Why Opportunity is Stealing our Time, Focus and Energy

12 Apr
2010

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Thomas Hawk

Nobody can argue against the amount of opportunity we have in this day and age. Particularly in our industry, the internet, there are so many potential lives we could lead that we can literally be anybody we want to be.

There lies the problem. Who do you want to be?

Would you like to be a famous and respected blogger? A drop shipper, selling the latest products from China all around the world? A PPC expert making money from all the affiliate networks? Or perhaps you would like to dominate the latest porn niche?

As I will explore in this article, I don’t believe it is what you choose that matters – more the fact that you do choose it.

Why can choice be bad?

In generations passed choices were limited. If you had access to a guitar, a grand piano or a football and some friends the chances are you would spend a lot of time doing that. To pass the boredom. You would be more likely to master it, to stick with it and make something useful of it.

In our generation, you can have a guitar if you want. Next week you can get access to a grand piano. At the weekend you can play a game of football, see the latest film, play the latest video game and so on. Do you ever get bored anymore? Your time and attention is split between so many things, how could we expect to master one of them?

Despite this, it does happen and it just requires discipline. In this instance you need to pick your field, pick it early and stick with it.

Are there any quick wins anymore?

In my opinion, there have never been any quick wins. I believe in luck… and let me explain what I mean by that.

I am in no way disregarding that it requires talent to achieve something good. It is essential. What I am saying is that many people have the talent it takes to start a software company, become a professional athlete or run a successful website. I believe there are many brilliant people who aren’t achieving what they are capable of and some that do.

The difference is timing or as I prefer, the luck factor.

In the excellent book outliers by Malcom Gladwell, this point is made very well and includes great examples such as Bill Gates (who was lucky enough to have programming access on a computer at the right time – just before the home computer revolution took off) and the hockey players who have statistically more chance of making professional if they are born in January (because try out cut off dates meaning they are older and stronger than players born in December).

Luck is not all you need, but it is a big factor.

How do you get lucky? Become the best you can be in your area. Don’t take on too much and when that opportunity comes along you will be ready.

How does this relate to internet businesses?

In our industry, there are an unlimited amount of opportunities. Every week there is a new tool, a new ebook, a new technique, a new script or a new research method that can make us millions. All of these opportunities have something in common – they give you the impression that making money is easy. Just follow these 5 simple steps and you could earn $1000 a day.

Lawyers call this technique “papering”. A typical web professional has so much information, potential opportunities and even blogs to read telling you about all this stuff that they have less time to actually do something. Lawyers will do this to each other during cases so that they have to spend more time (and money) on sorting out the latest letters, procedures etc.

Don’t let anyone steal your focus or steal your time.

As any web professional worth their salt (and not actively trying to sell you something) will tell you that you have to work hard to achieve success. I would like to add to this and say you need to work honestly.

Yes there are many of the blackhat crowd making a living by creating intriguing Facebook groups that require you to sign up to something or gaming the search engines with the latest trick, but it is not a predictable or stable path to follow. If your going down that path, your reading at the wrong place.

Don’t be tempted by the latest tricks. Don’t let anyone distract your focus. Have a great game plan, have 100% confidence in your plan and have 100% stubborn focus to see that plan through.

Are you a jack of all trades?

… and a master of none? If your skills are in marketing, why do you need to know how to code HTML? Focus on what is important and what you are good at. Do this throughout your life and accept the things that you just don’t have the time to fit into your life.

Committing to doing something is actually a very expensive thing to do. If you start down the path of learning a new language you are giving yourself less time to do other things – see your family, play football or finish that latest project. Analyse your life constantly and don’t take on any new hobbies or commitments unless you are 100% sure it will benefit you and fit in your life.

The most successful people are absolute masters of one thing, and know little about other things. As Seth Godin points out in his excellent book “All Marketers are Liars“, a frog can catch a living fly but not a dead one. It is an absolute master at catching flies with their tongue as that is all they are made for. Be the frog; find your skill and make it better.

If you are doing something, do it properly

My dad always said “if your going to do a job, do it properly” and I always try to remember this in my life. If you are going to start learning a new language make sure you do it to the best of your abilities. If you can’t, just don’t do it yet.

This applies to all areas of our life and business. Don’t start a new website unless your sure you can do it the best you can. I would make a guess that 80% of the internet is half finished projects, or projects that don’t get the time they need. Imagine what we could do with all that half effort and add it up to a full effort.

Do less, do more

Try doing less. Stop trying to read a book every week. Have less friends. Work on less projects.

What will happen? You will feel like you got more done. The books you read, you will read properly and take value from. You will have better friends and you will be a better friend. The projects you do work on will be more successful.

Was it worth it? Is it worth it?

Are you getting anything from the book your reading? If not, drop it. Are you losing weight at the gym? Try a class instead. Do you check your emails every day? Try every other day.

Don’t take anything for granted in your life. There are many ways were we can cut down on the things we are doing, the time we are spending and the effort that we are wasting. Take some inspiration from places like Life Hacker and optimise your life.

How else can you stay focused and own your time?

  • Drop wrong opportunities quickly – don’t throw good time after bad
  • Plan your projects, set goals and stick to them
  • Review your goals and processes regularly (I recommend every week) – are you on track? Can you put any projects on hold
  • “How do you eat an elephant” – one piece at a time. Keep faith in the big tasks by splitting them into manageable chunks
  • Be aware of priority – don’t let anything jump the queue unless it benefits you
  • For those things you want to do, but can’t right now – put them on a list. Keep them safe and review often. But don’t do them until you can give them 100%
  • Put all projects on hold, move them off main lists

Thank you for reading – I hope this inspires you to achieve more and make more fantastic contributions to this world. If you have any other tips, comments or questions comment below!

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