It hit me yesterday that, perhaps more than anything else, success is all about focus.
I often find reading Steve Pavlina’s blog motivates me to strive for higher levels of success. To take productivity as an example, check out Steve’s 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity. They’re quite useful in that format, broken down into 33 bite-sized suggestions. But essentially, I think all of them can be boiled down to the issue of focus.
I find that focus is generally quite easy for most people to achieve for a short period of time (if you’re enthusiastic about something, and if you have any gumption at all). However — and I imagine I’m not alone — I find it rather difficult to maintain a high level of focus on a goal over the long-term.
I tend to set lots of very ambitious goals for myself. Some of them don’t go anywhere right from the start, for various reasons:
- it wasn’t something I was passionate about in the first place, so I had little or no motivation to achieve it; or
- the goal simply wasn’t realistic, given the circumstances of my life.
But I’m not talking about these types of failed attempts. I’m talking about the goals that have become the impetus for significant positive progress.
In the last year, for example, I have made drastic changes to my eating habits, my commitment to exercise, and the time I wake up in the morning. However — even in these areas, in which I have experienced enormous benefits from achieving my goals — as surprising as it may seem, my level of commitment has slowly (and often indiscernibly) dwindled.
I don’t recall ever having taken the time to reflect on this reality, and so I have never identified why this happens. But yesterday, for the first time, I asked myself the question: Why, after reaping great benefits from reaching a goal, would you ever allow your dedication to it to peter out?
As I thought about this question, it occurred to me that there are lots of things conspiring against focus. Some are challenges to my ability to focus:
- As time passes, I let myself become side-tracked by various setbacks (e.g., sickness, stress, commitments), and then fail to “climb back on the horse” as it were.
- Sometimes I get distracted by other interests and new goals.
Some are symptoms of insufficient focus:
- Occasionally I become complacent because of the success I have achieved, assuming I will be able to maintain it with no effort.
- Often I simply forget to keep working at it!
These are the types of things that derail me.
I haven’t abandoned the three goals I mentioned above. In fact, I can honestly say I am still fully committed to them (despite some blips along the way). My frustration lies in my inability to sustain uninterrupted focus on goals that, without a doubt, are helping me become more successful.
With everything I hope to accomplish over the next few years, I need to reach a higher level of focus if I am going to be successful. I expect, therefore, that I’ll be doing a lot of thinking about focus. And I will certainly be working hard to develop strategies that will help me avoid the focus fizzle to which I’ve become accustomed.
As you strive for excellence in your life, how do you avoid the gradual erosion of commitment to your goals?
What strategies help you stay focused on your goals for long periods of time — even in the face of setbacks, distractions, and everything life throws at you?