How to determine what’s important, and what you should drop

Throughout high school, I’ve racked up many achievements and leadership positions related to school. Every year, though—I’ve decided to give it all up to focus.

  • Sophomore Year: Sophomore Representative to School Council (and the year before as well) — could have done junior year, decided to quit
  • Junior Year: Debate Club President — could have won President again, but decided to quit
  • Junior Year: Convention Coordinator at the Northeast State of the JSA — could have campaigned for the top position as Governor, but decided to quit

All decisions, all about giving up positions of authority and prestige up, after working very hard to get to them. I’ve found that I sometimes regret these decisions, and whether they were the best to make.

The Problem with Focusing

The main problem with focus is that focus usually means dropping other things. When we’re talking about things you’ve worked hard to achieve—positions of leadership or otherwise—it’s hard to let go.

However, the things that you do that don’t line up with what your real focus (and areas of development) will act like leeches on your time and energy. In many cases, that’s more detrimental than hanging on. When you’re at that point, it’s important to know how to rotate your focus ring with precision.

Areas of Development

I’ve identified three areas of development that I’d like to see from everything that I voluntarily work on.

  1. personal development — helping me work with teams, people in general, getting work done
  2. social development — chances of meeting new and valuable people in the process of work
  3. college and résumé/career development — chances to improve my chances in college and in my career
  4. extrapersonal benefit — helping others, including those who can’t help me back (a life goal)

Think about your own areas of development. Like above, write down the area and a description on why it’s important to you to develop.

Questions I Asked Myself

Indeed, they weren’t easy decisions to make—each of them required a lot of thinking beforehand to determine whether they were the best decisions to make. They were based on:

  • If I continued, how much workload (time) would I have to spend on it?
  • Will this workload affect my ability to do work that I really, really want to focus on? (entrepreneurship)
  • Is continuing an acceptable sacrifice for the areas of development?
  • Is quitting an acceptable sacrifice for focus?
  • Is this really something that contributes to my life goals and areas of development? How?

Ask these questions to yourself with regard to your areas of development. Is it something you’d like to still pursue?

Through experience, I’ve seen that maintaining focus is important. It has affected my hard-earned positions of leadership, but it’s important. A tough choice to make, but in the end, one that is very valuable.