The Focus Course review

Let me start off by saying that "review" might not be the best word to describe what follows. I'm not going into detail of all the modules or exercises that are available in The Focus Course. It wouldn't do justice to what Shawn Blanc created.

What I can do, is share what the course meant to me. And more importantly, how it changed me as a person.

What is it?

It's a 40 day course filled with tips and tricks on how to live a more meaningful life. Shawn goes into detail on how we can improve our lifes, shares some of his own experiences and more importantly he explains why you're doing X or Y and what the expected result can be.

The exercises are usually short and easy to do, but some require your full attention. The majority of the time, I scheduled the exercises before going to work. I think 30 minutes is about the longest I had to spend on any day. Because of several reasons, that are mostly just bad excuses, I finished the entire course in 83 days. There's no implied deadline, you can do it at your own pace. But I know I could have been faster if I hadn't procrastinated in some areas of the course (oh the irony!).

What changed as a result of doing The Focus Course?

Below is a list of things I could think of that were a direct result of exercises I did during the course:

  • watching less TV. We like to watch series (currently Homeland), but instead of watching two or more episodes a night, I'm only watching one episode in order to create time to read.
  • stopped following RSS feeds, unfollowed noisy twitter accounts and unsubscribed from newsletters that I didn't read anyway.
  • picked up meditating again (I can highly recommend the Calm app).
  • sold things I no longer needed instead of storing them in the attic.
  • celebrate small wins and make others aware of their small wins.
  • consciously think of ways to make things easier for future me
  • finally started this blog you're reading.
  • planning my evenings (budgetting time) to get a better balance between spending time with my fiancee, friends/family, events,... and personal development.

Maybe the most noticeable difference for me is that once or twice a day, I catch myself thinking about a situation: how I could have been a better person, behave in another way, say something different,...

What am I struggling with?

There are two modules about your life vision, setting life goals for different areas of your life and creating daily habits. This is where I lost the most time, but found a lot of valuable information after pulling through.

Daily Habits (or lifestyle practices) are things that set us up for success. Why? Because they keep us moving in the right direction. Little things done consistently over time amount to massive results and breakthrough.
— Shawn Blanc

I found it hard to write these things down and I'm sure some of my life goals will change when I make progress towards them. Shawn helps you create multiple steps towards a life goal, which is a great way to evaluate if you're making progress.

What do I want to improve?

  • my morning schedule: spending too much time on reading social media, playing games,... There are about 5 hours per week I could be spending much better.
  • keeping a diary on a daily basis: I'm looking at the setup of Five Minute Journal to have a framework to start from each day.
  • do more meaningful work.

Would I recommend this course?

YES! I think that everyone can get something out of this course. For me personally it has been the best investment in myself in 2015.

At the time of writing The Focus Course is available for $ 347 (lifetime access).

What would you do with 5 more years?

I love how these kids think about their own future. There's nothing holding them back in their creativity. Something we can all learn from.

As we grow older, we sometimes get told that:
- our ideas/goals are too ambitious
- it's impossible to do X, Y, Z
- ...

For most people, today marks the start of a new year at our jobs. Let 2016 be the year where we focus on what we can do, instead of what we can't.

Getting ready for the new year

Inspired by Mike Cohn's blogpost, I thought it was a good idea to think about my own New Year's resolutions. I'm not talking about setting unattainable goals for 2016, but rather small improvements that improve the way we work as a team.

I came up with 7 that I feel are easy to do, but can make a world of difference:

  1. Create a definition of done and definition of ready with your team
  2. In team meetings, ask more questions and make fewer statements
  3. When someone's talking to you, give them your undivided attention
  4. Celebrate small wins
  5. Improve the information radiator for an ongoing project
  6. Default to yes (with regards to changing something in the way we work)
  7. Change or remove meetings/processes that aren't serving the team

The difference between goals and systems

Goals are good to have, but they're easy to lose track off. This article from James Clear explains how you can work towards your goal by focusing on a system.

When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.
— James Clear

One goal of mine is to walk the Triple Crown of Hiking. By doing short distance walks on a weekly basis, I have a system in place that trains my walking muscles. It also has some nice, extra benefits:

  • I'm discovering a lot of lovely places nearby (check my Instagram account for more pictures)
  • I'm spending quality time with my fiancee
  • It's a great way to clear your head