Remembering to Take My Own Advice



Just because you know about something doesn’t mean you do anything about it. There are overweight dietitians, sleep-deprived sleep researchers, broke business coaches, and angry counselors.

Common knowledge is not the same as common action.

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The balance between our work and personal lives isn’t so much a perfect balancing act. It’s more of a zig and a zag. We spend a season of time focusing on a particular area of life, then we pull back and spend a season focusing on something else. We work hard at the office and then we go on vacation with the family.

It has been three weeks since the Focus Course launched. And now that this chapter of my life is closed, in the zig-zag of life I am taking some time off during the next month to be with and visit family as well as to celebrate 10 amazing years of marriage with my wife.

And during this down-time I’ll be thinking about what’s next.

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This morning I was leafing through the notebook I used to jot down most of my research notes related to The Focus Course.

I came across one page, right in the middle of my notebook, that had several unordered bullet points on the importance of a focused life. These are some of the original ideas that later got expounded on as part of the course. I want to share them here with you.

  • If you want to do everything, be everywhere, and control everything you’re more likely to do, be, and control nothing.
  • Energy and motivation go further when they’re focused / channeled into a specific area.
  • Clearly defined boundaries empower us to do better work. Hence the value in having daily routines. Also boundaries for how we will not spend our time, money, energy, etc. We have a finite amount of motivation, so keep in mind that if we commit to something new then it will need energy from another area of life.
  • Goals and action plans allow all your energy to know where to take aim. Your motivation has a path to run on.
  • Quality relationships are critical! Get around people with a sense of humor, who are high performers, who are fun and funny, and who are generous.
  • We need humor and enjoyment in life.
  • If you feel that you don’t have enough time, realize you have all the time you’re going to get. It’s impossible to be motivated when operating under other people’s unreasonable timezones and the tyranny of the urgent. Time is infinitely more valuable than money.

I have such a propensity to want to do everything, be everywhere, and control everything. But I know that the times I’ve done my best work are the times when I had one specific goal and one main project that I was focused on.

Reading my own notes this morning was a reminder to myself that just because I know a little bit about focus and diligence, doesn’t mean I’m immune to ever being un-focused. As I take some time to think and plan for what is next, I also need to remember to take my own advice: clearly defined boundaries empower; life needs humor and joy; I have all the time I’m going to get.

If you’re also slowing down this summer to think about what’s in store for the next season of life, instead of trying to figure out how you’re going to do it all, maybe try to do one thing really well.