends! The task of a pilot is quite crucial. We expect him to pay full attention to flying and only flying and that is the focus.
Similarly, you are the pilot of your life. All the crucial tasks which are required to reach your destination or goals, require undivided attention i.e. focus. If you lose your focus for a moment, you may be thrown far away from your goals.
When you have a goal and you make an action plan to achieve it, there may be a few steps you have to follow in a sequence. But, if you keep thinking too much about other steps and do not work sincerely on the first step; you will not be able to even begin your success journey. You must strongly focus on each step one by one, finish a step, and move ahead till you reach your goal. For example, your action plan for earning extra Rs. 100000 per month may have different action steps to reach an extra Rs. 5000, 25000, 50000, 75000, and then 100000. If you keep thinking about all the steps together and just see your top goal of Rs 100000, then you may not even reach Rs 5000 per month growth level. You must first focus on the first level and then gradually move your focus to the next level. That way you can maintain your focus on the task just in hand and easily reach your final goal.
3. HOW TO FOCUS?
a) OVERCOME DISTRACTIONS:
Now when you move ahead in the direction of your goals, the biggest challenge is about maintaining focus. The reason is that nowadays, there are so many distractions that you may start loving without giving any thought. These distractions take away your time in case you are not focused on your goals. These distractions are different for different people. Let me explain how you can identify your distractions and get rid of them.
Step 1: Write down your goals as described in my previous blog, the link is given below:
Step 2: You might have written several goals in different areas of your life. Now, select 2 to 3 goals for which you feel that you must give priority and make your best efforts to achieve them. Write them on a separate sheet.
Step 3: On another sheet in your diary write down what activity you performed in the last 24 hours, hour wise. This means you have to write how you spent your time from 6 to 7 am, then 7 to 8 am and so on till the next day’s 5 to 6 am.
Step 4: Now, count the hours which were spent on activities related to your 2 to 3 selected goals.
Your entire focus must be on these activities. When the first time I did this exercise I was surprised to note that I was giving very little time to these activities. I had to learn to increase my time here by reducing time on the rest of the activities which were not related to my selected goals. By concentrating my energy on goals in hand, I could learn to avoid distractions and create focus.
b) WORK ON “IMPORTANT BUT NOT URGENT” ACTIVITIES:
Important activities are those which lead you towards your goals. Urgent activities are those which you have to perform now even when these are not concerned with your goals. So, urgent activities will be performed by you no matter what. But there are some important activities which will help you to achieve your goals but are not urgent. So, you can easily miss those activities and it can hold you from moving forward towards your goals. These activities may include reading personal development books, listening streaming of successful leaders, attending webinars related to skills you want to acquire and developing positive relations with others, etc. Click following link to understand this aspect better.
Stephen Covey suggests that your full attention must be given to these activities which are important but not urgent. This will put you to a way ahead of others.
So, take some time and based on your selected goals, think about the activities which fall under this group. Now, start paying full attention here and forget others. You will succeed in developing strong focus.
c) AVOID MULTITASKING:
Sometimes you may feel great to work on several goals together. This is something like multitasking. But this reduces your efficiency and performance. The reason is that your brain is designed to focus only on one thing at a time. When you make efforts to do two or more things at a time, you don’t get good results as your brain is not potent enough to perform multiple tasks successfully. Research in this field has revealed that multitasking can, not only slow you down but can also reduce your IQ.
Researchers have also found that multitasking increases the brain’s production of cortisol. This is a hormone which produces stress and reduces focus. Therefore, understand that multitasking creates stress, and stress reduces your ability to focus.
Now, think coolly and write down the acts that you are doing for different goals. From now onwards you must perform only those acts which are related to your selected goals. This is where you will develop focus by saying NO to many acts that are not related to your goals in hand.
d) PLAN YOUR DAY:
Planning is essential in all walks of life. Don’t let your life run by default. Once you decide your goals that you want to pursue, you must make an action plan. Based on this plan, you must plan your daily activities. A little before you go for sleep, you must first evaluate your day. Have you done enough to move towards your goals? Based on today’s experience what corrections you would like to make in coming days?
Next, you should make your plan for the coming day. How much time you are going to spend on urgent activities, important activities and important but not urgent activities? What outcome you expect from these activities? Once you have a plan to act on each day for achieving a goal, your focus will not get diverted.
Remember, success is a planned event and you need to keep your focus on your planned activities.
e) DON’T SAY YES WHEN YOU WANT TO SAY NO:
Learn to say no for an activity which is not directed towards the achievement of your goal. When you firmly decide to reach your goals and start acting according to your action plan, few challenges may come up. Some of your friends or relatives may call you for a picnic on the weekend. Enjoying a picnic and keep your friends happy may look an easier and enjoyable task, but sticking to your planned activities by saying NO to friends will give you a better life in the coming days.
So, learn how to say NO quite humbly and do not deviate from performing actions towards your goals. This way you can maintain your focus.
f) USE DIGITAL PLATFORMS WISELY:
With the spread of COVID 19 pandemic, the use of digital platforms has increased manifolds. It has both, it’s positive as well as a negative impact on our life. Learn to use it productively. While spending time on social media, think as to whether it is beneficial for reaching your goals.
However, effective use of this media can help you to perform several tasks with people away in different cities or countries for which your travel to remote places was essential earlier. Learn to conduct virtual meetings. Intelligent use of digital media will help you to create strong focus.
g) PRACTICE MEDITATION:
When a person does not have goals, his mind wanders and get busy in distracting information. Scientists suggest that such brain activity is conducted by Default Mode Network commonly known as Monkey Mind. Luders, Cherbuin, and Kurth (Refer to the link given below) have found that meditation helps to reduce the monkey mind activity. This in turn results in increased focus in those who practice meditation on a regular basis.
Therefore, find some time and practice meditation. You can learn meditation online also. One such link is given below.
4.LIFE WITH FOCUS:
Friends! Once you set your goals and prepare an action plan, you must develop a strong focus on the planned activities. I have described some steps which will help you to create a strong focus on your goal-oriented activities. But in case you are extremely passionate about your goals, you will automatically develop focus. Passion is one important parameter which can enable you to move mountains. So, be passionate about your goals and use the steps as outlined above. This will create strong focus towards your goals and lead you on the path of achievement.
P.S.: Did you find something useful in this post? Please offer your comments in the comment box. Send your email id for a free consultation.