Focus on the smallest thing possible

I remember the last time I talked to a group of people. I told them that, no matter what they wanted to accomplish, always focus on one thing. Yes. I told them, that no matter what their goal was, focus on one thing. And turn this one thing into the best thing it can be.

And, that one thing, it doesn’t have to be related to what their goal is.

If I was going to talk to the same group of people again, I would go a step further, and I would tell them to not only focus on one thing, but I would tell them to focus on the smallest thing possible for success to happen.

Let me give you an example.

It’s like my new habits for 2013. I started 2013 by not drinking Coca-Cola Zero. That was it. I am having more confidence than ever. I am smiling constantly. And I have published my first novel. I started with the smallest thing possible.

Let’s say that I am going to talk to politicians and help them get more people to visit our town. Let’s say that the goal is not just to get more people to visit, but to get more people to move to the town. It might sound like a very difficult task. And, like writing a novel, it will be hard to finish it without writing one word at a time. If we start by doing everything, we might end up doing nothing.

So, let’s say that I want to attract people to my beautiful town, and that I believe that the best solution is to focus on one thing. I might want to focus on music. But, music alone is too generic. I need to focus on one type of music, a specific genre, and in the end, I will focus on one band. That’s the band that will make people dance, and it’s the band that will make people smile.

I will start by inviting a fantastic band, and plan a major concert.

Right now, I am listening to Imagine Dragons and the song On top of the world, and I know that if I wanted more people to visit the fantastic fortress close to where I live, and if I want more people to experience the restaurants, and if I want more people to understand why I love living in Halden, I can do all this by focusing on one thing, the smallest thing possible, and turn the smallest thing possible into the best experience ever.

The small things are so much easier to do. We’ll have more control than ever. And, if we turn it into the best experience ever, people will not only notice, but they’ll remember us forever.

If we focus on the small things, most likely, the other people won’t. Like my fantastic concert with Imagine Dragons, people won’t just remember the concert, they’ll remember everything about it. They’ll remember the days before the concert, when all they could think about was the concert. They’ll remember the drive to the concert. They’ll remember the view when they arrived in our town. They’ll remember the smell of the flowers while walking by the shore. They’ll remember everything about our town. They’ll tell their friends. They won’t be able to keep their mouths shut. They’ll keep talking about the time they visited Halden and experienced the best concert in the world, and ate at a restaurant with the funniest waiter in the world and the best food.

The goal was not the concert. It was just the smallest thing possible. But, because we turned it into the best experience ever, we’ll end up with something much more interesting than just reaching the goal.

This was just an example. But, hopefully, I turned it into something you can use.



  1. What you focus on and pay attention to at any given time is very important. You need to concentrate to finish what you started. If you don’t focus, you can be easily distracted and you can pass your whole life away, frustrated and unfulfilled, without accomplishing anything of what you wanted.

  2. Excellent point Jens. I love doing things in little steps. If I think of the big picture I freeze and don’t accomplish anything. But a step here and there really do add up. Today I’m trying to eat better and have packed my carrots to go. I hope this one step will help and I’m not saying I’m going on a diet. Just making one change at a time to accomplish a goal.

    • That’s the same as me. I still have some problems accomplishing all my daily tasks. When I look at them in my to-do list it seems that there are so many, and I just freeze. But, usually I just think of each task alone and then I get things done. And that’s the same with big projects.

  3. Hi Jens, Wonderful inspirational post! You’re right, start small and focus on one thing. I realized this when I started my blog. Suddenly my lack of coding knowledge seemed like a gaping hole in my skill set. I signed up for an online coding course, but I soon realized that I should be focused on writing for my blog, not learning coding. I keep that in mind now, I am singularly focused on my tech writing.

    I like your idea for a concert for your town. When I was a teenager I went to my first rock concert. Fifteen years later I moved to the town where that rock concert was held. Great idea!

  4. Hey Jens

    I love your stories. They always inspire me and point me in the right direction.

    I’m always thinking too much about the bigger picture and often miss the smaller points. I then get diverted to something else.

    So, focussing on the smaller steps is something I definitely need to start doing.

    • Hey Tim,

      Thanks a lot. It took me a long time to reverse most of what I was doing and start thinking about the small steps. I guess it happened at the time when I started writing my novel. It seems like an impossible task to finish a novel if I didn’t do it one step at a time.

  5. Additional to that. Be consistent. Be prepared to every changes you might encounter. Take it with passion. It is love and anger combined. The example above is very simple, that when you think, it really makes sense. Be specific with your goal.

  6. Inspirational indeed Jens!

    What you mentioned today of focusing on the smallest of things is something most of us might be knowing, but few of us really do, and that includes me too. I guess in the daily rut of life, we tend to forget this important point of living in the present, the NOW and enjoying those precious moments that just pass us by.

    I’ve started taking one step at a time now, going slow, and enjoying every single moment as and when it comes – whether it’s the good or the bad. Most importantly, learning to appreciate and value it too – isn’t it?

    Also, when we focus on these smallest of things, our focus is the real focus, which we lose out on when we try to cover up the bigger things of life and really never accomplish anything much. It’s best to start small and take one step at a time. :)

    Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

  7. I love how you shared about your town Jens to get a point across about focusing on the small things first. Things take time to create no matter what they are so it’s like starting a new job. We want to know how to do everything right this moment and that’s not possible.

    Concentrate on one thing at a time and everything else will transpire in time. Just like your novel.

    Thank you Jens for stating this in plain English. Now, let’s all get to work and start by concentrating on one small thing at a time.

    Have a great week.


  8. A very good point and one neglected by most of your competition. You make big gains just by paying attention to small details. One reason why I advocate for people learning more about data, is that it can direct your attention to small details that make big impacts on your business. Measure and you will always have an idea of what you can do to change things for the better. This is just another form of the old Zen saying, “Pay attention”.

  9. David Landen

    I love to focus on completing one task at a time. This same thought process carries over to my work life but sometime that doesn’t work so well! If you can just get yourself started working on one small project this can lead to momentum to taking on bigger projects.

  10. Eddie Gear

    This has been on the primary focus of my consulting service. To identify small things that can make big differences to blogs and over all change the user experience a reader receives. I like the way you have put the points out. Work smart not hard, is the focus this year. It helps improve productivity and growth.

    • Hey Eddie,

      That’s exactly what I’m doing. Things are going so much better since I started focusing on one thing at a time. Now, I am using an app called Habit List to keep track of every new habit, and I am using Things (for my iPhone, iPad and Mac) to keep track of all my tasks. This way I don’t have to worry about forgetting something :)

      Are you using any system to focus?

  11. Excellent advice on something that I also struggle with. I particularly like the “False Evidence Appearing Real” part, as I have a habit of mulling things over & over, instead of letting them go. I also didn’t know the effects of hydration on mood. I don’t drink enough water & I’m trying to add more in to my daily routines. Thank you for the great advice!

  12. Excellent post. You really dialed that in. It’s the simple principles that worked for people that have already been where we are heading and desire to be that we should pay close attention to.Thanks for keeping it real and I always look forward to your next post!

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