Focus on One Priority at a Time

December 31, 2019

Categories: Focus

A lot of times, people live their life in a haphazard way. There are a lot of things competing for our time, and most people bounce from thing to thing, depending on what feels most urgent for the day. They’re busy, and they do a lot of things, but they don’t make a lot of headway in a particular direction, or make progress toward their most important goals.

Too Many Priorities

This can happen even for people who are very disciplined and smart. Sometimes the problem is people have too many priorities. For example, I remember one time I set a bunch of goals for the new year. I had a physical health goal—I wanted to lose some weight and eat healthier. I had a work goal—I wanted to get a big grant and a book contract. I had a relational goal—I wanted to get my dating life back on track. I had a mental health goal—I wanted to be more assertive and lower my anxiety. And I had a spiritual goal—I wanted to spend more regular quiet time with God.


I was well-meaning with these goals, and each of them were reasonable. The problem was I had too many goals. I was all over the place. Because of that, my energy wasn’t as focused as it needed to be. Any kind of change or improvement is difficult. If we want to give ourselves the best chance to succeed, we need our energy to be absolutely focused, like a laser.

The Power of Less

I was reading a book called “The Power of Less” by Leo Babuata, and he had a system where he focused on one goal at a time. He spent one month focused on changing one habit, and then once he felt pretty good about the change, he allowed himself to switch his focus to something else. But focusing on one thing at a time was key.

Too Many Priorities = No Priorities

I see the same problem in many organizations. If you ask a CEO or leadership team what their priority is right now, they will likely rattle off a long list of goals. Increase sales, cut costs, improve technology, improve customer service, increase advertising and marketing, etc. These are all worthy goals. The problem is that if you have too many priorities, you actually do not have any priorities. If you want your organization to move forward in a focused way, one priority has to rise to the top of the list, and everyone in the organization has to be clear about this.


It can be helpful to get clarity on the ONE priority that is most important right now. Have a meeting where you discuss this key question. Once you decide on the most important priority, get clear on what everyone will do to help accomplish the goal. But whatever you do, don’t spread yourselves too thin. Remember, if you have too many priorities, you don’t have any priorities.


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