Bad Focus Is Better Than No Focus

The first month of the year was hectic. Stressful. Full of distractions. Flat hunting took a lot of time. My girlfriend is trying to move countries. There were a lot of emails I wish I didn’t have to answer, tax problems I didn’t know I’d have to solve, and the usual shiny object fabrications plaguing any entrepreneur’s mind.

Yet, despite everything, I managed to close out the month’s column on my Trello board with only one of 19 deliverables unfinished. “What?!” I was shocked when I saw that I would close out the month at a 95% completion rate. How could I have done so well despite my focus feeling almost universally bad, at times even non-existent, all throughout the month?

The answer is that, if we make it so, feeling has little to do with doing — and bad focus still trumps no focus on any day of the week. Had I not set these milestones the month before, I probably would have meandered from random task to random task. Had I not aspired to focus — I set the word both as my wallpaper and yearly theme — I probably never would have recovered from my distractions.

“Alright, that was a long detour. Come on. Let’s focus. Let’s get back on track.” I had this conversation with myself dozens, maybe even hundreds of times throughout the month. Apparently, it helped.

It’s easy to throw your focus out the window at the first sign of difficulty. Why keep the monthly plan when you’ve had a bad first week? It’s tempting to make a new one, move the goalpost, and call it a day. Or, in Al Pacino’s words, “we can fight our way back. Into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch at a time.”

Even when your focus feels bad, chances are, it is still working. Don’t give up too soon. Don’t count the check marks before the month is up. Set your focus, and then fight for it. Even if the struggle is real, your effort might still add up.