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Book Review:
The Power of Focus
Simplify and Focus for Success

It's a chaotic world and the number of things vying for our attention can seem limitless and overwhelming. There's always so much going on around us: jobs, careers, families, homes, friends and community, not to mention financial obligations.

Do these distractions hinder our success? Do they cloud our vision? Do they make it impossible to focus? Are we really doing what we should be to get what we need?

In dreaming of the success we'd all like to achieve, we have the option of eliminating these distractions. But wouldn't it make more sense to learn to incorporate the important elements and leave out the unnecessary ones?

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to find out exactly which ones are unnecessary. Reading "The Power of Focus," written almost five years ago, continues be an inspirational way to start providing practical, motivational tools to use throughout the coming months, and even years.

The authors, who also write the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series of books, share their considerable insight into creating positive life transformations by establishing habits and focusing. In their consulting practices, they've seen and talked with too many people who have lost the ability to see what really matters, which means they've lost the ability to enact their goals for personal and financial success.

The key to hitting business, personal and financial targets with clarity and certainty is to focus. Sounds easy enough, but the authors know and understand that the transformation required in making positive changes is not instantaneous. It's a process. People who are serious about making a serious change in their lives in a new direction will need to be patient and realize it won't happen overnight.

The first step is to get in the habit of having healthy habits, which determine our futures and quality of life. While consistency and reliability are commendable traits, implementing a positive new behavior and making a habit of it, or reprogramming a behavior that isn't really working into one that does, can also be a good thing.

The authors have laid out a course to follow; they realize we need a map for setting and achieving goals. They describe the process with examples of both personal and professional issues, which are never easy to separate.

In fact, they say that we shouldn't ignore one for the sake of the other, and provide suggestions for creating a rich and rewarding balance between them.

The book is divided into 10 "Focus Strategies," each with ideas and suggestions for making changes and improvements in relationships and careers. These aren't outlandish ideas; they are simple, common sense approaches to improving our quality of life.

For example, in "Focus Strategy #5 Building Excellent Relationships," the authors encourage readers to contact someone they would like to emulate and ask that person to be a mentor. They suggest asking this person for a few minutes on the phone every month, making the idea seem not only do-able, but logical.

Salespeople might find the section on core relationships especially interesting. All the elements of good personal and business relationships are the same; the trick in both cases is to determine who and what's important and then focus on them. Asking for the sale is a concept that translates to other areas of our lives; as in sales, we have to learn to ask for what we want in our personal relationships, too.

The well thought out layout of the book makes it easy to find key information; different ideas are presented in easily distinguishable formats. The authors actually suggest reading the book with a highlighter in hand to mark passages that stand out.

Each Focus Strategy has an "Action Steps" section of workbook-like exercises to help readers narrow down and focus.

Suggestions for questions toward self-discovery or making a picture goals book (for example, cutting out magazine pictures of vacation destinations) help us visualize what we want. There are also charts that diagram systems the authors have developed that cover identifying talents, strengths, and ways to get to that successful place, however each of us defines it.

The authors also generously put together a resource guide that provides additional sources of information and self-improvement programs.

The point is to re-energize us and help get us out of our ruts. So many people are looking for meaning in their lives; the authors say it's not impossible to use some very simple tactics to get a balanced, meaningful life. They understand the psychology behind our inability to change and the fear involved in making difficult decisions that result in change.

This is a book to read thoroughly once and then refer to often. Changing our lives to incorporate more focus and purpose is a process. It won't happen instantaneously. It requires discipline, and "The Power of Focus" will help keep readers on task.

"The Power of Focus:
How to Hit Your Business, Personal and Financial Targets With Absolute Certainty"

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt
Health Communications Inc.
Deerfield Beach, Fla., 2000
ISBN 1-55874-752-4
Paperback, 310 pages
Available on Amazon.com

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