Everything starts with clarity of focus


“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where –”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

This line passed me by the first time I heard it, as it does many people, because it seems so obvious.  When it really hit me, though, that this line was about more than just getting directions, I realized how wise it is.  I was struggling with where to go in my LIFE, as were many of my acquaintances, and we were frustrated with where we were, but we hadn’t decided on a clear goal.I was reminded of this while reading this business article http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/252321 in which John Assaraf said “Everything starts with clarity of focus.”  This article is specifically about business but the advice is perfect for life in general.

It can seem so daunting to “Begin with the end in mind” as Steven Covey says (Habit 2 of the 7 Habits).  I mean how many of us really have a detailed vision of where we want to be?  The good news is you don’t have to.  For example, Tony Robbins explains that if you don’t know what you want to do next, then make your goal to figure out what you want to do next!  His point is, if you don’t like where you’re at, but don’t have any idea about where you want to go, rather than stagnating (and most likely complaining a whole lot while you’re there), make your goal finding your goal.  I love that idea, and want to add to it to remember the brain is a comparison engine, so you don’t have to have some absolute “ideal” all worked out.  Just pick one area where you have some specific thoughts on what you would like to be better and focus on that.  In fact, for starters, the smaller the area the better.

Right now you might be thinking “Just one area??!!  And SMALLER is better?!!  But there are SO MANY things I want to be different & better in my life!”  We’ll get there, tiger, so hang on just a sec.  There are a few very good reasons to just pick one small area, even though it feels pointless:

  1. It is good practice for focusing.  Not having a clear ideal of where you want to be is simply a focus issue, and focus is a muscle just like anything else.  So it’s not that you are incapable of clearly defining what you want, but rather you’re just not used to doing it.
  2. It’s good to get a victory under your belt.  Part of being stuck is the feeling of being overwhelmed.  The mildly-nauseating “certainty” that you can’t change things (even if you may never say this out loud).  So getting a small victory, if you remember to focus on the win and learn the lesson (check the next post for more on this), will start to prove to you that you can in fact change things.  Do it a few times and you might start to learn that you aren’t changing things at all, but rather creating things, and then you’ll realize you created it the way it WAS, too.
  3. Life is all inter-connected (in fact, you may have used this in your head as a reason why you should NOT just focus on one area).  So, once you start changing one area, it will start to bleed over into other areas.  For example, let’s say you pick something easy to start with, such as your wardrobe.  You realize you don’t like your clothes and want to dress a different way.  Start looking at pictures online and in magazines to see some specific ways you would rather dress.  In fact, you can even get more specific than that.  Find a single type of shirt that you like, say with collar points that look different than what you normally wear.  Then, buy a shirt or two with these types of collar points (if they are too expensive, try thrift stores & consignment shops).  When you wear these shirts, be sure to look at yourself in the mirror before leaving the house.  You will look good, and seeing how good you look will make you feel good.  Walking around feeling good will make you look good to other people, and cause you to make different choices throughout the day.  We all know we act differently when we feel good versus feeling bad, so this isn’t some magic idea waiting to happen.

After a while you will realize that picking one area at a time is EXACTLY how you change your life.  There is no way to change it all at one time.  So while picking one area is great for making the task seem more achievable, and great for learning how to focus, and great for trickling out into other areas of your life, it just happens to be the only way to get it done in the first place!

I hope you try this, and please let me know your results, good, bad or indeterminate.  Also, when the going gets tough (and it WILL, because you are strengthening a new muscle), remember that if they can do it in claymation, you can do it too!


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