There’s plenty of kinds of focus. Focus in the sense of your actual attention span, focus in your work ethic, focus in your monetary investments, and focus in where you direct your free time. We live in a world where all of these types of focus are challenged by the multifarious pursuits, people, and businesses vying for our attention.
There is certainly value in diversifying your life. If we spend every ounce of our time, energy, and skills on one singular pursuit, life is going to be extremely monotonous and even unhealthy. We need balance. Yet there is a fine line between balance and distraction, and this is what I encourage us to think about for a moment.
Based on some of my recent articles and even my about page, you can probably tell that I have multiple pursuits. Multiple ongoing projects. Multiple skills and outlets I am actively investing in, with various points of overlap and difference from one another. While there is nothing inherently wrong with having a diverse list of activities, however, I have been forced to recognize a sobering fact:
Sure, you can make gradual progress by juggling many projects at the same time. You can, in fact, complete all of them and even be proud of all them. But when it comes to getting a career off the ground—I mean really launching into something life-changing—this is going to require a unified effort on your part.
If your goal is to find an agent, you have to master the querying process. If your goal is to become a successful recording artist, you have to master your instrument. If your goal is to start a business, you have to master your trade. But beyond all of these skills (writing, music, service), you also have to do a lot of homework. Many of today’s professions aren’t just about mastering a skill, but mastering a system—digging into the industry and understanding the system in a way that your competition doesn’t. This requires a whole different kind of focus. It’s not simply saying, “I’m going to get really good at this one thing.” It’s saying, “I’m committed to getting really good at this and understanding the keys to success.” It’s a holistic kind of focus that demands more time, more sweat, and more dedication than many of us are willing to give. And for those of us who are willing to give it, we struggle because we keep trying to juggle our five other pursuits.
It means sitting down and listing all the pursuits we are investing in right now, and deciding which of those we want most. We don’t have to give everything up in order to pursue one, but we do have to prioritize the ones that will get the majority of our time. Maybe that does mean putting some goals on the backburner, to be revisited in later years. Maybe it means rearranging our schedules and lifestyles to focus on learning everything about our main interest, rather than dividing our mental energy between four interests. Who says we have to do it all at once?
This is written as much for my benefit as for yours. I had to hit a wall before coming to terms with the real lack of focus in my efforts. If this is you, know that you are not alone! And know that your best work will blossom when you give it the dedication it deserves.
Now we just have to figure out what that looks like.
What would that look like for you?
What are some pursuits you are juggling simultaneously? Do you see them competing with one another in your life?
What has been your main focus over the past few years? Do you think that will stay the same for the foreseeable future?