Going all in or focusing on a single item or restricting yourself to a particular task, ecosystem or goal is a way to get things accomplished. Traditional wisdom would tell you that by going all in on anything you lose other options. However, this may sound counter intuitive, but the more you go all in, the less you lose and you may even get more options. You can save time, money and decisions by going all in. You can also live your life with more purpose and intention.
How many goals do you have right now? What are your top 3? Focus only on those 3. Ok, so that’s a general rule of wisdom I heard somewhere a long time ago, but I have found it holds true. By spreading myself too thin over multiple things I couldn’t get any done.
So I cut down the number of things I was working on. Low and behold I made progress. Then, I went further, I picked my number one goal and focused on that for a set period of time. I made even more progress. By laser focusing my attention I was able to achieve more without any distractions or thoughts bubbling up about other projects I “wanted to work on someday”.
Allyson: Last fall I started seeing a behavioral specialist for weight loss. It’s been something I’ve (ashamedly) struggled with since elementary school. But one of the things we keep returning to is my desire to tackle multiple habits at once, or multitask. “We all seem to have a tendency to take on too much, but multitasking is dangerous,” she told me my last visit. “It divides our attention that we cannot accomplish the things we set out to do. The scary part is that it doesn’t matter how important tasks are, they could be life-changing and emergent, and they just fail to get done due to a lack of focus.”
I have these lofty goals, all surrounding living a more mindful and active lifestyle, but they can’t be worked on simultaneously. It’s just not possible if I’m looking to succeed. So, every two weeks, we look at my progress and decide if I’m ready to take on another habit.
“Going slowly, if you need to, and hyper focusing on one goal at a time means you can actually give your attention to that thing,” my therapist reminds me bi-weekly. The results? I can proudly say I’m hydrating to meet basic survival requirements, something I’ve not done for the majority of my life. I also make an honest effort to go on walks outside and use our Total Gym that’s been gathering dust for three years. Changes have been put in motion following the single tasking philosophy and I intend to extend the mantra to every facet of my life.
Has the impulse to share this post, or check your social networking feeds, manifested while reading this far into the article? What about thoughts of needing to check email, return a call, or about what you need to do in the next 5 minutes or hour? Well, if you have, I would say you are not all in on the now.
Similar to working on goals, focusing on what you are doing right now can greatly help you complete tasks and goals. Think about it this way: how many times do you need to reread things because you got sidetracked, or distracted, by a notification on your phone or computer? Or, because we are bombarded by distractions all the time, how often do you go to hang outs or events and talk to people NOT at the event because you are too concerned about what’s next on your agenda?
Focusing on the now means you give your full attention to the task at hand, the place you are in and whats going on around you. It allows you to focus on all your senses without distractions pulling you into the future, or the past. It keeps you grounded in the present. Attentive, reactive and able to meet the needs of what is happening, well, now!
Allyson: There’s been a huge push by alternative social media influencers to live slow, travel slow, be present, be mindful and the like. All these things tie back to this philosophy of living inside now, or living present in the moment. It’s a concept I’m sure humanity used to do naturally, something that was inherent and part of being the evolved species we are.
As time progressed, people have been living less and less in the present, and more in the future and past. We made calendars to plan things, holidays to look forward to and prepare for, photos and journals to record the past, debt that can take a lifetime to repay, investments that can take a lifetime to grow; we built a society that pulls our minds from the present to the past and future.
It’s not a new concept, not a secret, or a revolution, this idea of being inside the given moment. But, because of the craftsmanship of modern life, it can be quite hard to execute.
Living in the present and being truly present, focused and not letting other things detract from that focus is a way to fully experience things in life as well. Did you experience the party? Or check out mentally and only tune in to get some photos for social media while doing something else in your head? Did you complete that hike in the mountains and experience the feel of the air, the sounds of birds, trees and the world breathing around you or just check it off your travel list? I get the feeling that in the modern era, many experiences are more like checklists where people complete the action to say they did it.
Life is about the journey, not the destination.
Focusing on the now can let you experience the journey so that, once you reach your destination, you know what happened between point A and point B. Who knows, it may let you see shortcuts you may miss otherwise, or interesting roads less traveled! But the point is live in the moment now. Trust me, the future destination will be experienced as the present someday too. So you better practice appreciating the now, so you can appreciate your destination later.
Vendor-lock in. If you are passionate in technology at all, you read going all in as succumbing to this and not giving yourself a way out. As consumers we love choice, and many don’t like the idea of getting entrenched in anything so we can easily change apps, phones or computers without a problem. Some even choose Windows or Android because of the freedom of choice to install whatever apps they want. They don’t want to be stuck in an ecosystem. However, news flash, you are unable run apps for other platforms(Mac/Linux/iOS etc) so you are still locked in.
The reality is that by using any ecosystem there is already a form of lock in, and many folks may be optimizing their life by sticking with an ecosystem because of crucial apps(or games) they like to play on their technology platform. What I am asking for, is for you to embrace this idea and dig in.
Ecosystems are designed to work together. For example if you use Windows, using Microsoft’s built in services such as OneDrive, Mail, Calendar and Office 365 integration instead of other alternatives if you need to maximize performance especially if you have a touch screen Windows 10 device for note taking and other tasks. If you use Google heavily for all your office needs, then by all means use all of Google’s services. If you use a Mac and have an iPhone. Link your iMessages, use iCloud and stop spreading yourself over multiple services.
Why would you want to do this? We are told its best to never put our eggs in one basket, and why pay for iCloud for more space when you can also use OneDrive, DropBox and Google Drive? The answer: Simplicity.
Allyson: Trevor and I are rather open about most of our discoveries and decisions in life, so when we decided to commit to a single ecosystem for ourselves we talked about it with the people we cared about. For the most part no one particularly cared, but a select few were extremely opinionated about the choice we’d made. I, of course, found this fascinating.
Not that this idea is entirely relevant to the point Trevor is trying to make, but I find it interesting that it’s considered normal for people to commit to someone/something in some areas of our lives, but in other areas commitment is a negative concept. Perhaps the case is different in other countries (and if so I’d love to hear it!) but in the USA, a marriage that is honest and faithful is something we should all strive for… but it’s best to shop around when you’re looking for a product to make sure you’re getting the best fit for the best price. Stay loyal to your mobile phone provider, but get the latest phone regardless of make. It doesn’t really make sense to me.
Companies design their products to be used together. Whether we’re talking refrigerators and dishwashers, or phones and laptops, things that can be synced are meant to be synced with products by the same manufacturer for optimal usability. There is no denying this. Products simply aren’t designed to be synced across manufacturers. Even if it’s as simple as using iTunes with an iPhone on a Windows machine, it’s simply not meant to be done by the manufacturers and problems will ensue. I nearly bricked an iPad using it with a Windows machine back in the day!
Using online storage as the example, if you are trying to save your documents to the cloud and use them, you can save money by using multiple free tiers. However for each decision there is a cost. In this case, to save money the cost for you is time and effort managing these. Which account stored what? Oh now I have to log into that service to get that specific thing? This is a subtle time sink and even deterrent from actually getting done what you really want to do. Could you get by with a cobbled solution? Yes, but it’s costing you (time, frustration, your sanity), even if it costs you nothing($).
Go All In: NOW
As you can see you can open up your time and energy in entirely new ways if you embrace your decisions and go all in. Undivided attention, focus and unified systems allow background management tasks and distractions to fall by the wayside, so you can live in the now instead of the “wait hold on, just need to do this one other thing first”. So try consolidating your services, intensely focusing on your task at hand and picking a goal and working only on that goal.
Allyson: Doing so hones in on purpose and fulfillment, but also streamlines your life. Simplicity has improved our quality of life immeasurably, that I cannot recommend it enough.
Just like Jack of all trades is master of none, doing/using all things really holds you back from doing/using the things that matter. So what are you waiting for? Go all in, now!