A Refined Focus

Today I’d like to discuss a life skill that I believe is a critical piece of driving our desired results in life.  It’s the skill of refining our focus.  It’s an evolutionary process that typically transpires from six individual steps.

  1. We awake to the realization that our life is not headed in the direction of our ultimate vision.

            It may be the first time you’ve had this realization about your life.  You may be discovering for the first time that up until this point you’ve had no real vision for your life – you’ve just been riding a train that’s looping in circles, riding along on the path of least resistance, pursuing what you assumed to be the appropriate path.  Maybe you’re a young mother who loves being a mom, but you fear that your identity has been lost in that role and you’d like to define yourself and leave a mark on the world in other ways as well.  Perhaps you’re a middle-aged professional who is a newly single parent needing to redefine your identity within your new circumstances.  Or maybe you’re retired and feel a spirit of unrest brewing, because there is still more you want to experience and accomplish in life.

            On the other hand, you may have been consciously working toward your vision in the past, but you inadvertently slipped off course somewhere along the way.  Or perhaps your circumstances have changed, causing you to rethink your ultimate vision.

            Of course, there is a distinct possibility that your vision hasn’t changed at all – you’ve just gained a new clarity that you’ve not been moving in the direction of that vision for some reason.  Instead, you all of a sudden realize that you seem to have been running in place for years without making any notable forward progress.

2. We stop to define, redefine, or fine-tune our life vision to identify the breakdowns between where we are and where we want to be.

            This isn’t a beat-yourself-up-over-lost-time exercise.  It’s more of a let-me-get-clear-on-what-I want-so-I-can-commit-to-lose-no-more-time thought process.  This is hugely important.  In fact, skipping this step is why the vast majority of people don’t ever arrive anywhere remarkable.  They either assume remarkable isn’t an option, they believe it’s asking for too much out of life, or they think normal people don’t reach remarkable.  They may fear they’ve veered too far off track for too long or made too many mistakes to stage a comeback to remarkable, or for any number of reasons they never even stop to define what remarkable would look like for them.

3. We resolve to do whatever it takes to close the chasm between where we are and where we want to be.

                        This is where many intending victors will lose heart and slip back into the black hole of mediocrity.  As we look back and start to take stock of all things that went wrong and all of the “errors of our ways”, we could easily become discouraged, overwhelmed, and defeated.  But what most people don’t understand is that being overwhelmed is a choice.  One is never truly defeated until accepting defeat in the mind.  Your comeback journey may be a short or long road, but it can almost always be shorter than we might imagine – if we are willing to deal with our needed changes head on and tackle them one by one without taking 6 months to rest and recuperate between each step.  Are you willing to take the bull by the horns?  Are you willing to learn and grow and make changes where necessary?  Or, are you still making decisions to protect your ego instead of swallowing your pride to fight for your future?  As you may have heard before, each day that we dawdle on this side of our dream life is one day less that we get to enjoy the rewards on the other side of our victory!

4. We map out our plan of attack and immediately start taking action. 

            There is a difference between knowing and doing.  There is a difference between preparing and executing.  There is a difference between theory and reality.  Planning is absolutely necessary and strategic planning is vital, but there comes a point when you must move into action.  Regardless of how daunting or impossible your dream life may seem, there is a solution to everything if you’re willing to dig deep enough.  So, you must quit complaining about all the things you don’t like in your life – all those things you’ve continued to allow in your life – and take consistent action to eliminate the barricades and chisel away at the mountains of challenges.

5. We choose to stay committed – even when life gets hairy. 

            This will require a fresh, new commitment every single day until we reach our destination.  Unless our desire to triumph is stronger than the gravitational pull of complacency, we will never break through to victory.  The desire to win and the desire to remain the same are both living beings.  What we’re talking about here is survival of the fittest.  Whichever we feed and nurture will grow, while the neglected one will eventually wither away and die.

6. We find a way to empower as many other people as possible on our quest to success. 

            You can count on the power of strength in numbers.  If you try to fly solo, you’ll eventually run out of steam.  But if you make a bold statement to the world that the train is leaving the station, many people will hop on for the ride, because the world makes way for people who know where they’re going.  Boldly proclaim to your friends and family what you intend to do – and then proceed to take action boldly – even if they question your sanity.  But it’s important that you spend less time talking about your plan and more time acting on the plan.  Talk is cheap, but action is rare.  Success is just as contagious as defeat, so as they see you stepping into your potential, it will empower them to make new courageous changes as well.  And every person you help to influence or empower along the way becomes a surge of energy in the jet stream of your momentum.

            If you dare to buck the trends…if you dare to break the mold of the status quo…if you dare to live out loud…even though the first few steps may feel absolutely terrifying…you may be surprised one day to turn around and see a train full of people who are now looking to you for guidance.  All because you achieved the impossible and conquered the unthinkable – you defeated who you used to be. 

This six-step process of refining your focus and fine-tuning your dream is a skill set that can literally take you anywhere you want to go in life.  Pick your destination, toss on your conductor’s hat, and issue a final boarding call.  It’s time to get moving.  All aboard!

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