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How to (not) focus on multiple things at once and achieve mediocre results.

redshift

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Finally got around to listening to the fastlane INSIDERS podcast hosted by @Vigilante featuring @MJ DeMarco & @AllenCrawley from May 28th. The episode itself was gold and I highly recommend checking out the recording (available on the inside) if you haven't already.

The one thing which stuck with me the most was a question asked to MJ about how to focus on multiple projects at the same time, MJ's answer was that he is singular minded in focus and if you wanted to know how to do two things at once *excellently*, then he doesn’t have an answer.

This detail is something I had lost sight of since starting my fastlane journey, but I’ve realized now it’s one of the most important concepts to keep in mind at a higher level as you travel through the desert and build your first (or next) product. Once your fastlane RAS is activated, your brain will be able to come up with new ideas at will, some which will give you instant gratification but not produce meaningful, life altering results in the long run. Others, will be worth pursuing, but will derail you from your original focus. The best way to achieve excellent results and actually make a strong impact in any field, is to maintain focus on one thing and stick through with it until you are either satisfied with the results or the market says otherwise.

Lets say you are building an app, this would mean staying focused on it until you’ve reached a point where you receive market echoes before even thinking about another project such as a second app, or a game or a course or a book. Even if this other project is a *small* endeavor like starting a You Tube channel on the side, or setting up an instagram business, or a blog (unless these are related to the original business in question), because even spending an hour or two per day on those things will be enough of a distraction to shift your focus and take you out of the head space required to perfect your main goal. Instead of thinking about the execution and finer details of your app during gaps in the day or in the shower or wherever you think best, you will be thinking about which YouTube video or blog post to work on next and how to structure and edit those videos, or what you could have improved in your last blog post instead. This adds up and is enough to get you off track from your main focus for days, weeks and sometimes even months, and will lead to frustration and mediocre results in all areas. In the example above, if you do want to start a YouTube channel, it would be better to go all in on it and spend 3-6 months completely focused on it and produce your best work instead of giving it your divided attention. In other words, if you want to hit a home-run, go out and swing for the fences instead of practising base hits.

The reason the fastlane is so powerful, is not because it shifts your mind from consumer to producer, or introduces you to the cents framework, all those are important parts of the process, but for me the main power comes from the fact that it awakens the belief that this road is a real and tangible possibility which YOU can achieve in a relatively short amount of time. Once that belief is installed, you only need to convince yourself that all these other things you want to do will be eventually possible in the long run, but only if you focus on perfecting that first big hit which can detach your income from time and earn you your freedom. After that, you can focus on whatever comes next and produce your best work there as well.

When I was in college I came across this comic strip on the Internet which illustrates this concept pretty well. Back then, I thought it was a pretty cool idea, but it sounded more like a pipe dream to me (source: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - 2012-09-02)

33663

Once you realize that all you need to achieve everything you want in life is the foresight that you can, it just becomes a matter of being patient and focusing on the right things at the right time. In the fastlane world, the “lifetimes” in the comic above can easily be compressed. You might only need 3.5 years, or 1 year, or 6 months of intense focus before mastering a domain and moving on to the next thing. But during that time, by immersing yourself in that one area and maintaining focus, you will be able to achieve 10x the results.

Deep thought when applied to creative endeavours has a compounding effect and your brain will be able to achieve astounding results if you immerse yourself completely into something over a matter of days, weeks, months without breaking your focus. I’ve noticed this time and time again on any big project I’ve started. Anytime I get distracted by adding some shiny new things into my routine, or start splitting my focus, results in every area start to go down and frustration creeps in. This applies to other areas as well, such as the type of books you read or which *insanely huge* thread(s) you are currently reading on the forum.

I recently heard a story with a similar theme called “Buridan’s a$$” from an interview with Tim Ferris and Derek Sivers, which went something like this [paraphrased]:

There’s a donkey who’s hungry and thirsty, and there’s water on one side, and hay on the other. He can’t decide which one to go for first. He looks at the hay, then at the water, and then gets stuck in a cycle of hay / water / hay / water and eventually dies of both hunger and thirst. He just couldn’t do them sequentially.

The donkey was nearsighted and couldn’t think long term. If he could have planned ahead, he would know that he can have the water first, then move on to the hay. In effect, you can do almost everything you want in life, but you can’t do it at the same time, so if you can just dedicate yourself to ONE THING, for even a year, and then the next thing, for a year, you can do all those things.

But if you try to do everything at once, you’ll be Buridan’s a$$ (should I do this, or should I do that). So, don’t be a Donkey!

Of course, the same principles apply to me writing this post as well. The ideas here have been juggling around in my brain since yesterday, and it took me a few hours to put it together. Some people might find this useful, or have something to add (please do!). I might get a few likes or reactions, heck it might even be marked as notable, or I might have to explain something better, or defend my arguments, or it might just get totally ignored or make the landfill. All these scenarios would take up time and energy which could have otherwise been going towards my main focus instead. I like to think of this as the opportunity cost of distraction, which, over time, definitely adds up.
 
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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
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Great take, marked GOLD.

I've been posting this video a lot because our culture promotes mediocrity and "good enough" type results.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxSruxav35k


Your post eloquently reminds us of the importance of a SINGULAR FOCUS.

The singular focus can lead to many great opportunities, things that could allow you to have a multi-disciplinary focus later on.

Thanks for sharing.
 

socaldude

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Our socialization does not want you to have that identity and intelligence. Its no accident.

Thats why society pushes low expectations and pushes everyone to participate in the commoditized labor markets(a job). Because after all you are not smart enough to allocate resources and maximize utility as a producer.
 

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