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When it comes to creating change in your life, focus makes all
When you focus on the right things, change becomes easier. When
you focus on the wrong things, it can feel like every day is an
It’s important to note here that I’m not talking about
what you’re trying to change. If you want to improve your
life by focusing on your health before you tackle your finances,
more power to you. Whatever fire has gotten the biggest, deal with
When it comes to focus, what matters is how you go about
making change happen. That’s where the wrong focus can slow or
completely stop your progress.
I learned this lesson from the book The 4 Disciplines of
Execution by authors Chris McChesney and Sean Covey. In it,
Chris and Sean use the concepts of lag and lead measures to help
problem solvers figure out where to focus their efforts.
Let’s dig into these concepts to see how they can help you
create lasting change.
A Focus on Lag Measures Doesn’t Work
Let’s start with lag measures. These are your outcomes: weight
loss, less debt, more money in savings, or running a six-minute
mile. In business, a lag measure might include hitting a revenue
target or sales quota. Lag measures are the endpoint, and when
pursuing goals, most people focus their efforts on those
McChesney and Covey make a case for why focusing on lag
measures, or endpoints, is a mistake. Instead, they explain why you
should focus on lead measures.
Lead measures are the actions that predict and influence the
endpoint. If the lag measure (endpoint) is weight loss, lead
measures might include journaling, eating more vegetables, reducing
processed foods, or creating new beliefs around food.
Lead measures are factors that are completely within your
control. On the flip side, you have far less control over the
endpoint than you do the factors that influence it.
Let’s consider an example. A real estate agent might set a
goal to sell more homes. Selling more homes is her lag measure;
it’s an endpoint.
Lead measures, actions, and behaviors that both predict and
influence the goal might include things like calling more
prospective clients, showing more homes to each buyer, or reaching
out to people who have listed their home for sale by owner.
When an agent focuses on lead measures, which predict and
influence their end goal, they create more progress than if they
broadly focus on trying to sell more homes.
Your Thoughts are the Ultimate Lead Measure
Since you can’t influence the outcome, your energy should be
invested in the attitudes and behaviors that predict and influence
the goal you’re trying to reach.
In other words, control the controllables and let the outcome
come to you.
That said, it’s important to note that not all the factors
that predict and influence your success are created equal. Some
have a dramatic impact, while others have none.
No matter what you’re trying to do, there is one lead measure
that will always produce a dramatic result. It will keep you out of
the ditch when you hit a dump in the road.
The ultimate lead measure is your thoughts. Optimizing your
thoughts—how and what you think—is the lead measure with the
highest return on investment.
A Perfect Time to Change Your Thoughts
Here’s an example of changing your thoughts that’s relatable
You’ve finished dinner. You aren’t hungry but you just want
a little something.
Dark chocolate with a spoonful of almond butter is totally
better than cookies or ice cream. And, come on, it’s so small, is
it really going to make a difference?
Plus, you’ve been pretty good all day. You’ll just finish
off those dark chocolate squares. In fact, eating them tonight
means they won’t be here to tempt you tomorrow!
Via your thoughts, you’ve talked yourself into dessert.
You’ve effectively convinced yourself. You made a case for it;
you negotiated for it and came to the decision by way of your
thoughts. Like I said: your thoughts drive your choices.
Different thoughts in the same situation can lead to a
completely different choice. Consider this alternate way of
thinking about the after-dinner dilemma:
Dark chocolate would be so good, but I’m not hungry right
now. Food always tastes better when I’m hungry, and I’m sure
that moment will come soon. I’ll wait until then.
If you were to engage in that line of thinking after dinner, you
probably won’t eat dessert because you won’t be hungry again
before bed. Crisis averted.
Combine Your Thoughts with Other Lead Measures
Focusing on lead measures sets you up for success, and the
ultimate lead measure is your thoughts. Begin there, and to boost
your chances even further, layer in some other practices and
behaviors that push you closer and closer to your goal.
The good news is that, since you started with your thoughts,
you’ll be more likely to continue those behaviors even when it
would be easier to stop doing them.
For more advice on finding the right focus, you can find
Chasing Cupcakes on Amazon.
Lasting Change Requires Focus. Here’s How to Get It appeared
first on Primal