Focus. Students are reminded by their parents and teachers to excel in their academics.
Focus. Athletes are told to keep their eyes on the prize.
Focus. Photographers adjust their cameras to take the perfect shot.
Focus. Friends encourage friends to stand tall despite the many storms that hit them.
Focus. We tell ourselves when life starts to feel like a burden.
Each of us has heard or said this so many times in different situations. But do we really know how to stay focused?
Focus, as defined by the dictionary, means the center of activity or a condition that gives room to clear understanding. Focus means to have only one thing in mind and not allowing other factors, both external and internal in nature, distract you. Focusing means to stay committed to your responsibilities, whether big or small. Focus is often associated with main ideas or goals, for it is the topic and the center of everything. These definitions and ideas on focus are very straightforward, and they also send us a message: Focusing is no easy task. On a personal level, it is easy to prove how difficult it is to stay focused. Just take attending classes as an example, there will always be that one class where the professor is not very engaging or interesting, therefore, we find ourselves doing other tasks instead. Staying focused in the societal level is a much more complicated situation.
In the societal level, focusing on a problem is more difficult because you have to consider different perspectives and factors – some you aren’t even aware of. You will have to dissect every aspect of a problem to produce an effective and efficient solution. However, I’m getting way ahead of myself. The point that I would like to raise in this article is not the process of solving, but the first step to problem solving–identifying the statement of the problem.
The first step will always be very crucial because it dictates the path for the proceeding actions. This step requires utmost focus because if we fail to recognize the real issue, then we will come up with solutions that have minimal effects. Worst case scenario is you don’t acknowledge the problem at all. We will end up wasting resources or investing time for nothing. I believe that this is one of the reasons why our country hasn’t been able to address the big problems it faces. We fail to focus on the problem which is why we are unable to create both long and short term solutions. Sometimes, we even create issues completely unrelated to the problem whenever we dig too much, and when we don’t try to ask questions, we only see the problem through its surface. Both are problematic because we fail to take into consideration our different stakeholders. We fail to consider all aspects of the problem. Either we only see the bigger picture, completely ignoring the smaller one or the other way around. We get too absorbed by the situation that we are unable to determine the real problem on hand.
The next time you find yourself faced with a problem that needs solving, remind yourself to focus on what you want to happen.
Focus on the people you would like to benefit from the solution. But more importantly, focus on your whys.
By Marianne Bartolome, a current regional intern of WYA Asia Pacific | Learn more about the Asia Pacific Internship here.