You Can Have Anything You Want, But Not Everything

I sometimes work out as much as three hours a day. Between lifting, stretching, jiu-jitsu, and playing sports with friends, the time adds up.

I once read that a lot of professional athletes work in two 90-minute sessions per day. So, that’s how I set my standard. But, I’m not a professional athlete. I’m also not trying to be one. I’m spending too much time on what’s not most important to me in life.

My primary focus today is to build my two businesses. We’re likely going to sell the ecommerce brand I’m involved in this year which will free me up even more to focus on Amazing.com.

Any minute I spend doing something else that doesn’t support that goal gives our competitors an advantage. That’s why I’m dramatically reducing the time I spend on activities outside of growing those two businesses.

I’m not going to let my health slip. I will, however, maintain it with the most minimal amount of time spent possible – I’ve already started. I now workout only three times per week for about half an hour each.

I’ve already started reaping the rewards of this greater focus. I’ve read around forty blog posts covering Amazing’s primary industry, selling on Amazon. I’ve made notes, gathered data, and started strategizing how we can reclaim our position in this market.

The future looks bright. I’m excited for what’s coming. But, it can’t happen without clearing up my time and focus to dedicate what’s necessary to what’s most important.

Here’s my process. I hope it helps you move faster toward a better life. I am excited to be on the journey with you.

Decide What’s Most Important, Eliminate or Reduce Everything Else

The first step is to decide what’s most important right now.

This applies on the macro level and micro level.

For your bigger goals in life, which is most important right now, at this stage of your life?

Is it your career? Your family? Starting a business? Traveling the world before you have kids? Something else?

There’s a famous story about Warren Buffett in which he was talking to a pilot about the pilot’s goals. He told him to write down his top 25 goals. Then, he said to choose his top 5. Lastly, he advised to not think about the other 20 until those top 5 were complete.

If you want to realize the full power of focus, you have to decide. It’s hard work. It’s scary. That’s why nobody wants to make a decision.

Instead, we hedge our bets, trying to push a whole bunch of priorities forward at the same time, ultimately getting nowhere significant.

On the micro level, what’s most important today? What about at this very moment?

The research I’ve read seems to conclude we can only focus on one demanding task at a time. Our brains don’t do well jumping between tasks. Sure, we can brush our teeth and listen to a podcast, but we can’t do deep strategy planning on a business while improving a tennis serve.

You have to choose. Pick one major project to work for the next few months, at least. Pick one task to complete right now – ignore everything else until it’s done.

This doesn’t mean you leave your wife, abandon your kids, or sacrifice your health to build a business. You still have responsibilities to attend to outside of your top project. It’s up to you to decide what’s discretionary. What can be sacrificed for your goal? What can’t?

For me, I’m willing to reduce the time I spend working out and pursuing physical fitness goals to focus on my businesses. I’m not going to reduce my exercise down to zero – that would degrade my health. Instead, I will do enough to maintain my health and no more.

With traveling, I’m not going to travel the world or learn another language right now. Both of those will take up too much time. I will, however, take breaks as needed to go on fun trips to recharge so I can better focus on my businesses when I return.

Reduce or eliminate anything non-essential. Every minute you free up is a minute you can put toward your top priority.

Create a Variety of Accomplishments One at a Time

You don’t have to spend the rest of your life in one business, career, or hobby. You can create huge accomplishments in a variety of areas of life. But, do it one at a time, not all at once.

In 2017, I was burnt out from a wild ride in business. I’d built an 8-figure business, almost destroyed it, and then built it back up again. I needed a break. So I went to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. I was starting helicopter pilot school. For four and a half weeks I flew or studied in the classroom for twelve hours a day. I did almost nothing else while I was in Hawaii for that period of time. Less than five weeks after I started, I earned my private pilot license.

The average person, I’m told, takes six months or more. I did it in less than five weeks. Am I a helicopter savant? Hardly. I didn’t know anything about engines, alternators, or weather patterns before I arrived. I did, however, have the ability and desire to completely focus day-after-day until I accomplished my goal.

I’ve run a marathon. Built two 8-figure businesses. Become a helicopter pilot. Spoken on stage to thousands of live attendees. Created 100+ video online courses. And, I’ve written a book. I did it all one at a time.

It’s almost impossible to push multiple major priorities forward all at once. In my experience, it’s much easier and more effective to pick one and give it everything you have until you’ve accomplished what you want. At that point, if possible, you can hand it off to someone else to maintain as in a new business project.

We all love the idea of the “Renaissance person”. We’re amazed when we see someone accomplish so much in such a variety of pursuits. Richard Branson, for example, has become a billionaire, built a successful record company, started an airline, set hot air balloon records, and more. In most cases, he focused on one at a time. He was able to take off from his businesses for months at a time to fly across the ocean in hot air balloons. He wasn’t sending emails from the sky in the capsule above the ocean.

Work Till You’re Done

Research on productivity points to a characteristic of the human mind to hold on to some part of what you focus on long after you think you’ve put it to bed. It’s called “attention residue”.

When you work on one task, stop, and pick up another task, that first task is still on your mind. You may not be consciously aware of it, but it is taking up some part of your mental capacity. Your mind doesn’t want to let go because it’s not yet done.

Have you ever been almost done with a task, then had to put it down right before you were finished? Maybe you had an appointment or a family member needed something. How did that feel? Cloud you feel that task still pulling at you mentally, itching you to get back and complete it? This is attention residue at work.

If you jump between a bunch of different projects (macro) and tasks (micro), you’re never able to fully give one thing everything you mentally have to give. Your mind is constantly trying to juggle all the projects and tasks at once.

Instead, whenever possible, work until you’re done. Or, work until you are ready to abandon the project or task completely to free up your mind to work on what’s most important next.

If you’re working on a business project, don’t start another one till the first one is 100% complete. If you’re working on a single task, don’t jump to another task until you’ve completed the first. Single task. Focus on one item at a time. You’ll feel more accomplished and will have more mental bandwidth to accomplish even more.

Conclusion

We often see the end result of effort, not the effort itself. Social media and the media in general shows us the achievements of people we admire. We see the fame and the fortune, we don’t see the process.

From what I’ve experienced in my own life and have read about others, most accomplishments of any major significance were accomplished one at a time. I believe you can have almost anything you want in your life as long as you prioritize. If you decide what’s most important right now in your life and right now in this moment, you can accomplish far more over the long-term.

Think of your biggest accomplishments in life so far. Now, imagine how much more you can accomplish in the future if you give your complete, undivided attention to what’s next?

Decide what’s most important. Focus on one priority at a time. Then work until it’s done.

I can’t wait to hear what you create next.

Author Bio

Matt Clark is the Chairman and CEO of Amazing.com, Inc., a company which helps people start and grow ecommerce businesses. He’s also the co-owner of Inc 500-listed healthy coffee company, Lifeboost Coffee.

Matt has been featured on Forbes, Success Magazine, Entrepreneur, and Business Insider. He’s shared the stage with business icons such as Richard Branson, Robert Kiyosaki, and Sara Blakely, and Daymond John.

He’s been sharing his strategies to build businesses since 2012. Matt’s students have produced an estimated $9 billion in sales online.

You can connect with him on Instagram and Twitter at @mattclarktx.

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