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Maintaining a long-term focus on your career

From: Enhancing Your Productivity

Video: Maintaining a long-term focus on your career

So far we've primarily discussed ways in which you can maintain focus on an hourly and daily basis in the workplace. However, long-term focus is equally important. Imagine that I want to take a road trip from Berlin to Paris, but after a few hours of traveling I change my mind and decide that I want to drive to Rome instead. Then after driving a couple of more hours, I decide I'd rather travel to Amsterdam, and then perhaps I change my mind and want to travel to Athens, but later decided again on Paris.

Maintaining a long-term focus on your career

So far we've primarily discussed ways in which you can maintain focus on an hourly and daily basis in the workplace. However, long-term focus is equally important. Imagine that I want to take a road trip from Berlin to Paris, but after a few hours of traveling I change my mind and decide that I want to drive to Rome instead. Then after driving a couple of more hours, I decide I'd rather travel to Amsterdam, and then perhaps I change my mind and want to travel to Athens, but later decided again on Paris.

You can see from this example that I'm going to do a lot of traveling but never really reach any destination. It's the same with your career. The more focused you can be on a final destination, then the faster you make progress toward that goal and receive the benefits of mastering a particular field. The first step that I suggest to help you maintain long-term career focus is to choose a destination. Write a short statement, perhaps one paragraph of where you want your career to be 10 years from now.

I encourage you to put that statement somewhere where you can look at it regularly and be reminded of the focus that you want to have in getting there. Next, I recommend that once every three months you do a self review of your progress. You can simply ask yourself the question, am I making progress toward my chosen destination? I'd also suggest that as part of this quarterly self review, you complete the most valuable activity worksheet.

See if you've made progress in your MVAs and if you're improving your value per hour. Remember, the value of your activities reflects how much it would cost to pay someone else to do those same activities as well as you can. So, if you're continually getting better at those activities then the value of the activities should increase over time. Also once every three months, it might be helpful to use a daily work tracker for a week, to see how much time you are actually spending in your MVAs.

We've created a special version related to focus that you can download to track your time. Simply mark how much time you spent in each activity that day, to see if you're spending the majority of your time in your MVAs. And finally, once every 6 or 12 months, I suggest you meet again with your manager and your co-worker's, to see how well you're all doing in focusing your time on your MVAs. Use this meeting to find ways you can serve each other.

If you can work together to help each other succeed and focus, you'll all reach your individual destinations faster, than if you try to do it all on your own. It's possible that you may find legitimate reasons why you need to change your final destination. If you've thought things through carefully and believe that making a change is the right decision, don't be alarmed. You can still succeed with a new destination. However, the more focused you can be over the long term on a single destination, the faster you'll become irreplaceable and invaluable.

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Enhancing Your Productivity

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Dave Crenshaw
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