In 1991, while meeting for the first time, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates were asked to summarize in just a single word how they had achieved their incredible successes. Without consultation, these two titan’s of their industries provided the same one word response.
Its pretty compelling when two people of that calibre are in consensus about the single trait that most significantly contributed to their overall success.
So what exactly is focus, and how can we apply it to achieving our own measures of success?
As a noun, focus is something we have. It’s the ability to concentrate on a single goal or objective, to relentlessly pursue it without distraction.
As a verb, focus is what we do. It’s the ability to take in information, analyze what’s available to us and select the course of action that is most likely to allow us to achieve our objective.
So if we want to employ focus I’m our efforts to succeed, we must first ensure we have a clear goal that we are able to focus on. The beacon that will guide our decisions from the starting line to the finish. In the absence of a clear goal, our focus cannot be adequately directed, and we inevitably lose efficiency and momentum. If Financial Freedom is what you are after, then define that goal in a way that gives you somewhere to direct your focus.
Whether you want to direct your focus at Financial Freedom, or some other goal, the starting point is to always to set clear parameters. Specifically what it is, and the time frame in which you want to achieve it. Applying a time frame is equally as important as the goal itself. If you want to achieve Financial Freedom in 10 years versus 20, the decisions you make along the way are going to be drastically different.
Only once you have your goal clearly identified can you effectively apply the second component of focus, taking action to achieve the goal. This is a key aspect in utilizing focus in a productive way. If you only set the goal and march towards it without ongoing assessment, you will find yourself suffering from tunnel vision. Although tunnel vision may be its own type of intense focus, it’s not one that will enable you to react to changing environments, avoid unnecessary risks, or jump on opportunities that present along the way.
Apply your focus by tailoring your decisions to support your underlying goal.
Mike and I used our focus and desire to achieve Financial Freedom on a daily if not hourly basis. Our goal was a factor in every decision and action we took. Whether it was considering job changes, downsizing our home, the number of vehicles we drove to whether or not to eat out, go see a movie, or take a family vacation. Every single decision was weighed on how it impacted our overall goal. Negatively or positively.
Not to say we never did anything that delayed our goal to some degree, but we didn’t make those decisions in a vacuum. We worked actively to reduce the negative impacts and increase the positive as much as possible. All of these decisions formed our path to Financial Freedom, and because we treated every dollar spent as one less dollar towards our goal, it allowed us to maintain focus on the end game while making tempered decisions in the moment.
Its so easy to allow long term goals to slip into the background of our lives. But as soon as that happens, we lose our focus and with it momentum. Keeping it at the forefront, and maintaining it as a priority keeps it firmly in view.
So whether you schedule time to think, converse with your spouse or continuously educate yourself on available tools and strategies to achieving your goal, make sure your goals are a major part of your day to day conversation. You won’t necessarily need to make decisions or changes to your plan day to day, but you should always be evaluating your path and increasing your knowledge.
To apply and sustain focus requires energy, thought, and self-discipline. Essentially it’s hard work. But if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. So dig in and get relentless about your goal. If you are willing to give your goal your unfaltering attention and take the required action, you undoubtedly will find a way to succeed.