The following is a guest post by Shawn Blanc, creator of The Focus Course and host of the Creative Focus Online Summit. Shawn is a writer, small-business owner, productivity coach, and creative entrepreneur living in Kansas City with his wife and their three sons.
My life changed forever when my wife and I had our first child.
Becoming a dad was one of the most incredible and defining moments of my entire life. In fact, I’d say fatherhood is perhaps the most prominent milestone marker of my life.
But there’s more to the story.
Before our first son, Noah, was born I decided to quit my job and work from home and write for a living.
It was Christmastime in 2010. My wife and I were having dinner after returning from Colorado. We had just gone through a deeply challenging loss in our family. As a result, Anna and I started talking about having kids.
The combination of a personal tragedy and the excitement of starting a family brought my whole life into slow motion. Things that were once important suddenly seemed meaningless to me. Things that were once side passions now seemed immensely important. So many of my “priorities” were completely uprooted.
I knew it was time to quit my job of 10 years and try my hand at something new.
Sometimes You Need a Jolt to Help You Make a Choice
It sounds so “bold” — to quit my job on the cusp of starting a family — but it was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. And once I made the choice to quit my job and to start writing my website as my new full-time gig, everything else fell into place.
Do not underestimate the power of decisiveness and action.
Decisiveness brings motivation for action. Action brings clarity. And clarity helps us make future decisions.
I love to geek out over things. I will spend hours and hours researching something to death because that sort of work is fun to me.
But sometimes my need to hyper-research and test something can be dangerous.
When I want to make a change in my life, or when I want to invest in something that I know will be a critical part of my everyday life, I can obsess over it. Spending far too much time researching, thinking, and talking with people about it.
It can literally take me months or years to make a decision (if ever).
My love for learning about (and sweating) the details is one of my greatest strengths. But it can also be a weakness.
Something you’ll hear Mike and I discuss in the Awareness Building Class is how I leave a note out for myself at the end of each work day.
I do this because if I didn’t, then I might never get any writing done. There are times when I need to be told what to do — times when I am paralyzed by decision. But then, once I’ve begun moving, then the action brings with it so much clarity.
Action brings clarity.
Here’s a short story I’d like to share with you.
A little over a year ago, I finally began running. I’d been putting it off for years because I wanted to do “the best” workout routine possible. What would have the maximum impact in the shortest time with the least effort?
One day I realized that if I didn’t just start doing something — anything — then I may never start.
So I did the easiest thing I could do:
- I bought a Couch to 5K running app that literally told me what to do. All I had to do was listen and follow the instructions.
- I went to a store where they analyze your gait and help you get the right running shoes. I walked around and answered questions while someone picked out the right shoes for me.
And then, I came home and started running.
Starting simple and allowing someone else to tell me what to do removed a huge barrier for me. And now, over a year later, I’m actually running instead of still just thinking about running.
Sometimes it takes a tragedy or other type of wake-up call to give us the push we need to get moving. Other times, we need to shut up and let someone else tell us what to do so we can just get started already.
In part, that’s exactly what The Focus Course is. It’s like “Couch to 5K” but for your whole life.
Do you need a Couch to 5K app in order to start running? Not really.
Likewise, could you go out on your own to get clarity on the principles and action items found within the Focus Course? Most likely. In fact, I have nothing to hide here: I’ve listed out all of the books, articles, podcasts, white papers, and other resources I used as part of my research to create The Focus Course.
What makes The Focus Course so valuable is how approachable it is.
The course starts out simple, easy, and fun. And over 40 days the course builds on itself so that by the end you’ve seen significant progress and change and have actually done something.
Peter Drucker says that “the greatest wisdom not applied to action and behavior is meaningless data.”
Knowledge alone is not enough to create lasting change. Which is why The Focus Course is about more than just head knowledge — it’s an introduction to experiential knowledge.
Without any hyperbole, I mean it when I say that The Focus Course can change your life.
However, Mike and I are not just here to try and convince you of the power of The Focus Course.
It is also an example to encourage you that not every decision or project should be researched to death.
If there is something you’re putting off because you think you need to research it more, consider if it’d be better to just start now with the easiest point of activation. And then, let your experiential knowledge bring clarity about what to do next.
Something I have learned — that is still a struggle for me, honestly — is that sometimes
I just need to start. Oftentimes what I call “research” or “prudence” is actually just procrastination.
Procrastination left unchecked will gain momentum. The longer you put something off the easier it becomes to keep putting off.