What do you NOT want to do with your life?

What is Your Focus?

What is Your Focus?

Success and excellence have far more to do with what you choose NOT to do, then what you actually need to do. We live in an exciting world with unlimited opportunities so most of us want EVERYTHING life has to offer. Unfortunately, wanting everything often means being mediocre at many things rather than being excellent and world class in one area. Success is directly related to the effort and perseverance in ONE, and only one, direction. The alternative is mediocrity and obscurity.

Why Success is So Illusive

The two primary obstacles to success are having no goals or having too many goals. If you have no goals, don’t be surprised if you don’t accomplish any of the vague dreams you think about from time to time. However, for most people, the problem is having too many goals. Many of us want to go back to school AND write a book AND start a business AND change careers AND become the top salesperson in our company AND make a living doing the art we loved when we were younger AND travel the world, etc. If you are like me, than you probably have far too many “AND”s in your life.

There is nothing wrong with having many goals, except for the fact that if you try to go for ALL of your dreams, you will likely accomplish NONE of them. What is the number one passion in your life? What gives you the greatest joy? And importantly, why do you want to accomplish that goal? Is it to please someone else, or is it really what you want for yourself?

The Enemy of Achievement: “AND”

I am working on 5 websites now. AND I am trying to run and workout regularly. AND I try to play guitar every day. AND I attempt to study Japanese a little every day. AND I am trying to learn Flash animation software. AND I have been slowly working on two different books for the last decade. AND there are probably many more things that I occasionally distract myself with but can’t remember right now. I know I am doing too many things, but these are all projects that are important to me to various degrees. I completely realize that I have been spreading myself too thin, yet I still haven’t really managed to extricate myself from any of these commitments.

I have made some progress with my efforts. I have several talented and reliable outsourced workers to assist with various projects so I am moving ahead faster than if I tried to do everything myself. Also, I have been able to cut down my work hours to less than 30 hours a week.  Once my English school is sold, I will have an extra 30 hours a week to devote to these projects so even more progress will be possible. However, there are still too many ANDs in my life. Sometimes I dream about what I could accomplish if I were able to focus 20 or 30 hours a week to only one project or personal goal. Where would I be if I played guitar for 30 hours a week for the last 20 years? How many books could I have written and published if I wrote for a couple dozen hours every week? I could be fluent in several languages if I had the focus to spend 10 or 15 hours studying every week. My ANDs are killing me.

Parenting- The Ultimate Focus

I know many parents who spend phenomenal amounts of time and energy on their children. I amazed with their generosity and patience. That is the way it should be! If you choose to bring a child into the world, you should do your utmost to ensure they have the best encouragement and loving environment you can provide. These parents are gladly sacrificing their own personal career dreams to build a quality family environment. Kudos to them! This is personal and career sacrifice in exchange for a quality family life. They are focusing on what matters to them most.

What is your ONE?

What is the one goal that you want more than anything else? What do you want to accomplish more than anything in the world? What goal would you like everyone to know about you? What achievement would you like to have written on your tombstone? You can’t be everything to everyone.

Look at any successful athlete, musician, politician or business person and you will undoubtedly see a focused dedication to a single life direction. That momentum is unstoppable. I still have some work to clear out my to-do list of dreams and goals. What are you willing NOT to do to make sure your primary life focus is achieved?

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

9 Responses to What do you NOT want to do with your life?

  1. Anil says:

    I’m definitely an ‘and’ guy although I’ve worked a lot to focus my energies on the things I want the most. The benefits are clear too, I see progress in the things I really set my mind too and evaluate any new ‘ands’ before they throw me off track.
    .-= Anil´s last blog ..Overcoming 7 Major Obstacles To Traveling The World – #4 You’ll Miss Your Family and Friends =-.

  2. Nate says:

    Those darn ANDS! They used to kill me. I would say back about a month or so I started just simply doing less, of everything. Less working out, less TV time, less Facebook and Twitter time. It has worked wonders. Just a note: I’m getting stronger while working out less (amazing!). I’m also really really close to getting my first business up and running. If I hadn’t decided to simply do less of a lot of things, I probably wouldn’t have made the progress I have. Great post John!

  3. monito says:

    I think this is the “trouble” with me as of the last 2 years and a bit.
    I find myself scattered, and I feel that because “time” goes by so quickly, I don’t want to waste any more precious time, so I am trying to figure it out, trying to find my one niche…that’s all…
    Thanks for the great read 🙂

    …Also, Anil, thanks for the link 🙂

  4. Dave and Deb says:

    Lately I am not an “and” person at all. But I am letting everything else in my life slide. I am so focused on getting this blog of ours perfect before leaving in less than 4 months, that my workouts have slid, my social life has gone by the wayside and I haven’t been out enjoying the warm summer at all. Pluz
    I tend to either be an “and” person to the extreme, or suddenly become too focused on one goal to the extreme. I am really needing to learn how to balance.
    I have no idea how you are running 5 websites! I am struggling with one:) We are hoping to have two more on the go before leaving, but getting theplanetd in order is taking way more time than we have.
    Great post thanks!
    .-= Dave and Deb´s last blog ..Giving Back: Travel the World and Make a Difference =-.

  5. John says:

    You two are doing everything right in my opinion. You know what you want and you are putting in phenomenal effort to achieve it. Balance is over-rated. Greatness takes sacrifice and effort. You are paying your dues and the results you deserve will come. I don’t think work/life balance is particularly inspiring, how about “work hard/play hard.”

  6. John says:

    Time goes by so amazingly quickly. I am really terrified at how short life is. If something is worth doing, it is important to do it now. No more delays! No more regrets!

  7. Christopher says:

    Very well put! There is such a difference between knowing (that we try to do too much) and willfully limiting ourselves. There is a cultural bias against self-limitation, isn’t there? But you’re right, we need to evoke the power of no. Limits define us, but most of us want it all, and we want it now. Think about what it takes to get into a top American university. They demand a neurotic flurry of diverse activity.

    Your post is about maturity and decision-making. Some lucky few get the encouragement to find their path early and stick to it. But they are the exception.

    If we can slow down and examine our actions, we just may be able to identify that point at which we feel frustrated with one activity and notice the green field effect taking over. Some other activity looks easier, more rewarding, or just more interesting. But what is that difficulty that is stopping me right now, from working on my book and posting here? I can rationalize that the topic is related, but I’d be better off focusing. Knowing what to do and actually doing it are completely different.

    Thanks for a helpful and thought-provoking post.

    With much appreciation,

    C
    .-= Christopher´s last blog ..Help Wanted =-.

  8. […] John Bardos, What do you NOT want to do with your life? […]

  9. Not sure if you have caught it yet, but go watch Karol Gajda and Adam Baker at http://manvsdebt.com/do-shit-you-love-karol-gadja/
    Kind of answers this question

    I also answered (or more like expanded) on their thoughts in my newest TMP post http://theminimalistpath.com/2009/12/i-want-to-be-doing-______/

    David Damron
    The Minimalist Path & LifeExcursion

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