Focus is the single greatest determinant of success. It is made up of two fundamental and critical skills – prioritization and persistence. Prioritization is the ability to evaluate opportunities and sort them by relevance, in alignment with your goals. Persistence is the ability to assess obstacles to your goals and design solutions for overcoming them.
Prioritization is the process of determining your actions by order of importance toward achieving your goals. Your actions should be directed almost exclusively toward developing opportunities. The opportunities you pursue are those that contribute the greatest value towards your goal in the least amount of time. These quick wins using small amounts of time help to initiate our activity and keep our dopamine levels flowing. (More about this in Persistence) Long-term investments of your personal time should only be done to create the top skill sets required for the opportunity that will fulfill your goals AND align with your passion. All other activities should be outsourced to others whose passion aligns with the activity. A useful tool is the Eisenhower Matrix.
Persistence is the act of implementing opportunities and overcoming unavoidable obstacles with minimal effort and fatigue. Persistence can be improved by breaking down opportunities and obstacles into smaller pieces. Looking at either through too big a lens creates daydreaming or self-doubt. By seeing them as segments or modules of a goal, we position ourselves for multiple sequential successes, which raises our confidence level and reduces anxiety.
We can also use a neurolinguistics programming technique called “Anchoring” to help reset ourselves to a more positive mental attitude. No one can focus intently forever though, so planned rest and spontaneous periods where our minds can explore creativity are essential. This punctuated equilibrium of creativity between rounds of persistence and planned rest aids problem solving by disrupting the repeating cycle of doubt or analysis paralysis.