5 Steps to FOCUS (Follow One Commitment Until Successful)
One of my favorite ways to stay motivated is to browse the AWAI Wall of Fame, where I find page after page of inspiring stories and real-world success tips. One of the most valuable is this piece of advice that I first heard from Rachel Karl, “F-O-C-U-S: Follow One Course Until Successful.”
I remember reading her Wall of Fame entry back in 2012, just before I left my job to launch my freelance web-writing business. Over the next year, this phrase became my guiding thought and affirmation.
Anytime I felt down or discouraged, I would remind myself, “Christina, just follow one course until successful. You’ll get there.” (I especially like the use of the word “until,” because it implies that success is assured.)
Yet, in coaching sessions with aspiring copywriters, I’ve noticed an issue with this acronym. The word “course” seems to allow too much “wiggle room.”
You see, a “course” (whether it’s a direction you’re heading or a plan of study) is something you can change at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. A course can be put on a shelf and forgotten. A course can be replaced by a better, newer, shinier course …
I can’t tell you how often I hear from aspiring writers who are thinking about throwing away months of hard work in one area of study to chase a new course, path, or niche. It often results in a lack of momentum and motivation, instead of pushing them forward.
After witnessing this vicious cycle multiple times, I was inspired to start sharing a new meaning for the FOCUS acronym …
Follow One Commitment Until Successful
A commitment is serious. It requires more thoughtful planning. The very act of committing alone will shift your mindset and make you more likely to succeed.
According to Edwin A. Locke, an American psychologist and a pioneer in goal-setting theory, “The goal-performance relationship is strongest when people are committed to their goals.”
Or, like Ed Gandia recently shared on Facebook, “‘Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.’ — William Hutchinson Murray.”
I have more examples, but my point is committing to your goals is the key to achieving them. So, now the question becomes, “How?”
Here are 5 steps to renew and maintain your commitment:
1. Figure out your FOCUS.
If you’re just getting started, zero in on one goal — like launching your website in the next 30 days. Or, maybe commit to focusing on a particular niche (ignoring all temptation to switch to a new one for the next 90 days). Or, perhaps make a commitment to cold-call 10 new leads each week for the next month.
As Mark Ford (under his pen name, Michael Masterson) wrote in his book, The Pledge, “You can spend your whole life dreaming. And dreams are wonderful things. By all means, dream away. But if you want to turn those dreams into reality, you need to transform them into goals.”
Whatever your goal, remember to make it SMART — Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Oriented. (Go here to check out Rebecca Matter’s article on setting SMART Goals.)
2. Write it down.
Treat your goal like any other commitment. When you finance a new car, you commit to paying for it by signing the loan documents. Then, you’re reminded every month (if not every day while you drive it) to fulfill your commitment. If you commit to a spouse, you sign a marriage license and wear a ring to symbolize that commitment.
It’s the same for every major change in your life: buying a house, going to college, starting a new job. They all require a commitment to ensure you’ll follow through.
3. Review your goals — and recommit — daily.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Well, that’s how I am with goals. I always start out with the best intentions, but unless I review my goal every day and the steps I’ve outlined to achieve it, I’ll forget to keep taking action. Within a few weeks, I’ll find myself spread too thin and buried in projects that don’t match my goals.
To solve this, I started an Evernote called, “Today.” This note lists my goal and its action plan. It reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing — my reason for focusing — and it walks me through the first few actions of the day. This helps me gain momentum without using any creative power.
By spending just a few minutes each morning reviewing your goal, you’ll keep it fresh in your mind. This will allow you to quickly sift through opportunities as they come along. Grab the ones that get you closer to your goal and politely decline distractions.
4. Schedule it.
Once you know your goal, make time to work on it. Maybe you only have 30 minutes or an hour each day, and that’s okay. Anything is better than nothing.
Set that time aside by scheduling it in your calendar. Get into this habit ASAP. If you don’t have a calendar for tasks and projects, it’s time to get one. As a web writer, you’ll have client appointments, deadlines, and more to keep track of. I prefer Google Calendar, and it’s free.
Once you set this appointment with yourself, guard that time as if your success depends on it. Because it does! And remember, this is a commitment, just like any other. You wouldn’t skip out on your car payment, mortgage, or spouse — so don’t do it to yourself.
5. Take action!
Day after day, week after week, if you take action toward your commitment, you will be successful. If procrastination pops up when it’s time to work on your business, go easy on yourself. It happens to us all. Take a step back and think about what’s distracting you.
Maybe it’s a certain type of music, too much caffeine (or not enough), or trying to multitask. Maybe it’s an email or a Facebook alert. Whatever it is, eliminate it. If it’s something you can’t stop thinking about — brain dump it. Spend three minutes freeing your mind and then focus 100% on your goal-related tasks. You’ll get more done in less time, and then you can go back to doing what you enjoy, guilt-free!
This may seem like a lot … and it is. Building a freelance writing business is a serious endeavor that requires a long-term commitment. But, you only need to do one tiny thing today: COMMIT to one specific goal.
Then, if you want a step-by-step guide to follow, check out the Wealthy Web Writer Roadmap Tutorials. They’ll walk you through building your business, launching your website, and more.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments! What are you committing to? What would you add to my steps above? Let’s talk about it in the comments below …
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