The object of focus as well as the existence or absence of focus itself determines the reality of a person’s life. Do you believe this?
The truth that focus determines reality drives me. I believe it to the point of frustration when focus remains elusive. When my mind continually engages distraction, anxiety and frustration set in and depression approaches.
Establishing & Keeping Focus
When I transitioned from working in an office where others held me accountable for my productivity to working for myself at home where only I truly knew my level of accomplishment, the discipline of focus taunted me while at the same time taught me a great deal about establishing and keeping focus. Here’s what I learned:
- Know your purpose. This requires regular (daily) Scripture study & prayer before moving on to the specific tasks of the day.
- Eliminate distraction. Leave your phone in the other room. Work in a room without a television. Go for a walk or bike ride to brainstorm and plan. Find ways to reduce the temptations of distraction.
- Simplify. Reduce possessions to regularly-used items. Keep calendars simple and clutter free. Focus on simple, healthy meals. Establish routines to reduce decision-making. When overwhelmed, this one word – “simplify” – works wonders for refocusing.
- Talk. Working alone means I’m in my head a lot. Regularly scheduling exercise time or coffee with a friend gives opportunity to get out of my head and process thoughts in more tangible ways. Evenings with my husband and time with my boys also help me cultivate and process ideas.
- Follow the Spirit’s leading. Put yourself in a position to regularly hear the wisdom God regularly offers.
- Take small steps. Staying focused happens through small steps (choices) that over time add up to make a huge difference.
- Establish accountability. Voicing my goals creates one level of accountability. Partnering with others creates another. Creating deadlines takes accountability up another notch. Make accountability a reality and not just a good idea.
Learning to Focus
When talking to others struggling with focus, I hear excuses like, “I’m not just good at focusing,” or “I just get distracted easily,” as if they lack the ability to focus like some lack musical ability. In this ADD-culture, many seem to believe focus comes only for those blessed with unique ability or at the very least live absent of attention deficit.
My personal success in achieving a focused life convinced me that focus is not a special talent like athleticism but is instead a learned ability. If you’re not yet convinced, consider the story of a young boy diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD & FAS at age 8.
All three of these disorders rip apart one’s ability to focus. Yet, in the past six years through the avenues listed above done in a consistent manner and in a stable environment, this boy went from being several years behind in reading to reading just above grade level. He also gets As and Bs in school and stays out of trouble as much as any other teenage boy.
My youngest son taught me anyone can learn to focus. While it may exist as more of a struggle more for some people than for others, anyone can improve their ability to focus.
A Biblical Formula for Focus
Let’s look at one more element involved in one’s ability to focus. Scripture provides a great deal of help on the topic, but let’s look at two passage in particular to finish our discussion on focus.
Focus all energy on one thing: Forget the past, look forward toward the goal, and work to reach the end and receive the prize. (Philippians 3:13-14)
Refuse to focus on the temporary and instead fix your focus on the unseen, the eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Focusing where God tells us to focus results in an extraordinary ability to hone our effectiveness. Keeping eternity in mind as we plan our lives results in living productive and meaningful lives. No longer do we wonder if our daily activity matters because we know we’re connected with the eternal, with what matters most to God, so all we do matters.
Remember the question in the beginning of this post? Go ahead, take a look again.
When we truly believe – because we know for certain – that focus involves choosing to have it as well as placing God as the object of that focus, we find that our ability to focus grows in supernatural ways. We discover that an inability to focus may simply mean a wrong focus. We realize that an overwhelmed life often means a life focused on the wrong or too many different things.
No one can convince me that consistent focus ever exists as impossible for anyone. Learning to focus without being under constant watch by others taught me about the possibility, and my youngest son’s progress over the past 6 years further confirmed the truth. And both leave me excited to live a future focused on God and pleasing Him.
DISCUSSION: What struggles do you have with focus? How does the above advice provide hope for learning to focus?