Ever heard of tunnel vision?
Tunnel vision is defined as one’s tendency to focus on a single goal or point of view. The more important the goal or the more threatening a stimulus is perceived to be, the more likely a person is to focus attention on it
Key word? Focus.
You’ve surely had a goal that just seemed too hard or straight impossible to achieve, however hard you’ve strived to bring yourself closer to it it simply didn’t seem to make any difference. But why was that?
Well, in order to assess that, you might ask yourself this question:
Is what I am currently doing going to bring me closer to achieving your goal?
Sounds like a no-brainer, but I guess there are a lot of people that simply charge onto their goal, heads-on, without constantly asking themselves whether it’s actually going to help them or not.
And I’m not referring to the starting point of your journey, but rather along the whole journey.
The issue is that the world is so dynamic that what you do today might not be relevant for the achievement of your goal tomorrow, unfortunately, so you’ll have to constantly assess your situation, your direction, what you are doing to achieve your goals, as well as the goal itself; all in relation to the dynamic variables that change every single day.
This is where the issue with the wrong use of tunnel vision arises.
Adopt tunnel vision in regards to the goal, not the journey there
The goal is the one you should be striving to accomplish through any means necessary, not the other way around; adjusting the goals to the means would render the goal in itself useless.
If you don’t constantly adjust your actions you might find yourself achieving something or reaching a point that is totally different from what you initially wanted to achieve, and that, depending on you, could be either favorable or not, but most of the time it won’t be what you were initially striving to achieve.
It’s easy to get lost in the process when working so hard and putting all of the resources you have towards the accomplishment of a singular goal, but not adjusting your means properly means you will rather adjust the goals to the means, and not vice versa.
The goals you set for yourself should be static and precise, otherwise, you will find yourself in a position you wouldn’t have really wanted to be in, or simply making less, if any, progress towards your goal.
Bad example of Tunnel Vision
A simple and absurd example of this would be trying to become a Software Engineer at Google (Web Development). Pretty simple, right?
You start by preparing yourself for a web development position by doing side web projects, building user interfaces, studying databases, etc.
But when you finally apply for the position, land an interview, and meet the interviewer, you are going to be unpleasantly surprised about the data structures & algorithms questions, as well as the system design ones. Why is that?
Well, you might’ve started with Google’s Software Engineering position, but what you have been actually preparing for was a Web Development position, which could be similar, but it’s not the same.
You haven’t well-adjusted your means to the goal, but have rather adjusted the goal to the means.
The goal in itself is a static (There are few chances for it to change, for example, Google disappearing or the position to be unavailable) and specific one (In opposition to, let’s say simply working at Google — There are a lot of open positions), which is good, but you might’ve done insufficient planning or you haven’t constantly adjusted your journey in order to achieve that goal.
I know how absurd this example might be, but remember it is absurd because of how popular Google is, and how notorious the interview is at FAANG companies.
Keep in mind that there are so many possibilities when it comes to goal-setting that is sometimes confusing when it comes to their actual implementation.
A good example of Tunnel Vision
Let’s say you want to be financially free; it’s a rather vague example, and it’s extremely dynamic in terms of ways of making that goal a reality. But it’s by no means impossible.
One scenario is that you get a higher-paying job which puts you in a better financial situation, you pay off your debts, what’s next? You do start to have a surplus of money, what will you do with it?
Will you inflate your lifestyle, will you save, will you invest?
Well, if your goal is to be financially free as soon as possible the best thing you can do is save a few months' worth of lifestyle costs and invest from thereon.
This is a dynamic implementation detail that could make the difference between living a better life now, starting to lose money in the long term (A combination of the first 2 choices, spending + losing money due to inflation), or living a better life in the future. This is a choice that you will have been constantly presented with by all incoming pay-checks.
By constantly asking yourself whether what you are doing is the right thing to do in order to achieve your goal you’re always going to have the chance to assure whether you’re making the right choice, or going back to the right choice.
If you were to continually save money you would have realized in the long term that you are actually losing purchasing power, not maintaining it, so in that scenario doing some introspective might have saved you a fortune, really.
The prerequisite when adopting Tunnel Vision
The underlying prerequisite when talking about tunnel vision would be focus.
That’s what tunnel vision is all about; focusing on one goal thoroughly, without interruptions or distractions; not seeing anything else rather than the goal.
That’s why a goal in itself shouldn’t be dynamic, as it’s something particular and accurate that you are going to achieve; if it weren't, you would constantly feel disheartened when you work as hard as you can and don’t seem to progress any further.
The ways you progress towards it, however, should be dynamic, otherwise, any adjustment in the context of reaching that goal would completely derail you off.
Keep in mind that most of the time insufficient planning might be the first factor to derail you, the second one being the lack of adaptation or adjustments to your journey in regards to the goal.
I recommend you to also check out my article in regards to how you can achieve your goals more easily here:
I am planning on writing an article on the topic of focus as well, so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter here, so you will be notified when that’s going to be published.