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primary focus
Another day begins, in a string of days, in a procession of weeks which span months and years. But what is your primary focus today? Your feelings of happiness and accomplishment await your response.

On target?

When I was eight, my parents gave me a bow and a few target arrows. I was delighted. I felt like a “real man” with those instruments of what seemed to me, at the time, vast power.

The next year, those same parents were in the midst of divorcing each other. They needed to get me out of the picture for a few weeks, so they sent me off to a YMCA camp on Orcas Island up in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle.

At the camp was a bow and arrow station. Most of the boys cycled through that station, but few stayed for long. I, on the other hand, for most of my two weeks there, shot their bows and arrows at just about every available opportunity.

There was one leader who noticed that I was there every day. He took an interest in me. Under his generous guidance, I soon advanced beyond the basic bow to this man’s personal hunting bow.

I was in awe of his powerful bow, with a sight and pulleys and gleaming, varnished wood. And I got quite good at shooting this bow by the time I had to leave camp. I was sad to go. I wanted to stay and shoot every day under this man’s patient hand. By the time I left, I was getting bullseyes on the regular.

What is your bullseye today?

Which brings us back to today’s topic.

What is the primary focus of your day, today? If nothing else happened today, but you hit that one primary goal, that bullseye, you could go to bed a happy man.

You might say, “What a naïve question. I have so many things to do today I can barely see straight.”

I am aware of how busy you are. But you are also distracted. You get up, get on the treadmill, and let it take you where it wants. (Which, if you have the image of the treadmill firmly in mind, you realize is nowhere: the treadmill takes up energy but gets you nowhere.)

But how can I decide?

Now that’s a good question. Deciding on just one thing as your primary focus isn’t easy, when you have so many things to think about.

Let’s find a motivation. Stay with me now, as this is about to become a little bit of a wild ride.

Let’s make an analogy, which at first will seem like a total nonsequitur. Ready?

Do you want to die alone and lonely? No. Right? And for that reason you work hard on having a primary relationship with a romantic partner, right? Is it easy to live with that one person? No. It’s work. Is it worth it? Mostly, yes. Why? Because otherwise, you’re out at the bar every night looking for someone to go home with, or you’re home alone.

Here’s the bottom line: When you commit to a primary relationship, you’re building something to last.


The Power of Primary

Okay, back to deciding on a primary focus for the day. Deciding on a primary focus for the day isn’t going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.

Why? Because as with a primary relationship, you’re building something to last. Deciding what is your top priority is actually a part of building a relationship with yourself, on a solid foundation, built to last.

Today is part of a bigger picture of deciding what is most important to you not only today, but developing a habit of focusing on what is most important to you every day.

The Power of Focused Practice

When you show up regularly to anything and actually focus on getting better, you advance much more quickly at mastering that skill than if you approached what you do casually. You know this to be true intuitively, and also from your own experience.

To wit:

There are a whole bunch of guys who like the idea of playing guitar. But if you took two guys who both wanted to play guitar, and watched them over time, in a side-by-side comparison, with one of them really focusing daily on mastering the fret board, while the other one just sort of doodled during his time with the instrument, guess who would master the guitar faster (and enjoy his result more)?

Start small.

As always, start small. Put 15 minutes of focused effort in today to figure out your primary focus for today and tomorrow. Do this for a week: 15 minutes a day. In a week’s time, if you stay with it, you will begin to hone in on getting a reliable answer to this question, which will change the trajectory of your life, over time, for the better.

The takeaway:

Begin today to really look at what your primary focus is for the day. Then, stick to your plan, and begin to feel the power of primary.

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