“What are you going to stop doing so you can truly commit to one thing?” – Connor Grooms
This is one small snippet from Connor Grooms’ How To Learn Anything In 30 Days TEDx talk. To learn something in an impressively short amount of time, there are three steps: 1. Research. Study people who got very good at what you do, very quickly. They have to take the core principles of what they are learning and remove everything that is not necessary to win quickly. 2. Distill. Take that information and break it down into a daily plan. 3. Execute. Follow your plan without fail.
Then he says: “Forget everything that I just told you because none of it matters without something else.”
You have to care enough to endure some pain. He argues that the only way to excel is to choose a handful of things: work, school, family, and one skill. And commit to that handful of things. And if you choose to make the skill you want to excel at your “one thing”, your non-negotiable that you can’t quit on, you will stretch the limits of what is possible for you. I’ve been to physical therapy three times, but I never saw progress at the speed I did in my second month of the last physical therapy. Why? Doing my exercises was a non-negotiable. We all say that, but we don’t do it. If I realized I didn’t do my exercises at 1AM, I went to bed at 2AM. I completely forgot my exercises one day. That is the only day I missed out of a month. That is when I saw my most dramatic progress. When I choose to not give myself the choice to quit. Are there some days where I wanted to quit? Of course. But, I didn’t. I adjusted. Adjusting is acceptable. If you can’t do x and y. Do y. Excel at y until it becomes so ingrained in you, you couldn’t do it any other way. Then come back and do x, excel at x until it becomes so ingrained that you couldn’t do it any other way. They learn something else, commit, and repeat until you die.
I love when Seth Godin talks about the myth of “writer’s block”. He says there is never a day when you can’t write poorly. When you write enough bad writing, you will learn to write better. I am on day five of a 30 day challenge to write on my blog. I’m learning what I need and what I don’t need to write. I’m learning that even though I like writing, there are days when I don’t feel like it, when I’m not good at it. But, when we push past the initial resistance, boredom, and distraction we achieve what others only dream of doing. We have to keep bringing our attention back to finish what we’ve started. In the Art of Focus, Christina Bengtsson brings in two key ways we can protect our focus. “Focus ends up on who we are and what we have instead of chasing after what we are not and do not have.” She argues that we spend too much time, energy and attention on what we do not have (our goal) instead of working with what we do have to achieve great things. “Focusing and acting on who we are now is enough for happiness and great achievements.” I have fallen into this trap many times, spending more time than it would take to learn a skill focusing on what I could do and what it would like to learn it. Michael Hyatt in his book Free To Focus, argues that we should all create a “Not To-Do” list. I have found this to be very effective at focusing on “one thing”. I have a list of all the things that I would like to do, but should not do, until after my “one thing” is complete.
Find one thing you care deeply about. Commit to learning about that “one thing” from those who have learned it well, and learned it quickly. Put that in a daily plan. Give yourself the choice to adjust how you achieve your goal, but make it a non-negotiable if you want to win. Create a “Not To-Do” list of all the things you’d like to but don’t fit in the handful of things you are choosing to focus on. Define your desired future, but don’t live it or you never really will. If you want to learn more about focus, creating margin, enjoying life while getting more done, I highly recommend Michael Hyatt’s book, Free To Focus. If you have come across some wisdom about focus, please share it with me in the comments.