Improve Focus, One Step at a Time

    “Focus on the step in front of you, not the whole staircase” 

    Every year I make a list of goals I would like to complete. A couple years ago, I decided I not only wanted tangible achievements, but developmental ones as well. This past year, I focused on my“focus.” This is not only ignoring distractions, but also staying disciplined enough to devote enough time and energy to complete the goals I want to accomplish. A task not so easy for me. 
    I am great at setting and defining goals for myself and others. When I receive information, I process it and then automatically think of how it relates to the big picture. It’s classic “intuitive” style for those familiar with the Myers Briggs. For those not, we like to focus on beyond the “here and now”, we need to or else it doesn’t make sense for us to even take that first step. We need to understand the“why.”Looking toward the future gives us direction as to where we are going and then how we might get there. On the other hand, focusing on just one step at a time is frustrating because we can’t see where we are going or know how long it will take to get there.

    When it came time to set one of my goals for this year, it did not take long to define that I wanted to achieve my Profession Certified Coach designation from the International Coaching Federation. I already achieved the Associate level designation and decided I wanted to continue to the next level. I built out how I was going to do this through training, coaching and practice. That was the easy part.

    Then as I usually do, I break that down into smaller “monthly” tasks, which for the majority of time meant reading/watching videos and applying what I learned in my coaching sessions. This is where I usually lose motivation and struggle. What typically keeps me going is thinking of my deadline and keeping my eye on the prize (the accomplishment/reward.) This helps me accomplish my intended outcome, but I often do not enjoy the process or learn as much as I could as a result. So, I decided to really absorb myself in the process this time, focusing on one area (or step) at a time. 

    The whole process included about 9 months of training, a coaching session evaluation and a thorough application process. Typically, I would stress about these months in advance. Using this newer approach, focusing on one step at a time,  
    I was able to slow down and only focus on the here and now. After each lesson, I documented my takeaways, and cross checked it with my strengths to note how I could get better. I also did not assign myself a definite deadline,  just“sometime”in Spring 2022. 

    Not only did the process seem to move much faster, but I felt like each month I was learning applicable material I could apply to my coaching. I walked away with several key learnings:
    1.    Self- Awareness- I realized what my strengths were around coaching. I can either decide to leverage these more or improve areas I am not as strong in.
    2.    Higher Achievement- Instead of focusing on only achievement of my PCC, I gained knowledge and experience in several coaching competencies. 
    3.    More Control, therefore less Stress- I can’t control how I might perform on a test or recording 6 months from now. I can control what I choose to take away from each lesson. Anxiety surfaces when we worry about things we can’t control (including what might happen in the future.)
    4.    Expanded Growth Mindset - By focusing on one thing at a time, I wasn’t always concerned about how it aligns with the end goal. Instead I was able to see myself improving as a coach and expanding my current offerings, which wasn’t my intended outcome.

    Overall, the quote guided me to reach out of my comfort zone and experience something in a new way. I achieved multiple benefits instead of just one. Had I only wanted to focus on the end result, I could have achieved it without as many successes along the way. I enjoyed the process more and the time flew by. I continue to use this approach when I know am faced with insurmountable tasks. It makes it much more manageable because it keeps me focused on one thing at a time. 


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