Seven Reasons The “F-word” Is Holding You Back

We’re all adults here. And since we are, we can have an adult discussion.

I want to talk to you about why you may be stuck or struggling. Why you never seem to be able to get the big project complete. Or why you can’t even get it off the ground.

The reason you can’t is because of something we don’t like to face. It’s unpleasant. Sometimes even uncomfortable.

But you need to face it if you want to achieve all the goals you set for yourself.

I’m talking about the “F-word”…


Listen, I’m not telling you anything earth-shattering when I say that the world has become a technology-addicted place. The number of distractions that now vie for your attention have multiplied exponentially over the past 10 years.

But it’s important to understand the toll it’s taken on your ability to focus. And what that lack of focus is actually costing you.

Face it, that one big breakthrough that’s waiting for you could simply be on the other side of your inability to focus. Without an ability to focus and take appropriate action, achieving the important goals becomes little more than a fantasy.

So with that, here’s my list of the top 7 reasons why you can’t focus any more…

1. You’re An Efficiency Machine…

It’s true. It’s really not your fault.

It’s just the way you’re designed.

Your brain is hardwired to automate repetitive mental actions to be more efficient and save you from having to think.

And the more times you perform a task, the more you “habitualize” it, and the easier it becomes.

Many business owners I meet have “habitualized” their short attention span and can no longer focus on any one project for any extended period of time.

It’s like you’re training yourself to be stupider and stupider with each passing day.

And you can thank Mother Nature for that…

2You’re Trapped In The Information-Action Gap…

As counterintuitive as it sounds, it’s true. As the amount of information you try to process increases, your ability to think clearly, make accurate decisions and take focused action decreases.

Nearly everyone operates under the assumption that they’re better off gathering as much information as possible. That was solid advice when the world operated at a slower pace. You could consume the information, think it through, go back to fill in any gaps, and then focus that knowledge where it was needed.

Unfortunately as the speed and ease with which anyone can access more information than they could possibly need increases, there’s little time left anymore to actually process that information and focus on putting that it to use.

Unless you’re really disciplined it’s easy to fall into this trap where the tie between information and action is severed…

3 You’ve Bought Into The Myth Of Multi-tasking…

This one is huge. I’m not sure when the concept of human multi-tasking really exploded into our vocabulary, but it was a sad day.

The concept that you could handle information overload by learning to work on multiple things at once is just plain wrong. Your brain doesn’t work like that.

The truth is you can only focus on one thing at a time. And when you multi-task, all you’re doing is swapping different tasks in and out of your attention.

A study by the University of Michigan found that people who switch between different types of tasks – say, email and surfing the Internet, or writing a blog post and talking on the phone– lose between 20% and 40% of their efficiency.

Now go back and re-read #1. The more you multi-task, the more you’re training yourself to focus less on any one thing…

4 You’re an interruption junkie…

Today most people look back at their flip-phones with fond nostalgia. The miracles of technology we carry in our pockets these days offer countless modes of communication – and interruption.

How often do you sit at your desk for an hour or two working on one task without getting up or doing anything else (like checking your email, surfing the web, checking facebook, reading tweets, answering texts etc…)?

If you are like the majority of people and you’re being honest with yourself you realize that it has become a problem. And these “productivity” tools are no longer boosting your performance. They’re chipping away at your ability to focus.

If you find that you’re half way down the driveway and you have to go back into the house because you forgot your phone…

Congratulations, you’re an “interruption junkie”…

5 Your Lust For Instant Gratification

“Doing” things actually comes in a variety of flavors. From meaningful to meaningless.

The problem is there is no difference in the sense of accomplishment that comes with either.

Focusing on doing the important, meaningful stuff generally takes longer and requires more focus thereby delaying any gratification you might feel. While doing simpler, more meaningless stuff – like checking your email – gives you that instant rush of accomplishment.

But it’s actually a false, and often dangerous, sense of accomplishment.

You may have a perfectly clean inbox, but you’re no closer to completing that project that will put you on the map in your market…

6 More Equals Better

A consistent problem I see in many entrepreneurs is the conviction that more is always better.

And they accumulate more and more knowledge with the mistaken belief that the business owner who knows the most somehow wins in business.

But the truth is the polar opposite. Because as the amount of information you know climbs, your ability to focus on and master any of it plummets.

Take marketing tactics, for example.

Entrepreneurs cling to the idea that the more marketing tactics they know, the better equipped they are to compete online. But since online advertising more closely resembles an auction format than offline, a competitor that’s mastered a certain marketing strategy can actually force you to spend more money for a worse result.

Bottom line – sometimes knowing too much can hurt…

7 Your coping mechanisms suck…

Back to the idea of efficiency, your brain tends to cope with an overload of information in one of three ways… all of them ineffective.

We distort, generalize and delete.

When faced with new information we often apply certain biases and filters to it distorting the reality of what we’re dealing with.

Or we’ll try to generalize it by drawing conclusions from a minimal amount of information and then connecting it into some knowledge we already have.

And finally, if some information really doesn’t fit our worldview, we tend to just delete it.

So there you have it… Seven reasons your level of focus is not what it should be.

Which impacts you the most? Let me know in the comments section below…

37 thoughts on “Seven Reasons The “F-word” Is Holding You Back”

  1. Excellent post Rich. About a month ago I decided to cut out multi-tasking because I noticed in my journal I was doing more but getting less finished. The positive change is dramatic.

  2. Rich…i don’t know what to think about this post…you read several books a month, speed read while you’re exercising with hyperbaric oxygen, and record youtube vlog while you’re driving!!!how can you then tell me knowing too much hurts and doing more than one thing at a time is wrong???
    I’m conflicted

    • Sorry for the confusion Christerfa… The bigger point I wanted to make is that these days we’re all distracted by too much information. And that’s costing us in terms of our ability to focus and take action. Consuming information is not bad on its own – only when it distracts us from focusing on what we should be doing to get results. Hope that clears things up!

  3. F-word… ‘Fudging’ the Truth. Avoiding the truth; unconsciously hiding behind the copping mechanisms – instead of taking a step back to look at yourself, and what’s really going on inside you to fuel those actions. 😉

    • Facing reality and accurately thinking about your situation is probably one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face. I wrote about that in my Founders Club report The Hidden Obstacles to Your Success. Thanks for sharing…

  4. Honestly, the core of the reactor (mind) reached critical mass and shuts down (freezes) due to information overload – digging deeper – all alone in an encased sphere of digital madness bombarded by streams of epic distractions which inherently self destruct vision to its core – deeper deeper thinking to only attract like minded people in a vacuum devoid of such relevant determination to simply share an idea – to chose the path at the fork in the road which becomes looped into the core mind as a second guessing rerun which plays over and over. Frozen.

  5. Sometimes less is better! I have spent so much time and money on learning marketing which has been great fun, but then I realized I haven’t spent the time on my course. Gotta back up! I like this post. It will help me stay on track. 🙂

  6. Guilty! Reading every single reason hurts so deep 😀 Especially #4 is something I need to get rid of. Thanks for reminding of these Rich! This is the best article I’ve read for a while.

  7. I’m also guilty of info overload and shiny new object syndrome. My problem was I bought into the selling side of this business, not the marketing side that lm excited about learning with this program. Sunday night really drove home the difference between wanting to be an Internet seller of stuff and my new goal of becoming a true marketer Thanks Rich

  8. F = Flipping Denial 🙂 Rich, in a lot of cases people are not really seeing where they are and taking account – sincerely appreciate your information it always hits home and is timelessly valuable – Thanks for sharing when are you switching the lights off for the LAST TIME, you will be missed – kind regards Simon

      • Good to hear Rich,
        spent hours reading your reports best content I have come across in years – like nothing better than to switch off and sit down with a highlighter and read through undisturbed –
        great value, always to be gained – kind regards Simon

  9. #2 I am guilty of. It sets of a vicious cycle of consuming information, trying to action it, then feeling overwhelmed and confused so I stop taking action and I end up having all these fingers in half eaten pies 🙁

    • Louise, I promise you you’re not alone on that. Just being able to distinguish that you’re doing it (and the impact that it’s having) is half the battle. Thanks for sharing

  10. All points are on target with how the mind functions. We are habitual creatures with the mind creating automatic patterns as a default, which guide and direct most of our perceptions, perspectives, thoughts, and reactions. This is essentially a good thing, as it is how our body functions without our needing to be aware, which would consume our conscious attention. And this is a good thing for our entire daily functioning . . . the only thing is, we most often just allow the mind to set up and operate these patterns as it may in helping to alleviate the need for our constant attention to many details. This blind allowing, tends to keep us locked in with these patterns, and not even realizing it.
    That is, until we take command and notice what we are doing, and inquire as to why. It takes then, purposefully altering these patterns in order to change how we function.
    These patterns include the ideas, concepts, and beliefs we Own as part of our self-concept, so they can be well defended, justified, and validated by the ego aspect of our mind, as a way to help us feel good about ourselves. Even when the patterns don’t serve us in a good way, we can feel good about them, as we are use to them . . .they are ours.

    • Hey John… You’re right on target with your comment. Our brains evolved to do two things: Predict and Protect. What’s going to happen next? And what do I need to do to survive it? That is definitely not a BAD thing. Only when you let it run the show. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Mine is picking the task that interests me the most instead of the one that actually needs to be worked on. I know intellectually that the papers need to be filed away, the phone calls returned, the files put away. But I would rather research a topic that is due in 30 days, so let’s do it now! Whoo-hoo! And the mundane work doesn’t get done.
    Focus on all the work, not just the fun stuff.

  12. Excellent article Rich, I think all digital marketers are guilty one way or another for wasting time, it’s literally impossible to keep focus for more than couple of hours a day!

  13. Rich
    This F bomb was a great piece of writing !
    I felt you were shadowing my moves , tapping my phones s or had great psychic abilities as it really spoke to me.

    Like an arrow going straight through my heat full of shiney pennies.

    Great work,

    John Ford

  14. Glad I opened this email. Rich wrote a head line “are you okay?” because I hadn’t opened his emails for awhile. I think Rich understands online entrepreneurs as good as anybody. He knows our mental struggles. Perhaps he deals with them but doesn’t allow these struggles to get the better of him. Lesson here is I should open his emails often & read through the comments because I’m learning from all of you.

    • But to the question, I shouldn’t multi task. I know damn well the good feeling obtained from publishing a webpage or learning a new technique. It takes time, I do feel like I’m missing out on facebook chat & other useless [email protected] but getting through the priority tasks is where the good feeling comes from.


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