What Are You Focusing On?
Are you working on the right ‘stuff?’
Welcome to 2013! Has the start of this New Year excited you or do you seem to be working harder with little gain? Most of you probably think you fall into the latter group, working harder than ever with very little change. What is the fastest way to get excited for the coming year? Focus. No, really, it’s focus.
Read on to find out how you can accomplish more this year than you thought possible simply by improving your focus. I promise I am not going to ask you to do more every day. It’s a proven fact that you will run out of daylight before you are able to complete the tasks you already want to do, should do, and need to do. You see, I know you are busy and working hard. The real question is: Are you working on the right “stuff?”
Pareto’s Law states that 20 percent of your work produces 80 percent of your income (Would you like to prove this to yourself? Run a report and see what percentage of your customers make up 80 percent of your income. I think it will surprise you).
In the absence of focus, activity fills your day. With focus, you will stop spending time on low-value activities and invest more time in your high-value activities, helping you to do more without adding staff while achieving or exceeding your goals for the year.
Rick’s Rule: “Success doesn’t come to you by keeping busy all day. Success comes to you only when you apply a laser-like focus to those tasks that are critical to meeting your goals.”
How do you create and maintain a laser focus? Simple, you Think, Plan and Do. These three basic steps, when executed well, work together to create exceptional results for you.
Knowing what you want is always your first step. Before you can create a laser focus, you need a destination to focus on. Your destination is what you want to achieve this year. If success were guaranteed, what would you change or improve in your business? Remove any negativity or self-limiting thoughts. The sky is the limit. Have some fun with this.
After you determine your destination, figuring out where you are today is the next step. Remove any emotion, state only the facts and be honest with yourself. The difference between what you want and where you are becomes the “road map” to your destination.
Next, consider two questions before creating your plan:
Understanding why you want a new destination keeps your effort tangible and measurable. When you answer these questions, be specific. If you are looking to make more money, state what you will do with that money. When you think about what happens if you don’t make more money, paint a very real picture of how challenging things currently are. The more positive emotion you can tie to the “why” and the more negative emotion you can tie to the “why not,” the better able you will be to arrive at your destination successfully.
Driving toward your destination can be mundane, boring and/or hard work. You should never change just because something seems cool or trendy; success comes when you implement change for a reason. While the “WHY” stage is often overlooked by many business owners, this step is critical because the stronger your reasoning, the easier it will be to stay motivated long after your initial enthusiasm wears off.
Now that you have clearly defined your destination, you backwards engineer a “SMART” plan. A SMART plan is a plan that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Without these components, your plan is nothing more than a wish or dream. Create three to five benchmarks that you will use to measure progress to your destination.
Can you take advantage of any possible opportunities? Could there be any challenges that may hinder your success? Include additional training or resources you or your employees may need to save you frustration and downtime later.
Once you have your plan and know what benchmarks you are going to measure, “chunk” them down to the smallest daily tasks you need to accomplish in order to execute your plan well. You don’t arrive at your destination with grand gestures; you get to your destination by performing small tasks daily. How do you eat an elephant? You eat an elephant one bite at a time.
Focus on performing the daily tasks that will help you to meet the benchmarks you established, not on the benchmarks themselves. Benchmarks are the ruler you design to measure progress only.
When you focus on the ruler, all you end up with is frustration. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you to help you succeed. You’ve heard the old saying, “Plan the work and work the plan,” haven’t you? This is even truer in today’s unpredictable business climate.
Finally! Now is the time for action. No amount of thinking or planning will accomplish anything without immediate, focused action. This is where the rubber meets the road and where most projects fizzle out. This is where you make sure you are working on the right “stuff.”
Making your new actions habit is the secret to success. Habits are routines you perform so many times you find you do them with very little, if any, conscious thought. By tracking the number of times you performed your daily tasks, you will turn your new routines into desired habits. This is important because you will never arrive at your destination with the same thinking or habits you have now.
With action must come feedback. Be careful you don’t overlook this step when it comes time to execute your plan. Feedback tells you how you are doing so you can calibrate for success. What do you do with that feedback? If your routines are keeping you on pace with your timeline, fantastic! If your routines aren’t giving you the desired result, adjust the routines, not your goals. Don’t get discouraged. Very rarely do things go exactly according to plan. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Be flexible in your actions but firm with your goals.
Lastly, celebrate as much as you can along the way! Don’t wait until you achieve your goals to celebrate. In the beginning, celebrate correct behavior. Later on, celebrate improvements. I have found that too many in our industry have an all-or-nothing approach to celebrating. Celebrations are vitally important in reinforcing your new routines, keeping morale high and sustaining momentum. Don’t be stingy!
In closing, if you retain nothing else, remember to focus on these four things:
Maintaing a laser focus will keep you performing the correct tasks daily, making adjustments as needed and achieving your goal. To the people around you, you will seem to be on fire, getting you what you want and where you want to be quickly and effectively.
Now that you have a firm understanding of how focus works, it’s your turn to make focus work for you.
If you would like additional guidance and worksheets to help you maintain your focus this year, email info@180 biz.com with “Focus” in the subject line and we will get them right out to you. May this coming year be one filled with growth and prosperity for you and your business. Happy New Year!
Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series of management articles that are contributed to AutoInc. by Automotive Management Institute (AMI) instructors. In 2013, AMI’s knowledgeable instructors will continue covering a variety of topics designed to educate and train today’s service and repair professional in AutoInc. To learn more about AMI, its courses and instructors, visit www.AMIonline.org. AMI administers the distinguished Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) Program.
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