You had me at ‘Hello’. What a corny movie. But I was thinking about what the character in the movie Jerry McGuire is forced to do, and as a result allows him to succeed.
It was focus.
If you remember in that movie Jerry is a struggling agent for athletes and finds himself losing all his clients bar one, Cuba Gooding Jnr [the only thing holding that movie together]. So what does this force Jerry to do?
Focus all his energy into this one project; his only client. Even though there is a bit of luck involved, Jerry finds the success he was looking for in putting everything he had into one thing, professionally.
The Unstoppable Power of Focus
This reminds me of a post from Brian Kim over a year ago called The Unstoppable Power of Focus. He uses the example of Google focusing on becoming THE search engine and then later finding other avenues to conquer – advertising, email etc.
Because Google excelled on one level, they were able to step up and do something else. Brian suggests this is possibly the only way to move up. Create a solid step by focusing on succeeding at it and then building on that step.
Now let’s say you don’t focus and skip from subject to subject. It’s the same as you building half a step and destroying it. Then building another step halfway and then destroying it.
Looking back at Jerry, he had only one option and that was to make a success out of Cuba Gooding Jnr. When he did that he found clarity and could move on to the other things he felt were important – Renee Zellweger for example – and building his sporting agency.
Where To Put Your Focus
The most obvious reason some of us lack this kind of focus is that we are trying to build different things; basically multi-tasking projects. But how do you succeed in one thing if a lot of your time is focused on various others?
The short answer is You Can’t. However, I have a quick formula that can create focus from all the projects and distractions you want to keep in your life.
Focus = Stability + Time + Motivation
Instead of going head first into your chosen task and gutting it out poor and hopeful, you can give yourself a platform to comfortably go after your real goals.
The first step is creating Stability. This is usually financial stability. Why are we talking about money? Because once you have a stable level of income of which you can live off, you can spare time; and time is crucial to focus.
Stability = Money Earned – Money Needed
If this results in a positive number, you’re good.
What I did was create a minimum budget. Admittedly it was a really rough estimate that I’ve kept in the back of my mind, but I established what I really needed to be comfortable financially. Once I know how much I need to make and how much time it takes to make it, I can see how much free time I actually have.
Try Earning a Degree in Financial Stability - [YahooFinance]
Time = 24 Hours – Hours Working
It’s obvious but look at what time you have left after work. For many people ‘work’ isn’t what they want to focus on. You may have a dream of working on something you love, or creating that masterpiece in your spare time.
Once you have all this spare time to pursue those dreams, you can focus 100% on them for certain periods of the day. e.g: Work 8 hours, 2 hours blogging.
So there we have two very simple equations that, I think, are very important. To me there is no point in working if you can’t pursue the things you really want to do and build something else.
Work out how much you need to work and, if you like, pillage the rest. If you’re saving, budget that in there also. If you like to go out every weekend, budget that. How much must you work to get that number? How much free time are you left with?
Try the 50-30-20 Rule [StevePavlina]
That leaves us with the final part of the formula. This is usually the trickiest part but is the real catalyst for getting focused. The question you must ask yourself is: What are you going to get out of it? and also What are you getting out of it?
The first question looks to the future, your goal when it’s finished. The second wants you to think about the immediate pleasures and gains. You should be able to give different answers for both.
For instance your goal may be to create a successful blog. You want to be able to live comfortably from the residual income of your blog. That’s the final goal. However, while building your blog, you could say that your immediate gain is learning more about a topic you love.
Other immediate motivations may be networking with like-minded people or sharing your knowledge with others.
The thing about motivation is that it requires action. You can have a good idea of what motivates you but still not act on it. This is where you need to factor in another element. Something that will force you to act.
Motivation = Gains x Necessity
You can’t only want something, you have to need it. When you realize why you want to do something and what you are getting and are going to get out of it, you create a necessity.
Take those reasons and immediate gains and multiply them by how much you need them. If I am writing a blog and I enjoy learning more about what I’m writing about, I don’t just want to learn more – I need to learn more. It is imperative to my blog’s success that I learn as much as I can because it builds credibility and makes for better content.
Now that I have the motivation, time and stability, I can focus.
Also check out Lifehack’s motivational posts.
Back To Jerry
A personal twist on the motivational side of things: ‘Show my the money’ isn’t a big deal to me. I’m not motivated a lot by money. Generally, I will earn as much as I need and enjoy my free time.
But let’s think back to the movie and Jerry’s nemesis: Jay Mohr. What does he do? He gloats and takes Jerry’s clients. Jerry sees him succeed. Does this motivate Jerry? It should.
Seeing someone in your field succeed in the ways you want to is motivational. You can be defeatist, if you must, but what you should really do is think, ‘It can be done!’
I have my own Jay Mohr. It’s Leo Babauta from ZenHabits.net – he’s a machine and I see his posts all over the place, including here at Lifehack. This is a great motivator for me.
Not only do I see competition and inspiration, but I see that you can get a lot of work out into the public and build a name. It’s that ‘just Google me’ kind of mentality. I want Craig Childs followers! Yes, I can be that vain.
To truly succeed in anything, you need to focus on it. Focus on your goals and what you need to achieve them. What do you need to do so you have time to pursue those goals? What can you do so that you stay motivated?
These are personal questions that can’t really be generalized for everyone; but hopefully thinking about how to free up your time and focus on what you really want will put you in the right direction.
P.S. Sorry to make everyone think of Tom Cruise.