Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Power of Focus

Recently I wrote about the power of momentum. Today I want to talk about momentum's close cousin, focus. Focus and momentum walk hand in hand. The quality of life equation includes many variables and focus in one of the important ones.

In my line of work focus is very important, it is required to get anything done and to have any quality of life. It is too easy to worry about work when at home and too easy to feel guilty when at work when I would rather be with family. Of course, this is a recipe for getting nothing done and feeling terrible all the time.

There are no magic bullets to hone focus. Focus is a muscle that needs regular exercise to function well. We have all experienced the "zone"; that place where we are hyper productive and focused on the task at hand. For me this is more than a feeling; it is an emotional place. Usually I require quiet time and a closed door to reach this place and focus my attention. Sometimes I play loud music as a mental closed door (Stephen King writes to loud music as his way of shutting out the world while he focuses on his work). You need to look inside yourself to find this "zone."

Guilt destroys focus faster than anything else. When I prepare tax returns or perform other accounting tasks I shut out the world and do not worry about home, family, health, neighbors, world events, and so on. I refuse to feel guilty or complain about my time away from family and friends. Long ago I decided I choose to work. I can live on a lot less if I really do not want to work as an accountant.

The same applies in my private life. I could care less about the office when at home with family. If work blows up, so it goes (as Kurt Vonnegut says). I enjoy and experience the moment at hand. It is all any of us have.

The real trick lay at the borderline. Sometimes I work from home. I never feel any obligation to do so, but when I really want to complete a large task I will log into the office and tackle a job. I write from home. This blog post is evolving less than two hours before a family social gathering. However, I am focused on writing this piece while I write it and will not give it a thought when with family. I have a few projects I could log into the office for this weekend, but opted to spend my free time with family. My grandfather is very ill and the clock is reaching its end. It is challenging to focus with issues so large and important. But I get better at it with age.

If you desire for better things, being a better father or mother, a better husband or wife, a better employee or boss, a better friend or neighbor, a better writer, a better accountant or any occupation of your choosing, better at anything, focus. Find that place where momentum takes place and quality of life grows.

Taxes are important. Deal with the issues and move on. Taxes are not life; taxes are a fact of life. Spend the required time each week or month gathering the information you need to manage your finances and taxes. Then move on to the important things. Focus on the task at hand so the remaining 99% of your life can be an exercise in enjoyment.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Now what was I doing?

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