We live in a world that embraces 24-7 information sharing. Social media puts everyone’s ideas, strategies, and thoughts on display, while blogs and articles are written by industry thought leaders. It would make sense that the average entrepreneur would feel pressured to forever remain in the “idea stage.” Every idea and opportunity feels right, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) looms large. Unfortunately, you do not have a clone, and you cannot implement every idea. Therefore, the art of learning to focus on one idea and see it through to the end will make life a lot easier. There are many distractions out there, but here are five ways to say focused and pursue your best idea (one at a time).
Have a Mission and Stick to It
What is your “Why?” Why you choose to do something should be the guiding principle for your company and personal mission as an entrepreneur. This concept should help you screen out ideas that do not fit your mission of why you do what you do. For example, if part of your company’s mission has to do with social impact and community development, any opportunity that does not reflect this should be cast to the side. Simon Sinek, author, and creator of the Ted Talk, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” put it this way:
“For values or guiding principles to be truly effective, they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea – we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.” It is valuable to have clear guiding principles that you stick to in your decision-making process.
Know Your Bandwidth
How much can you take on? What is your breaking point when it comes to workload? As an entrepreneur, you should always be aware of your bandwidth. That amazing idea may sound excellent in theory, but are you already working on something else that is taking up a lot of your time? Look at what is feasible with your time and pay attention to what you can and cannot take on. What are the core activities of your business that have to get done? Know how long each of them takes, and analyze your schedule before you are tempted to pursue anything else. You might have an excellent idea or opportunity that may need to be shelved for another time.
Learn to Say “No”
This idea goes right in line with the previous entry. As an entrepreneur, you are going to be asked to participate in many things. Speaking at the next conference, conducting a webinar, joining the board of a nonprofit, partnering with a contact, and everything in between is going to look incredibly attractive. It is going to feel great that others want to hear what you know. However, every opportunity and idea may not fit with your mission or your schedule. Therefore, you have to become comfortable with saying “no.” Seth Godin, entrepreneur and blogger once said:
“Just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you in your work.” Whenever asked about an opportunity, always revert to your mission and bandwidth, and never be afraid to decline.
Let Yourself be Creative
Another reason to watch your workload and prevent getting bogged down with extra commitments is to have the time to think of creative ideas that fit what you do. Constant distraction, an overwhelming work schedule, and the inability to say “no” can keep you stagnant. You are unable to have the time to truly embrace creativity and innovation to find your next best idea. Some of the best ideas occurred when individuals were “doing nothing.” So, make sure your schedule is not packed to the point where you cannot enjoy some downtime to spur creativity.
Always Have a Plan
Ideas begin to move from thought to action when you attach a strategy to them. Making the decision about which approach to pursue becomes more natural if you can see how to best carry it out. Sit down and begin to think about how it fits with your current goals, what the potential budget will be, how long it will take to put into action, and what you need for it to become successful. Taking a deeper look at the strategic planning aspect of ideas will help you to isolate ones that are worth pursuing from those that are likely fleeting.
FOMO is a tempting but dangerous concept to embrace. When you feel that the next idea or opportunity should always be pursued, then it will be challenging to keep your focus on what really matters. Your next idea may be a promising one, but only if it is approached with a lens that considers your mission, bandwidth, and overall strategy. Never let FOMO distract you from keeping steady and focused.