Get Focused. Get Joy.
After 12 years of coaching people through the Halftime Institute, there is an obvious barrier to a life of joy, impact and balance that has become self-evident: Lack of Focus.
And the most common reason for a lack of focus is lack of conviction about what’s really important in a person’s life.
Here’s 4 reasons why. Followed by 5 steps to get focused.
1. If we have low clarity on our callings and personal values, all opportunities, obligations and activities appear equally alluring and critically important. That’s a surefire recipe for frenzied busyness… and a low grade feeling that you’re hustling on a treadmill to nowhere.
2. The best way to say “NO” is to have a short list of solid “Yesses.”
3. Some people have “Yesses” that aren’t the equivalent of God’s “Yesses.” Remember, our life is not about our comfort and plans. It’s about passing God’s love along through our work, friendships, marriages, parenting, giving, etc. This approach leads to more joy than any self-serving pathway. As Jesus said, “If you really want to live, die to your agenda and assume my agenda.” (Matt 16:25 paraphrase) His yoke, as counter-intuitive as it sometimes seems, turns out to be easier than the ones the world has told us to assume.
4. The other thing about focus has to do with effectiveness. When you tighten the focus of your affections, time, talent, money, and love, you get better results.
At a practical level, you can get focused by putting Stephen Covey’s famous maxim into action: “Begin with the ends in mind.” Here’s a simple 5 step process:
1. Carve out 45 minutes for this exercise. (Ok. I’m willing to bet I just lost 95% of the people reading this. Most people speed-read articles looking for magical information, but don’t want to put in the hard work necessary for real transformation. Hence, why so many people are unfocused, unhappy, and spinning their wheels in life. Just sayin’)
2. For those of you still reading, imagine you’re on your deathbed and a friend from long ago who you haven’t seen in 60 years shows up and asks “So tell me, how’d your life turn out?” And you respond with, “It was perfect.” Then you went on to share about your marriage, your kids, your work, your greatest contribution to mankind, your health, your faith, your friendships, etc. Write no more than 2-3 sentences of how you would describe those elements of your life.
3. Next, which two elements of your “ideal life” are you furthest away from. In other words, where’s the biggest gap?
4. Think of 2-4 daily habits and commitments that, if you really stuck to them consistently over time, would guarantee that you bridged those gaps by the time you die.
5. Lastly, tell at least 2 other people about those commitments and ask them to hold you accountable. (We’ve learned at the Halftime Institute that people grow best over time and with others.) Now, pray for strength and go make it happen!
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18