4 areas that identify what is stealing your focus

By: Brent Neal

Have you ever wondered why you can’t get anything finished at work or why you sometimes feel that you are barely making it? From years of working alongside executives, business leaders, managers, and personnel, as well as identifying my own inadequacies throughout the years, I have derived the following conclusion: “There is a lot of competition for our attention”.

During the day, we get pulled in many different directions. Not only is there the normal daily chaos of our job, but we must often deal with office discord, the needy employee that requires a significant amount of time, customer problems, things that breakdown, people missing work, and the laundry list goes on. When you think of all the things that need our attention, it should reveal why we never become great or achieve new heights. So many things compete for our attention and steal our focus. They keep us from accomplishing goals, fulfilling our mission, and impacting the marketplace.

How do you know what is stealing your attention? Or how do you identify what is taking away from your focus? The four key areas of Time, Energy, Finances, and Thought reveal your focus. Within each of these areas, you can ask yourself a series of questions to aid in determining what is hijacking your attention, which in turn, will allow you to realize and prioritize where your focus should be.

  1. Time: What do I spend the majority of my time doing? What things take the most time for me to do? What do I make time for? What do I enjoy spending time doing? What do I least enjoy spending time doing?
  2. Energy: Where does my energy go? What takes the most energy for me to accomplish? What gives me energy? What makes me want to go to work? Where do I get my energy from? What excites me the most? What excites me the least?
  3. Finances: What do I spend money on? Where does all my money go? What am I willing to borrow for? What am I willing to sacrifice for? What or who am I investing in the most?
  4. Thought: What do I think about the most? When I have trouble sleeping at night, what am I thinking about? Where do my thoughts wander? What is in my “heart” that draws me? What causes me worry or anxiety?

A lot of small business owners worry about money and finances. They cannot focus on anything else. It occupies their time, energy, and thought, almost like an obsession. They cannot think about anything else because they worry about meeting the next payroll or who is going to buy their product. As a result, they rarely succeed, and if they do, the success is very limited and has cost them almost everything. According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months. That is a mammoth statistic, especially when small businesses account for over 50% of the working population and 65% of new jobs come from this arena.

What you fixate on the most is where you spend the most time, money, energy, and thought. If you cannot think of ways to overcome instead of obsessing over circumstances, you’ll never become great. Consider this, if you spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying over finances, it will occupy your time, weigh you down, and take away your passion. This focus-stealing challenge will keep you from concentrating on other important items like innovating your products, empowering your people, or driving the business forward.

The “affection” of your focus is directly linked to accomplishing and becoming successful. Distractions and fixations can cause catastrophic ripples in a company. Leaders of mid-sized and large companies also deal with the same issues. According to research, 51% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged (Gallup), 34% of employees plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months (Mercer), and 35% of employees have changed jobs within the past three years (Gallup). Why? The list of reasons is immense, but most of the problems relate to bad leadership. Preoccupied leaders are easily frustrated, become insensitive, and end up as horrible bosses who not only neglect those around them but also negatively affect them. Since these leaders do not have enough time, energy, or money to spend on bettering themselves, they become bad leaders.

If this struggle is something you identify with, you are not alone. Choosing to redirect your attention will set you on a path of improvement, one with a greater future. Vision is forward-looking. Once you realign your focus, your vision becomes clearer and allows you to move forward. Your future becomes attainable once you focus on the right things. A friend once told me, if you want to do the same thing you did last year or if you want to make the same amount of money you did last year, do the exact same thing you did then. If you want to do better, you must focus on a new future, what is important, and put a stop to the things that steal your attention.