The Importance of Focusing on Your One Thing

I recently finished reading Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing. It’s one of those books I wish I would have read years ago. I would have saved me a lot of time, energy, and mistakes.

The basic premise of The One Thing is this: of all the activities we engage in on a daily basis, there is one thing that will impact our lives more than the rest. We should invest our time and energy in that action rather than spreading ourselves too thin doing other stuff that doesn’t matter. If you’ve been following us for a while, that should sound familiar. 

We fool ourselves into thinking that busy is the same as productive. That’s not the case. Busy is tiring. Productive moves us forward toward our purpose and happiness.

Early in The One Thing, Mr Keller gives his “Big Ideas” on priorities. They are:

  1. Go small. Don’t focus on being busy; focus on being productive. Allow what matters most to drive your day.
  2. Go extreme. Once you’ve figured out what actually matters, keep asking what matters most until there is only one thing left. That core activity goes at the top of your success list.
  3. Say no. Whether you say “later” or “never,” the point is to say “not now” to anything else you could do until your most important work is done.
  4. Don’t get trapped in the “check-off” game. If we believe things don’t matter equally, we must act accordingly. We can’t fall prey to the notion that everything has to be done, that checking things off our list is what success is all about. We can’t be trapped in a game of “check off” that never produces a winner. The truth is that things don’t matter equally and success is found in doing what matters most.

So many of us feel accomplished by the amount of work we do, not the quality of it. That’s the wrong way to work.

We work eight to twelve hours a day just to be in the same place tomorrow. What if you could work 4 hours today, be closer to improving your life, and be done? You’d be free to relax, enjoy time with friends, exercise, or pick up that hobby you’ve always wanted. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Impossible, right?

Maybe you’d feel guilty and have to pick up some busy work because the people around you are slaving away and you can’t be seen lounging around.

If you really want to change your life, those preconceived notions have to go in the trash bin.

You don’t want to be the same as everyone else. You don’t want to be exhausted every day. You don’t want to wake up one day and ask, “Where did the time go?” You certainly don’t want to be at the end, looking back, regretting not doing the important things.

But you’re too busy and can’t change.

If you are overwhelmed now, doing the same thing, or worse, doing MORE won’t make things better. You need to do things differently.

You need to begin connecting your daily actions with where you want to be in life. You can do it slowly. Small steps now can lead to life changing results in five years.

That means:

  1. Exploring your purpose and life goals.
  2. Reviewing your daily actions to ensure they line up with the direction you want to go.
  3. Setting your intentions each morning by scheduling priorities that lead to your milestones and goals.

By following this process, you can begin to change your life in a way that gives you more time to accomplish big things while having more opportunity to do what you love. What’s your One Thing?