As I sit with my goals for 2018 in front of me, there is one word that comes to mind that I need to keep front and center. This word is not a goal, but without it, I know I will have difficulty attaining my 2018 goals. This one word should help me to achieve what I hope for the year. That word? Focus.
There is the old saying (when translated from Yiddish) that goes, “Man plans, but G-d laughs.” In other words, no matter how hard we plan for something, there are always outside influences on our lives that can change our direction. This could be from a planned project at work, where half way through management has a new immediate business requirement, to life events that cause our personal focus to change. In the case of projects, it is important to recognize that the business need come first. That being said, it becomes important to communicate the impact on the existing project, in terms of time lines, deliverables and costs. As a manager, it is our responsibility for our projects; meaning, the success or failure of our projects lies on our shoulders, otherwise, we would not be adding value to the companies we work for (whether as a consultant or employee). Even when priorities change, we still need to maintain some minimal focus on the projects that were deferred. Same goes for outside the work office.
In 2017, there were plenty of things happening in my life that required my attention. The ones that I had control over, did not change my attention, while the ones that I did not have control over, had the ability to alter my focus. This is life, and it is either we recognize it and roll with the punches, or, waste valuable time fighting these things and achieve nothing.
As of January 1st, it is time to revisit our priorities, look forward over the next 12 months and re-focus our attention on where we need to be. In my case, this not only means paying attention to how I need to accomplish my goals, but equally, what things in my life are distractions that call require my focus, that are not needed. The latter can be more difficult, as some of the distractions that we collect over time seem to become part of the fabric of our lives. While watching a recent football game with my brothers, we commented on the laser like focus of the quart backs – while being rushed by guys much larger than them, slipping on a slick field, or in the middle of a sack attempt, their eyes and minds are 100% focused on releasing the ball to an open man. That is the focus we need to bring to our games; that is the focus that will help us on our way to success.