The Power of Concentrated Effort
Published: Oct 10, 2006
Do you feel overwhelmed at times by the sheer number of things you’re managing? Do you find yourself running so fast that you just wish the world would slow down? Has "busy" taken on new meaning leaving you wondering, "is this all life is about, just getting stuff done?"
Perhaps this way of life is what you’ve gotten used to. Over the years you’ve added new people, places and responsibilities to your schedule and your life without removing anything. Now you find yourself overextended.
In my coaching work with clients, I often use the analogy of digging holes. People tend to dig a hundred holes, one foot deep. They have their hands in so many things; they are all over the place. And because there is only so much time and energy in a 24-hour period, their relationships and their commitments are superficial at best – one foot deep. There is only so much time and energy they can give to each of the hundred things they have going.
Living this way has its benefits: you might feel important. You might feel good about having so many interests. You might even enjoy the feeling of being busy sometimes; it gives you a “rush” running on adrenaline all day. It might serve you to run all over the place if you are running from yourself: from past hurts, from current pain, from loneliness. But the fact is that you go with you everywhere you go and the hurt remains, even if it is buried underneath the superficiality of your life.
This way of living also has its downfalls. We know that using adrenaline as an energy source is damaging to our bodies and causes heart attacks and other problems (strokes, insomnia, depression). Running so fast during the day means that at some point you crash; usually it happens at the end of your day when you are ready to spend quality time with your family. Of course, you are not in a condition of quality. Also, juggling so many things takes up a lot of personal RAM or brain bandwidth. Your mind tends to race, even when you are trying to shut down at bedtime. “Peace” is not part of your vocabulary and slowing down seems like more of a dream than a possibility. You also might find that your life lacks meaning.
Instead of trying desperately to manage a hundred different things, what if you were to focus your energy and attention to only a few things, and take it really, really deep? Thirty feet deep. How would that be different?
First of all, you’d have to choose carefully what you want those three or four things to be that you would be willing to spend all of your time and energy on. These could be your relationships, family, community or career. And then, you’d have to give up the 97 other things that take away your attention and use up your time.
You might say that you’d be bored if you only had a few areas of focus. Focusing on a few choice things doesn’t mean you cannot spend limited time doing things that you don’t want to ‘go deep’ with. Perhaps you want to take up a hobby and you only want to play once in awhile. You don’t need to dig a thirty foot hole here; you only want to dig a foot. That’s fine. You just don’t want to have too many of these little holes or they will detract from what you’re trying to accomplish in your life.
And that’s the ticket, right there. What are you trying to accomplish in your life? What do you want your life to mean? If you have one hundred things that you are involved in, what is your purpose? Having so many things in your life allows you to get lost in the distractions, it allows you to hide. It doesn’t allow for depth and for true intimacy, a true knowing of you. It takes you away from being able to focus and commit to mastering your strengths and having really deep relationships.
You learn to live by default when you have no vision for success in your life. Without being on purpose, time ages you without your permission. Learning to concentrate your efforts will help create depth to your life. With a vision for a successful life, you seek meaning in everything you do and learn to do only those things congruent with that vision. You give yourself the space you need to relax and to contemplate life. Specialists also tend to make more money. When you know what you stand for and are able to focus your energies on those things, spending time with people who help bring out your best and share your areas of focus, you learn to be more respectful of yourself – your time, your energy, and your gifts. This is turn, raises your self-confidence, you feel more in control of your life and sure of the direction you are going.
So how do you go from “all over the place” to living a focused and directed life? Three steps will get you started:
1) Become aware of everything you are involved in. How are you spending your time? Most of us walk around unconscious of what we’re doing. Become conscious! Is this the best use of your time, strengths and talents? What is the benefit to you? Awareness is powerful and allows you to make better choices for how you want to invest your time.
2) Say "No" to everything that does not bring you joy. The path to peace and living a life on purpose starts with eliminating everything that does not fit in your vision of success. If you missed the article on creating a vision for success, you can find it on my website at http://www.NurturingYourSuccess.com/Articles.cfm. Ask yourself what you gain by being involved here. By understanding the motivation behind your efforts, you can eliminate emotional needs that drain you of your energy and keep you from living in congruence with your values.
3) And that’s the third step, live according to your values. First, you need to identify your values. What is most important to you in your life? What do you want to orient your life around? Once you’ve identified these, only involve yourself with things and places that offer you the opportunity to express your values.
To learn more about living a life of purpose and managing your time, refer to chapter six and the Time Enjoyment Model© in the book "The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance." You deserve a great life. Take your time seriously and take care in how you choose to spend – or invest – your time. Learn to concentrate your efforts for a more fulfilling life experience.
Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is an Executive Coach with Nurturing Your Success Inc. She is passionate about working with people who have reached a certain level of success but who find themselves discontent, restless, and searching for something more. If you’re not sure how to take your life to the next level, are tired of spinning your wheels and ready to take the inner journey, then Nurturing Your Success has the tools to get you on your path to a new level of personal mastery. Success is an internal experience as much as an external one. To have your life look good but not feel good is not truly living. You deserve more. Call (610) 277-2726 or write to Julie@NurturingYourSuccess.com to explore how coaching would work for you. If not now, when? Fuimano is a popular speaker, world-renowned writer and author of the life manual, The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance – available wherever books are sold. Sign up for her inspiring e-newsletter here.