“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus."-Bruce Lee
The more you focus, the better your life will be.
Bold statement, I know, but true.
This applies to your work, relationships, learning, anything, everything.
When you focus, you get more results and more fulfillment from life in general. They are linked.
Life is a series of moments. Most people spend their moments distracted or living in fear of the future or angst about the past. This is suffering, as the Buddha defined it.
When you live in the moment, which is a byproduct of focus, you remove the suffering of the fear and past while simultaneously bringing more enjoyment and fulfillment for the present
It really is a double whammy of awesomeness of happiness and success in life.
That's really as simple as I can put it. Try to internalize it.
Here's the gist: 99% of people don't focus.
Like at all.
And 99% of people don't have the success they truly desire.
Is that a coincidence? Nope, they are linked.
Most aren't even close to being what they could be. And that's a damn shame.
There are many reasons for this, many strategies and many hacks, tips, tricks, books, podcasts, YouTube videos, PDF downloads, cheat sheets, questionnaires, quizzes, gurus, therapists, consumers, coaches, and more that will supposedly help you figure it out.
And that's part of the damn problem... too much.
The opposite of focus is distraction. Remove distractions and achieve focus.
Distraction includes everything but focusing on one thing here and now. If there is any single thing outside of the one thing you are focusing on, it is a distraction.
This is how I want you to start thinking about your focus: one Thing at a time.
Buddha talks about this. You can throw in some meditation, mindfulness, or Oprah's favorite guru Eckhart Tolle.
It's all based on one thing: being in this moment and letting go of everything else.Heck, if you do this enough, you can reach nirvana and enlightenment.
So let's say you want more fulfillment in life. You want better results. You want to get more done in less time. You want better relationships. You want less stress and more peace of mind. You want to enjoy the moment, to have hobbies, to live a balanced life of abundance.
This sounds like a lot, but it isn't. It's attainable by everyone.
What is the single most important thing you can do to achieve it all?
Focus is a state of mind, a habit, a ritual, and a skill, somehow all wrapped up together.
You won't be perfect, and entropy will constantly nag at your heels if you aren't vigilant.
But focus can be the most potent force in the Universe and in your life.
Much of life today is defined by excess, more, and the dopamine-driven pursuing of "what's next?"
There is a relationship to consumption and happiness that goes something like this:
- More consumption = less fulfillment
- Let consumption (and more focus) = more fulfillment
There are probably deep for this that I won't explore here, but one thing's for sure: the more you let into your life, the more spread your attention is and thus the shallower you can go—and a shallow life is lacking in fulfillment... it's the deep and meaningful life you want.
Without focus, you can't go deep. When letting too much in, you can't go deep. The constantly "what's next" keeps you in a shallow state.
With philosophical ramblings aside, let's now look at some strategies for building our focus muscle.
1. Learn to say “no”
No is a frame of mind. It's not one that comes naturally to most.
We usually feel like more is better since more in the wild resources in the wild usually resulted in more survival.
You have to suppress our desire for more and new because it stretches us thin. So you have to become good at saying NO to every shiny object that demands your attention.
You have to cultivate a more meaningful mindset about EVERYTHING you let in your life.
Cull shallow relationships.
Unsubscribe to most of those newsletters (and aggressively hit the "spam" button in your email client).
Make your default "no" to any invite or commitment that isn't a "hell yes."
2. Do one thing at a time
Mindfulness is summarized by doing one thing at a time and focusing your mind to the best of your ability on that one thing.
When you are eating, put your phone down and enjoy your food. When a friend calls, don't scroll Instagram while chatting on speaker phone.
When you're in a meeting, don't convince yourself you are "taking notes" while mindlessly clicking, scrolling or typing online. And so on.
This is a simple concept with profound implications for life and fulfillment. And if you ask the Buddha, it's the foundation for eliminating suffering because it puts you in the now.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.If you are anxious you are living in the future.If you are at peace you are living in the present.”― Lao Tzu
3. Turn off your stupid notifications
If there was ever a new "smoking," it is notifications.
Getting texts, pings, emails, pop-ups, and other stupid notifications rudely interrupting your life and subjecting your brain to something or someone else's whims is utterly prosperous and mentally damaging. How it ever became normal is a telling showcase of the danger of blindly letting big tech shape our lives and behavior.
You used to call a home phone and leave a voicemail if you wanted someone to call you back. Now people can get ahold of you any time of the day. Some people even leave their phones on at night?!
This riles me up because it is the antithesis to everything I'm saying here. If you let other people, apps, gadgets, tech dictate your life.... well you ain't going to have much of a life.
Just turning your notifications off, right now, will make you a happier and less anxious person in a matter of days.
It is like a drug, and you are addicted, so start the detox immediately.
4. Less is more
To build a fulfilling life, engage in deep, fulfilling things.
Remove the shallow, mundane, or toxic. The news, social media, certain online forums, and social groups can all be insidiously chipping away at your sanity, happiness, and direction.
You become what you consume.
You are what you eat.
You are your thoughts.
You are the people you surround yourself with.
Controlling what you let into your life to let as little as possible and only the meaningful is a game-changer. And if you are stuck in any of these habits or groups, this is 100% the thing holding you back. So make a change.
Make choices for yourself and what kind of life you want to live. Do not let others choose for you, and damn will they try.
5. Utilize the 80/20 principle in your life
The Pareto principle known as the 80/20 rule is plainly stated as: 80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts.
You can find this power law in many instances in life.
The point of everything above is to spend as much time in your 20% as possible. The 20% of the time you spend with your partner that brings you 80% of the relationship satisfaction. The 20% you spend with your kids.
The 20% projects you work on that bring nearly all your results. The 20% of the books you read bring 80% of your knowledge and reading enjoyment. On and on and on and on and on this example goes.
A key to focus is cultivating the mindset around doing big, deep, important things. And with that comes the willingness to look at all those other 80% of things that aren't as important and gladly shun them.
To sum it up: focus is the foundation of a good life.
A shallow life is not a good life. It is one that has no direction or purpose. That bounces around from this to that, depending on whatever or whoever is around.
You cannot build a good life without building a foundation. Your foundation should be deep and meaningful and chosen by you.
Then as you build and refine that foundation, you can add bursts of shallow into your life strategically if you want to. There is nothing wrong with mindlessly watching YouTube our some other guilty pleasure from time to time. IN fact, within the confines of a deep life, this can even be regenerative.