Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.
When I was 16, I went to Germany to improve my language skills. Mainly.
I met this girl, she was stunning. I was under her spell straight away. We were in a group of students of the same age. We had just finished school and had headed to Germany for three weeks during summer holiday. We had morning German lessons, then were off for the afternoon and evenings.
It was a perfect opportunity to have fun…and meet girls.
I was lucky. I had bumped into her on the first night and we had started getting to know each other before anyone else in the group had had the chance to talk to her. So I was ahead of the competition.
I just had to be with her. It became an obsession, like 16 year olds have. Forget about learning German. So I started to plan my approach.
It was awkward. My flirting consisted of some unique and amazing seduction techniques such as discussing burps and farts (my friends made fun of me for many years after the episode). But amazingly, it worked. I had a goal and a plan, I kept going, stayed focused and it worked!
By the way, unconventional methods can help you be successful as they make you stand out, but this is another topic.
After 3 days, we were together and we had a great time for the remaining two and a half weeks. Many other guys were jealous. Surely, they were not focused enough, that’s why they failed. At least, that’s what I want to believe. My focus made all the difference. Or maybe it was my amazing charm? Or my unique technique… (if you want more details on my seduction techniques, send me a message).
To be more effective, focus is a powerful tool in your arsenal. Whatever your aim is, focus will get you there. Get the girl, get your dream job, win the race, pass your exam, be a top scorer in Call of Duty.
When you have to deliver, focus knocks at the door.
Here are 3 things that I learned in Germany and revisited later in my life. They still help me today to stay focused and achieve my goals.
1. Plan your approach
Even with the unique tactics at my disposal during my teenage years, I still needed an overall plan.
What are the needed steps to get to the finish lane? How many dates should we go on? And how long is it going to take to carry out the whole plan?
To achieve important goals in my life, I make sure I have a written plan. Without it, I am much more likely to fail. Or to spend too much time on unnecessary tasks, that will end up delaying the overall progress and cause my motivation to go down.
With a plan, I know exactly where I am going and how much time I need to spend on each task. Success is not guaranteed but much more likely to happen than without a plan.
To help you writing a plan, follow the steps detailed here (Step 1).
Back then, with a clear plan, I could go ahead and try to get the girl.
2. Picture the results
We are all familiar to how picturing being with someone is a big contribution to giving us the courage to ask someone out. Back then was no exception and I spent plenty of time picturing. This taught me an important lesson in life.
When you are working on many different tasks, day after day, your motivation can go down after a while. This means you will lose focus more easily and start seeking distraction and procrastinate.
To keep myself focused, I regularly re-focus on the result. I picture how it will feel when I have reached specific goals. What it will bring in my life. The more vivid the picture, the more motivated and focused I will become.
So I recommend, at least on a weekly basis, picturing your results. What feeling will you get when you have finished writing your report? What will this successful presentation bring in your life? What will be the outcome?
Picture everything in details. Picture the people surrounding you, are they celebrating your or the common success? And if you’re going to celebrate, how are you going to do it?
Also, picturing longer term goals and major milestones, like getting a promotion or getting your dream job will help you stay motivated and focused on the task at hand. Remind yourself of the importance of small taska to bring you closer to your life goals. Every small action you take will either bring you closer or further away from your goals. Everything counts. So make it count.
I had a plan, plenty of motivation gained through picturing but I needed to act quickly as there was competition around. This gave me the last insight.
3. Be swift
The execution of the master plan took 3 days. This is what you can call swift. It was all over before the competition even had the time to turn up.
Being swift and working in urgency has been beneficial throughout my life. Keeping short deadlines and working under pressure helps a lot with keeping your focus. The further away a deadline is, the more likely we are to procrastinate and put it off until we are much closer (often too close) to the deadline.
Following Parkinson’s law, the additional benefit of short deadlines is a focus on the essential. Because of the lack of time, the superfluous simply gets dropped.
So, like back in the days, I make sure to keep a swift execution on a plan, keep a sense of urgency and face a direct negative impact if I miss a target. Not getting the girl was an obvious one and in every day life, I will typically sacrifice leisure to catch-up on tasks that haven’t been done the day before.
After the summer holiday, over 20 years ago, I blew it. We saw each other once, but then we slowly drifted apart. I took me two years to get over it though.
Still, I’m glad I could find the motivation to stay focused at that age. If the carrot is big enough, we all can.