In the past few months, I’ve ruthlessly tried to hone my focus on just a few things that I can get a handle of and do very well.  That’s partly why I’m obsessed with gathering as much data on myself to zero in on those 2 or 3 insights that move the meter in terms of growth/progress.

Lately, I’ve been a tad bit scatter brained in terms where I want to devote the bulk of my time in terms of attempting to focus on a skillset that I can get a good handle on for the next 6 months and incorporate into my digital marketing repertoire, namely, Adobe Illustrator.  After picking up Nathan Yau’s book “Visualize This“, I immediately wanted to pick up Python, debating on how I can learn Ruby on Rails instead, to learn how to hack and clean up data before even understanding the rudimentary tools available to the non-programmer.

Literally, it was paralysis by analysis.  Either do or don’t.  And dropped my desire to learn a programming language or to join a “Tough Mudder” run which would have required a ton of time to prepare for.  I learned that after re-reading Cal Newport’s series of blog posts on “Being so good they can’t ignore you” and deliberate practice, really resonated with me, such as the following passage:

 To become exceptional you have to put in a lot of hours, but of equal importance, these hours have to be dedicated to the right type of work. A decade of serious chess playing will earn you an intermediate tournament ranking. But a decade of serious study of chess games can make you a grandmaster.

Talking to my buddy, Gabriel (who’s been a great sounding board) keeping me accountable in terms of my focus as well.  Whether it’s talking trash or just simple calling out on promises that weren’t followed through, surrounding yourself with people who make you better and vice versa really do make a difference.

Here are a few other takeaways that have been stirring about in my head that result in having a razor sharp focus in terms of making remarkable progress:

  • focusing on one thing and one thing only in terms in “Areas of Focus” of your life.   Whittling everything down to a few key areas that you obsess over intensely, tracking, measuring to see what improvements you can squeeze out on a week to week basis.  For me it’s fitness, clearing myself out of credit card debt (while building up savings), and building on top of my search marketing background.
  • having others keep you accountable
  • presenting your progress to the world.  Whether it’s blog posts, capturing screenshots of your performance dashboards
  • Getting feedback from those who aren’t so intimately connected to you.  A great example of this would be the killer community that Fitocracy has built in the last year or so.  I get props from random strangers, getting encouragement and even helpful feedback as well.
  • Protecting your time ruthlessly (or saying “No) – this might mean denying yourself the opportunity to socialize (something which I truly enjoy) or simply not attending meetups without any clear purpose or goal of furthering your own objectives.  You might fall off the map, with friends or acquaintances, but that’s short term thinking.  Having a phone conversation to catch up might help or a few emails or even handwritten letters can go a long way to maintain your bonds.

My question to you is, what are you focusing on to become truly remarkable in your own regard?