I am a ridiculously focused person.
For the majority of my childhood, I never fit in. I always had something on my mind, some goal I was working toward on my own.
As a ten year old, my goal was not to make the Honor Roll, but to build the greatest Yu-Gi-Oh card deck the world had ever seen, and become a national champion.
The older I got, however, the more it became blatantly apparent to me how much this level of focus frustrated other people.
I never wanted to hang out at bars.
I didn’t want to spend my time or money doing things “most people” wanted to do.
All I cared about was setting goals and achieving them.
As I’ve gotten older, however, I have learned that there needs to be a balance. It’s worthwhile to spend nights enjoying the company of others, or taking a weekend off to travel somewhere.
I’ll say, though, it’s easier for me to implement this balance now that I’ve gotten to a point in my life when I feel comfortable doing so. I didn’t feel like I had those luxuries when I was working 10 hour days and at night building my career as a writer. But since leaving the 9–5 world, and building my first company, Digital Press, now I can do some of those things.
That said, the vast majority of my life is still built around practicing an intense level of focus.
Here’s how I do it:
1) Remove Distractions
When I was competing to become a professional gamer as a teenager, I never watched TV.
I swear to you, I have no idea what shows were popular between 2004 and 2008 because I cut television and other mindless distractions out of my daily schedule, allowing me more time to practice gaming.
Removing distractions is something I have since applied to every aspect of my life.
When I was working on my first book, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, I didn’t allow myself Internet for almost 4 years.
All because I didn’t even want that distraction available. I wanted to come home from a long day of work, sit in my empty studio apartment, and think to myself, “Well, I don’t have anything else to do, so I might as well write.”
And I did.
2) Write Down Your Goals
I’ve written about this extensively here: What is an easy way to keep track of the life goals that I want to practice daily?
In short: Write down what you want to accomplish, both long term and short term.
Each day, your task list should be working towards those goals.
If it’s not, then it becomes very easy to see where you are spending your time so you can readjust.
“If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.”
This is a quote a mentor of mine, Ron Gibori, said to me often.
When you set a goal, figure out how you are going to quantify success.
Is it simply completing the project?
Is it raising a certain amount of money?
Is it how many people see it or read it?
Set a measurable goal, track it, and be honest with the result.
It’s the only way you’ll know whether you’re growing—or not.
4) Feed Your Brain
You have to study your craft.
If you want to start your own company, read about other companies, read case studies, research your industry and competing industries.
Read the success stories for motivation, and read the downfalls for perspective.
The more you read and study, the sharper your toolbox will be.
5) Surround Yourself With Good People
Rule of thumb: The 5 people you spend the most time with are a reflection of you.
If you surround yourself with people that are smart, go-getters, passionate about what they do, then those qualities will rub off on you.
If you’re the smartest guy in the room, you should leave.
Take the time to audit your group of friends, your co-workers and work environment, and even your family.
If these people are not contributing to your life in a healthy, positive way, reconsider how much time you spend with them.
A common thread between great minds is exercise.
Whether it’s a sport, going to the gym, or even taking a brisk walk through the park, being in tune with your body will help you get through the mental marathons required to produce great work.
Too many entrepreneurs and “driven achievers” forget this.
To those that are new to this practice, I realize it seems unorthodox.
I’d like to remind you that DaVinci, Tesla, Steve Jobs, etc., all attributed their brilliant ideas to meditation.
Take some time in the morning and at night before bed to quiet your mind and let the creativity come to you — instead of you relentlessly chasing it.
It doesn’t take much.
Just allow yourself to sit in silence for 5–10 minutes.
And if you can’t, ask yourself why.
There’s a lot to explore there.
8) Remove Your Vices
This is different from removing distractions.
Distractions are the TV, cell phone, the party next door, etc.
Vices are the things we use when we really, really want to avoid the hard work.
By removing them, we can become more aware of what within us is holding us back.
I promise you, if you are a drinker, a smoker, etc., and you remove your vice, you will see all too clearly the moments when you crave it and the moments when you (surprisingly) have no craving at all.
And those cravings will give you endless insight into what truly holds you back from achieving greatness.
Being in love is always a surefire way to getting motivated to accomplish great things.
However, love can also be felt outside of an intimate relationship.
Similar to spending time with good people, find ways to truly express yourself with people you feel comfortable with.
Make some time, no matter how small, to spend time with family and friends during your work week—people who truly care about you.
Even the world’s most successful people need hugs every now and then.
10) Get Rid Of The Garbage
This is, in my opinion, the most important part of being laser focused on your goals.
MAKE TIME TO PLAY!
If you are a painter, don’t spend every day painting with a serious face on.
If you are a writer, don’t spend every day slaving away on client work (instead of your own novel).
Pick up that guitar sitting in the corner of your room.
Go build a $10 model car one afternoon.
Grab that plastic lightsaber in your closet and go battle your younger brother in the backyard — I mean, on Tatooine.
Do the silly little things that help the brain remember that all creativity is supposed to be fun.
Goals as big as the sun won’t be achieved no matter how fast you try to sprint down the path.
You have to fly, my friend.
And you fly when the garbage in your head is gone, and you remember you’re doing what you love.
Thanks for reading! :)
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