The One Thing - focusOne of the participants in a Goal Setting teleclass asked me to recommend a book on time management. My mind immediately went to The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan.

The participant mentioned that she felt like a fox running after many rabbits in the forest. She noted that this was tiring and she got very dismal results on her goals.

The One Thing kicks off with a Russian proverb that says, “If you chase two rabbits…you will not catch either one.” So it’s no wonder that it quickly came to my mind.

This book is based on the premise that:

“When you want the absolute best chance to succeed at anything you want, your approach should always be the same. Go small.”

When you go small you’re able to achieve bigger results in a shorter time.

To implement The One Thing in your goal setting, you ask yourself:

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

This question will help you narrow your concentration, focus, and resources.

What possibilities does this book raise?

3 simple lessons from The One Thing

1. Extraordinarily successful companies always have one product or service they’re most known for or that makes them the most money. 

The authors give examples of companies like Starbucks, KFC, Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, and others. If you’re in business, this is a great example to follow so that your business gets known for one thing only. You can then you build other products or services from the main one.

2. It takes one person to help you succeed

This is someone who pushes or motivates you to succeed. Your one person can be a mentor, parent, relative, teacher, coach, or an agent. It’s someone who believes in you, gives you room to grow or helps you take your talent to the next level.

3. You should focus on your one passion or skill

Extraordinarily successful people focus on one intense emotion or one learned ability that shines through. This defines them or drives them more than anything else.

Focus when setting your goals

I’m a goal setting freak. I’ve used different goal setting systems in the past and written a lot about goal setting and yearly planning.

Frankly speaking, I didn’t resonate with the message in The One Thing the first time I read it. In fact, it sat in my Amazon wish list for a long time despite its low price. It wasn’t until I got tired of ending the year with some unachieved goals that I was ready to try something different.

I read the book in one go (it’s a very simple and well-explained text) and then worked through it chapter by chapter. Coming from a background of setting at least 7 goals per year, it was hard for me to narrow down to one goal for the year.

Once I got used to focusing on one thing, goal setting and tracking became real easy. The authors give a clear and easy-to-follow system. However, you must be willing to let go of all that you know and any assumptions you have about goal setting and achievement.

Being a step-by-step kind of person, I found Chapter 14 of the book very useful as it lays out a system for creating your life plan and then start implementing it today.

This plan includes questions that help you set goals starting from the future Someday Goal and moving closer to 5-year, 1-year, monthly, weekly and daily goals. You’re then able to focus on what you’re doing now so that it fits into this timeline.

How I’ve put The One Thing into practice this month

You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to implement the strategies in this book. I read it in November and revamped the goals that I was thinking of for the New Year.

I used the book when setting my goals for 2017 because I wanted to narrow down and concentrate on only one thing for my business this year.

On the business end, I got my marketing in order when I created my timeline. In the process, I noted that in 2016, I tried to get business from different places (chasing many rabbits). This ran me ragged and my marketing results were not as great as I wanted.

When I got my timeline right and identified my One Thing for business, I realized that writing is my best marketing method. I enjoy writing (including blogging and my weekly newsletter) and it’s the one thing that I did effortlessly last year.

Best of all, blogging in 2015-2016 led to:

  • An eBook that sells online (creating passive income…).
  • Referrals from my readers.
  • New coaching clients.
  • Return clients.
  • Invitations to speak and train.
  • Invitations to write guest articles for 3 blogs.

This year, I’ve turned things around and made blogging my one marketing thing. My main goal is to optimize this blog and fill it with useful content for my readers.

I will interact with my readers, inform them through tips and resources, and inspire them to break free of their limitations to success this year.

I also used The One Thing to set personal, spiritual and financial goals for the year (one each). These goals don’t feel overwhelming because I can comfortably fit them into my daily schedule by asking myself the One Question each day and when I feel stuck.

Final words

Many people read personal development books and expect quick success. This will not happen with The One Thing. If you’re looking for instant results, then this is not your book.

I also don’t see it as an easy to implement book for someone who is just starting out in goal setting. If this is your first time setting formal goals, first try out the goal setting articles on this blog. You can then move to The One Thing when you’ve gotten used to working with daily, weekly and monthly goals.

The process outlined in this book may seem very simple, but it will take time to implement and make it work for you. This is how I’m going to use it this year (feel free to copy my system):

  • Set aside time to read it through in one go (done).
  • Create the plan (done).
  • Use the plan every day, week and month.
  • Read the book daily for 15 minutes to maintain focus and motivation.

In conclusion, I see this system as a very powerful way to kick off the year and keep track of your goals and results. This is one book that I will use throughout the year because I can see its immense value in my personal life and business.

Additional resources from the authors

Accountability is a great tool for goal achievement. Therefore, I recommend that you use the book in a group that holds you accountable. You can download a free group discussion guide from the book’s official website.

You can also download worksheets, figures, guides and templates from the website. Some of the forms are available for immediate download. Others require that you sign up for the publisher’s email list using your name and email address.

Over to you now…

What is your One Thing for this year?

How will you stay focused on this one thing?

(Image credit: The One Thing website)


Disclosure: This review is based on my personal experience of The One Thing. Your experience could be different. Please note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. As such, I will receive a commission from the vendors when you buy the book using these links. Note that I only recommend books and programs that I believe in and that have had a positive effect in my life or business.

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Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business coach who works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck and eliminate time wastage. You can contact Caroline to request for a Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.