Find YOUR Focus
Resources and articles to help you find clarity and purpose in your life and work
You’re in the right place if…
to discover your true self
What do you mean by focus anyway?
your focus is your #1 priority
Finding your focus is about identifying the most important thing you need to think about:
It’s about strategy. It’s about understanding your options and making the best decision based on all calculated internal and external factors.
It’s about meaning and being mindful of your purpose, of your strengths and weaknesses, of your likes and dislikes, of what’s important to you and what’s not.
It’s about using data to make decisions.
It’s about identify priorities and sticking to them. It’s about understanding tradeoffs and it’s not about balance, but rather accepting the imbalance that will come. Ultimately, it’s as much about deciding what you WILL do, as it is about deciding what you WONT do.
It’s about living a life with less, to have more.
Why is it so important?
HAVING FOCUS IMPROVES YOUR LIFE
Life has never been more full of distractions AND demands…on our time, our attention, our health and wellbeing. Too many people are trying to do it all and feeling guilt and burnout for not succeeding.
It’s time to have less demands. We do this with rigorous dedication to our focus. It’s easier to say no to opportunities without regret when you have a clear sense of purpose for what you want or how you want to live your life.
Science backs up this thinking with studies about
But really, it just feels good. To think about less, to worry less, to have less, to do less and to enjoy more.
Living a life with focus helps us eliminate all the clutter, all the waste, all the nonessentials from our busy lives so that we have more time for the things that matter most.
So how do I find my focus?
FINDING YOUR FOCUS IS A JOURNEY
The best place to start is by going all the way to your highest focus — your life’s purpose.
Discovering your life’s purpose is not something most people figure out in a day, it’s a journey. And that can be frustrating for a lot of strategic people that need answers now. like yesterday, now.
That’s why I’m in the process of developing a new course, Purpose for Obsessive Planners, that will guide you through the process. It’s designed to be re-visited often and you’ll have access for life so that as you discover more about yourself, and what matters most to you, you can update and improve the clarity and definition of your own life’s purpose.
Next, it’s time for alignment. Once you know your life’s purpose, you can establish your focus for work, for parenting, for self care, for the things you care most about, whatever they may be, in all areas of your life.
The framework I provide in Purpose for Obsessive Planners can show you how to do that.
With a clear focus for each area of your life, you can then define the focus for each project, each day, each moment you live. Everything should ladder up to your life’s purpose in a way that makes sense for you. In a way that makes it clear to make better decisions, easier because it eliminates the paradox of choice.
Let’s get into the particulars on how exactly to do that…
Step 1: Get to know yourself better
The more attuned you are to your true self, the easier this whole process will be. So try new things, read some books, listen to your body, mind and spirit and try to figure out what it’s telling you about yourself.
Be vulnerable and let your guard down. In order to find your true self, you have to be open to being emotionally exposed, and this is the part that can take a lifetime. We bury so much, so deep, that to unpack it all can seem impossible. But it is possible. Or we can at least get closer to our truth.
For example, I used to pretend to be outgoing and social to fit in in high school. But I’m a natural introvert. It took me a while to uncover this lie I told myself, but I figured it out eventually. What un-truth have you been telling yourself for years, that you’ve evolved to believe as truth? Be honest with yourself about who you really are, and what you really need/want.
Then, go ask those who know you best (friends, family, colleagues) because research actually shows we’re the worst at evaluating our selves. Try these links to get started:
Once you have a better understanding of your personality, your strengths, and your career, check for alignment. Studies show, and common sense would agree, that we’ll be more satisfied with our lives and ultimately have a greater sense of happiness, if we build on our natural strengths as opposed to trying to improve our weaknesses through our career.
If a strength of your personality is curiosity, and one of your strongest skills is research, but your current career is designed to limit and narrow your ability to learn and grow, you need to reconsider that fit.
As Gary Zukav once told Oprah, “When you align your personality with your purpose, no one can touch you.”
It’s a human tendency to focus on our weaknesses as something we want to improve, and we should be mindful of those opportunities, but that shouldn’t be our focus. Focus on your strengths.
Step 2: Find out what's most important to you
For many of us this is family or God or a cause we’re passionate about, but for some of us, it’s unclear. Even if you know what’s most important, do you know what comes next? Do you know how much more #1 is than #2?
This is when we get into prioritizing things and better understanding tradeoffs. If family is really #1, then why would you take a higher paying job that means spending LESS time with family if the job you already have pays enough? What drives you? What motivates you?
Step 3: Analyze your life
Once you have a better sense of who you are, and what matters most to you, you can re-examine your work and life to better understand what’s working for you, and what’s working against you.
Take inventory of how you spend your time, both in the day to day, but also the calendar year. Are you making time for what matters most?
Look at your monthly and annual budget. Does how you spend your money align with your focus?
Step 4: Commit to change
It’s one thing to have awareness about the misalignment in your work and life…it’s something entirely different to change things.
Through the process of analysis you should make a list of all the things you want to change. This can include small things like ‘stop buying expensive coffee every morning and use the money to save for a weekend getaway.’ Or big things like ‘find a new job with a shorter commute so I have more time with my family.’
Once you have your list break it down into 3 categories:
- Big projects
- Small projects
- Habit changes
Big projects are large one time things like finding a new job, starting a family, buying a house, launching a new business etc.
Small projects are smaller one time things like clearing out the clutter in my closet, proposing a new idea to my boss, or learning how to cook healthier.
Habit changes are ongoing self improvement things like quit smoking, read a book on my commute instead of looking at social media, or adding a practice of meditation to my morning routine.
Within each category, the next step is to prioritize your list, based on your focus. If the item is related to work, you can judge it based on your work focus, but if you’re ultimate purpose is related to God than anything spiritual in nature goes to the top.
Next you have to be realistic about what is possible and what’s not. Look at your year ahead and pick no more than one big project to accomplish in the next 12 months, up to 3 small projects, and 1 habit change per 45 days.
Put everything in your calendar. Plan it all out so you know what you’re doing and when. Then set reminders so you don’t forget. And if you’re lucky enough to have an ally, share your plan with them. Having someone to hold you accountable is your surest way to success.
If you want more specific help on the science of habits and how to change them, I recommend
Step 5: Focus on your priorities one day at a time
It can be so overwhelming to think about how big a project is or how long it will take to complete. Our brains literally can’t handle it. Our motivation is guided by our ability to receive positive feedback as we go, which is too much when a project is too big and the finish line is so far away. So break things down into manageable chunks and focus on one day at a time.
Measure your results. You know why fitness apps and watches are so effective? They measure our results and provide instant feedback. We focus on what we measure so keep track of your progress and reward yourself along the way.
Schedule your day for success. In the next section on planning you can read all about how I ensure my focus for that project, month, week, or day is top of mind. This is essential. But within each day, plan your tasks that require the most focus for the times when you’re most relaxed and productivity, removed from distractions. For me, this is always after meals. My brain uses a TON of energy, and I bet yours does too. Also consider the environment you work in and schedule focused tasks when you’re least likely to be distracted by others.
Remove all other distractions. This is a huge topic that you can read more about here [coming soon!]. But the most beneficial tips would be:
It’s just that easy, right!? Obviously not. But following the steps above are a great start and a great way to get you moving in the right direction.
Living your best life is about continuous improvement, not overnight success.
As mentioned at the top of this page, finding your focus is a journey. We should be reconsidering what matters most to us at least once a year if not more. And certainly at the beginning or end of any major life transitions.
Because with a clear focus, and a clear intention of where you want to be, you can begin planning out your future. Ready for the next step?