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Lack of Focus & Concentration (4th in a 10-Part Series)

In every survey we’ve ever conducted here at SuccessNet, lack of focus has always come up as one of the top three problems faced by our readers.

Distractions and competition for our focus has never been greater. TV, eMail, phones, and 24-hour news are all screaming for our attention. We feel tugged at from every direction. Our priorities get challenged and tested, and we must exert extra effort to stay focused and concentrated on our most important objectives.

For many people, chaos has become the norm. They are rarely sure of the next best action to take and they feel put upon, strung out, disorganized and uncertain.

The goal should be a focused life—on ourselves, others, as well as environment and events.

“Only one thing has to change for us to know happiness in our lives:
where we focus our attention.”

—Greg Anderson

That’s why we created The Navigator. It’s number one job is Clarity. And it’s number two job is Focus.

But before we get started on this topic, let’s review where we’ve been.
Note: All previous installments are located here on my Blog.

1. Insufficient Desire

2. Lack of—or Erroneous Beliefs

3. Confusion, Lack of Clarity

Back to Focus . . .
The ability to focus is not something you either have or don’t have. It’s more like a muscle that needs exercise and training. And we want to develop the skill to have selective attention. At the same time, we have to have the ability to understand the big picture AND focus on the small actions that affect the big picture.

  • Enemies of Focus
  • Distractions
  • Tolerations
  • Drama
  • Poor health, low energy, fatigue
  • Focusing on our weaknesses
  • Unsupportive environment
  • Unclear boundaries
  • Disorder and disorganization
  • Multi-tasking
  • Not operating in present time
  • BSO Syndrome

Strategies for More Focus . . .

Selective Attention
It’s about choice. Much of focus is about saying no. We have to be able to say no to things that distract us. And we have to say no to the good in order to say yes to the great.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple after having been fired from his own company years earlier, they were losing money—a lot of money.

One of the first things he did was to eliminate many of the various models of computers they were building to satisfy requests from retailers. By focusing on fewer products, they could do a better job and increase profit margins. The very next year they started turning a profit.

Concentration is about avoiding the things that distract us and actively directing our focus—sometimes by not focusing on some things.

Clutter & Disorder
Order and organization may not sound all that sexy or fun, but it supports our efforts to concentrate. Being organized simply makes it easier to concentrate. When things are in disarray or out of place, when priorities are unclear, when things are unplanned, chaos rules the day.

Contrary to what some people think, order and structure doesn’t hinder creativity. In fact, it supports it. So de-clutter on a regular basis. Consider hiring a professional organizer to get you started.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.”

—Albert Einstein

PMA
Having a positive, confident attitude creates a good environment for focus. Your mind operates more effectively and you have more energy. It’s just easier.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

—Thomas Jefferson

Distractions
What are distractions? Distractions are anything that interrupts or diverts our attention, energy or activities away from our intended outcome or actions.

And distractions aren’t all bad. We need some distraction from time to time. We need to take breaks and distractions can serve a positive purpose—so long as they’re done consciously.

It’s the distractions that take us away unintentionally that need to be dealt with.

You can’t avoid them all. Things happen outside our control. The key is to minimize them as much as possible and have contingency plans and tactics to overcome them when they occur.

Tolerations
We all have things in our life that we tolerate. These can be a big source of distractions to us and sap our energy. By identifying them and targeting them for elimination, we improve our ability to focus and concentrate on what will get us closer to our objectives.

Poor Health, Low Energy and Fatigue
It’s been said that health is the first wealth. And I agree. I’ve been blessed with good health. And I hope you are, too. Certainly there is a fair amount of our health that’s not completely in our hands. In those cases, we must play the hand we’re dealt—however unfair it might seem.

Poor health can be a distraction or an outright obstacle in your desire for focus and concentration. It’s incumbent on you to take as good care of your physical and mental health as possible. It’s part of positioning yourself to win.

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

—Vince Lombardi

Getting good rest, managing our energy and healthy eating all contribute to having the energy and vitality to achieve what we want.

It’s mostly common sense. And it gets easier to do when we’re committed to our goals and dedicated to their achievement. Resolve to be in the best physical and mental shape to succeed.

Meditation
Focus requires rest. And meditation is a good way for our minds and bodies to rest and become centered. Notice when your mind wanders—and it will. It happens during meditation and it happens when we are working on a project. The key is to notice—and then refocus ourselves on the task at hand.

Be Grateful
Gratefulness focuses us on what we want rather than on what we don’t. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way toward opening ourselves to greater focus and concentration.

BSOS – Bright and Shiny Object Syndrome
Many innovative, creative, hardworking people suffer from what I like to call Bright and Shiny Object Syndrome. They chase off after interesting, pleasurable, opportunistic ideas and projects—to the detriment of their current goal or project.

Like the two sirens in Homer’s Odyssey, they can be highly seductive. And you must find ways to overcome their temptation. Your next great idea is often poison to your current project or goal. You must steel yourself from the lure of BSOS.

Love What You Do
Doing work you love that’s consistent with your values makes focus much easier.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day of your life.”

—Confucius

Power of Three’s
OK, so we can’t always stick to one point. And we rarely can only focus on one project at a time. We need to be able to juggle and manage multiple priorities.

I’ve always believed that three is a powerful number. We find it in some very significant places. The most powerful physical structure is a triangle or pyramid. In fact, it’s the building block of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes and the Great Pyramids of Egypt. There may be four sides to a pyramid, but the strength of its structure is from the triangle.

As we become immersed in an ocean of information, possibilities and directions, it becomes even more important for us to focus on the things that are truly important to us—the things that will make a difference in the quality of our lives.

Three things can easily be remembered. Any more than that and retention suffers. We can all sharpen our focus and get better results by using the Rule of Three in our daily lives.

It’s quite possible that if you have more than three priorities, you don’t really have any priorities.

Resources

  • The Best Life Navigator™ launches soon. It allows you to keep your personal and professional growth front and center. And becoming Fiercely Focused is one of its goals. It has the tools you need for your success—all in one place.
  • Previous installments of this series . . . www.MichaelAngier.com
    • Insufficient Desire
    • Lack of—or Erroneous—Beliefs
    • Confusion, Lack of Clarity

Take Action

  1. Pick your top 3 enemies of focus
  2. Determine your 3 highest pay-off activities for achieving your goals
  3. Use The Power of Three for your To Do List

“By narrowing your focus, you broaden your horizons.”

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Top 10 Reasons Good People Don’t Always Win. Do you have a guess as to what might be the next of the Top 10 Reasons?

Please Tell Us What You Think
I’ve published this article and the previous one here on my Blog. Please add your comments, questions and suggestions at the bottom of the post. Your feedback and engagement is important. If you disagree with anything, say so. If you have questions, ask. If you have additional insights or resources, please share. I promise to read every one. Thank you.

BTW, you’ll gain even greater value from this series if you have a copy of my book, The Achievement Code: The 3C Formula for Getting What You Truly Want (available in print or Kindle). Details at www.TheAchievementCode.com

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