It's Worth Learning How to Focus on One Long-Term Goal at a Time

As humans, we really only default to two settings. Either, we want to do too much or too little at any given moment. While it’s true that one of these is clearly more productive than the other, you still won’t be working very efficiently if you pile too much onto your plate. Let’s take a look at how to eliminate this behavior of excessive goal-making that’s so easy to fall into.

It can sound like such a great thing when you have lots of goals that you want to knock down. It feels good knowing that you have a clear idea of what you want to do. But it’s possible that the only reason that feeling is so strong is because the rest of the time, we have no sense of where we want to go or what we want to do.

As good as that feeling is, it rarely works out the way you dream up. You may start on all these new paths with your head held high, but at some point, it’s probably going to get overwhelming. As much as we try to deceive ourselves to the contrary, most of us aren’t that good at multitasking.

You might be able to juggle a few things at once, and it might work for you, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that we are at our best when we can devote our focus to any one task at a time. That is just as true of long-term initiatives as it is of short-term behaviors.

But to do that, we really have to fight our instincts as people. Our desire to pile on as much as we can is a big reason why so many New Year's resolutions fail. Once you get in that productive mode, the natural reaction is to kick it into overdrive and make a plan for every single thing you’ve ever wanted to do.

That almost never works out though. At some point, it gets to be too much, you forget to keep track of one thing, and it all tumbles down. We have a lot more time to step forward and achieve than we normally think. More importantly, we’re going to be using that time more efficiently if we take everything one step at a time.

Are you ever going to be able to just have one thing on your plate in life? Probably not. That isn’t really what this change in philosophy is about. Rather, it’s more of a question of where you are going to devote your mental energy in any given moment. Where you are going to put your primary focus.

Don’t think “these are all the things I need to do and they all need the same attention every single day”. Instead, think about that one big thing you want to focus on right now. It’s not going to become your whole life, but it will take precedent whenever you have the time and energy to spare.

No matter what that new task is, whether it’s developing a healthy diet and workout routine or improving your relationships with your team, you’re going to accelerate your growth exponentially if you let it be the one point of interest for awhile. It may be that it becomes such a natural behavior that you can comfortably move on to whatever is next on your list. That’s what you’re aiming for, but you need to put the dedicated work in first.

It’s going to take time to get used to that kind of fundamental shift against instinct, but it’s not impossible. Plenty of people have done it before. Give it a shot and see if it works for you too.

— ZK

Ed Lynes13p5Comment