Coming into Focus (Part I)

This is Part I of a three-part series on Focus.

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt, American President (b. 1858)

Have you ever had a project that you really want to do, but can’t seem to muster the focus to make it happen? If you’re like most of us, it’s a frequent challenge. Especially when the project or goal is something for which only you can hold yourself accountable.

Most of us have reached a level of success because we have managed to keep the majority of our agreements with others. Because we realize that continued success is tied to our continuing to keep those agreements with other people, our agreements with ourselves can get continually sidelined. There’s only so much time, resources and energy available. If we fail others, others will know. If we fail ourselves, only we know – this feels much less risky.

But is it less risky, over the long term? How do you find the right balance between meeting your agreements with others and staying focused on your own needs and values? How do your keep on purpose?

I have worked with many clients who have faced this issue on a number of fronts.

Examples include:

  • Creating a new line of business without losing the “bread and butter” that sustains the existing business
  • Changing careers
  • Overcoming passive resistance from employees
  • Having a personal life while being committed to a business/career

All of these “projects” require a substantial commitment of new energy beyond a life that already typically feels way beyond full. All are goals for which an individual would hold him/herself accountable, as opposed to the organization. So how do you do it?

We all get caught up in the day-to-day “trees” and can lose sight of our own “forest.” Procrastination is an insidious thing, often masquerading as other priorities or distractions. A key to mastering focus is to become adept at seeing procrastination in its less obvious forms and re-evaluating priorities on a regular basis.

For example: balancing one’s personal and professional life is a pretty popular desire. I hear most clients saying that the personal life seems to always take the back seat. There is intention to change, but not always commitment. Without commitment, professional obligations will continue to mount and demand priority. Procrastination may appear as “I just need to get through the next two months, and then I’ll make the shift,” or “I thought I wanted to get more balance, but I decided I kind of like being a workaholic…”

When perfectly plausible reasons seem to continually delay your commitments to yourself, ask yourself if those are in fact the real reasons. Some hidden reasons might be fear of failure, fear of success, a desire to avoid confrontation, or a reluctance to change what’s known and oft times comfortable.

To get more focused on your new direction, tackle these hidden reasons head on. Play out all the possibilities with someone else, like your coach. Make it real by developing a strategy and action plan with dates attached. What steps would have to happen to produce your desired end result? Watch out for resistance to committing to a timeframe – set the dates up and revise the schedule later, if necessary.

Are you clear on exactly why you want to accomplish the goal? Do you know exactly how accomplishing the project will fit into your Needs and Values? This is critical to mustering the energy and commitment to make it happen. The other key point is that we often try to keep adding to our list of goals, without culling the list at the same time. I often hear clients say that just don’t see how they could let anything go – but it can be done, and in fact must be done to move forward with major new goals. More about this in the March issue! If you have questions or comments in the meantime, feel free to contact me (

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