One thing that’s always impressed me about many anime characters is their single-minded determination. They know what that one thing is that they truly want to accomplish, and they give it their all to reach that goal. They get up at the crack of dawn and begin their day with that resolve, and use every spare minute of their day focused and advancing towards their goal.
One of the best known characters like this would be Ash Ketchum from the Pokémon anime series. At the ripe-old age of 10, he knows that he wants to set out to be the best Pokémon Trainer that he can be, dedicating every day to this wish.
I don’t want to be pretentious and call myself a multi-potential, but I can certainly relate to at least being interested in setting out to do many things. Whether it’s language, writing, improving my family’s financial situation, getting healthier, music, or becoming a minimalist, these all feel important to me and to the way I want to live my own life.
So how do you focus on 10 things at once? You don’t. End of post, thanks for reading! …OK that might sound like common sense, but I’ve certainly been one of those people to not realize that. Especially not until I laid it out all in front of me. For context, here are some real-life things I’ve tried to “focus” on, all at once:
- Losing 10 lbs.
- Starting a full exercise program.
- Decluttering the entire house.
- Learning intermediate guitar techniques while also looking into music making software and sometimes even other instruments.
- Simultaneously learning/improving three languages at once.
- Developing plotlines for several fictional short stories.
- Writing multiple blog posts at the same time.
Sounds pretty crazy when it’s all laid out like that, and that’s not even everything. One can hardly say that you’re focusing if it’s on all of these things at once! (I should also add that almost none of these had or have yet become habits.)
The types of characters I mentioned earlier avoid distractions and single-mindedly give their all to those activities they know will get them closer to their goal. More times than not, I’ve found that whatever their focus is, it’s often something that they want to do personally. Some determination that has come from within, rather than from societal norms or some other directive.
If I may think out loud for a moment (after all, mojimaki is not only part blog, but also part personal journal), I think someone like myself that is having trouble focusing on a goal can take a step back and look at things logically. Without going into too much detail about my personal goals yet, I’m theorizing there could be a few different ways to handle these:
If there is a goal that could be completed in a relatively short amount of time (which could be anywhere from a day or two to a month or two) focus on it and complete it as fast as possible. Whether it was getting the tutorial out of the way to prepare for his journey, or somehow being able to arrange to get out of school, Ash got these first steps to serve as the basis out of the way first and fast.
For a huge long-term goal, chances are it can be broken down into very apparent sections and steps. Even with a lofty goal like being a Pokémon Master, you can break that down into various leagues with 8 badges each. Knowing where you’re headed is vital to having that single-minded focus, but so is knowing what the next immediate step is with a clear mind and resolve.
Even for goals that are not directly related, it could still be best to look at them in a certain order, in the sense of complete A before doing B. While this is similar to the first two ideas, what I mean here is more akin to something like saving an emergency fund or building up your stamina before traveling across the land, searching far and wide, and for each Pokémon to understand, the power that is contained inside.
Of course, sometimes there are goals that one may just need to set aside for the time being. Who knows, maybe Ash also wanted to be a drummer in his friends’ garage band, but chose to focus on becoming a Pokémon Master first? Although it can be sad to have to set aside those other interests to some extent or another in the here and now, it can also provide some motivation to focus on getting the current goal completed as quickly and efficiently as possible, without distractions.
I feel that these may be the cornerstones of how to approach multiple goals, especially if you have several (perhaps unrelated) things that you’d like to be able to focus on with trainer-like resolve.
I don’t claim to be an expert in goal-setting, but rather these are theories I want to test out. I have some personal notes about how these approaches could work with my specific situation, so I want to test it out over the next bunch of months and see what happens.
If a person can do a lot in a day, then a person can do even more in some focused weeks or months. Even if we can’t live every day like a dedicated Pokémon trainer, it may be possible create that focus, even if just for a period of time, then move on to your next success story.
It’s time to take action! I really like using the seasons as a means of dividing up the year and marking milestones, and often see Spring as the true start of a new year. So from this September to next March (essentially from autumn to spring), I want to officially challenge myself to see how much closer I can get to reaching those cornerstones of the kind of life I want to live, the kind of person I want to be. I also plan to post updates each month to provide some accountability and more specific examples.
Having a personal map, a time limit, and actionable steps may very well be the secret to reaching those goals with trainer-like single-minded determination in real-life. Just like the Ash Ketchum’s epic quest, you and I can strive to be the heroes of our own stories.