17 Quotes on Getting and Staying Focused
Staying focused is one of the more difficult things to do when you first get out of high school and begin to navigate the waters of freshman year and adult independence. You will definitely stumble along the way. Fortunately, there are many others who’ve done the same, and they have been generous with their advice through the years. In the following article, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite quotes on staying focused along with a little commentary on how that particular piece of advice will help you grow as a student and a person. Let’s begin!
Staying Focused Quote No. 1: Follow the Power of Nine
“I try to ask myself the question of nine. Will this matter in nine minutes, nine hours, nine days, nine weeks, nine months or nine years? If it will truly matter for all of those, pay attention to it. If it isn’t going to matter in nine minutes, nine hours or nine days from now, you need to not pay attention to it.
“This concept of nine has kept me on track from losing focus on the things that truly matter. That way you can respond when you need to, but you don’t spend your time reacting to things that are not going to have any importance in a short period of time from now.” – Whitney Wolfe
How it helps: This quote from entrepreneur Wolfe, sharing her comments with Entrepreneur magazine, takes a unique approach to prioritizing tasks that is essential if you plan on staying focused long enough to get anything done. Students can too often get wrapped up in the things that don’t matter as a way of convincing themselves they’re staying focused when they’re really not. Don’t fool yourself. Evaluate what you have to do, and only focus on the things that really matter.
2. Give Your Full Attention
“I have a personal policy that any time I’m with someone — at a meeting, dinner, or over a drink — that I will never check my phone or watch, and make sure to keep 100 percent focus on the person. This carries into our meetings. We have a saying at the office during meetings: ‘laptops down.’ Unless you’re the presenter, the rule is everyone needs to shut their laptop in the meeting. It allows the person to be physically and mentally present. – Dave Rusenko
How it helps: Rusenko also is part of the Entrepreneur piece linked above. He voices something all students texting back and forth in class need to hear if they want to make any kind of a difference in their grades (and futures). While you may think you’re good at doing both things at once, you’re not. If your academic future depends on something, or even if it doesn’t, put the phones away long enough to listen and communicate face-to-face.
3. Stay Fit, Stay Focused
“Like lots of entrepreneurs, my attention is always pulled in a dozen directions at once. The one thing that really helps me stay focused is exercise. After I jog, do yoga or get out and do some backcountry skiing, I always come back with more clarity and focus.” – Ryan Holmes
How it helps: It’s important to note that exercise doesn’t have to be particularly strenuous. Not in the sense of athlete-level anyway. Too often, people put off exercise because they have this idea that it must be miserable to be effective. A nice, brisk 30-minute walk done daily can do more for your health than repeated cycles of failed workout attempts.
4. Don’t Get Lost
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson
How it helps: In other words, when you’re unsure of how you’ll accomplish a future goal, focus instead on a single step that you can do really well that will serve to move you closer to the destination. Mastering the journey will get you to where you need to be, even if the final destination changes over time.
5. Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain
How it helps: Twain’s quote reminds us that it can be easy to focus on the wrong things. This is dangerous because we convince ourselves we are focusing, but in doing so, we’re pushing ourselves aggressively down the wrong pathway.
6. Focus on What You Can Control
“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest.” – Venus Williams
How it helps: Comparing yourself to another version of someone else is foolish. This quote reminds us that true improvement comes from comparing yourself to the person you used to be. That’s the only way to gauge actual growth.
7. Sharpen Your Focus
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell
How it helps: The inventor of the telephone with a wise reminder that the better we throw ourselves into the tasks ahead of us, the clearer the end result will be. Another variation perhaps: how do you know the answers when you’re not sure what the questions are. Focusing on the work at hand helps you understand what those right questions are.
8. Pursue the Simple
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
How it helps: Other than the whole “move mountains” cliché, we’ve got to say this is a darn-near perfect quote from the man behind the iPhone. Jobs’ analysis — that the simple wasn’t easy — can be seen in how he was able to move whole CD collections and, later, personal computers onto a device small enough to fit in your back pocket. The idea was as clean and simple as ideas come, but the implementation took years to develop and execute.
9. Focus on What Comes Next
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” – Denis Waitley
How it helps: Every bit this! Some might say this is counterproductive advice because they feel it implies you shouldn’t learn from your mistakes. But that’s not what Waitley is saying. He’s saying that mistakes happen, and they cannot be corrected. They can only be overwritten by what you do next. Think of it like the blockchain.
The blockchain is a digital ledger that retains all activities on the chain, good and bad, in an effort to document transparency. New records can learn from the old ones but they can’t erase what has already occurred. Therefore, you don’t dwell on the old records. You make new ones that move you closer to the goal.
10. Having Children Is Not the Point
“Having children is my greatest achievement. It was my savior. It switched my focus from the outside to the inside. My children are gifts. They remind me of what’s important.” – Elle Macpherson
How it helps: This may seem like an odd quote to include in an article about getting or staying focused, but it makes sense in the way model Elle Macpherson puts it. She’s not telling you to go out and have kids. She’s just saying it was the catalyst that helped her redirect attention from where it was to where it should be. So the question for you is this: what will your catalyst be? What will be the thing that gets you to stop thinking about how things look and instead start thinking about how things function?
11. Ignore the Trolls
“Using social media to hurt and destroy is callous, acted out by cowards hiding behind computers. My advice is to ignore negativity. Focus on the love around.” – Martin Garrix
How it helps: Social media is probably the biggest distractor from focus. Ditching it will help you exponentially. But if you’re not ready to do that, at least de-emphasize its importance in your life by staying positive and loving towards others. That will attract the right types of interactions and detract from the negativity that’s out there in spades.
12. Focus on ‘The Now’
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
How it helps: Tolle doesn’t mean you should forgo long-term planning. But what deserves your attention the most are the things you can control in the present. That’s what will get you to the long-term goal.
13. Make Lists of Your Lists
“I am pretty OCD about creating to-do lists, and I am constantly prioritizing what I put at the top of the list. I also think it’s important to break your workload down into digestible nuggets. I break things down into things that feel doable within a span of one to two hours. That helps me methodically sort through everything that’s on my plate.” – Daniella Yacobovsky
How it helps: Making lists of your lists is just a comical way of describing what Yacobovsky articulates so well. Long lists seldom get accomplished, and they make us feel bad about ourselves for not getting to everything that needs to be done. Short lists do get accomplished, and they help you maintain outlook and momentum throughout the process.
14. Follow the Five-Minute Rule
“Pick something that you want to think about, and only think about that. Don’t let anything else enter your thoughts. Try for five minutes in the beginning — and know that just like a marathon where you start with just a half mile to begin with, in the end, you’ll be able to do it for hours once you train for it.” – Oliver Kharraz
How it helps: Entrepreneur Kharraz’ quote to Entrepreneur magazine predicates itself on you having the ability to shut off distractions. That’s why the five minutes is so important. You can do anything for five minutes, setting aside any distraction. Set your timer, and get busy. You’ll surprise yourself by how far you get.
15. The Company You Keep Matters
“Choose to focus your time, energy, and conversation around people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow into your happiest, strongest, wisest self. – Karen Salmansohn
How it helps: We don’t like to think our happiness or focus or anything positive can be dependent on others, but the truth of the matter is that it is. The good news: you can pick your crew. Choose wisely, and stay away from those who try to distract you from what is worthwhile. This simple act will improve your focus tenfold.
16. See Your Failures As Opportunities
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle
How it helps: Aristotle sums it up pretty well. The important thing is to be enough of a visionary to see how good things can come from the bad.
17. Learn How to Thrive Among Distractions
“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps, they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them. – Jack Canfield
How it helps: You are not always going to be able to avoid distractions, but if you maintain positivity and determination, you’ll learn how best to focus amid them. Do your best to create environments for yourself that are conducive to focus. But never be the person who gives up if everything is not ideal. You will face environments that aren’t. Following Canfield’s advice will help you thrive in spite of that.
So those are some of our quotes about staying focused. What are some of yours? Share in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Creative Commons Images]