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Finding Focus in 2010
How to Prioritize When Everything Is a Priority


With more on most of our plates than ever before, life has gotten more complicated. Yet, we all have visions and dreams, grand hopes that for many of us began in childhood. As we grow older, how many will achieve the life we envisioned as children?

Are you prioritizing your life in a way that will allow you to achieve your dreams?

A quick look at the facts provides a sobering view:

  • About 50 percent of Americans are not satisfied with their jobs, according to a report by The Conference Board, with about one-quarter of the U.S. workforce being so dissatisfied that they're "simply showing up to collect a paycheck."

  • More than half of Americans, or 58 percent, say they are “struggling” financially, according to a Gallup poll.

  • Nearly half of the 1,791 adults polled by the American Psychological Association admitted to an increase in their stress levels over the past year. Additionally, more than half reported feelings of fatigue and lying awake at night due to stress and 60 percent reported feeling irritable and angry.

  • About 40-45 percent of all marriages will end in divorce, according to an Associated Press estimate.

What happened to the dreams we all had? Why are more of us not sailing happily through life, working in jobs we adore, earning plenty of money to go around and feeling fulfilled and contented in our relationships?

Could it be that we lost focus … and our goals followed suit?

What is “Focus” … and Why is It So Important to Achieving Your Dreams?

Focus is the ability to concentrate and place your attention on a goal. If your mind is constantly distracted or pulled in too many directions, your focus will become watered down and ineffective. In fact, if you attempt to spread your energy over too many tasks, it’s likely you won’t achieve true focus on any of them, and will likely give up before you’ve even begun.

Finding focus is also sometimes referred to as finding “flow.”

"Engaging in an experience that produces 'flow' is so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, rather than for what they will get out of it. The activity is its own reward," according to the Positive Psychology Center. You can experience flow when your "skills are sufficient for a challenging activity, in the pursuit of a clear goal, with immediate feedback on progress toward the goal."

Often, finding the activities that produce flow, and which you will naturally gravitate toward with focus and clarity, thereby pushing you closer toward your goals, is about knowing how to prioritize your time.

To Find Your Focus You Have to Know How to Prioritize … and Say “NO”

You only have so much time and energy, and you must use that time and energy wisely. This is not selfish, it’s about survival … and living your life how YOU want to.

The challenge is knowing when and to whom to say “no” or “not right now” to … including to yourself on time-wasting bad habits. This ensures you are keeping your life in balance and are not missing out on important opportunities in your life.

We often tend to give into pressures by those who are most vocal or demanding -- even if those requests are not the most urgent or important. So being able to identify what tasks are truly urgent and important for you is a key factor to prioritize your time.

Consider this paradigm: What may seem “URGENT” is likely not most “IMPORTANT” or what really matter in your life. Likewise, what is truly “IMPORTANT” might not seem necessarily “URGENT” but actually are the most fulfilling, crucial places to spend your energy (for instance spending time with your family, getting a business started, writing a book, making long-term retirement plans or writing a living will or a last Will and Testament).

For this reason, items that are truly important, yet not necessarily urgent, often never get started or never get done.

So try this: make a list of what in your life is currently “URGENT.” Then make a list of what is “IMPORTANT.”

If your list is long, corporate trainer Linda Leighy stated the preferred solution for many is to list the top most “important,” then simply pick 5.

John Dearlove, founder of, has developed and used a weighted number system and found it to be successful for his corporate teams at his Chicago Michigan Ave. Ad Agency, at R.R. Donnelly, TerraGlyph Interactive, InnerMark, and

Once you have listed everything in two separate columns of “URGENT” and “IMPORTANT” then quickly:

Place a weighted number (0 to 10) to the left side of each priority, with 10 being the highest weight and 0 being the lowest.

Once done look carefully at your list of 10s, 9s, 8s, and so on…

If any changes are needed make them quickly so as not to over think and over complicate.

Now place a letter of “a” to “z”…. “a” being the highest and “z” being the lowest importance right next to each weighted number. You can simplify by reducing the number of letters to only five letters of “a” to “e”… or to ten letters “a” to “j”).

Some people prefer to use numbers: .09 to .10 placed after each of your primary numbers.

Do whichever is easiest and most comfortable for you to identify what your top “Important” and “Urgent” priorities are that you need and want to focus on.

This exercise should help you to narrow down what is truly most important to your life, for you to find happiness and achieve your goals. Once you’ve got them narrowed down, do not let other tasks get in the way. Stay focused!

Need Help Staying Healthy in a Stressful World?


Staying Healthy in a Stressful World, a complete training program CD, will allow you to cut back on stress and get in touch with the simpler side of life:

  • Identify the Three Major Sources of Stress and embark on a practice for transforming your stress into life-enhancing experiences.

  • Choose from a menu of 14 Short Mental Imagery Exercises for addressing such stressors as anger, anxiety, disappointment, guilt, regret, sadness, decision-making and more.

  • Learn and practice the Physical Stress Buster series, designed for use right at your desk.

  • Use the Mind-Body Progressive Relaxation to shift gears, replenish your energy, and increase your vitality and clarity of mind.

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As Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said:

“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

In other words, as Covey points out, you need to spend your time focused on what is most important in your life, even if it doesn’t seem urgent at this moment.

10 More Essential Tips for Staying Focused

Life is full of distractions and temptations that will pull you away from your purpose if you’re not careful. The following tips will help you to stay on track, achieve your goals and live the happy life you’ve always dreamed of.

  1. Decide what’s most important to you, then center your life around those items (use the method described above to help you do this).

  1. Resign from any and all non-profit organizations or projects that don’t have purpose or value.

  1. Set up as much of your life as possible on autopilot. For instance, set up your bills to be paid automatically online, have your paycheck direct deposited, and hire a pet sitter to come and walk your dog everyday at lunchtime.

  1. Delegate. If you can’t figure out how to do it on autopilot, think about who might be able to complete certain tasks that you do now. Then delegate everything and anything you can.

  1. Redesign your day. What takes up the most time in your day? The least? Evaluate how you spend your daily time carefully, then reorganize it so you have time for what’s most important to you.

  1. Live in the moment. Help your mind to slow down by appreciating every moment as it comes. Even if you’re doing something you’d rather not be, simply focus and prioritize to resolve, schedule or dismiss. By living in the moment, you only think about what’s going on right now, not what you’ll be doing in 10 minutes or what needs to get done by 5:00.

  1. Spend time alone and with family. Many people feel cheated in life in that they don’t have time to just read a book, do a hobby or simply contemplate life. Likewise, many would enjoy more time to spend together with their family. Make time for both in your life, even if it means saying no to something else.

  1. Do one thing at a time. When you try to do too many things at once, you’ll find nothing gets done very quickly or well. The idea that multi-tasking will save you time is a fallacy in most cases. By focusing on just one thing -- one goal, one dream, one task at work, one child’s question, one conversation -- the task will get done with more thoroughness and less stress on your part.

  1. Surround yourself with positive people. Their enthusiasm will definitely rub off on you.

  1. Write down your goals. Writing about life goals is associated with enhanced well-being, according to the Positive Psychology Center. Remember to phrase your goals as though you have already achieved them, such as “I enjoy being at my ideal weight.”

God Bless,

Wishing you the Best New Year and happiness throughout the new decade!


Recommended Reading

The Life You Live Vs. the Life You Want to Live: How to Finally Achieve What You Really Want

Taking Risks: How to Take Calculated Risks to Get Ahead in Anything

Sources August 14, 2008

American Psychological Association October 7, 2008

The Conference Board

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