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How to Focus



I was talking to my brother recently and somehow we got on the topic of focus. He wanted to know how to get more focused in his life.

I told him I could relate. With so many options to choose from these days and the length of our to-do lists, it’s not surprising that we can get distracted by the number of choices and tasks that we face.

Focus drives our life as well as the life of our organizations. What we focus on and practice, we become. More than anything else, focus determines the quality of life we experience and whether we accomplish our purpose and the things that are most meaningful to us.

There are three helpful and surprising things we can do to stay focused:

1. Make fewer decisions. Interestingly, the more decisions we make, the more fatigued our mind becomes. Over time, we are less effective. The internet is a blessing and a curse in this regard. With all the bizarre happenings today (e.g. the promotion of “alternative facts” in the political arena), it’s easy to get sucked into perusing the internet. One of the first things we can do is stop browsing so much. I discovered that mindlessly browsing consumes incredible amounts of mental energy. Every new link and every new piece of information I pay attention to eats up more of my mental energy, erodes my focus and depletes reserves. It also diminishes willpower, as well as future focal power. If we’re looking for something, I realize it’s best to search for one thing, find it … and then stop. When we do, we take our minds back. 2. Clarify your mission. Most of us are familiar with the scriptural reference, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” In my conversation with my brother, we shared that many people meander through life without any intention and end up doing too many things that aren’t important. It helps to sincerely ask ourselves, “What do I desire in life? What should I be doing with my time at this moment to further my life and mission?” As we ask such questions, the steps we need to take will reveal themselves. We’ll take focused action and be guided to minimize time spent on anything that isn’t in alignment with our mission. 3. Don’t immediately commit to projects anymore. When asked to take on a new task, if you don’t want to say no immediately, perhaps the best thing to do is say, “Let me pray on that first.” Check the request against your mission and passions. Ask, “Should I focus on this right now in my life? Is this good for me or bad for me? Is this the right time or the wrong time?” While it is hard at times, we should learn to say no to anything that doesn’t fire up our heart with full commitment and enthusiasm. Staying focused is one of the most important skills in life. I’m still learning how to get better at it. If we commit to getting back to a simple approach to life and focus on one to three major things that really matter, then moment by moment we’ll move our life toward only those things that engage and fire us up. The result: our life will be one that uplifts us each and every day.

Peace and blessings,

James


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