A Question that Guarantees to Help You Focus

In early June of 2013, I bought that plane ticket to Orlando. I hate wasting money, so this meant there was no turning back now. The bridge was burned.

So, I had this goal. Actually, there were two goals. Go to Disney World. And weigh in at 225 lbs. (Translated to lose about 20 lbs.) I am a great procrastinator and money tends to burn a hole in my pocket, so these were challenging tasks to me. I had to save money on a regular basis, while still paying rent, bills, and buying food. I had to exercize regularly and eat healthy, or, said differently, move more, eat less. By the way, eating healthy costs a BIT more than eating unhealthy.

I was reading a book, The ONE Thing, by Jay Papasan and Gary W. Keller. The premise of the book is that we need to ask ourselves one question…

“What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

I pondered the question for a few days.

I’ve never been a very self disciplined person. I would have the BAD habit of sleeping in to the last moment, and rush around to get ready, and go straight to work. After work, I would come home, fix and eat dinner, and watch DVDs, listen to music, or read. Tomorrow, repeat. I desperately needed some good habits in my life that would shape some desired outcomes.

I had recently purchased a book titled, “Get some Headspace”, by Andy Puddicombe. It’s essentially a beginners course in mindfulness, using meditation. (don’t worry, my Baptist brethren, there are NO Buddhist overtones to this program.) There is a supplementary iPhone app as well. After studying the content for a few days, I knew that I should put this into practice. I made this my ONE Thing.

I struck gold.

Every night, at around 11:30, I began the guided meditation. I began on Saturday, July 13, 2013, and continued through Sunday, September 22, 2013, a 72 day streak. There are 10 days of ten minute meditations, 15 days of fifteen minute meditations, then 20 days of twenty minute meditations, then it begins several blocks of 40 day/20 minute programs.

In a later post, I will write about what is called a Keystone Habit. Meditation is what I would call a Keystone Habit. For now, let’s just say that a Keystone Habit is any habit developed that influences the development of other habits. When I began meditating, over the next two months, I also began to exercise regularly, eat healthier, cleaned my apartment more regularly, had consistent morning devotions, organized my files, bills, and mountains of papers, cataloged my dad’s record collection, (with the help of others,) read with better recall, saved money for my trip, and many other consistent actions. My weight and blood pressure went down. And I felt 1000% better.

This is not meant to be an endorsement for mindfulness and meditation, (although I definitely recommend it.) I’m just stating that My ONE Thing for that season in my life was choosing to meditate on a regular basis, and as a result, everything else became easier or unnecessary.

By asking this focusing question, I was able to kickstart a series of habits that dominoed into desired outcomes. And I did it in a relatively short amount of time, (approximately 2 1/2 months).

So, I leave you with this obvious question: What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?