Isn’t it amazing how masterful we can become at denial, procrastination, and avoidance, constantly making excuses for why we aren’t accomplishing the goals WE SAY WE WANT! A lot of energy gets wasted in this department. Usually there is far more talking and not enough doing. Far from criticizing, I believe many people generally have good intentions. Though it’s maddening when I hear someone say it…I just don’t have time… I honestly believe they think they don’t have enough time or can’t have it all.

We Have 24 Hours Each Day

OK, a little reality check here. We all have the same 24 hours each day to work with and there are people all over the world having it all. Why then are some people widely successful, living healthy, prosperous, balanced and joy filled lives while others are not? In a word, FOCUS!

Each day presents challenges with any number of “things” coming at you. Usually that means a lot of people who want something from you – the kids, your boss, the significant other, co-workers, family members, friends, your staff – you name it. It makes the art of focus even tougher AND it can be done.

Tune Out Technology

Instant accessibility is a by-product of technology, and I think it’s both a blessing and a curse. It certainly strains our ability to focus our attention. Too many people are allowing their Blackberry’s, cell phones; fax machines and laptops run their lives. On the other end of that technology is a person…someone who wants something, so it’s up to us to manage those situations instead of the other way around.

Where this phenomenon started is anyone’s guess, but people are being trained to respond 24/7, perhaps out of fear that they won’t get the sale, receive the promotion or be offered the job. Worse yet, maybe they are afraid that they’ll lose their job. To which I would say, walk away now, but that’s just me and the subject for another time. Whatever your reason, reacting to situations leaves you rudderless and without any personal power. Being at everyone else’s beck and call only leads to poor choices and bad decisions and it certainly does nothing to help us achieve our goals.

How Do We Focus?

According to The Power of Focus authors, Canfield, Hansen and Hewitt, successful people don’t drift to the top. They say "it takes focused action, personal discipline and lots of energy every day to make things happen." They go on to say, "that the habits you develop from this day forward will ultimately determine how your future works out. Rich or poor. Healthy or unhealthy. Fulfilled or unfilled. Happy or unhappy. It’s your choice, so choose wisely."

Reading books, going to time management seminars, creating goals or listening to motivational tapes are all worthy and important, and they won’t do you much good if YOU don’t make the choice (constantly!) to incorporate what you’ve learned into your daily life, which happens a good deal of the time. I get it. Change is hard. It’s easy to find ourselves operating on what I like to call default mode instead of implementing the changes we say we want.

Decide Plan Act

Napoleon Hill said it best when he said that achieving what we want depends on having a definite purpose, backed by a plan, which is then supported by intelligent action. As he was to discover in doing his research for Think and Grow rich, the 2% of the population that is widely rich and successful all had a clearly defined purpose. They knew what they wanted! A plan was then created to achieve that purpose. Then they followed through with action and persistence…sometimes over and over again.

Edison is a perfect example. Did you know that it took over 1000 tries through a period of years before the light bulb came into being? Now that’s the amazing power of deliberate focus! Edison never wavered from his purpose and he stayed focused on the results he wanted.

Look, I’m with you…it’s not easy. As a business owner myself, I’m not immune to the challenges of managing my time in ways that drive the results and success outcomes I’ve established as being important to me. I suppose in some ways I’m more acutely aware of what happens if I don’t focus my time on the right priorities. Why? Quite simply – I don’t get paid! And like a lot of people my procrastination gremlin has gotten me into hot water more than once. What opportunities have you missed because you lacked the focus you needed to see it through?

It is a choice!

The genesis of all of this is that YOU need to decide quickly what is important enough to warrant your valuable attention. My good friend, Marketing & PR Guru, Jennifer Koon says, “You have to protect your time.” I agree, and I know that it’s all about personal choice. We choose – no one else - how we respond to whatever is happening in our day understanding that life doesn’t just happen to us.

You’ve got to focus your attention on those things that help you get what you want, which means you need to figure out – quickly – what isn’t important and for that matter may never be important. All of which is tough to do if you have no clear and definite purpose, goals that are written down, a course of action to get you going and willingness to FOCUS on nothing else – translation…learn how to say NO! – until you reach your destination.

Focus can be tough for all of us. But I just bet that each of you, like me, has experienced the amazing power of deliberate focus at some point in your life. For me, the key is to keep that power flowing constantly and consistently each and every day.

In Vanilla Sky, a not so memorable Tom Cruise movie, he plays a womanizer who messes with the wrong gal. Serious consequences result. One line in that movie hits home and applies to our topic of focus. OK, pay attention.

Every passing second is another opportunity to turn it all around!

Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t achieved all that you know you can. Put aside regret for the goals you’ve not yet conquered and for gosh sakes, put away the criticism stick. This isn’t about being perfect. It’s important to start where you are right now in this moment. Get out your paper and pencil…jot down your goals, set some timelines, get into action and stay committed to focusing your attention on those things most important to you in spite of what everyone else wants. Remember to take a moment to reflect on those powerful words noted above. Make them your new mantra, because in spite of our missteps and questionable decisions, we ALWAYS have another opportunity to turn it all around.

Will you?

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Giamanco is the CEO of Talent Builders, Inc. a leading provider of people development products and solutions. Offering a range of assessment tools and facilitation programs to fit a variety of needs, our assessments and programs from Talent Builders, Inc. supports the development of strong, vibrant retention cultures. She is also the Co-Founder of the Women’s Mentor Network.