Three Strategies to Stay Focused

Three success steps

Staying focused during covid has been an ongoing challenge for most of us. We now have more than 8 million Americans who’ve contracted covid, with more than 220,000 deaths and 60,000 people per day being diagnosed. The impact on small businesses and the economy is horrible. Projections show that things will get worse before they get better.

If you’re like me, covid isn’t your only stressor. During the past week both of my parents had surgery and my dad remains in the hospital. I’ve been anxiously waiting for updates and felt very little like working.

Crying over onions … and thread …

Over the weekend, for example, I planned to cook meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. I quickly realized that my daughter had used most of the onions. Pre-covid, I would have popped over to the grocery store for more. Instead, I almost burst into tears and “made do” with what was left. I had the same experience when I failed to find the right color of quilting thread and settled for a color I didn’t like. I’m normally pretty stoic, so tears are highly unusual and let me know that I am stressed.

These moments of emotion let me know that it’s time for the strategy of three.

Our brains love 3’s

Our brains are naturally pleased by the number three. We see it everywhere — in sizing (small-medium-large), in time (yesterday-today-tomorrow), and traffic signals (red-yellow-green).

Here are three more examples:

  1. In stories.
  • Three Little Pigs
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • The Three Stooges

2. In Christianity.

  • Three magi present Jesus with three gifts (gold, myrrh and frankincense).
  • God is the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
  • Three fathers of the Israelite nation (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).

3. In speeches.

  • “Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your ears.” – Julius Caesar (Shakespeare)
  • “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “Our priorities are Education, Education, Education.” – Tony Blair

Use the number 3 to be more productive.

Let’s make it easy on ourselves and embrace the magic of three.

  1. Set three types of goals. In this article, leadership coach Ron Minatrea recommends:
  • “Do” goals. These are effort-based goals that you have total control over. An example of a do goal is walking for 20 minutes per day.
  • “Achieve” goals. These are results-based goals that are based on what you do, however you might not have full control over. An example of an achieve goal is wanting to lose 10 pounds. Even though you are exercising and watching your diet, this might not be enough to move the scale.
  • “Be” goals. These are attributes of the person you want to become. An example of a be goal is to be healthy. Walking every day and losing ten pounds will help you meet this goal.

2. Set three terms of goals.

  • Long-term (more than three years). This goal focuses on the big picture and can be overwhelming. A long-term goal, for someone who is overweight and can’t walk for 20 minutes without getting tired, would be to run a marathon.
  • Medium-term (two months to three years). Break your long-term goal into smaller milestones. For the first 12 months, you could focus on walking greater distances. Starting in year 2, you could improve your running by one mile every month until you reached 26.2 miles.
  • Short-term (less than two months). What can I do today to meet my goals? This would include walking every day, as well as stretching and eating a healthy diet.

3. Accomplish three things every day.

This is the strategy I’ve been using to reduce overwhelm and move forward. Brainstorm what needs to be done in your life and accomplish three things on your list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and structure that might encourage you to do more. Although my list encompasses work, hobbies and home, you can choose goals from any part of your life. My list today is to:

  • Write this blog post.
  • Place an online order for quilting thread.
  • Make banana bread.

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Three Strategies to Stay Focused
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