We all have idiosyncrasies, which make us unique. My husband is all too familiar with mine! When I have a goal in mind or a project/task to complete, I have unwavering laser sharp focus and after 28 years of marriage he knows…do not disturb!! Researching the subject about FOCUS has taught me a thing or two. I discovered this admirable, yet, sometimes annoying attribute has its pros and cons. The following will discuss how to be in the FOCUS ZONE consistently and the importance of scheduling UNFOCUS time to maintain a clear mind and protect healthy relationships!
Preparing to write this article I Internet searched FOCUS acronyms and found a few: Finding Original Creative Unique Solutions, Follow One Course Until Successful, and Frame, Organize, Collect, Understand, Synthesize. Each of these acronyms is true. Looking for one that explains the process of aim and achievement, here is an acronym created specifically for this blog post. I believe these words describe FOCUS ownership!
Follow-through, Objectives, Confidence, Undaunted, Success
Let’s look at how each can shape your success!! All definitions are from Cambridge Dictionary.
Follow-through – to continue something until it is completed
Shoot for greatness. But greatness doesn’t always come from dramatic leaps. Sometimes it comes from small, persistent steps. The Stretch Goal Paradox, HBR
The most common success block is lack of follow-through. Although I have especially seen this in sales, it holds true in other professions as well as managing routine tasks, protecting healthy boundaries, and building relationships. Our instant gratification culture has room for improvement specifically in patience and perseverance, which support effective follow-through. People generally quit too quickly when anything becomes uncomfortable. Recently a sales person at a car dealership promised a friend of mine a return call that day. The call didn’t happen by that night or the following day. The sales person lost the opportunity when my friend sought business elsewhere. Lack of follow-through says… you don’t believe in yourself and reveals a lack of priority and importance to a potential client (or friend, family, colleague), project, or goal/task you wish to achieve. Over-talking can also get in the way of follow-through by deflating passion and energy to make goals happen. When talking replaces “walking” you don’t get very far. Less talking and more doing will provide needed traction for follow-through, placing value on commitments made to yourself and others.
Objectives – something that you aim to do or achieve
Brand-new paths and approaches must be found to bring a stretch goal within reach. In other words, working differently, not simply working harder, is required. The Stretch Goal Paradox, HBR
Key question. What do you want to achieve? Be precise. Be realistic. Be wise. Often times FOCUS is lost when goals are simply not attainable, especially within a target timeframe. Next key question…what needs to happen to effectively support this achievement? Imagine a high-rise building without a steel structure and support beams. The building wouldn’t get very high before failing and falling. The greater your goals and higher aimed your achievements, the greater attention to strategy and detail needed for a solid plan that supports success. The Stretch Goal Paradox, HBR, Feb 2017 issue, is an excellent article sharing the success and failures of corporations that can be used as a guide to identify and plan wise “stretch goals”. “You have to know when stretch goals do and do not make sense, and when to employ them rather than set more achievable objectives.”
Confidence – a feeling of having little doubt about yourself and your abilities, or a feeling of trust in someone or something
You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. Dr. Seuss Quoted from How To Train Your Brain To Focus, SUCCESS.com
Confidence drives follow-through and feeds grit required to reach objectives. Without confidence, passion begins to dissipate, taking with it the energy to work through challenges and distractions. If you are not confident in your objectives, plans, and abilities with unwavering faith, others will follow your lead. So… make your lead count! 8 Things Successful People Never Waste Time Doing, February 4, 2016/Cynthia Bazin is a great article offering confidence building suggestions: have a plan, resist temptations (such as social media) and emotionally draining activities, stop worrying about what you can’t control, surround yourself with positive people, dwell on achievements rather than past mistakes, and maintain FOCUS on what you need to accomplish instead of what other people are doing. And, equally important…prioritize YOU!!
Undaunted – not frightened or discouraged, despite lack of success
According to some estimates, it can easily take up to 40 percent longer to complete projects when you’re interrupted than it does when you can maintain specific focus. How to Train Your Brains to Focus, Allen P. Haines
Being “undaunted” is critical for maintaining FOCUS, yet, it is a tough one for me and probably for most people. Living at a time of “instant gratification”, daily accolades and positive reinforcements become critical benchmarks affirming our path. This belief can easily mislead and discourage when problems pop up and challenges ensue chipping away at confidence. Also, consider modern cutting edge technology that encourages quick responses to every interruption and request, which affect confidence when overwhelmed by distractions that interfere with progress. The image to your right, which I found on social media, is a good example. “What success really looks like”
can represent discouraging distractions that redirect paths, lengthening the journey to your destination. OR, this image can reflect perseverance, overcoming expected challenges on the path to success. Be in control and let it be the latter!! Here are a few wise practices to be “undaunted” and in control.
- Take care of yourself first thing in the morning to function at your best. This could be prayer, meditation, exercise, healthy breakfast, call to your mentor, getting to the office early to prepare and organize, tackling the toughest project at the start of the day, all of the above and/or other ideas not listed. Find what it is you need and protect it. No need to justify.
- Block Time. Find your working zone especially when focus and concentration to detail is needed most. Just as a pharmacist would be “time respected” to carefully select the right medication, dose and pill count to safely fill a prescription, the same focused time should be considered and respected of your “zone” and respect the same of others. “When you set and agree to flexible limits for your zones, you not only commit to them yourself, but also encourage others to respect and support your parameters.” (How To Train Your Brain To Focus, SUCCESS.com) Communicate your zone to those who need to know so delivering timely upon the requests of others can be understood and anticipated. Rhythm is disturbed with every bend to a distraction and getting back on track is time consuming. Aren’t distractions exactly the strategy when time-outs are called on sport fields? Time-outs break the rhythm of the opposing team for the sole purpose of affecting performance! Guard your zone!! Silence your phone and text messages, schedule periodic times throughout the day for checking email and voice mail, close your office door if you have one, and when needed, go to a quiet removed location.
- Be Consistent. Consistency affirms to yourself and others your scheduling needs in order to be purposeful and effective in your work. Lack of consistency shouts that what you are trying to accomplish isn’t that important to you and therefore shouldn’t be important to anyone else, either. Consistency is like that steel structure to a high rise building. It is the support needed to aim high and succeed. It modifies lofty goals into doable steps, consistently. When I first began Modify…make life simple, I had to identify a consistent process for topic ideas to become published articles. Consistency makes each day productive: Wednesdays…research and discovery, Thursdays…write, Fridays…first draft edit, Mondays…final edit. Tuesdays…publish. Weekends…OFF! Everyday I workout/exercise in the AM before research and writing begins at 9 am and concludes at 3:30 PM. All else after 3:30 PM. This works!! How are you practicing consistency?
Success – the achieving of desired results, or someone or something that achieves positive results
Commitment to the steps above delivers success. There is, however, one more key element for success… UNFOCUS. FOCUS can be overwhelmingly daunting! The brain needs a break to refresh for a clear perspective. UNFOCUS, intentional disengaging, is my big take-away researching for this post. UNFOCUS is not intended time to respond to email, voicemail and the needs of others. UNFOCUS is quiet refreshing time to reset your brain. Taking an UNFOCUS break is meant to shape sharper focus more effectively. Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus, HBR Srini Pillay shares three ways to UNFOCUS; positive constructive day dreaming, nap, pretending to be someone else. These past few weeks I have found high interval training on the treadmill refreshes my mind (physical endurance focus) as well as picking up a fictional novel and traveling through someone else’s story for 30 minutes! Although very different UNFOCUS approaches, I come away with fresh perspectives and new ideas. At the start of my husband’s career he wrote computer software code. UNFOCUS time for him was critical in order to have a fresh outlook. He shares, “Brief disengagement gives the brain a chance to ‘figure it out’ subconsciously.” Today there are corporations offering nap rooms and desk pods to encourage UNFOCUS!! Find what works best for YOU!
A number of years ago I had a consulting business, Organize & Optimize…creating a path for peak performance. Sometimes a client would share struggles with ADD/ADHD. A “soft distraction” often was a good solution; white noise, chewing gum, using artwork with movement (color and artistic motion) within view. FOCUS improvements were possible simply by implementing “soft distractions” and incorporating 5-10 minute breaks every hour. Taking frequent breaks rewards accomplishing tasks in smaller chunks of time, inspiring productivity. Seek professional counseling if FOCUS has not been attainable. A few tips and wise advice might provide great solutions!! A good resource article is…15 ADHD-Friendly Tips to Fire Up Your Focus By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Commitment to dreams, goals, projects and promises IS to believe they are worthy of your time and effort with confidence needed to stay on track!! Take ownership to protect the necessary schedule for this journey. This means to continue until successfully completed, precisely identify what you want to achieve with a realistic plan to get there, have FAITH in the project/goal and trust in your abilities, expect challenges to persevere through and distractions to manage, and incorporate UNFOCUS time to ensure success. Keep the mind healthy and refreshed! Communicating your ZONE to others will buffer distractions at a time when concentration is paramount. Have CONVICTION in what is important to you! FOCUS – Follow-through, Objectives, Confidence, Undaunted, Success. This is FOCUS with a VIEW…of your destination!
- Cambridge Dictionary
- The Stretch Goal Paradox, HBR, Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller, Kelly E. JANUARY–FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE
- How To Train Your Brain To Focus, SUCCESS.com
- 8 Things Successful People Never Waste Time Doing, February 4, 2016/Cynthia Bazin
- Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus, HBR Srini Pillay MAY 12, 2017
- 15 ADHD-Friendly Tips to Fire Up Your Focus By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.