The only thing that can grow is the thing you give energy to. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are far too many interesting things in this world.
Ideas, opportunities, developments and paradigm shifts.
And cat videos.
For example, I was listening to someone talk about what they do the other day and thinking – heck, I could totally do that.
In fact, I have done it.
And it’s got lots of potential for making money.
And then I remember that it’s also very, very boring.
We each have around 30,000 days that we can use, if we’re lucky and go the distance.
When you’re more than half-way through you start to wonder whether you’re using them well.
Should we be focusing on the really important things?
If so, what are they?
You’ve probably heard that life is like juggling balls – trying to keep them all in the air.
The balls have labels – work, money, family, friends, health.
Some of the balls are made of rubber. If they fall and hit the ground they’ll just bounce and you can always pick them up again.
Others are made of glass and if you let them drop they’ll get scratched, cracked and maybe even broken.
But then let’s think about what you do and how focus affects that.
Say you have a business – should you do one thing really well or be able to do a number of things?
The answer, probably, is going to be a variant of “It depends.”
For some businesses that do a lot of low-margin business it might seem sensible to ditch those and stick with the ones that make money.
But some of the low-margin things might be what brings in customers that eventually buy the other stuff you have.
As an individual should you try and become the best at whatever you’re doing or have a mix of skills and try to learn new ones when you can?
I was speaking with a builder who said that there are now robot bricklaying machines.
You could be the best bricklayer around but the machine is going to be better.
What happens then?
Maybe the idea of focus is less to do with state of mind and more to do with an act of convenience.
After all, where does the term come from?
The dictionary defines focus as “the centre of interest or activity – an act of focusing on something”.
Which makes it temporary.
You don’t need to focus on something permanently.
You just need to do it as long as you need to.
Which makes things a little easier.
Let’s say you are interested in a number of things – wood-working, renewable energy, writing fiction, drawing cartoons, among others.
And maybe you’re torn between a few of those as possible business ideas.
Perhaps you want to do woodworking and draw cartoons.
There’s nothing wrong with you wanting to do both and making plans to do both.
You might need to think about timing – do you do one before the other?
You need to think about your audience – pitch wood to interior designers and send your cartoons to newspapers.
You are still focusing – but first on one and then the other.
And that’s ok.
The point is that you only have so much energy to give.
But the good thing about working on things you love is that you seem to end up with more energy in the end.
When you’re working on things that drain you no amount of money can replace that lost energy.
The thing about distractions, then, is you need to find ways to handle them – to address them in order and be ok about dropping the ones that are less important.
And with what’s left, if you’re lucky, you’ll have some that you find interesting.
With the others – you just have to think about the money and get on with it.