Enough was enough, I needed to lose weight. Not that I felt I was overweight, but my clothes began to feel uncomfortably overcrowded like the London Tube during rush hour. So two weeks later, ‘plan weight loss’ was in full effect. My routine included early morning jogs before work in the summer, replaced by visits to the gym as it got colder. I adapted my diet, eliminated chocolates, and tediously examined my food like a scientific experiment. The result: a year and a half later I had lost two and a half stones.
Looking back it was simply my focus. That’s all I needed. A complete unyielding, laser beam focus along with every part of my environment being tailored to the accomplishment of one goal. Being uncompromising focused, because I knew what I wanted to outcome to be.
This year has reminded me about the need to pursue one main thing with intensity. That in the midst of our roles and responsibilities, we can ensure each day contributes to the successful outcome of a single pursuit. Also, I am conscious that those individuals we esteem highly in our society, who stand out for a given cause or achievement, arrived as a result of deliberate action. Their focus and determination scream volumes as I ponder over their contribution to this world. So I have concluded that there are three things that we can do which will assist us in seeing the desired results we want for our lives.
1. Focus on one thing and keep at it
We esteem genius. Television shows like X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent are a testament to how we long to spot a rough diamond amongst the cubic zirconia’s. We scan for brilliance. But exactly how does one become brilliant? Sure, within each one of us lie a series of innate abilities and talents but that is certainly no guarantee. Talent is not enough.
Focus on one thing and keep at it. That’s what Thomas Edison did with the light bulb. He failed the experiment ten thousand times yet remained constant by trying again. Now, I don’t know about you, but if it was me, once failure started hitting the hundred mark, I might have concluded that my experiment was a bad idea. Fortunately for us, Thomas Edison continued in his unparalleled decision to take a direction and continue to drive regardless of detours and unforeseen traffic.
2. Always have an agenda for your time
“Steve was very, very strict about filtering out what he thought of as distractions,” Walter Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography on Steve Jobs, said in an interview with the Harvard Business Review. “People would come to him with all sorts of problems — legal problems, personnel problems, whatever. And if he didn’t want to deal with it, he would not focus on it. He’d give you sort of a blank stare. He would not answer, he wouldn’t answer email…He would pick four or five things that were really important for him to focus on and then just filter out — almost brutally — filter out the rest.”
Whether you start the day with five or four things, ensure at least one activity each day contributes to the achievement of your main focus. Now this may sound unrealistic, but there’s something special about the accumulation of a good habit or an activity over a period of time. At my last workplace I sat next to two individuals who could touch type. I realised that if I could do the same, it would allow me to cut the time I was using to type up documents. I purchased Mavis Beacon, a touch typing software, and dedicated my lunch breaks to learn. Within a month I was touch typing at forty words a minute.
3. Eliminate unnecessary distractions
A distraction is simply something that takes your attention from what you should be doing. Therefore, anything attempted at the wrong time is a distraction. The idea is to carve out time, say fifteen minutes and focus intently on that thing during that period. Yes, I know fifteen minutes sounds minuscule, but you will be amazed at what you can read, research or memorise within that time. Also, within a week you would have spent over an hour on something that you may not have otherwise made time for. That’s the benefit of making small, incremental moves towards a given direction. But the idea is to be realistic, and to stop everything else for that given period of time.
What are some of the things you feel that you need to focus on now? Or what are some of the goals that you plan to set for 2014? Are there any unrealised ambitions you have and really want to start? Feel free to share your thoughts.