This past month has been extremely difficult for me in getting everything done that I needed to, and it all comes down to one thing: lack of dedicated focus. Sure, I’ve been busy and running around and working all day, every day, but looking back now I realize I was working on so many different projects at once and it made everything suffer. Especially my writing habits that I had been doing so well at before.
As someone who constantly has new ideas and new businesses that come to mind daily, it can be hard to stay focused on the present while daydreaming about the future. The problem with daydreaming, however, is that it is just dreaming. No matter how good your idea is, unless you can stay focused enough to bring it to life, it won’t ever amount to anything outside of your head.
While reflecting on the past month, I came to the conclusion that focusing on your dreams does yourself a disservice. Focusing on your dreams, at least in my case, means imagining yourself at the end of the journey and enjoying the results of achieving your dreams. Instead of focusing on our dreams, we should be focusing on our plans. Dreams are important to motivate us to continue forward, but we need to have a very specific plan to achieve them.
On top of that, it’s important to focus on just ONE plan. When we spread ourselves thin by trying to do too much, our efforts and results in all areas suffer. Lately I’ve been trying to recruit salespeople, train them, schedule appointments, set up my online site, start a podcast, etc. I’ve made miniscule progress, but can you imagine the results I would be seeing if I just focused on one at a time? I can, and it kills me to see what I missed by allowing myself to try to be Superman and do everything, which instead overwhelmed me to the point I did nothing.
A mentor of mine and someone I look up to, Ryan Caldwell, taught me a lesson in focus I will never forget. When he was in the process of starting up MX, things weren’t going very well for him and his partner. They had a list of to-dos that kept growing and growing, and they never seemed to be able to catch up. This hit home with me, because I felt that I was always falling behind on my list, no matter what I did.
Eventually, it got to the point where he was struggling to stay afloat. It was at this time, he said, that he decided to choose one thing on his to-do list, fixing a pole that was crucial for his business to function, and work on it until it was completed. It didn’t matter what other tasks were added to the list or what calls he received, he didn’t let himself even think about those things until that task was completed. After he fixed the pole, he worked on the next task, and so on, but never more than one at a time. Because of that focus and discipline, he has been able to grow MX into a company that is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.
Be disciplined and be in control. Set limits for yourself and follow them. Personally, I struggle with trying to answer everyone’s questions or problems as soon as I hear them, at the expense of whatever I’m working on at the time. Do yourself a favor and tell those people or those tasks that they can wait. Stop putting whatever you’re doing on hold just to help someone. If you do it once you’ll never stop doing it, and you’ll always be working on the most recent task instead of the most important task.
We set the importance level of things in our lives. If we set the importance level of everything the same, we will keep going back and forth between tasks without seeing any results. That’s how it has been for me this past month. I start working on one project and then I have an idea for another project that I see as extremely important in the moment, so I switch tasks before I finish the first one. That happens all the time, and I struggle to finish things because of it.
You owe it to yourself to learn how to rank things based on importance. What is the most important thing you can do today? That’s where the inspiration for my One Big Thing idea comes from. I try and choose the One Thing I need to make sure to do the next day, and I don’t let myself do anything else AT ALL until I do it. This past month or so, however, I have found myself creating Five Big Things, or Ten Big Things, which essentially becomes a to-do list that I never accomplish. I have lost my dedicated focus on only doing one thing until it’s done.
Staying focused and finishing one thing is my biggest struggle. Sometimes while I’m working I get inspiration about something else, and sometimes I just think something else would be more fun. But that doesn’t mean those things are more important, it just means that I am trying to find an excuse to not do what I know I need to do. Be disciplined.
If you struggle with having a to-do list that is longer than your grocery list, or struggle with being distracted by too many other tasks like I do, I challenge you to come up with your One Big Thing each night before bed. Not two, or three, but One. And you can’t do anything else until it’s done. Once you do accomplish it you can work on others, but not until then. It will be extremely hard because during the day you’ll think of things that are important and want to do them but stay disciplined. Things are only as important as you allow them to be.
Do yourself a favor and try this out now. When I apply it in my life, I see much more results much quicker. I’m also going to be getting back to doing this, because I have really struggled the past month. Be dedicated to your own success, and know what things are most important to get done. Don’t focus on anything except one thing at a time, and you will see crazy big results.