Narrowing the Focus

You don’t have to do it all.

We often set the bar too high for ourselves. Our tendency to over-commit stems from societal pressures to do everything, and beyond that, to do everything well. We take an all-or-nothing approach, pushing ourselves to create picture-perfect moments, dishes, photos, homes, and lives to share on social media.

Again, saying you want something is one thing, doing something about it is very different. We prove what we desire most by our actions, not by our words.

So let me ask you: What is it you want most? What life change do you desire?

Then, ask yourself this follow-up question: Are you taking the steps necessary to accomplish that goal? Or, are you settling for something else instead?

After all, a goal without a plan is just wishful thinking. – Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist

Did you set New Year’s resolutions only to join the majority of people who fall away from them when life gets too chaotic? Did you try to change too many things at once? Did you jump on the bandwagon and make a resolution that you weren’t genuinely motivated to pursue? If you feel discontent with where you’re at, I encourage you to ask yourself what you really want to change, and what steps you can take today to get closer to being the person that you want to be.

If you’re like me, and you let too much time go by without actually planning steps to achieve your goals, you might find them slipping into the back of your mind, never again to see the light of day. If you were to be asked, you would say that you certainly still wish for the same things, but you just don’t know how to accomplish them.

Where does the disconnection happen? I don’t think it’s that we’re not motivated; we all want to change things. I don’t think we don’t know how; there are others to ask, plans to follow, and, of course, the Internet to go to for ideas. I think we just fill our lives with too many other things, leaving ourselves too little margin to put enough effort into the things we most want to work on. We try to pour ourselves out into too many buckets, causing there to not be enough in any one bucket to accomplish anything.

I know that when I choose to see life as a series of seasons, it makes it easier for me to make decisions. I know that I won’t be forced to stick to them for the rest of my life (at least in most cases), but can rest assured knowing that I just have to choose what’s best in my current circumstances, and I can later choose something else. I don’t have to commit to one career path. I don’t have to live in one place for the rest of my life. I don’t have to pour my time into just one lifelong hobby. Depending on my current needs and the opportunities I’m presented with, I can step forward in faith, knowing I’ve made the best decision possible with the information I had at the time.

Prioritizing my goals allows me to see what’s most important to me in my current season. It allows me to rearrange different pieces of my life to focus on the piece that’s the biggest at the time. When I narrow my focus, intentionally picking and choosing what it is that is worthy of and desperately requiring my time, I feel a greater sense of purpose. I don’t feel like I’m wandering aimlessly, just waiting to see what comes next. I have a greater part to play and know that I’m making good use of the time and gifts so graciously given to me.

It also helps me realize when I need to say no to some things that are good in order to say yes to things that are the best. I can’t do everything, so I have to be willing to turn down some opportunities, even if I would really like to do them. Because deep down I know that there are other things that would be an even better use of my time and energy. If I truly want to accomplish my goals, I have to be willing to spend more time working on them and less time on other things. And the things I say no to open up the door for someone else to say yes.

And when I remember to take life one step at a time, focusing on fewer things, I find that my slower pace allows me to better enjoy the life I’m living. If I’m trying to go through it at a sprint, I trip over my own two feet and completely miss all the roses I’m meant to stop and smell along the way.

So here’s to saying no to the good to make room for the best, narrowing our focus, slowing down to smell the roses, and reminding ourselves that we don’t have to do it all. May you and I both remember that today and walk freely without the unnecessary weight of our ridiculously high expectations, choosing instead to love this season and love ourselves and our lives in it for however long it lasts.

 

Further reading:

WFMW: Just Do One {Special} Thing by Mary Carver, Giving Up on Perfect

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