Half-assing it and mediocrity: the power of Focus

Have you ever seen someone walking and texting smack into or barely miss hitting something? They were trying to do a few things at once and none of them very well.

When you give a half-assed effort, you know it but somehow you manage to get the job done, kinda. A mediocre effort with results to match, the worst part is others around you often know you just gave a shitty effort and barely managed to get something done; like walking and texting. Complacency is all too often a culprit and significant contributing factor when we half-ass it.

Why is that? Well, I would love to speak in all consuming generalities, but I’ll do something better; I’ll use myself as the example. I too, often, do the bare minimum that I essentially need to; now this is for any number of reasons from being too busy for my own good, to not really wanting to, and the worst: knowing that bare minimum will get me by. For me personally, it’s usually a combination things with the underlying reason being a lack of drive or focus on what I’m doing and the knowledge that doing the bare minimum will probably get my by.

So what’s wrong with just getting the job done with the minimum effort?

Actually in a lot of cases, nothing. But if you stop and look around we half-ass it through our lives and we wonder why thing aren’t better. We feel that pang of jealousy when we see the Facebook posts of our super successful friends. What’s the difference? Gary Vaynerchuk (@Garyvee) calls it hussle, and that man is amazing, but I would hazard to call it something different: focus. Take a look at the most successful people, the ones you admire the most, and I would put money on the fact that each and every one of those people is HYPER-FOCUSED.

Having a specific or a diving goal or focus makes all the difference – the perfect example is paying off something like your car or a mortgage, you can make your monthly payments or slam down everything you can you get rid of it. A different level of focus gets you different results.

In my last post, I wrote that I want this year to be the year where I really focused on things. So, what does this actually mean? Well, if you know where you’re going it’s easy to get there; you find the easiest path to get there.

I have had a chance to witness this personally before: when at the age of 25 I decided to finish my University degree; that is fine, but I couldn’t just quit my job and do it I had to pull this off while working. But I had a very specific goal and desire to complete it; I had FOCUS. A little over two years later I had that degree and I paid for it while working. Most people that I mention that to are surprised I was able to pull it off – full-time work and full-time school can be challenging. I was very proud of that and I realized if I had a reason or purpose to actually focus my attention I could achieve pretty impressive results.

Now my example is pretty simple, but if you look at all the admired successful people out there, you’ll start to see the power of focus. Put down the [Insert distraction device here: phone, Reddit, website, TV] and imagine what you could accomplish with all that time if it was directed rather than wasted. Gaining efficiency over your time and knowing where you’re going can get you some amazing results – like following a map.

And that is what is I’m looking to accomplish, to focus my energy in a singular direction (or more realistically a lot less, at least)

What does this have to do with Personal Finance you may ask? A whole fucking lot!! Are you living mostly paycheck to paycheck wondering where your money goes? Do you know what your financial goals are? Are they realistic?

If you have a direction and know what you’re trying to accomplish means you can get there a lot easier. Once you apply some of that magical focus you can start doing things that can amaze you. (think people who pay off their mortgage early, or manage to pay off student loans in a few years).

To all you naysayers the examples are endless; if you want it, you’ll find a way to pull it off. It might not be fun, but you can find a way to do it. Now here’s where it gets fun, especially in PF, you can go down the route of the Savers (go check out Mr. Money Moustache) or the Path of earning more money (go check out I will Teach you to be Rich) or try doing both and apply direction or focus to your efforts and you will be amazed.

This year is the year where it’s time to actually start focusing instead of floundering, but after doing it for years, direction is the challenge. I’m starting with a few smaller, focused goals and targets and start working towards the larger ones as they become clearer (you have to start somewhere).