I don’t normally watch much TV, but during the holiday break I binge-watched the entire first season of Master of None on Netflix.
(This is only the third show I’ve ever binge-watched like this. The other two being Mad Men and House of Cards, in case you were wondering.)
I wasn’t a big fan of Aziz Ansari previously—mainly because I couldn’t stand his whiny voice—but this show is hilarious.
Each episode touches on different “first world problems” faced by millennials in modern society, and the season finale touches on what I believe is perhaps the biggest struggle our generation faces today…
An Abundance Of Choice
The season finale episode begins with the main character, Dev (Aziz Ansari), trying to decide what to eat for lunch.
After settling on tacos, he spends half an hour on Yelp and Google trying to find where to get the best tacos. Once he finally finds the place with the best tacos, he struggles to decide which of the best tacos is the best of the best tacos. Eventually he decides on carnitas, but by the time he finally places his order, he finds out that they are all sold out.
I was cracking up during this whole scene, especially the Yelp bit, because I do this all the time. Yelp is supposed to make it easier to find a place to eat, but more often than not, it ends up making it more difficult because there are so many options to choose from.
While choosing where to eat lunch is obviously a trivial decision, this is just one example of the bigger issue we are faced with today — the difficulty, yet necessity, of making choices in a world with too many options.
Thanks to the Internet, with so much information available at our fingerpints at any given moment, we never want to settle for anything less than the best. The best tacos, the best university, the best career, etc…
There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best. After all, this entire site is about helping you become the best version of yourself. I believe that you should always strive for the best, because why should you settle for anything less?
However, the problem arises when your desire for the best prevents you from making decisions and moving on with your life.
Don’t Be A Donkey
I heard a great story from Derek Sivers (in this podcast he did with Tim Ferriss — one of the best podcasts I’ve ever listened to) that goes like this:
There’s a donkey standing halfway between a pile of hay and bucket of water.
He looks left to the hay, then right to the water, trying to decide…
Hay?… Or water?… Hay?… Or water?
Unable to decide, he eventually falls over and dies of both hunger and thirst.
The problem most of us face, is that we want to do everything, all at once. We want to start a blog, learn how to play the guitar, and get in shape. All by the end of this week.
But, as demonstrated by the donkey story, if you try to pursue many different directions at once, you won’t make progress in any of them.
The solution is to think long-term.
Think Long-Term & Pick One Direction At A Time
The point of the donkey story is that a donkey can’t think of the future. If he could, he’d realize he could just go drink the water first, and then eat the hay after.
Similarly, you CAN do everything you want to do. But, not in parallel. Not all at once.
If you’re a chronic over-thinker like myself, you probably put an unnecessary amount of pressure on yourself when you have to make a decision, regardless of how big or small that decision may be. It can be frustrating to be forced to pick one thing.
But, this frustration is a result of short-term thinking. Just because you have to pick one thing right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t get to the other ones later.
The value of long-term thinking is that it allows you to fully focus on one direction at the time without feeling conflicted or distracted because you know you can get to the others in the future.
Without this focus, you’ll always be bouncing back and forth between different directions, never making much progress before giving up and deciding to pursue another direction. Or, you’ll constantly be questioning whether or not you’re going in the “right” direction, and then feeling stuck because you’re too scared to commit to a new direction.
But life is a mental game and those who can focus—those who can control their focus—are the ones who win.
That’s why this year I want to focus on, well, FOCUS.
Welcome To The Year Of Focus
Last year, I announced the theme for 2015 to be the year of courage.
This year, instead of trying to do a million things all at once, let’s have the courage to focus on one direction at a time.
Here are the three most important things I think you have to do to stay focused.
1. Figure out what you want out of life.
I know this sounds cliché, but figuring out what’s important to you, what makes you happy, and ultimately, who you want to be in this world, is the most important thing of all. It’s hard to stick to a direction if it doesn’t align with your life vision.
If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, this 5 minute exercise might change your life.
2. Never stop fine-tuning your mindset.
Whatever your brain focuses on becomes your reality.
That’s why your happiness, for example, isn’t dependent on how much good you have in your life vs, how much bad you have in your life. It’s dependent on how much time you spend focused on the good vs. how much time you spend focused on the bad.
If you’re not in control of what you’re brain is focused on, then you’re not in control of your reality.
The challenging part is being able to recognize the bad, but then immediately shifting your focus towards improving the situation, rather than just wasting your mental energy dwelling on the bad.
Learn to recognize when your mind starts going off on a negative tangent, and develop the mental strength to re-shift your focus to the present. Don’t let small setbacks throw you off track. Always do whatever is best for the future in the current situation, regardless of what has happened in the past.
3. Build good habits.
I’ve written a lot about mindset recently, and while mindset is extremely important (and I will continue to write about mindset, because it is so important), habits are the true drivers of lasting change and long-term success. Habits are what will physically transform you into the person you want to become.
That’s why this year I plan on writing more about the different habits that I will be experimenting with in my life. Some habits I plan on building (or continuing to build) this year are:
- Reading every day
- Journaling every day
- Working out 3 times a week
- Meditating every day
Which brings me to some exciting news…
My New 30 Day Challenge: Meditation
It’s been a while since I’ve done a 30 day challenge, but I’m very excited for this one.
I’ve meditated before, but never consistently. So, beginning on January 2nd I will try my very best to meditate every day for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, I will write about my experience and determine whether it’s worth setting aside 10 minutes a day to sit and literally do nothing, or if it’s something that I can benefit from doing just once a week, or perhaps even less frequently than that.
If you want to join me in this 30 meditation challenge, let me know in the comments below. If you want to wait it out and see how it goes for me, stay tuned.
UPDATE: You can read about the results of my 30 day mediation challenge here.
But, I have a question for you…
What are you going to focus on this year?
Remember, don’t be a donkey. Tell me two things:
- What are you going to focus on this year?
- What’s one habit you plan on building to help you stay focused?