By June 30, 2016

I Have So Many Goals I Can’t Focus… What Should I Do?

21st Century. We have a lot of things going on, projects to do and things to handle. We need to be able to cope and maintain our career, family, social life, dream projects, etc. All of these things can turn out to be pretty consuming. All of these things can drain your time and energy and make you completely lost.

When you get lost however, you lose focus. And when you lose focus, you're screwed. So, what should you do when you have so many things going on, so many things to focus that you can't simply focus on anything? What is the best place when you're in this type of situation?

Too many goals. Too little time. If you want to optimize at least one area of your life, check out my course 10 Steps to Learn Anything Quickly.

Transcript From Video

John Sonmez: Hey, what's up, John Sonmez from I got a pretty long email here. I’m going to summarize this email, but I think this is a problem that a lot of people face and it’s too bad I’m not going to read this whole email because it’s long, but I’m going to try and give you the point of what I’m saying here. You’ll see as I read through this. This comes from James, he says, “Hey John, quickly want to say you’re more of an influence than many other bloggers/video makers because you’re genuine and speak from the heart. I will be sure to buy your courses as I have no doubt they will have a positive influence on my life.” Cool! I appreciate that James.

“Short relative introduction for me. My name is James. I’m 19 years old and I’m trying to make the best decisions for myself in terms of achieving multiple goals. These goals are:” I’m going to try to summarize these. He says, “Professional footballer, learning the MEAN stack for web development, learning more C++, read self-development, autobiography and marketing books etc. for at least 2 pomodoros daily, learn German for at least pomodoros because I’m moving to a German country for football.” He goes on to say, “I do have solid reasons behind each of these goals in attempt to commit time each day. To try to achieve them I’ve read the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson as well as the article on Simple Programmer about What Software Developers Can Learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this article it stated that Arnold only focuses his attention on one thing at a time, i.e. body building so he could allocate his full creative energy towards that goal which is powerful.”

He goes on to say that he finds it a challenge to go from hard individual skills to sitting quietly at the next task that he has planned for the day, basically, if you’re in my position what would you do? I keep on thinking that I should just toughen up and force myself to do it even if I don’t feel like it and disregard my feelings and that over time I should feel less resistance because I’m training my brain that it can’t stop me from doing something I commit to.

James I have to say I admire your spirit. You’ve got a lot of the right ideas here. You’re 19. You’ve got this dialed in. you’re willing—I mean for someone to be willing to say, “Maybe I should just toughen up and just go” that’s good. That’s the message I’ve been trying to tell a lot of people that they just will not get. You’ve got that at 19. You’re willing to do what it takes.

Most people their problem is they’re not willing to do what it takes. They’re too weak. They’re too soft. They can’t go when they don’t feel passionate, motivation, and they give up easily and they’re discouraged. They want everything to fall into their lap. They want it to be easier. That’s not your problem. Your problem though, as again, I shortened the list of goals. You want to be a professional footballer, you want to learn more C++ and the MEAN stack and what was it? Gosh, I can’t even remember. Oh, German and you want to read all these books for so many pomodoros a day. It’s good that you want to do all these things but you need to focus.

You already know this because you mentioned the article about Arnold Schwarzenegger but you’ve got to focus on one thing at a time. If you do that then you’re going to have more success. The thing is right now you’ve got to decide.

Again, you might look and say, “Well, John, you’re doing a lot of different things. You’re lifting weights and running and doing videos and blog posts and podcasts and stuff.” But it’s sort of all focused towards one goal—or 2 goals really, on the fitness side and then also on Simple Programmer, I’m progressing that direction. Your stuff is kind of scattered out. You’re like, “Oh, I want to be a professional football player but I want to be a software developer and I want to do these 2 different things in software development and I want to learn German and I want to read all these book in marketing and all that.” Those things are not going to work together.

What you’ve got to do is you’ve got to decide what is the most important thing and pick that as your primary goal, the primary direction you’re going to go and then you’ve got to find the ancillary things that are going to go along with that so that you’re—you’ve got the idea of creating the routine and putting together the schedule, but you’ve got to find the things that complement each other that are going to go for that.

I would say if you want to be a professional football player that is like your thing then don’t hedge your bet—don’t spend a lot of time working on the software development thing that you’re not going to use right now. If your goal right now is football and you’re going to do things around football and you’re not going to get a job as a software developer it sort of is a waste of time to put the effort and energy into learning software development. As much as I want you to become a software developer I’m going to tell you that if that’s your primary goal then don’t divert from that. Spend the time training athletically. Spend the time doing the things that are going to help you on the football side. The German seems like that goes along with that so maybe do the German.

If you’re going to go career in software development then you’re probably going to have to put aside less of the football stuff and maybe not the German, right? The books that you read are going to shift as well. You just don’t want to split in too many directions at once the more that you can focus. You can always tackle one thing at a time. You could devote part of your life right now to doing the best that you can and taking your shot at becoming a professional football player and focus on that. Whether that works out or not at a different point in your life, you can then focus completely on software development and keep that focus.

It’s definitely important to be advancing in multiple areas but they should be at least somewhat related and I feel like you have too many goals that are too scattered out. I’d rather see you have just one goal that you hit as hard as possible. I’ve always been the person that’s opened a lot of doors at the same time and I think it’s an okay strategy, but I honestly think that I would have been more successful if I would have picked one door and just hammered it as hard as I can. That’s sort of what I do more so now. I still tend to be a little bit scattered because I want to pursue multiple things just like I know you do. I’m giving you advice. I’m giving me advice at the same time.

Hopefully we could both benefit from this. If you become a professional football player you’ve just got to tell them that it’s because you watch Simple Programmer videos, right? All right. If you like this video, subscribe to the channel. Take care.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."