ARE WE THERE YET?
If you want to be a person of greatness, if you want to reach your goals and accomplish remarkable dreams, you must acquire the mental strength and the critical ability to FOCUS.
I am convinced that the only reason people fail is lack of focus in their lives. Listen to me very carefully here. You can set goals. You can map out a plan. You can have great friends. But unless you have focus, you will not achieve those goals and you will not grow stronger. Let me illustrate this with a road trip.
What if you and three friends plan to go on a week-long road trip? You decide to leave Monday morning. Everyone shows up with their travel bags, and you get into the car. Where are you going? Well, one of your friends packed for cool weather, so you decide to head north. What are you going to see? That has not been decided. When will you get there? No one is sure. How will you know you have arrived? This may be a long trip...
If you have no plan and are not focused on a destination, just anywhere will do. But when you get to the end of the week, what have you accomplished? You may be better friends (you may not!), you may have seen a lot of country, you may have eaten well, but without a destination – without a focus – you have spent a week just wandering around the country, burning up gasoline!
You know many people – good people – who treat life the same way. They start out with an idea to just do something fun in life – something they enjoy. But without a clear destination – without focus – they spend years wandering about. They may try something new for a while, then when that gets old, move on to yet another something. They may make resolutions – only to break them within three weeks and make them again. They move, they change, and inevitably, they follow - and spend their whole lives following…following someone else with a clearly defined plan.
You will not become a person of greatness or have controlled internal strength unless you have a life of focus.
Successful people are not necessarily more powerful nor do they have more opportunity than unfocused people. In fact, it is often the opposite. But because they are focused, these people are able to squeeze more effectiveness from themselves than their counterparts, who are not focused. In fact, for the most part, highly successful people are just average people with a focus. They have learned to hone in upon a specific target and to expend all their internal efforts to push their lives forward toward a clearly defined purpose.
Focus equals direction. Focus also equals power and strength because focus allows you to take what you have in hand and concentrate your limited resources toward reaching one certain goal. Focus makes you more efficient and more effective.
So, how do you focus? How do you zero in on what is critical? How do you keep from being turned aside by all the distractions we find in the normal course of our everyday lives?
Here are three steps I believe will help you achieve focus:
1. Control your thoughts.
The passions that are strongest in our heart become the thoughts that are at the forefront and are most prevalent in our mind. Then the thoughts that are most prevalent in our mind become the forces that dominate our lives.
The way to achieve focus it to learn to control your thoughts. Your mind must be focused before your life will be focused. The first way to start this is continually return to your Goal thoughts. When you know what you want in life, when you know what type of person you want to be, and when you know what you want to accomplish, you have Goal thoughts. These thoughts are ones that support your life goals and plans. Whenever your mind starts to wander down an unnecessary path, make an immediate and intentional effort to return to your Goal thoughts.
The apostle Paul wrote to the people of Philippi the perfect advice for mental focus. He said, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Our thoughts are what drive our lives. Frank Outlaw said it well:
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Controlling the direction your thoughts is the first step toward a focused life.
2. Trade in your ‘busyness’ for effectiveness.
On the surface, being busy may look the same as being focused. But being focused has nothing to do with being busy, and being busy has nothing to do with being focused.
Focused people spend the majority of their productive time thinking about, and participating in, activities directly connected to their destinies. Busy people divide their productive energies among a multitude of activities that have nothing to do with their passions or dreams.
No great person ever became great by wasting time. Concentrate your best time and attention on the most important goals in your life. Evaluate your time. Where do you spend your hours? Are you focused on what moves you forward, or are you busy doing a little bit of this and a little of that, on things that are not truly important? Every day should bring you one step closer to your dream.
3. Finally, focus on your strengths.
What are your strengths? What has God uniquely designed you to accomplish? What energizes you and is the one thing that you are compelled to do? When you know your strengths and talents, you will know your areas of focus.
If you truly want to be great, you must focus your limited time and resources upon that sole passion that deserves your time and your life.
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. You need to focus.
Focus will put you on the path to greatness and focus will help you make the rest of your life the best of your life.