Focus: How Warren Buffett and Angela Duckworth Filter Out The Noise


Most of the things we think we need to focus on are things we shouldn’t be focusing on at all. It’s all just noise. We think we can do everything: become a cook, be a parent, learn a language, become a health guru, a blogger, a part-time musician, a video game developer, and on and on.

But we can’t do all of these things. We probably can’t do just a few of these things. We are restricted by two limited resources: time and energy. So how do why do we do this to ourselves? It’s probably because we haven’t figured out our purpose. Our top-level goal. What do you want out of your life? What is your ultimate life goal? If you could sit down and write out your perfect day, what would it look like?

If we don’t have a purpose or main focus, how do we find one? In her book, Grit, Dr. Angela Duckworth tells of a story she heard about Warren Buffett and his advice for figuring out what you should actually be focusing on.

The story  goes like this: Buffett turns to his faithful pilot and says that he must have dreams greater than flying Buffett around to where he needs to go. The pilot confesses that , yes, he does. And then Buffett takes him through his three step process.

First, you write down a list of twenty-five career goals.

Second, you do some soul-searching and you circle just the five highest priority goals. Just five.

Some may bulk at having twenty-five career goals, but I bet once you started really thinking about what you wanted to achieve, your list could become quite long. Finding the top five to circle will likely be the hard part. So, what about the other twenty that you didn’t circle?

These you avoid at all costs. They’re what distract you; they eat away time and energy, taking your eye from the goals that matter more.

I’m currently working through this now. I’ve noted in a previous post how curious I am and how I like to dabble in everything. I’ve always had kind of a general idea of my top level goal, but it isn’t defined well enough. I can use this method to refine this higher purpose for my career.

While Warren was talking specifically about career goals, expand the exercise to other areas of your life to try to rid yourself of distractions. Health? Parenting? What is taking your attention away from those things?


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