Focus Requires Urgent Action

urgent focusAll week the topic has been focus; the importance of focus and where you place your focus, the difference between being productive vs just being busy (focus or flurry), and I shared my personal story of how I am learning to focus my efforts in specific areas instead of trying to be all things to all people.  I believe that personal growth is the first step in the process for everyone.  Without recognizing that intentional personal growth is critical to your success, you leave “money on the table” in terms of how much more of your potential you can realize.  You may even leave real money on the table by shorting yourself on growth.  So, my focus will be on helping you grow and part of that is focusing on what you really want to achieve.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.  Knowing is not enough, we must apply.  Being willing is not enough, we must do.

Leonardo Da Vinci

What is Urgent to You?

What are the achievements that have your focus right now?  Do they feel urgent?  If not, you may want to re-evaluate them or their importance.  The problem for most of us is a lack of urgency driving us.  There is always tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.  As Brian Tracy and others put it, so many of us live on Someday Isle.  We talk about our dreams and say, “Someday I’ll…..”  We rationalize away with reasons we can’t start now.  When the economy gets better, when I have a little bit more money, when the administration changes.  It’s not the right time.  The holidays are coming up and nobody cares about this stuff during the holidays.  Wait until after the holidays and come January I will get started.  Then it’s recovering from the holidays.  Then it’s too cold.  Then it’s spring break for the kids.  Then it’s Spring and we should spend some time outdoors before it gets too hot.  Wait until the kids get out of school.  Well, the kids are out of school and underfoot all the time.  Wait until they go back to school.  Then school starts and things are hectic and the school football team is winning and we must go to the games and then the holidays are coming and….there we are all over again.

Urgent Demise

The Law of Diminishing Returns, while originally an economic concept, also applies here in a different way.  The law says that the greater the time span between when you get an idea or come up with a dream and the when you take action on it, the less likely you are to ever do anything at all.  In other words, the longer you wait exponentially increases the chances that you never will.  The longer you wait, the more it becomes just a dream.  It’s hold on you diminishes with each passing day.  That alone should create a sense of urgency for you.

Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.

Jim Rohn

Urgent Action

So, how do we avoid this?  Mel Robbins, author of Stop Saying You’re Fine, tells people to apply the five-second rule.  No, the not the one having to do with food dropped on the floor.  In this case, the five second rule mandates that you must take action on an idea within five seconds of having the idea.

urgent act nowIt doesn’t have to be necessarily massive action.

In fact, most of the time it is simply writing down on paper the first step you have to take to move forward and then set a deadline date.

Just that simple action, executed within five seconds after conceiving the idea, greatly increases your chances of doing that first action.

Many say that are waiting for inspiration or until they “feel motivated”.

It will never happen.  Motivator and Success Trainer Frank Tibolt says

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing.  Action always generates inspiration.  Inspiration almost never generates action.

Decide to take action.  Little bits add up as long as you keep it up.  Start now.  Make it urgent.

Action Plan

  • What is the one thing you have always wanted to do?  What is one thing you can do right away to move closer to it?

Focus or Flurry – Too Busy

Non-stop from the moment you get up until it’s time to put your head on the pillow.  Personal and professional schedules often overlap.  You spend a good amount of time driving from location to location.  Sometimes you cut activities short in order to rush on to the next one.  When you are ready for bed you are totally exhausted and can’t seem to catch up on rest.

too busyYou probably know someone like this.  You may BE someone like this.  It is tell-tale symptoms of someone who is too busy.

There is nothing wrong with being busy.  Busy keeps us active and keeps us from wasting time focusing on the negatives of our lives.  It’s not being busy that is the issue, it’s HOW we are being busy.  Are we busy with things that are targeted or are we simply busy with activities?  Busyness that is not targeted and purpose-driven can lead to a distinct feeling of emptyness.  We are so busy that we must be getting somewhere, but why does it still feel incomplete.  Our busyness has no real meaning.  We spend our time in flurry.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”   Socrates

“It is not enough to be busy.  Even the ants do that.  The question is: what are we busy about?”
Henry David Thoreau

Not sure if you are one of those who are too busy?  Here are 7 signs that you are too busy:

  1. You are always surviving.  You can’t remember what open time on your calendar looked like or the last time you were ahead of schedule.
  2. Meals coincide or overlap with other events.  If you don’t have time to sit down and simply enjoy a little family meal time or quiet meal time, that’s definitely a sign.
  3. You tend to be tired even in the mornings.  You can get rest from all the flurry.
  4. You can’t remember the last time you read a book.
  5. You have interruptions to your interruptions.
  6. You cannot consistently set aside a time-frame for a specific activity, like exercise.
  7. You do not engage in intentional, daily growth

Focus or Flurry – Making the Change

We must make the transformation from being too busy to being productively busy.  We have to move from flurry to focus.  And it starts with the decision to do so.  You must resolve that you are tired of being tired, you are fed up with not getting where you want to be.  It doesn’t solve your problems, but it helps provide the resolve you are going to need to implement this.

Action Plan

Create calendar blocks.  Each block should be at least an hour preferably but certainly no less than 30 minutes each.  You won’t need to block every waking moment, you are simply trying to make sure that you set aside specific activity blocks.  You will protect these blocks ruthlessly, letting nothing short of real emergencies (spurting blood, sinkholes, hurricanes, earthquakes) get in the way.  You need these blocks labelled on your daily calendar:

  1. Spiritual Time.  I call this devotional time but you can call it what you want.  The point is you need daily time dedicated to developing your spiritual life.  This helps make everything else better, it is THAT critical.  Ideally, this is your first block of the day.  Get up earlier if need be to have time for it.  I find that’s what works best for me, before everyone else gets up to have my devotional time.  If you have kids, it’s even better to let them see you engaged in this daily as it also encourages them to develop the habit.
  2. Hard Time.  This block is set aside for doing things you know you need to do that day but avoid and postpone until it is too late to do them.  Set aside time for it and strictly do not allow yourself to do anything else during that time frame until the hard thing is done.
  3. Personal Growth Time.  A block designed for you to intentionally grow yourself.  Remember my 1% rule:  if you simply grow yourself intentionally by 1% a day you will see exponential results.
  4. Reading Time.  Do nothing but read.  Magazines or trade journals, books, white papers.  Do not spend this time on the newspaper or social media.  We want reading time that feeds us.
  5. Me Time.  A block where no one else but you is your concern.  Do whatever you want as long as it isn’t for someone else.  You need this for your sanity and balance.