Do you ever find yourself working on a task and then suddenly switching directions to work on something else and then think of another activity you need to get done? All of a sudden you have about ten things to do and no clear direction in which to do them. And that’s why today we’re going to be talking about the power of focus.
In Joshua 1:6-7, God instructed Joshua to listen to Moses and not deviate or turn to the left or the right. Moses knew the difficulties Joshua would have to endure as he took on the responsibility to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Joshua needed to be completely focused on the task at hand and be willing to not become distracted.
“Stay on course, and don’t deviate to the left or the right no matter how pleasing the distraction may appear.”
Horses wear blinders for this very reason. The blinders are a firm leather attached to a horse’s bridle to prevent them from being able to see beside them or behind. This keeps them focused. Horses can be distractible without the blinders, able to see every which way. When the blinders are used on horses, it aids in guiding them on a path that has been carefully determined by their master. They are not able to look to the left or to the right. They can only see what is directly in front of them.
What are some enemies of focus?
Our inability to say no
We feel compelled to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. We don’t want to say no to our friends or family because we don’t want to make them feel bad. But when we say “yes” to something, we’re automatically saying “no” to something else, and most of the time, that “no” is to our own goals.
We are a distracted society. Our phones have become a crutch in our lives. We are constantly on them, scrolling social media, posting selfies, checking the weather, checking our e-mail. It’s a mindless game we play with ourselves. When we have down time, we seek to fill it with our phones.
Our desire for immediate gratification
We aren’t content to wait until timing is right. Our sights are set on a better house, and we want it now. Others are driving fancy cars, and we want to drive one now. We see something we want, and we want it now. Being contented in the season is not something that we easily understand. This is microwave mentality at it’s finest.
So, let’s recap. Some of the enemies to focus are our inability to say no, social media, and our desire for immediate gratification. But, what can we do about it?
What can we do about it?
Anything that we choose to let occupy our mind or our time can be a distraction to accomplishing our goals. The only way to change a bad habit is to replace it with a new one. We need to be willing to honestly evaluate what is taking up our mind and time and decide if we need fill those habits with different ones.
Lead with “no”
If someone asks you to do something, it’s okay to say no. You may feel like you’re letting them down, but here’s the thing. When you say no, and then re-evaluate and decide you actually have time to do that thing, you can change your no to yes. It’s harder to change from yes to no. If an opportunity arises, consider no first, or at least take time to think about it. Sometimes when we say yes to something good, we’re saying no to God’s best in our lives. We may be saying yes in the immediate and forgetting about the long-term vision. Remember, when you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to another.
Do something every day to bring you closer to your goal
If you commit to even one thing a day, it will create a continued focus in your life for the specific goal you are working toward. Being intentional in the tasks we focus on is what will draw us closer to our goals. Think baby steps. These small tasks each day are stepping stones to lead you to your ultimate goal.
Set limits for yourself on technology
Don’t fall into the trap of social media. It’s fun, it’s a way to connect, I get it. But much of it is also fake and a comparison trap. Don’t succumb to comparing your worst to someone else’s best on social media. Plan out specific times to be on there, or limit your time to an hour a day. Whatever it is that will work for you. You can track how much time you’re spending in your phone settings, and you can also use apps to monitor your time or set limits. It may sound like something we would do for our children, but if we can’t get a grasp on it ourselves, we need to retrain our own self-control.
Have long-term vision
When we’re looking in the short term, all we see is where we are and what we want right now. However, if we choose to look to the long-term, we now see where we are AND where we want to go. When we know waiting will be best for our long-term vision, it will help us in our decision making and help us not to seek immediate gratification. We have to be willing to swap our microwave mentality for long-term thinking.
Distractions are the enemy to our dreams. In our training or on race day, distractions will slow us down. When I’m running, there are a plethora of things that can take me off course: the spectators, sounds, obstacles, wonderful sites, even my own thoughts. I don’t know how many times I seem to go down rabbit trails in my own mind and forget what I’m actually supposed to be doing! When I’m running a race, I need to focus on just that, running MY race.
Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days. — Zig Ziglar
It’s crucial to hone in on one task at a time. Having too many goals or places to work will slow you down. You can do multiple things at a time, but you won’t be able to do them well. Focus on the most important thing you need to be doing at that given moment.
As actor Jackie Chan says, “Yo focus need mo focus!”
Distractions can turn out to be detours and take us off course if we let them. Choose to be mentally tough and tune out those distractions. There is power in focus. Stay on course and don’t deviate to the left or the right no matter how pleasing the distraction may appear.
Remember, you are a winner. Just run YOUR race!