What’s the ONE thing that will move you in the direction of your goals today? If your inclination is to say, “I’m going to do LOTS of things today to help me do that!” then you’re probably unaware of the power of focusing on the few. For most of us, focus is what we are often lacking the most.
In fact, even using the word “few” may be a few too many! Let me explain.
Years ago (1906 to be exact), an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto came up with a concept that you’ve probably heard of. Not surprisingly, this principle is known as the “Pareto Principle” (although you’ve probably heard of it as the 80/20 Rule). Here’s what it states:
“80% of the output in a situation is derived by 20% of the input”.
What Pareto found was that 80% of the wealth in Italy was in the hands of about 20% of the people. As word of Pareto’s Principle spread, other people began to notice that the same principle was at work in other areas of life and business as well.
So what does this have to do with you? Everything!
Create a “Success List” Instead
Most of us believe that busyness translates into productivity and results. But its rarely true. When you really look closely at the things that helped you reach a particular goal, it is usually the result of a handful (or less) of key things that you’ve consistently done.
Think about your “To-Do Lists” for each day.
Most of us begin to list as many things as possible that we want to do that day to help us feel like we accomplished something big. By seeing lots of things on the list, it makes us feel as if we’re really getting things done. After all, getting things done is the goal, right?
Not really. Sorry/Not Sorry.
Try this instead.
Instead of a “To-Do” List, I want you to create a “Success List” (as Gary Keller calls it in his book, aptly titled The One Thing and where I borrowed the ideas for this blog post). Here’s what Gary suggests you do (and I agree!):
Start with your “To-Do” List and write down all of the things that you want or need to do today. Once you have that, put a letter next to each thing on your list. The letter “M” for “MUST DO” and the letter “S” for “SHOULD DO”. Next, simply create a new list that only includes the “Musts”. You have now successfully created your first “Success List”! Way to go! You have already greatly improved the odds of having a more successful day.
But you’re not done yet.
Remember, the key is focus. Extreme focus! Pareto’s Principle is in full effect here. You see, the vast majority of your success (i.e 80% of your results) comes from a few (20% of your to-do list) focused things that you consistently do. It is not from a full list, but a list of only a few, crucial things that you find the majority of your success comes from each day. (You may want to re-read that last sentence! It’s a good one!)
Moving your full list of “Shoulds” to a smaller list of “Musts” is a great start. But there’s one more thing that will really help propel you forward. You may have already guessed it. It’s the last step.
ONE Thing. That’s It!
Now, look at your “Success List” one more time. Its full of only “Musts”. That’s good. Now look at it closer and ask yourself, “If I only had time to do just ONE of these things to help me produce the best results today, what would it be?” Pick that ONE thing and move it to a new list all by itself. You have now put the Pareto Principle into extreme focus mode and have found the secret to really moving your goals forward! Now do this ONE thing with the best energy and focus you can. If you finish that and have more time, go back to your “Success List” and ask the question again and pick the next best ONE thing!
Try it and see what you think! What are the challenges you face with narrowing your focus to only ONE thing? What are the benefits? I’d love hear! Please comment or share your thoughts on my Facebook Page or Twitter and use the hashtag #onething.