I find that in life I become good at things that I focus my time and resources on and that I’m not so good at things that I don’t focus my time and resources on. This is something that sounds obvious, but for some reason I’ve had to relearn this concept several times over throughout live. There are so many things that I want to do and be good at but the fact of the matter is that I don’t have time and resources to focus on them all, let alone, be good at them all. So, how do we know what to focus on and what to not focus on? That’s what I’m going to talk about in this episode.
I really struggle with focus. My struggle mostly comes in two different ways. For one, I focus on the wrong things, which are things that really aren’t that important to me. You know those squirrel moments when you get distracted by something shiny and entertaining. “Oh look, my friend just bought a new toy and I’d sure like to have a new toy like that.” Those squirrel moments seem to get me all the time and take my focus away from the things that matter most to me. Also, when I do get focused on something, I’m really bad about finding balance in life. It seems like when it comes to focus, I’m all or nothing. I either have a lot of focus in a particular area of life or I have no focus. I’m not very good at juggling a lot of different things. When I’m focused on sometime like training for a triathlon, or competing in a diet competition, or when it’s hunting season, I’m really focused on that particular thing but then I don’t focus enough time on other important things like paying attention to relationships, my faith, and my personal finances. I know focus means focus, but it seems like sometimes I over focus and this could hurt me in other areas of life that are important to me.
What you focus on is completely up to you and therefore what you become best at is completely up to you. The great thing about the freedom that we enjoy is that we get to decide what we spend time on. We get to decide what we’re good at and what we do with our time and resources. So, why does it seem like we’re “too busy” all the time to do the things that we want to do? There are many things that I love doing that I would like to do more of. Things like hunting, fishing, cycling, hiking, making stuff, and the list goes on and on, and this is where I get into trouble. For what I will call a season of my life, I’ll be more focused on one area of my life. For example, during the fall, it’s hunting season. I spend several weekends tromping around the woods, looking like Elmer Fud, looking for a volunteer for dinner. I think it’s fun to pursue the things in life that I enjoy doing, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, for me, when I’m hunting so much, I often loose sight of the other things that are going on in my life. Like relationships that are very important to me. Recently, when I was in a competition to lose weight, I was really focused on losing weight. I was working out in the mornings and in the evenings, I was prepping food, and different thoughts about how I was doing weight wise were constantly on my mind. Many of my conversations with other people involved something about how I was working on losing weight. During this time, sure, I was successful at losing weight, but I was failing at other areas of life. I was so focused on losing weight that I lost focus on other things that are also important to me. This was one of the more recent times that I relearned how much focus affect my life.
Just as a quick exercise, let’s break down the daily time spent on various things for a typical person. You only have so much time in the day. If you live on earth, you have 24 hours in a day. And if you’re like most people you likely sleep for 7ish hours of that. Leaving you 17 hours to do with what you please. When you wake up in the morning, if it’s a typical week, you’re likely going to go to a job. It might take someone 30 minutes to get ready for work and then it might take a person 30 minutes to get to work. Then you take a lunch break in the middle of the day, and this could burn up between 30 minutes to an hour. So, when we add this all up work is going to take somewhere between 10 hours of your day between getting ready and getting home if you work a full-time job. So, this leaves you 7 hours which sounds like a lot but then we spend time to eat breakfast, dinner, do the dishes, go water the lawn, and if you have kids the list is endless of the stuff that you have to do. So, how much time do you have left after you whittle down your 7 hours? Hardly any. That means you really don’t have a lot of time to focus on things that you really want to focus on. If you don’t have a lot of time, then it becomes even more important to prioritize the things that you want to do. Often times, I catch myself wasting my time by doing things that I know aren’t really that important to me. Then why do I do them? Because I’m not paying attention to what I’m allowing to sneak into my life. We need to be intentional about what we spend our time doing if we want to best utilize our time and if we want to be good at certain things. There are things that I want to be the best I can be at, and if I want this to actually happen, then I need to be intentional about making time to do those things.
When you stop and count there are so many areas in life that require your attention. Let’s look at some of the big ones. The first area is human relationships. When it comes to relationships you have your spouse, your kids, other family members, like parents, siblings, cousins, etc. There are also friend relationships like weekend friends, church friends, work friends, and hobby friends. There are lots of relationships that you have. If you want these relationships to grow and thrive, that takes your time and your focus. Do you have time to focus on growing all of your relationships to their full potential? No, unless you don’t have anything to do and you only know one person on the face of the planet. This is obviously not you because this is obviously not anyone. We all know several people and we have busy lives.
Let’s look at another area of your life, work and career. If you’re working, then work is a huge part of your life and it’s sucking up a big chunk of your time and energy. Work is important because your work is where you gain the financial means to live the lifestyle that you want to live. Your work will allow you to help your kids get through college. Your work will help you save up for retirement so you can someday be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. We can see that work is important for various reasons so we should continue to do work.
Our faith is also a very important part of life. For those of us who have a faith and believe in something, it’s important for us to spend time learning and growing within our faith. Like any other area of life, this takes focus.
Another area of life is our finances. If you live in any advanced society you need money as a medium of exchange and you need money to pay for these things that all of us seem to accumulate, called bills. The better we are at our finances the more options we will have available to us in different areas of life. What I mean by this is, if we can afford to spend more, then we can go to a nicer restaurant, afford a nicer car, buy a nicer home, or retire earlier to have more free time. Finances are an important part of life just like many other areas of life that require our focus.
The list can go on and on about the different areas of life that require our focus. Just think of what just a few more of those are. Cleaning the house, weeding your yard, taking the kids to school, paying your taxes, and of course, hobbies. There are so many things that can take our focus away!
So, how do we know what areas of life we want to focus on in order to be best at? That’s a great question. I think the only reasonable answer is that, it’s totally up to you. You get to decide if you’re going to spend time with your kids and be a great parent or if you’re going to spend time at your job and have a great career. Are you going to focus time on your finances and create a rock-solid financial foundation for you and your family or are going to spend no time on your finances and find yourself living paycheck to paycheck and on the brink of financial disaster?
Is there such thing as a balanced life? I’d like to say that you should strive for balance in life. But, what does this even mean? Does it mean that we give a little attention to a lot of different things? If this is the case then we’re not really going to be best at anything, we’re just going to be ok. I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to be just ok when it comes to being a good husband to my wife. I want to be better than ok. This means that I need to spend more time being a better husband if it’s something that I want to be better at. I think aspects of having a balanced life could be a good thing, but I don’t think this is really realistic. I’m sure if I ask people to prioritize different areas of their live then they would say something like faith comes first, family comes in a close second, and work comes in a distant third, and so on. But the truth of the matter is that we spend a whole bunch more time working for money during the week than we do working on our faith. Many of us only get into church a couple times a month and yet say that faith is one of the most important parts of our lives. When we look at how much time we spend on things each week, is this really the case? Are we spending time on the things that we actually want to be best at?
So how do I stay focused on the things that I want to stay focused on? I think the best way to do this is to decide on paper on purpose what it is that I want to be focused on. This means setting goals and creating a plan to achieve those goals in different parts of my life. By writing it down and having it in a place that I can constantly review, this will help me to redirect my attention back towards the plan when I veer off the plan. This will help me to not focus too much time on squirrels and will also help me not to too deep into focus on something while missing other important areas of life. That way I can have the amount of balance that I want to have. I can prioritize different areas of life and make sure that I’m spending adequate time in those areas.
Our focus can be a difficult thing to mast sometimes. If we want to reach our goals, we must be intentional about where we focus your time and resources. If we want to be successful in many different areas in life, we must be careful not to put too much focus in one area of life and not enough in another area of life. If you’re like me and need help staying focused create a plan on paper for reaching your goals and reviewing it regularly. This will help you keep important areas of your life prioritized.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Thanks for reading it!