I’m not sure if she’s the one who invented the acronym, but I saw this from Rebecca Matter, President of American Writers & Artists Inc. in an email article she’d written. When I first read it, I knew it was a keeper:
Follow One Course Until Successful
Acronyms can sometimes come off as contrived or hokey, but this one really rings true for me. In a world so full of distractions, I find focus, or should I say, FOCUS (yes, I’m shouting it) to be of greater importance now than ever.
These days, so many things clamor for our attention, it's stinkin' hard to have stick-to-it-ness, or to follow my wife's sound (and frequent) advice, "one thing at a time, honey."
But how do we do one thing at a time? How many projects have you begun only to eventually lose track of because you lost focus? How many fell by the wayside because you didn’t stay the course? I’ve goat a metric busload of them myself (busload was an auto-correct, but I’ve decided to keep it—no idea where the goat came from though). There is something powerful, sacred even, about maintaining focus—being single-minded.
There isn’t a person out there who couldn’t benefit from this practice. But why is focus (or FOCUS) so hard? Perhaps our goals aren’t clear enough, or we don’t want them badly enough. Maybe our priorities are a little off. Could be all those advertisements and temptations have gotten the better of us. Whatever the case, it’s time to zero in, to batter (or batten, if you must) down the hatches, to rustle up the chickens, to … you get the idea. It’s time to pick a course and follow it until successful.
Imagine you’re a pilot with dreams of traveling the world. Well, if you’ve got a license, aircraft, fuel and the right skills, you can. What if you’re on the way to London when, halfway through, you decide you’d rather go to Australia. You change course and start going there. But then, two hours away, you decide Tokyo might be more interesting for a first stop, so you redirect once more. What’ll happen if you keep this up? You won’t go anywhere and eventually you’ll run out of fuel and crash into the big blue. The same happens in life: every time you switch gears, you’re exhausting resources while not really getting anywhere. Here’s the thing: like a pilot, you can go just about anywhere, but you can only go one place at a time. Pick your destination and go. If something changes on the way (say the airport is closed due to weather conditions), so be it, but either way, you’ve got to land somewhere so pick a new destination (one nearby) and go there instead.
This practice of focus works just as much in daily life as it does for projects with a longer timeline. We might get halfway through an online article, jump to Facebook to check if someone has liked our status, hop on our email, switch to our favorite game app for a few turns, all while we were in the process of getting dressed for the day. Instead of this frantic attempt at multitasking, let’s move with purpose: pick one thing and do it until it’s done, then move on to the next, with purpose.
Maybe you get caught up on the last part, successful. Everything can’t always end up a success, right? Tis true. Then I suggest you follow the course you’ve set until you reach a natural end—a conclusion. Every good book comes to a conclusion, even if it isn’t a happy one; it’s clear the story has ended and it would make no sense for anything more to be written in that particular narrative. So it is with any task you may take on. You’ve got to stick to it until you have a darn good reason not to. But when the time comes to let go, cut your ties (and your losses) and move on to the next thing. If we allow the things we’ll never finish cling to us, we become like a hot-air balloon with too many sandbags attached, barely getting off the ground. Time to drop them and soar high.
Let’s all work at eliminating distractions and moving onward with FOCUS (sorry about all the shouting, really). Pick one thing and stick to it until you reach the end, whatever it may be. If you do, I know you’ll be surprised at the progress you make, and what you learn in the process.
Hey Creatives, what is one area in your life where you could use more FOCUS? Let us know in the comments below.