How much do I want to read more? 7/10
I like reading this book because I can relate to the author. We have similarities, like shyness, burning desire to become independent.
So much so that I'd like to consider the same business option he chose, a self-publishing company. Maybe not exactly the same, but something with writing. This starts with writing every day a bunch of words, even when we don't feel like it.
"When I was in the early stages of building my self-publishing business, I wasn’t entertained all of the time. I didn’t always enjoy writing thousands upon thousands of words every single week. Despite the fact that I enjoy putting my thoughts on paper, I wasn’t always excited by the prospect of writing yet another page, yet another chapter, yet another book. But whether I was excited or not was irrelevant. What was important was my system of writing every single day and putting out books on a regular schedule."
How is it possible that several years after setting your goals, you’ve yet to accomplish them or (even worse) you’re farther away from them than before?
There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re perfectly capable of achieving your most important goals.
However, what you do need to fix is your approach. If you change that, you can get completely different results and finally achieve the success you desire so much.
And what exactly do I mean by fixing your approach? It all comes down to developing the ability to overcome distractions and focus on your goals over the long-term.
I used this particular strategy to overcome extreme shyness, get in shape in less than twelve months after years of negligence, launch a successful business after six years of failures, release several bestsellers, learn two foreign languages, travel to exotic destinations, dramatically reduce my fear of heights, and accomplish numerous smaller goals I’ve set for myself over the years.
I benefitted greatly from stumbling upon some self-help and business books that have been guiding me over the years. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
The Ultimate Focus Strategy is by no means a “quick fix” or a miracle answer. It’s a framework that can help you achieve your objectives, but it won’t save you from effort, pain, failures, fear, sweat, and countless other things that everybody has to experience on their journey to success.
Chapter 1: The Fundamentals of the Ultimate Focus Strategy
You’ll benefit the most if you listen to your gut and take whatever you find in the book that feels like it is a good fit for you and apply it in your life.
Another important caveat is that this book focuses almost entirely on taking action.
Start. This step includes an incredibly important process of finding the right motivation, choosing the right goal and preparing yourself for the journey ahead.
Focus. This step is the core of the strategy. It discusses why you absolutely must dedicate yourself to one path, in order to reach your goals.
Get Fascinated. The third step of the strategy discusses an important shift in your mindset that must take place in your everyday life in order to radically increase your probability of success.
Stick to It. The fourth step focuses on perseverance and staying faithful to the process even when everything goes wrong and you can’t seem to overcome all of the hurdles.
Chapter 2: Step 1 — Start
The Ultimate Focus Strategy starts with choosing a goal or goals that will become the central focus in your life. You want to choose as few goals as possible, because the more goals you chase, the more time it will take you to achieve each one.
If you have any other goals, they take a back seat or fade into the background. You can work on them when you have free time, but never at the expense of your primary goal or goals.
(Smart) Sacrifice Is Necessary
This is the hard truth about the Ultimate Focus Strategy that you must accept: you must make sacrifices in order to develop a powerful focus, and the more you’re willing to sacrifice, the more focused and effective you’ll be. However, your sacrifice has to be smart. You must never sacrifice essential health-related and relationships-related goals. Once lost, health and relationships can be hard or impossible to regain.
Despite setting my priorities, I still wasted the first three years before I made any real progress
How to Set the Right Goal or Goals
The goal or goals you choose to focus on have to be so important that they can transform your life.
When I set a goal to become a successful entrepreneur, it wasn’t just a wish. There was no possible scenario in which I wouldn’t eventually own a profitable business. I was unable to imagine myself working for somebody else.
If you don’t have such a deep conviction and desire for the goal or goals you want to achieve, reconsider them. The entire strategy is based on the assumption that you’ll either eventually make it happen or die trying (and “eventually” here means that you’ll try over and over, even if it’s going to take you decades).
3 Techniques to Have More Clarity About Which Goal to Pursue
What if you have several goals and you’re unsure which ones can wait?
1. Flip a coin
You’ll know which objective is closer to your heart before the coin even lands because you’ll find yourself rooting for it. Pay attention to that inner response that occurs while you’re waiting to see the outcome of the coin toss.
when it comes to setting goals, your gut often knows best.
2. Think about your most important values
For me, one of my top values is personal freedom, hence my goal was to become a successful entrepreneur.
3. You have unusual patience for it
It’s generally easy to assess whether somebody cares about something if one looks at their patience for it.
I can’t count the number of failures I’ve had on my entrepreneurial journey. As painful as they all were, I couldn’t stop and always got back on my feet.
Ambitious or Realistic?
How to Find the Right Motivation
1. Extrinsic Motivation
You might have started your diet because you wanted to have a flat stomach that you could show off at the beach.
Maybe you want to become an entrepreneur because of the status associated with being a CEO of your company, running a startup, or mingling with the powerful and wealthy.
All these things are a manifestation of extrinsic (or external) motivation.
In other words, when you’re doing something primarily because you want to get a reward (often tangible), you’re extrinsically motivated.
Grades in school are a form of extrinsic motivation — you either become motivated positively by good grades (you want to get more of them) or negatively by bad grades (you want to get fewer of them).
You can easily find out if you’re being extrinsically motivated by asking yourself if you’d still work on a given goal if you were the last person on Earth. Would it still matter to you to drive a sports car? To have a lot of money? To have a flat stomach? If not, you’re most likely externally motivated.
While extrinsic motivation is the most common type of motivation, it’s also the most fickle one.
just don’t make it the primary reason why you want to achieve your goals.
2. Intrinsic Motivation
Maybe you started a diet because you wanted to get healthy and feel better about yourself.
Perhaps you’re learning Mandarin Chinese because you love the challenge it poses.
Or perhaps you want to become a great surfer because it’s simply a lot of fun.
This is intrinsic motivation. It’s stronger than extrinsic motivation because it comes from within you, and is not dependent on an external reward or punishment.
Intrinsic motivation is fueled by what you feel inside. It can be a feeling of fun, a desire to overcome a challenge or improve yourself, or the need for independence and control.
British billionaire Richard Branson once said, “My golden rule for business and life is: We should all enjoy what we do and do what we enjoy.”
Like Branson, Musk also believes in enjoyment: “People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”
As Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) said, improvement has no bounds: “It’s clear there is a lot of room for improvement, there’s no inherent ceiling we’re hitting up on.”
3. Prosocial Motivation
If you want to grow your business because you want to support your family, you’re motivated prosocially, for the benefit of your loved ones.
Adam Grant suggests that the desire to help others makes us go the extra mile.
“Employees display higher levels of persistence, performance, and productivity when they experience prosocial and intrinsic motivations in tandem.”
3 Steps to Get Started
1. Should you have a different starting point?
There’s no need to explain that the best way to start is to break your goal down into small steps and take it from there. However, before we discuss how to do that, it’s a good idea to consider whether it would be beneficial to accomplish a different goal before progressing to the goal you now have in your mind.
At the moment that I’m writing this book, I’m also working on a goal of planting a small forest. I didn’t start by buying hundreds of saplings and planting them randomly on a barren plot of land. I set a goal to first educate myself about forestry, and only then — after equipping myself with sufficient theoretical knowledge — embark on the actual journey of designing, planting, and helping the forest grow.
Think deeply about your starting point, and only take it from there once you’re sure it’s the most optimal first step for you.
2. Strip it down
Whenever I set a new goal, I try to strip it down to the one most important piece of advice, action, habit, or skill that is necessary to make it a reality. It’s easy to figure out the common theme if you spend a few hours reading articles dedicated to the subject or addressing good questions to people who know what you need to know from having made the journey themselves.
If you want to build a business, you can spend several lifetimes reading business books and researching potential business models. And while there is substance in making sure you choose the right business model for you, if you have little to no experience with entrepreneurship, your first step should be to sell something — anything — just to get a taste of how making money on your own feels.
The purpose here is to figure out one simple action you can take right now and do it, instead of wasting days or weeks trying to figure out the most appropriate approach. Once you take the first steps, momentum will take care of the rest. If you find yourself in need of changing the strategy, it will be easier to readjust with freshly-gained real-world experience than if you were still stuck, researching theory.
3. Get support
One of the most common reasons why people don’t get started on their personal goals is because they don’t have external pressure and/or guidance.
join online forums dedicated to the goals you’d like to achieve. It can be a fitness forum, a forum for entrepreneurs, a forum about parenting, a forum for travelers, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
How to Transform Goals on Paper into Real-World Actions
The primary reason why people can’t escape it is because dreaming big goals feels good, but actually working on them is overwhelming. You with a perfect six-pack abs? Sure, sounds awesome. You paying attention to your diet every single day for the rest of your life? No, thanks, I’d rather keep dreaming about it.
The best way to handle this problem is to focus on tiny steps and tiny wins.
One move after another, I slowly climb the wall — often despite paralyzing fear.
If you want to make better financial decisions and achieve financial independence, this is not about how many dollars you still need to achieve your number. It’s about what you do today, right here, right now. It’s about producing more than you consume and saving and investing the rest. It’s about not buying that new widget that you don’t need. It’s about educating yourself today — even if it’s a short article about the fundamentals of investing — rather than calculating that it will take you 37.5 years to save your first million.
Doubts and Fears You Might Have at This Point
The only way to deal with a fear of failure is to repeatedly expose yourself to failure so you can get used to it and lose your fear of it.
Allow yourself to start learning something new and be willing to suck at it. I strongly suggest making a fool of yourself periodically, and deliberately making yourself vulnerable
There’s something grounding (pun intended) in falling on your rear end. You can’t hide the fact that you’ve just fallen. It builds humility, and humility is a part of success.
Go and fail now. A repeated exposure to failure will diminish your emotional response to it in all areas of life, making you a more resilient and persistent individual.
Chapter 3: Step 2 — Focus
It’s the most critical component of the UFS and the reason why (after years of going in circles) I finally built a successful business.
No matter how shiny the things on either side of your path may be, you can’t deviate from it. In the end, it’s plain old “trudging on” that will take you to the top of the mountain, not venturing into the bushes to explore all of the possible shortcuts (that rarely exist, anyway).
An entrepreneur won’t build a successful business if they keep writing down business ideas, but never turn them into real-world companies. And while it does take some stumbling and several attempts to find a business that has potential, eventually they have to dedicate themselves to just one venture.
I wasted six years of my life launching one project after another without ever fully committing myself to any of them. I could never launch anything successful because I never dedicated myself to any of those businesses in the long term. I felt they were full-blown businesses, but they were nothing but half-finished projects.
Equipped with a new mindset, I launched my next venture — a self-publishing company — and it became wildly successful. The difference? Encouraged by my previous small success, I vowed to not launch another company until I made this one work — and it has made all the difference in the world. Several bestsellers later, I’m still here, going strong and growing my business, as I should have done with every single business before it.
How to Overcome the Temptation to Deviate From Your Path
As boring as staying on the same path can get, you can’t deviate from it if you want to reach your goal quickly.
When I was in the early stages of building my self-publishing business, I wasn’t entertained all of the time. I didn’t always enjoy writing thousands upon thousands of words every single week. Despite the fact that I enjoy putting my thoughts on paper, I wasn’t always excited by the prospect of writing yet another page, yet another chapter, yet another book. But whether I was excited or not was irrelevant. What was important was my system of writing every single day and putting out books on a regular schedule.
How to Overcome Everyday Distractions
1. Practice mindfulness
For example, when you’re eating, try to focus entirely on the experience of eating instead of reading something on your phone or listening to music and mindlessly putting food in your mouth. Try to discern the different flavors, sense the texture, and smell your food. The goal is to become so consumed by the experience that — even if it’s for only 30 seconds — you don’t think about anything else but your meal.
2. Take up a high-focus sport
individual sports the best choice, simply because the outcome relies entirely on you and your ability to focus.
3. Read and write
[quote, Kurt Vonnegut]
“I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.”
Writing is another side of the same coin, but instead of immersing yourself in the world created by another person, you immerse yourself in the world created by yourself
As with reading, the key is to tune out the world around you, tune in to the world inside of your mind, and focus on putting the words on the page.
4. Be alive
[quote, William Saroyan]
“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
5. Surround yourself with beauty
If you’re hiking in the mountains and you see beautiful scenery, you can’t help but become mesmerized by the view. If you see an attractive person, you can’t take your eyes off of them. If you’re standing in front of a great piece of art, it captures all of your attention.
Everything is new, strange, and stimulating. Is there a better way to practice focus than by putting yourself in a situation that forces you to be present in the moment, all of the time?
7. Be careful how you divide up your day
Work includes your 9 to 5 job or your business, but it also includes working on your self-improvement goals.
Play includes everything else that doesn’t directly affect your growth.
For me, watching TV series in English is almost a sure-fire way to throw myself so far away from the “work” mode that I won’t do anything productive for the rest of the day.
one of the biggest laziness triggers in my life were video games. I stopped playing them many years ago because it was extremely easy for me to start playing a game, but extremely hard to stop playing it, let alone get back to work. To make the matters worse, the laziness-producing effect could linger for more than one day, robbing me of the motivation to work. Consequently, to this day I consider playing video games one of the worst activities one can engage in.