3 Types of Focus for Crafting the Good Life

3 types of light and focused eyes

Focus, focus, focus… we all get it.

If we don’t focus then we’re not going to get anything done.

“Fair enough… I’m paying attention…

So now I’m focused… right?”

Well, yes, but that’s not the whole picture.

Focus has multiple meanings. So here we’ll explore 3 types of focus, and tools for developing each one.

A lifetime of peak performance requires that we use all 3 together.

3 Types of Focus:

  1. Mindfulness – Mental focus in the present moment
  2. Pointed Effort – The focus of efforts and actions until a project is complete
  3. Life Direction – The coordinated focus of various projects throughout our lives

I. Focus in the Present Moment

Now is the only time that exists

The past is gone, and the future is yet to arrive, so here we are…. always.

Mindfulness is about focus in the present moment. And if we can’t concentrate here, then we’re out of alignment before we even get started.

Without mindful attention while we work, we’re not going to be at our best. That’s why it’s so important to eliminate distractions in our work environments that undermine our concentration.

Anything that interferes with the direct line between our mind and the task at hand is not our friend.

So getting things done always begins here. Without this, we waste time, energy, and we simply won’t be at our best.

Actionable Takeaway:

If you haven’t already, Get in The Game. Or Check out this central practice for thriving.

II. Focusing Effort on Critical Projects

It’s possible to be mindful yet fail to direct our attention on projects that provide the most value.

The most worthwhile projects take time: learning a new skill, advancing our career, setting up personal wealth infrastructures, or creating life assets.

None of these can be finished in a single work session.

The key then is persistent effort towards those projects that are most valuable to us. And not giving up or changing our focus until they are complete.

As Jeff Sutherland explains in his Scrum framework, a half finished project is worse than an unfinished project.

Here’s why:

A half finished project is not valuable, and you’ve invested resources into it. That means you’ve paid something, time and energy at least, for no results.

For example, a single fully written book is incalculably more value than even a half dozen half-finished starts.

We all have countless projects that we could be doing. It’s critical then that we learn how to focus our time and energy on a narrow number of projects that we push to completion.

Actionable Takeaway:

Here is advice echoed by some of the greatest project managers, productivity gurus, and peak performers throughout the ages…

Make a list of all the projects in your life, everything from chores around the house, to forging a successful career, to building your legacy, and everything in between.

Then prioritize that list.

Some projects are indeed more important than others. And it’s hard to make such a hierarchical list of what really matters. But having one can help you take your results to the next level.

Once you have that list, focus all your efforts on just a couple of the projects at the very top. Push them through to the finish so that they add real value in your life.

Finishing projects is about creating life assets -> things that continue to provide you value with minimal effort once they are complete.

III. Life Direction – Persistent Focus Throughout Time

Taking it to the next level, why do we focus on different life projects in the first place?

Here are the two most common answers:

1) It just seemed like it would be fun.

2) Because completing this project directly relates to my bigger plans.

Having a life-direction certainly does not mean we ought to plan out every little detail of our future in advance and then stick to that plan without straying.

But it’s incredibly powerful to have a unifying purpose, a guiding star, to orient our work.

If we don’t have some idea about where we really want to be or what we want to live for, then we tend to live for selfish, petty, and even egoic reasons. It’s part of the reason we try to numb ourselves with too many drugs, mindless entertainment, and the all pervasive… junk food.

When we’re bored, it’s because we don’t know what we want to do or where we want to go. But having a long-term vision of who we want to be can fire up our fusion engines of true inspiration.

Actionable Takeaway:

Identify, find, or create a sense of purpose for your life. Call it your North Star, your mission, or your personal philosophy, but it all comes down to this:

Know yourself, who you are now, and who you want to be.

Then do whatever it takes to forge yourself into that person.

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As always, we all have to start from wherever we are.

So if you feel so inclined, take a few minutes and consider where you are and where you might like to go.

Which of the 3 types of focus comes most naturally to you?

Also, what projects are at the top your list right now?

It all comes back to living a life in alignment with our respective sense of purpose, meaning, and our vision of the good life.

So keep rockin it my friends. Keep learning, keep growing, and make every day count.