Picking your Battles: How to Narrow your Focus for Maximum Effectiveness

7889582_s“Pick your battles,” is a phrase to which we are all familiar. Today, I want to share a little perspective on it because there seems to always be at least a hundred worthy issues that constantly accost us. World peace, civil rights, animal rights, bullying, healthy eating and vaccinations, just to name a few, are all issues we feel compelled to pursue. We devote energy into one cause after the other. After all, they are worthy issues. But what is happening to our time, energy and focus during these moments of devotion? How effective are we?

Imagine fighting 5 separate battles at one time. What would eventually happen to your resources? They would be depleted and you would likely lose every battle, resulting in the loss of the war. Rather than trying to be Superman or Superwoman and take on all the wrongs of the world, maybe it’s best to narrow your focus to just one.

While energy is constant and boundless, your body’s ability to express it is not. You can only do so much before becoming exhausted. Eventually you’ll start to do very little or nothing at all, rendering both you and your causes helpless.

Having multiple causes that you constantly pursue can also give off the impression that you’re standing on your soapbox or that you are just an unhappy and bitchy person. If your audience ever places you into this category, you’ll lose the ability to impact their decisions.

1. Consider what is most important. Which issue matters most to you? Which issue is closest to your heart? If the issue is close to your heart, it is likely that you’ll stick to it. You’ll do the research to support this cause and learn to perfect your approach to it.

2. What can you do about it? Before taking up any cause, it’s important to know the limits of your power and resources. Let’s say for instance, you are anti-war and you want to protest in efforts to stop it. While you may have the power to raise awareness through social media, you may not have the power to actually prevent the war because it is beyond your sphere of influence. Therefore, you may have to decide if this battle is worth it. If you determine that it’s worth it, by all means, do pursue. Otherwise, the energy might be better spent elsewhere.

3. Who cares? Are there others who feel the way that you do or are you a lone ranger? This doesn’t mean that you should negate the cause. Maybe you can rally others. There is power in numbers. If others aren’t willing to join you, you’ll have to consider how effective you can be alone or if this cause is really a worthy one.

When you narrow your focus, you won’t waste time and energy on things outside of your sphere of influence and you’ll find that you’re far more effective at getting things done.

Eric L. Lipsey