How would you rate your general level of focus? Do you live with a sense of clarity and direction, or feel like you’re drifting along, bumping into whatever crosses your path? After the routines and schedules of raising a family, drifting can be fun and even necessary as you get used to an empty nest. But in a world where everyone and everything is vying for your attention, focused thinking is key to a deeper, richer, more meaningful life.Focused thinking is key to a deeper, richer, more meaningful life. #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
The value of focus: Seeing is believing.
When I was struggling in first grade, my parents took me to an eye doctor only to find I couldn’t even see the large “E” at the top of the chart. After years of not knowing what I was missing, a new pair of glasses literally changed my life. For the first time I was able to focus and move with precision.
Fast-forward 30 years…
Although glasses and contacts were a vast improvement, I still couldn’t read the digital alarm clock in the middle of the night. I couldn’t make out the face of who I was talking to if I didn’t have my contacts in. And I always slept clutching my glasses while at my sister’s home in LA, just in case there was an earthquake in the night.
After much thought, I decided to have LASIK surgery. I laid down on the table in a semi-dark, fuzzy room and moments later easily saw the machinery around me. In seconds I went from 20/800 to 20/15 vision and (maybe for the first time in my life) saw clearly without the aid of glasses. What an amazing and joyful change to my everyday life.
Now, here we are, almost 20 years later. My vision is still 20/20, but early mornings and late nights find me reaching for a pair of readers. They may only correct my vision the slightest amount, but my body immediately relaxes and reading becomes a pleasure, not a strain.
Living a focused life is much the same way.
Focused thinking helps you zero in and move forward with purpose instead of bumbling along in a frustrated, fuzzy haze. Focused thinking allows you to live into your priorities, plan the best path to your goals, and excel at your giftings and strengths instead of unknowingly living in mediocrity.
Much like my vision journey from first grade to now, you may have experienced varying levels of focus over the years. You may have been very purposeful in the last season of life, but now find yourself unsure where to put your time and energy. Maybe distractions steal more of your day than you’d like to admit.
In last week’s newsletter we talked about how big-picture thinking can help lift your eyes off of the immediate hurdles or pitfalls and help you explore new possibilities and expand your interests. (Check it out here.)
At first glace, big-picture thinking and focused thinking appear to be opposites. Instead of contradicting each other, however, they’re complimentary pieces to the same plan. Big-picture thinking helps you see the goal on the horizon, while focused thinking keeps you on the right path to get there.
Focused thinking removes distractions and mental clutter so that you can concentrate on an issue and think with clarity.”
~ John Maxwell ~
Just how focused do you need to be?
While it’s important to explore all of your options, a time comes when you must narrow the field of focus in order to move forward with purpose.
- You can’t be everything to everyone.
- You can’t do everything you’d like to do.
- You can’t read or learn everything that crosses your path.
- You can’t be everywhere others would ask you to be.
To live a life of passion and purpose, you must focus on just a few areas that bring you joy and bear the most fruit. Even Jesus did not try to do everything for everyone during His 33 years on earth. His Father had given Him a mission, a focus, a passion. By intentionally spending time listening to His Father, Jesus was able to keep His eyes on the goal and fulfill His purpose.
As you look at your priorities, as you lay out a bigger plan, as you see what rises to the top of your thoughts and conversation, take time this week for focused thinking.
- Block out distractions. Turn off the phone, music, and movies and let others know you’re taking some important time alone.
- Find a place where chores or other needs can’t draw your attention.
Maybe you need focused time to think about:
- a project;
- needed change;
- priorities for this season;
- or to narrow down your life’s focus.
- You may need to sit quietly to hear the Holy Spirit.
- You may want to meditate on details you already know to let them grow and expand. Journaling new thoughts or ideas helps stimulate this process.
- You may want to have a time of focused study on a particular topic.
- Or you may use your focused-thinking time to actually put your hands to work, developing or building a project.
I’ll be honest… Although I’m a pretty disciplined person, reading and writing about this topic has shined more light on where I can tighten up my focus as well. This excites me! It really does. One lesson I’ve learned in recent years is the joy of simplicity and focus. Clarity takes off unnecessary yokes and releases you to run a specific race.
So here we go! Enjoy the process and comment below with how you’re focusing and moving forward!
How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, by John Maxwell.