Zoom in on Your Goals – How to Focus on One Thing at a Time

“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.” – Zig Ziglar

Have you ever experienced the frazzled feeling of having too many projects on the go? You feel like the Energizer bunny jumping from one project to the next without focusing on any of one of them long enough to make real progress.

I’ve been there many times. In March, I was trying to write a Parenting blog, master Pinterest, build a website, and edit a children’s novel at the same time. Needless to say, I didn’t create the momentum needed to move any of these projects forward. When you’re trying to do too much, you end up accomplishing too little.

When our local school closed and my children came home for the shelter in place orders, I had to reassess my goals. I asked myself what I could realistically accomplish in the one hour before they woke up because that was all the ‘alone’ time I had.

The result? I let go of my blog, my intention to master a new social media platform, and my dreams of building my own successful website. Instead, I chose one focus – my children’s novel. By consistently editing one chapter a day for four months I accomplished more in less time. I finally felt the satisfaction of giving my novel my full attention and actually reaching the next stage of novel development.

Are your trying to fit too many things into your camera frame? Is the result a cluttered, overwhelming mess?

If so, it’s time to take a good look at all the objects you’re trying to capture and choose one. Zoom in on one goal for a set period of time.

What will you choose? What will you accomplish as a result?

How do you focus on only one thing at a time? You must learn to let go, claim your time, narrow your focus, and measure your progress.

Learn To Let Go

“Focus is a matter of deciding what thing you’re not going to do.” – John Karmack

The first thing I had to do to focus on my novel was to let go of my daily ‘to-do’ list. I was continually migrating tasks from one day to the next as a result of my bullet journal enthusiasm. I forgot the part about crossing out things that aren’t essential.

“To-do lists tend to be long, success lists are short. One pulls you in all directions; the other aims you in a specific direction. . . If your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere but where you really want to go.” – Gary Keller

Let the truth of these words sink in. Do you have a really long ‘to-do’ list? Try instead to write a daily success list with one to three small actions. Finish these before you tackle your ‘to-do’ list items and only focus on the essentials – like grocery shopping.

Also, take a hard look at your projects and commitments.

  • Which projects and commitments are necessary to move you forward?
  • Which ones can wait?
  • Which ones can you eliminate or delegate?

Learn to let go of your long ‘to-do list’ and prioritize your success list. Take small, incremental action to see big results.

Claim Your Time

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hours a day.” – Zig Ziglar

Take stock of how much time you actually have to work on your success list. Be realistic. If it’s only an hour every morning, claim that time for the most important item on your success list. You won’t accomplish anything if you plan for more time than you have.

Allow for the unexpected distractions. I’m great at assuming I have more time that I really do. Allow for your child needing you to tuck them back into bed, multiple times. Keep your daily goal so small you’ll still manage to complete it and feel good even if your cat meows to be fed.

Choose one action that’s not too overwhelming to realistically complete in the time you have.

If we take our photography metaphor even further, ask yourself – When is the best time of day to take your picture? Make sure you have your camera and equipment set up ahead of time so you don’t miss the opportunity.

Have you chosen the optimal time to work on your goal? Is everything set up and prepared so there are no obstacles in the way when the time comes?

Narrow Your Focus

“Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus. . . you need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things for side effects.” – Gary Keller

Focus on your subject. How will you get the best out of it?

Set small, sharp goals that will make the deepest cuts in the shortest amount of time. If your purpose is too big your brain will flutter around from one task to another like a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next.

How do know which goal to focus on?

Which goal gets you excited, uplifts you, and brings you joy when you make progress?

Which goal stretches you and helps you grow as a person?

Which one takes you out of your comfort zone and helps you level up in life?

If you want to move forward, narrow your focus.

Measure Your Progress

measuring tape beside a bowl of strawberries

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee

How many times have you focused on the most important item on your success list. Are you working on this one thing consistently every day?

Decide how you’ll measure progress each day. Keep it small.

If I’m writing a blog post, one day might be dedicated to research and the ideas it triggers. That may be the only thing I accomplish that day, but each idea is a potential seed to plant for amazing growth. The research enhances and focuses my writing. It may even lead me in a new improved direction. You can’t cut corners here. Celebrate and enjoy your research day. Don’t ruin in by expecting yourself to research and write all in a short period of time. Dig deep and plant your seed in fertile soil.

My next small goal may be making an outline, choosing an opening story and coming up with catchy subheadings. Again, this may take one entire writing session, but taking the time to plant your seed in the right conditions will give it more of a chance to bear fruit.

Finally, I may write my first draft and fill in the content under each subheading. I celebrate this small action before I begin to edit.

How will you measure progress toward your focused goal?

People who track their goals make more progress.

Do you have an accountability partner or a tracking system? Have you made your goal public or shared it with a trusted friend or family member?

Find a way to keep yourself on track by measuring and celebrating your progress each day.


“The highest expression of photography is to make the whole image deliberate and intentional – capturing the world in such a way that your vision and emotion are seamlessly conveyed to a viewer. If anything in your image looks unnecessary, or it distracts from your goal for the photo, you aren’t making the most of the scene.” – Spencer Cox, PhotographyLife

If you want to take a powerful picture, you must learn to make the most of your scene by having a deliberate, intentional vision. If you want to move forward in life you must also have a deliberate, intentional vision. If you want to zoom in on your goal you must:

  • Learn to let go
  • Claim your time
  • Narrow your focus
  • Measure your progress

Learn to focus on one thing at a time to create and build on momentum. Let go of everything else. Claim time in your day to work on your vision. Narrow your focus and don’t let yourself get distracted from your purpose. Write down exciting ideas and save them for later, but keep focused on your target. Measure your progress every step of the way. When you do, you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.

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