F is for Focusing  


There are many ways that people choose to focus. These can range from being fully present in the moment to relentlessly pursuing their sense of mission. Here are some ways that people express this theme.

Focusing on the moment 

This involves being still and being fully present. It may involve deep breathing, centering, meditating or using other techniques for being aware and in the moment.

Focusing on your personal values

This involves focusing on your inner compass. It can mean clarifying and following your personal values, spiritual faith or other guiding compass.

Focusing on learning from your body

This is a form of therapy called Focusing that was created by Eugene Gendlin. It has been defined as the process of helping your mind to listen to the wisdom of your body. You can discover more via the following link.


Focusing on what is actually
happening in a situation

This involves reading reality. It means seeing what is actually happening in a situation and developing the ability to see patterns.

Focusing on the task in hand 

This involves concentrating fully on the task you are doing. It can mean becoming so engaged that time goes away and you experience a sense of flow.

Focusing on working to achieve a specific goal 

This involves pursuing the key strategies most likely to help you to achieve success. It means following your daily disciplines and doing whatever is necessary to achieve your chosen goal.

Focusing on pursuing a mission

This involves serving something greater than yourself. It can mean pursuing a sense of vocation, a mission or something else that gives meaning to your life and work.

You can find many practical tips on how to improve your concentration and focus on the Health Ambition website. You can discover more via the following link.​

Health Ambition

Daniel Goleman describes three kinds of focus in his book Focus: The Hidden Driver Of Excellence. Below is an excerpt from what he says.

You can discover more on several videos that he made for the educational website Edutopia. Here is a link to those pieces.


All that can be boiled down to a threesome: inner, other, and outer focus. A well-lived life demands we be nimble in each.

For leaders to get results they all three kinds of focus.

Inner focus attunes us to our intuition, guiding values, and better decisions. Other focus smooths our connections to the people in our lives. And outer focus lets us navigate in the larger world. 

A leader tuned out of his internal world will be rudderless; one blind to the world of others will be clueless; those indifferent to the larger systems within which they operate will be blindsided. 

The rest of this article explores one approach to focusing. This is when you concentrate on working to achieve a specific goal.

Looking back, when have you followed this path in your own way? You may have been aiming to write a book, run in a marathon, lead a team to deliver by a deadline or whatever.

What did you do then to clarify the goal? What were the strategies you pursued to give you the greatest chance of success? What did you do to follow the required daily disciplines? What happened as a result?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you focused on doing a piece of work. 

Describe the specific things you did then to focus on doing the piece of work. 

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.

Like many people, during the 1970s I was helped to focus by reading Alan Lakein’s classic book How To Get Control Of Your Time And Your Life. He invites the readers:

To clarify their lifetime goals 

To clarify their 3 year goals 

To clarify their 6 month goals

Looking at these goals, Alan invites readers to divide these into A, B and C priorities. The next step is to divide each of these into sub-priorities listed 1, 2, 3 and so on.

Peak performers, for example, often focus on their A1 goal in life. They then plan how to do the activities that will help them to reach this goal.

Such people also focus on their A2 and A3 goals. When appropriate, they will move on to tackling their B1, B2 and B3 goals and so on. You can download a summary of the book via the following link.


Different people glean different things from Alan’s book. Here is a summary of some ideas he describes that can help people to work towards their goals.

Keep focusing on your lifetime goals – put these in a place where you can see these each day.

Clarify your A, B and C priorities – remember these may evolve over time.

Focus on your top priorities – do something towards these each day and get some quick successes. 

Do weekly and daily planning – schedule your time so that you have the chance to do things properly.

Ask Alan Lakein’s question: “What is the best use of my time right now?” 

Set yourself deadlines – these can act as a spur to get things done.

Make ‘To Do’ lists and cross off items as you do them – this will give you the feeling of success.

Slow down rather than speed up – take time to reflect, because this can help you reprioritise or make breakthroughs. 

Focus on the benefits of doing things – these can provide positive motivation for doing tasks.

Do your best and be happy with that – you can aim to be the best you can be. 

What we focus on, we become

People are strongly affected by the things they spend their time focusing on. If you study success, for example, you are more likely to be uplifted than if you studied failure.

Bearing this in mind, it can be useful to devote time to the people and projects that give you positive energy. Taking this step can also increase your strength to deal with the challenging situations you encounter in life.

Looking ahead, can you think of a stimulating piece of work you would like to tackle? You may want to encourage a person, renovate a house, design a piece of software, coach a sports team or whatever.

How can you tackle this project? If appropriate, look back to the earlier example you gave regarding when you focused successfully. What were the principles you followed? How can you follow these principles to tackle this piece of work?

Before embarking on the process, however, ask yourself the following questions:

Am I really serious?

What will be the pluses of reaching the goal? What will be the potential minuses involved in working to reach the goal?

Bearing in mind the pluses and minuses, am I really prepared to do what is required to reach the goal? How can I build on the pluses and manage the minuses?  

How can I get some quick successes? How can I encourage myself on the journey?

On a scale 0-10, how motivated am I to do what is required to reach the goal?

Imagine that your rating is 8+/10. How can you follow your best working rhythm? How can you build in time for rest and recovery? How can you do whatever is required to achieve your picture of success?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to focus on doing a piece of work. 

Describe the specific things you can do then to focus on doing the piece of work.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

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