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Published on August 4, 2020

How to Focus on Yourself and Accomplish Your Goals in Life

How to Focus on Yourself and Accomplish Your Goals in Life

How often do you focus on yourself? During your morning meditation? Before bed, when you’re winding down?

If you want to accomplish your goals, it has to be constant. You have to put yourself first, even when it involves saying no to others.

At a high level, focusing on yourself is about paying attention: What do you truly want? What’s standing between you and your best, happiest, goal-conquering self?

Focusing on Yourself Isn’t Selfish

Just like everyone else on this planet, you deserve to get what you want out of life. That doesn’t mean you’re a selfish person; it simply means you’re the one who has to work for it.

Say your goal in life is to be an amazing parent. To do that, you can’t take care of your kids 24/7. Although you’re going to have to clean up after them sometimes, you can’t support them without a stable career. You can’t teach them to manage their mental health if you don’t take care of your own.

Before you can give others your best, you have to sort out your own priorities. And again, it has to be constant: Your goals might change, and that’s OK. What isn’t OK is focusing on others at the expense of yourself.

How to Focus on Yourself And Get What You Want in Life

Achieving your goals has to be a lifelong endeavor. That’s why it’s so important to start today. Use these strategies to go after your goals and get your life moving in the best direction possible.

1. Spell out Your Dreams

Get a college education. Land a job that makes a lot of money. Reach that next rung of your career.

The traditional vision of success appeals to a lot of people, but it may not be right for you. Ask yourself: What does the life I actually want look like?

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It’s up to you to create a vision for your life. You don’t need to know all the details, but you should be able to paint the broad strokes.

Say you know that you enjoy history and writing. The key stages of your life vision might include:

  • Work for a state historical society.
  • Become a freelance writer.
  • Write a historical fiction novel.
  • Win the Booker Prize for Fiction.
  • Become the modern Leo Tolstoy.

Or, let’s say you are working in healthcare, and while you don’t want a complete career change, you do want to pivot the direction you are headed. You can start looking into online programs that would allow you to earn certifications without having to go back to school to earn another degree.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” dream. All that matters is one thing: that you’re willing to work for it.

2. Practice Constantly

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing, and you will have the power.” That “thing” is whatever your goals require of you.

One way or another, you have to put in the work. Writing skills don’t build themselves. Strong families aren’t forged by an absent parent.

The good news is, you don’t have to do it all today. Break your goals into small, manageable pieces.

If reading a craft book is what’s stopping you from taking the leap to be a freelance writer, start by reading just 10 pages per day. Over a month, that’s 300 pages—a full-size book. How does learning the business of freelance writing in just a month sound?

Small steps add up. Take one or two each day, and you’ll make more progress toward your goals than you thought possible.

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3. Face Your Triggers

You’ve been told to avoid your triggers, but when it comes to focusing on yourself, that isn’t the best advice.

How can you grow as a person if you run away from every trial? If you truly want to focus on yourself, you have to face your triggers.

Say your heart is set on holding public office. If you want to accomplish your goal, you’re going to do things that might scare you, including:

  • Speaking in public
  • Saying no to people
  • Taking personal attacks in stride
  • Working with people who you disagree with

Remember, you grow most when you’re challenged. Focusing on yourself means putting yourself in tough situations.

4. Tap Into Your Sixth Sense

Focusing on yourself isn’t a science. Finding your path requires you to get in touch with your intuition.

When you’re intuitive, you can sniff out a bad relationship before getting too close. According to best-selling author Malcom Gladwell, you can evaluate people with about 70% accuracy[1] in a mere five minutes.

How is that possible? Because past experience is powerful. Intuition is another word for using your experience to see beneath the surface of a situation. To focus on yourself, you have to trust yourself.

With that said, intuition isn’t infallible. Don’t let it stop you from seeing what’s right in front of you. For example:

  • Your intuition is heavily influenced by your biases. If you find someone attractive, you may be more likely to glass over their bad characteristics.
  • If you’re in a bad mood, you may be overly pessimistic. Take another look at the situation once you’re feeling better.
  • Hearsay isn’t a good base for intuition. Don’t read too much into what others tell you.

The bottom line? Be aware of your gut feelings, but don’t let them drive the car.

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5. Switch It up

Focusing on yourself isn’t the same as being single-minded. If you want to achieve your goals, you need new experiences to help you climb higher.

Every so often, try something new. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to do it again; what’s important is that you learned something about yourself.

Not sure where to start? Try one of the following:

  • Go ziplining
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Dye your hair
  • Travel to another country
  • Fix an unfamiliar car or home problem yourself
  • Invert your schedule

Experimentation helps you build skills and deepen your sense of self. Both of those things are critical if you want to reach your goals.

6. Put Your Health First

What better way to focus on yourself than to prioritize your health? When you feel better, you’ll get more done than you would working yourself into the ground.

You can get a long way by taking a “mother’s advice” approach to your health. That means:

  • Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes at least three times per week.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Spend less time on social media.
  • Meditate for 10 minutes per day.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Take breaks often.
  • Ask for help when you need it.

If you struggle with maintaining healthy habits like consistent exercise, then try to make it more fun. For example, I’ve started taking electric bikes that have pedal assist and an accelerator out with friends.

7. Start a Side Project

Side gigs allow you to call the shots. It’s a lot easier to focus on yourself and achieve your goals when you’re in it for yourself.

Side projects teach you to love work again. The key is to choose projects that are aligned with your life goals. For instance:

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  • If you want to become an acclaimed artist: Moonlight as a graphic designer.
  • If you want to become a professional driver: Be an Uber driver in a big city.
  • If you want to become a veterinarian: Volunteer for the Humane Society.
  • If you want to become a famous musician: Join a local band.

Although it’s nice to earn some extra income via a side gig, that shouldn’t be your goal. If it is, look for a different job. The point of side projects is self-exploration.

With that said, side gigs can help you further your main gig. Engaging in one shows potential employers that you’re willing to go the extra mile. Unlike many nine-to-fives, they let you build a portfolio of work that reflects your true interests.

8. Work Backward

When you’re old and gray, what kind of life will you wish you’d lived? Taking an end-of-the-road perspective can help you see blind spots in your plans.

For example, it may be a dream of yours to live in a dozen different countries. If you achieve that, however, will it bother you to feel like you never really put down roots anywhere? If you also want to be a parent, will you be able to do both while giving your kids a stable upbringing?

Working backward is how you play devil’s advocate with yourself. Make sure your life goals don’t require you to make an unacceptable trade-off along the way.

The Bottom Line

What legacy would you like to leave? Are you willing to put in the work and accept the consequences? Make a change today, and you’ll have taken the first and most important step to achieving your life goals.

More on How to Focus on Yourself

Featured photo credit: Anastase Maragos via unsplash.com

Reference

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John Hall

John Hall is the co-founder and president of Calendar, a leading scheduling and productivity app that will change how we manage and invest our time.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

What Is the 80 20 Rule?

Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

  • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
  • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

  • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
  • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

    In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

    We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

    Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

    How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

    To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

    In an ideal world:

    • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
    • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
    • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

    In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

    But that’s not reality.

    Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

    We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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    So how does it really work?

    It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

    Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

    • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
    • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

    These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

    Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

    Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

    So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

    How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

    So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

    Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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    For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

    Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

    In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

    1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

    While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

    We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

    Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

    Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

    If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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    I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

    “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

    I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

    It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

    Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

    2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

    While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

    Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

    • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
    • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
    • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
    • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

    Final Thoughts

    The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

    Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

    More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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