Throughout my 13-week “One Word” series, I will be sharing a lot of content that I believe will help you live a better life. But from all my experience, if I had to share the top five words that I think make the biggest difference in a person’s life, focus would most certainly be in that list.

There are two aspects of focus that make you successful. There is the short-term, or immediate aspect, which involves staying focused on the task at hand. The second aspect has to do with keeping your eye on the larger picture of your life and connecting what you are doing in the present, to your long-term vision, therefore staying focused on what matters most to you.

Staying focused on the task at hand is difficult for many people. People claim that distractions are a big obstacle here, and I believe that’s true. I also believe that a lack of planning also plays a major role. Let’s take a quick look at each.

Distractions will never go away. If this is a challenge for you, the solution is better management. My recommendation is that you write down all of your distractions. Next to each one, indicate whether the distraction relates to others or if it’s something with which you distract yourself.

For distractions that involve others, identify which ones can be resolved easily by communicating your needs to others.  For example, if you find that you need a block of time to get work done and people keep interrupting you, try sending a quick email to your team, or put a note on your door and close it, letting people know that you need a one hour block of uninterrupted time. This works well both at work and at home.  It takes some time to train others in your life, but it works, so stick with it.

If your distractions have more do with you, evaluate which ones could be removed by better planning.  I have seen many times over that when a person has a plan, they stay more focused. Often times, people turn to email, social media, etc., when they feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to do next. Taking a few minutes to pause, regroup and assess what you need to do during any given block of time can help you take action on the important things rather than avoid them.

The second aspect of being focused has to do with connecting your present moment to your future goals. One of the best examples here is diet. Eating well and being healthy has everything to do with staying focused on making good choices. It is so easy to choose foods that taste good, but are bad for you. The more you work to connect healthy foods to a longer-term vision of what you want most for yourself, the more you will stay focused on making the right choices in the moment. For example, pause and think about the long-term benefits of eating a healthy diet…having more energy, achieving and maintaining your ideal weight, living with less or no medicine, aging gracefully, avoiding diet related diseases, being less of a burden on others, etc. The more vivid your vision is, the more likely you are to stay focused on it in the present moment.

Take Action:

This week, pay close attention to your distractions. If you find yourself losing focus, immediately write down one thing you can do right then to vote for what you want or need to do.

Also, commit an hour this week to reflect on what your long-term vision looks like in one aspect of your life, like I did above about food. Choose an area where you tend to lose focus on a daily basis and work to connect that vision to your daily life and choices.

Have a great week!

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