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12 Ways to Remain Focused In 2021


The last time a year was as closely anticipated was the 1999 to 2000 cross-over. When we honestly believed our cars would fly, honestly believed moon travel en masse would be in vogue, brain chips would be available around the corner, aliens may finally make open contact and talking robots would be our personal home servants. The Spielberg year!

Fast forward to 20 years later, 2020/2021 and a lot of that stuff has come to pass, though not in the highly glamourized way Hollywood had accustomed us to believe. Cars are traveling faster than ever - the fastest commercially available car, the Koenigsegg Agera RS (?) hits speeds of close to 500km/ph and while that is not exactly an airplane, one could still argue that at that speed on a road you are as good as flying. And do not get me started on brain chips and servant robots. These already abound.

So while the year 2000 was looked at as a year of human triumph and science-fiction realised, 2021 in contrast is viewed as an escape year: escape from 2020, a year riddled with celebrity deaths, global pandemics, economic upheavals, job losses, and a general feeling of hopelessness. Thus humanity defiantly looks to 2021 as the saviour from 2020, what in Latin would be referred to as the annus horribilis or horrible year.

But what about YOU? Yes, YOU reading this.

How are YOU holding up? What are YOUR plans for the new year? Another year, more resolutions to abuse? Why should this year be different? Just because it is not 2020? Will it be any different from last year, save for the fact that we all hope it is less dramatic?

No doubt you too may be caught up in the new year euphoria, the this-is-my-year euphoria.

And all around you, many human beings feel the same so we honestly cannot be all wrong, right? Right?

If your desire is just to be grateful in a year that is less painful than last year and that fully captures your aspirations for 2021, I am fully down with that. Peace of mind is the most important thing one can hope for.

If on the other hand you have your success path all figured out and you know without a shadow of a doubt, beyond just peace of mind, you will 'own' this year and finally start ticking off goal items long suspended in the land of procrastination, I can be fully down with that too.

Or you may be a hybrid of both, optimistic and also raring to make 2021 your turn-around ( oh, how I hate those words! ) year but somehow, somehow you are not quite sure how to ensure you stay on the new year resolution track this time around, you are not quite sure how you will remain FOCUSED.

Now, I was rummaging through my old notes and came upon a talk Jim Rohn ( entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker) gave in the 60s and it was quite simply one of the most basic, yet powerful talks on keeping relentless focus in uncertain times. I think they can be of some help.

Here are some snippets:



1. Do the MAJOR things in the 'presence of'

Or looked at another way, focus on actually delivering on what you said you would deliver on, fully in the present. Do not over analyse and plan and write and read, without actually going out and doing stuff this year. The time for planning is done. Now it is time to do, not just say.

2. Do not mistake MOVEMENT for ACHIEVEMENT

It is very easy for us to get caught up in meetings and training and conferences, whilst confusing that for actual work.

Just because you are exerting yourself mentally and surrounding yourself with influential people, does not necessarily mean you are progressing in life. Progress comes from action. The action here being the daily activities you undertake towards a massive SMART action that ultimately leads to the completion of a pre-planned goal. It is structured, more often singular, and definitely an individual undertaking. Avoid being BBB: Busy But Broke.

3. Do not mistake COURTESY for CONSENT

If you are in business, do not take the kindness of prospective customers as their commitment to purchase from you. This is especially true for those in sales. The deal is not over until it is over.

The moral here is that you need to see through your sales funnel and focus on effective keep-in-touch strategies with your niche market with a view to bagging the client. Just because the year 'feels good', doesn't mean everything will work out the way you expect.

4. Concentration: Get to work when you get to work

You want to be a top employee this year, or employer of choice, or an influential entrepreneur or start-up pioneer. A few things may have to change then.

You cannot afford to be the chummy, buddy person at the office. The perennial office joker and a ray of sunshine in a formal environment. It may sound old school to focus fully on work at the office, but the reality is that hard work is based on relentless focus, and mixing in a cordial or relaxed manner in an office setting can mitigate the necessary drive required for you to make 2021 different for you.

5. Learn to say NO

It is very easy for us to put up that meme or

Whatsapp status talking about cutting toxic people from our lives but the reality is managing your time and managing the people in your life is most effectively done by learning how to say NO. No to unplanned and unproductive meetings, no to stuff you know you do not have the capacity to deliver on, no to people infringing on your personal time, no to ideologies being forced upon you, no, no no.

A lot of us fear saying no because we fear hurting others in the process. Ironically we always end up hurting them eventually when we crack and tell them how we really feel about them. Saying NO is an effective way of managing overwhelm and subsequent anxiety in your life.

Still find it hard to use the actual word 'No'? How about, 'I don't think so'?

6. Know that all work is good

You may hate your job and not even have a passion for it but know that all work is good.

Do your work with passion even if you do not have a passion for it. That is the real success. You are learning and developing skills to help you in the next phase of your life. Sometimes the job you do not like is the stepping stone to helping you get the job you are most passionate about.

7. Analyse yourself, know your weaknesses and cover them

Be open to learning, and later on accepting, when you are not quite good at something.

Where possible outsource what you are not good at, to an expert or someone more effective at the job than you. This is your year of effectiveness, not self-defeating pretense.

8. Beware of the telephone and all other systems of communication

Be aware of meaningless distractions this year. Have the right focus on the right items.

Quit getting lost on your mobile phone and computer, pursuing the daily dopamine fix from likes, follows, and the latest online gossip. To get different results this year, you will need to cultivate different habits. Now, mobile phones are crucial in today's World but the challenge here is to control the phone and not let it control you.

Communication systems should serve you but not intrude into your space. You need to have a part of your life that is so sacred and valuable that nobody can reach you once in, not even through social media.

9. Read all the books

Every single thing that you may have wanted to be or any person you may have wanted to become, every single place you may have wanted to visit - real or imagined; the chances are highly likely that a book has been written on the same.

How do you change your thought process permanently or significantly? Through experience, training, or reading. Reading was and still is the singular, most powerful way of changing your life.

Remember though, knowledge + application = power. Apply what you read.

10. Be more alert to things that 'steal' your time

Let people steal bits of your 'casual time' if they must, the time you spend relaxing, they can have bits of that. What you definitely cannot let people have access to though is your 'crucial time', your self-development time, your hustle and grind time. Those are sacred.

11. Ask questions upfront, save time and solve problems faster

This year do not shy from being authentic and upfront with your requests.

That is one way of developing focus and more importantly saving time because your intentions are clear from the get-go to your audience. Be direct and clear about what you seek.

This seems simple enough, in fact, so simple one would think it doesn't warrant being written down in a blog post but how many people do this, honestly?

12. Learn to think on paper

All those beautiful, crazy, creative thoughts that come to your head? Write them down. Write them down before they evaporate. Write them down and elaborate on them and expound on them.

Here are some useful ways of thinking on paper this year:

- GOALS: write down your goals for 2021

- STICKIES: brainstorm and solve problems on paper

- DAY PLANNERS: keep track of all your plans for the day

- FILE SYSTEM: get a loose binder or file and track your projects to closure

- JOURNALING: buy a journal and write down your thoughts and good ideas

- NOTEBOOKS: get a notebook and develop action items for managing items hanging from 2020

When you are well on making 2021 one of your best years yet, there will be 3 powerful gifts you will have of that moment:

- one: your pictures, which will be frozen moments in time that will serve as inspiration for many

- secondly: the books that helped you through business, entrepreneur life, employment season, family growth, health, and tough times. The books you leave behind will be more important than your furniture

- and finally, your journal and notes: will not only serve as powerful reminders to those that follow you, on the possibility of overcoming insurmountable odds, but they will also more importantly detail HOW you overcome those odds.

Here's to YOUR year!

The author, Jan Okonji is an entrepreneur, speaker, coach, and Founder of the Pan-African accelerator BGS – Business Growth Solutions.

Jan is passionate about helping employees transition safely into entrepreneurship whilst turning their great ideas into profitable businesses and has helped entrepreneurs collectively grow their revenue to over $ 10 Million in the course of running BGS.

Get in touch with him and book a personal session HERE

1 Comment

Daphine Okonji
Daphine Okonji
Jan 04, 2021

"The Books you leave behind will be more important than your furniture".... let's leave legacies for our children and not focus on leaving them material stuff! Lovely article Jan!

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