As we near the end of another year, I thought it timely to write about the importance of focus. By that I mean, what deserves our attention?
The question is what deserves your attention?
I meet with people every week who are in a state of transition. They are either looking for another job, career, or interested in starting a business. After a few niceties, I typically ask, “What do you want and why do you want it?”
Many people are on the wrong path for the wrong reasons. If they can’t articulate a reason why they want something, I’ll encourage them to take some time alone to figure out what they really want and why they want it.
This is immensely important for two reasons: 1) If you know your destination, the path becomes evident; and, 2) if the destination has meaning to you, you will be less likely to quit the journey.
The concept of knowing your "why" is not new. It’s been around for a while, but often forgotten or ignored. We get caught up in the chaos of our circumstances and forget why we chose a career path, a friend, or even a significant other.
We get distracted by shiny interesting temptations that seem important and desirable, but are, in fact, unfulfilling. These things are easy to identify because they are insatiable. The more you get, the more you want or (think) you need. Money, status and possessions are great, but they aren’t your purpose.
Your why gets lost in the shuffle.
We also get distracted by the multitude of choices before us. Having too much information or too many choices is one of the six momentary lapses of reason triggers. We feel overwhelmed, so rather than choosing the one path that supports our why, we either become paralyzed with the inability to choose any path or open to the influence of others.
That’s where other voices come in to play. Many well-meaning stakeholders (family, friends, colleagues, mentors) provide advice that pulls you in multiple directions… making things worse.
They don’t know your why, so how could they possibly know the right path for you?
Because you can’t decide, you hedge our bets by using a form of multi-tasking. You try many things to see which one sticks. If this doesn’t work, that might! Does it really make sense to take multiple paths at the same time?
This is the opposite of focus. It is called task-switching, which is a focus killer.
When we are in a momentary lapse of reason, we often erroneously assign lesser options more weight than they deserve, making it difficult to make a decision. We might become obsessed with the opportunity cost of an option not chosen. This is the loss of potential gain from choices not taken.
The antidote is purpose.
Over 2,500 years ago Lau-tzu taught us, “To be restless is to lose one’s self-mastery.” This lesson is just as relevant today as it was centuries ago as we are faced with ever more distractions than ever in the modern world.
So, if you’re feeling lost, or disconnected, or dissatisfied… look within. Listen to that inner voice that has been suppressed for years, if not decades. Accept your why as the gift it is: The gift of meaning and purpose.
The good news is your purpose is both a destination and a path. In essence, the path is your destination. Like mapping out a road trip, your choices become obvious.
Here’s to finding your path in 2019!
Sorry for the long hiatus, but I’ve been focused on my new business venture, Entrepreneuring School. It’s an e-learning platform for first-time entrepreneurs. Click here if you’d like to learn more about entrepreneuring or check out my new book on Amazon: Entrepreneuring for First-Time Entrepreneurs.