I often write about the importance of focus. Lacking focus will bring you nowhere since you do not devote enough time and energy to accomplish your goals. The danger of lacking focus is nothing strange. There is a lot written about it in books and blogs.
There is, however, another side of the coin that is equally dangerous but receives much less attention: being obsessed. We could be too focused on something that the other areas of our life suffer.
As you can see, there are three levels of focus:
- Lacking focus
The ideal place to be is the second level. The other two levels are dangerous. Now that more and more people are aware about the importance of focus, I’m afraid that the Obsessed side is becoming more dangerous than the Lacking Focus side.
Here are three signs of being obsessed:
- You feel jealous when somebody gets ahead of you
When we are obsessed we no longer feel secure in who we are and start comparing ourselves with others. When we are ahead we may feel proud, but when we are behind we would feel jealous. You want your goal so much that you don’t want others to get it.
- Your relationships suffer
Because of your obsession you may no longer have time to maintain good relationships with your family, friends, or colleagues. Perhaps you still have time, but the quantity or quality of the time suffer.
- You are mentally drained
Obsession takes a lot of our mental energy. We need life balance to renew our mental energy but being obsessed clearly put our life off balance.
These are just three signs of obsession I can think of. There could be many other signs I do not mention here.
It’s not easy to overcome obsession since we often do not realize that we have crossed the line between Focused and Obsessed. Having said that, here are several things you can do:
1. Watch for the signs
The signs of obsession could help you recognize whether or not you are in the Obsessed state. If you find that you are in the Obsessed state, you can then apply the other tips here.
2. Slow down
To regain control, you should first slow down. If you are moving too fast toward your goal, there’s no way you can see your current position and take the necessary adjustments. So try to reduce your working pace. You may even want to completely stop for a while.
3. Ask yourself: at which level is my motivation now?
We are motivated by our needs and – based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – there are eight levels of human needs: physical, security, belonging, esteem, learning, aesthetic, self-actualization, and transcendence. As I wrote in Upgrade Your Life by Upgrading Your Motivation, the level that motivates you determines the quality of your life. When we are obsessed, it’s often because our motivation comes from the lower levels of the hierarchy. Money, for instance, comes from level 1 (physical) or at most level 4 (esteem).
4. Upgrade your motivation
Now, knowing your level of motivation, you can upgrade it to higher level. The best of all is level 8 (transcendence) at which your motivation is to help others. Of course, it’s not easy to go to the higher levels. The important thing is to be honest with yourself in the process. It’s useless to say that your motivation is at level 8 while your actual motivation is at level 1. Just start from where you are and go up.
5. Keep listening to your heart
Your heart gives the best guidance you can possibly get. You must keep listening to your heart in whatever you do. Often it can give you warning about what not to do. For instance, if you are about to work in such a way that your family will be neglected, I believe your heart will give you warning. It can also warn you if your motivation goes down to lower levels. As long as you are not too busy to listen and follow your heart, there is a good chance that you will stay away from the obsession pitfall.
Do you have tips to overcome the obsession pitfall? Feel free to share them in the comments.