How to stay focused

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How to stay focused

, Posted by Lily , In Growth,Life Purpose, By , , With 11 Comments

how to stay focusedThere’s an old proverb that says: where there is no vision, the people perish.

It’s only when you have a clear vision for your life that you will flourish as an individual. A clear vision does three things for you:

1. It allows you to form a more focused and thorough action plan that leads you on the straightest path to your dream.

2. It enables you to decline those things that aren’t in alignment with your vision.

3. It is the essential ingredient in maintaining a calm, happy, and healthy mind. With a clear vision, there isn’t mental chaos; you aren’t as vulnerable to distractions.

By establishing a clear vision for your life, you will transcend distractions, pass on opportunities that are not right for you, and cultivate clearer, happier thinking and laser focus.

Enter my ‘Dream Tree’. I realized that I needed to see my goals in front of me every day if I wanted to make an impressive dent on my life’s overall to-do list. The tree is pictured below. As you see, it’s something that would typically appear in a kindergarten classroom, with each student’s name written on an apple. I reinvented the wheel by instead listing my dreams, goals, and desires; one per apple.

vision board

Examples? Publish a novel. (Re)learn to play the violin. Join a dance class. Host a fundraiser for teen mothers. Build an orphanage. And yes, even win a Nobel Prize.

I was thrilled! Finally, all of my big-ticket dreams as well as my day-to-day wants were right in front of me. The tree is positioned on the wall beside my bed so when I get up every morning, I see it. And the fact that the tree is smiling at me warms my heart. It’s as if my goals are saying, “Here we are, Lily. We’re in this together. Let’s get it done!”

It wasn’t until later that I discovered that my tree was essentially what is called a “vision board”. Your first step in cultivating vision and focus for your life is to create a vision board. It doesn’t have to be a smiling tree, mind you. Maybe you stick index cards to your fridge with magnets. Maybe you write on your bathroom mirror with a marker. Maybe you have a French memo board in your bedroom reminding you of your dreams.

Whatever format you want to use, just do it. Now, create your goals. They can be as simple as ‘eat an apple every day’ or as grandiose as ‘sing at a president’s inaugural ball’. This isn’t the time to play the realist. This is your opportunity to dream and dream big!

Now that you have all of your dreams in front of you, it’s time to create an action plan. Remember, having a clear vision enables you to be more focused and thorough, helping you create the straightest path to your dreams. So here’s what I did. Every month, I created a document called my ‘Action Plan for the Month’. At the top, I would list which dreams would be my focus for that month. Then I would list out 3-5 steps I planned on taking to bring me closer to that dream.

For instance, let’s say that for the month of June, you want to focus on your singing career. So some of your steps might be: 1) find a designer to create the cover art for the single you want to release, 2) contact groups/organizations and introduce yourself as a local artist who is willing to sing at their events, 3) establish a presence on social media sites and begin to network with other artists.

There’s something really important I want you to remember about this process. Sometimes, we want to take big swings at our dreams but it’s all about baby steps. Let me give you an example. If my dream was to publish a novel, one of the steps I’d normally list might be 1) finish my manuscript.

But this is simply too big of a step, and also far too vague! You have to break down your action steps. When we bite off more than we can chew, we’re only setting ourselves up for failure. If I don’t finish my manuscript by the end of that month, what’s going to happen? I’m going to be depressed. Then the negative inside chatter begins: I’m a failure, I’ll never reach this goal, this dream is too impossible.

Save yourself the melodrama by instead taking baby steps. Don’t list out the gigantic end goal as an action step—detail the journey to that end goal. Instead of 1) finish manuscript this month, I could write 1) buy more computer paper, 2) buy more printer ink, 3) write 1,000 words a day, 4) read other authors.

“But Lily, those things don’t really matter!” I beg to differ! And guess what, when you start to detail the journey and check off those things like a champ, you’re going to feel like a rockstar. No more defeated thinking. No, you’ll actually feel accomplished and like you’re getting somewhere!

In the comments below, tell me where you plan on putting up your vision board and then tell me at least one goal that you plan on listing. Putting it in writing is committing to action! So leave a comment now. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends!

11 Comments so far:

  1. This topic has come at a great time i recently started reassessing my goal path and breaking my goals down into more manageable goals. I found that Oprah has digital vision board great tool.

  2. Lily says:

    Glad to hear it, Kia! Thanks for sharing the resource. I know some people also maintain vision boards on Pinterest so for others looking for digital tools, that might be a great one. Good luck on getting those goals into order! ;0)

  3. Leanne Richards-Williams says:

    Hi Lily,

    This post was definitely in sync with the tune of my day: get focused.

    Some of my cherished goals are launch my ICT community project, launch my website on Christian ministry, win the 2014 TEDx Prize, clear my debts, go on my overdue honeymoon, host my baby’s birthday party, plus more.

    I pan to list my clear debts goal because its the one with the greatest potential to stress me out if not held in check.

    Should I do the list here?

  4. Milena says:

    Dear Lily,

    I love your post so much! On the weekend I have heard very interesting lecture by Brendon Burchard and he said that man should make something like monthly challenge every month in order to stretch himself. It is supposed to be something that man should be doing every day (like meditation, exercise etc.) So I have made my monthly challenge: to work on my blog EVERY SINGLE DAY. I have opened blog on the 1st of June and it is still brand new and soooo simple. But I am working on it, step by step.

    And I hope that at the end of June I will be proud of it. Well, at least I will be able to see it growing. But it was so important to me to set this vision, and to say NO to many other things that would distract me form my path.

    I also have many other goals (start my PHD studies, move in with my boyfriend, write a book etc.) but my blog is main thing right now.
    Thank you for your inspiration!


  5. Lily says:

    Hi Leanne, feel free to share your list! Sometimes, getting it down in writing makes it more real because now it exists right in front of your eyes. Those are all awesome goals and I’m rooting for you! Remember, break each goal into bite-sized steps to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed. Each month, choose one or two goals you’re going to knock away at. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way! :0)

  6. Lily says:

    Hi Milena, congratulations on starting your blog! That’s very exciting. Don’t worry about it being basic right now – we all have to start somewhere! Little by little, set aside time to work on it and you’ll see it grow right before your eyes. Good luck on your other goals as well! As long as you stay focused, you’ll go far! :0) xo

  7. Crystal says:

    Lily – great blog post! It’s something I definitely needed to read. I’ve always been hesitant about making vision boards or huge goals simply for the reason that I didn’t know what those goals were. I have no idea what I want to be doing in 5 or 10 years, for example. I’m not sure what I would like to accomplish and unfortunately that feeling (which in fact is probably just one big limiting belief and denying what I actually want to do) has led me to not really focus on anything in particular. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t feel my little goals were worthy of anything. But, in reality, accomplishing those little goals might actually lead me to where I’m supposed to go, even if it’s not clear at the moment what those huge goals are. So thanks and I’ll definitely starting thinking of some small goals for a vision board :o)

  8. Lily says:

    Yes, little goals are just as worthy as huge ones! Just think about Martin Luther King. His ultimate goal was for equality – but there were little goals that led up to that: meetings with other like-minded individuals, marches, protests, letters from prison. The overarching dream was equality, but there were still baby steps toward that end. And whether we like it or not, those baby steps do have to be taken! At the same time, it’s easy to be scared away by our dreams. Sometimes we dream so big but we don’t want to commit to it in writing because we’re scared that we’ll fail just as largely as we dreamed — or we might even be scared of success! Here’s the comforting thing to remember: you wouldn’t be given a dream if you weren’t created and equipped with the drive, energy, talents, and skills you need to accomplish it :0) So dream on, and do!

  9. Natasha Claxton says:

    One of my goals that I want to happen is to get free money through a scholarship that will pay all of my expenses through college. I plan on putting my vision board in a little notebook.

  10. Lily says:

    Great goal, Natasha. Your baby steps can be looking at 2-3 new scholarships each day or preparing your resume for such applications or even going to the library to look through scholarship books (there are a ton of such books there)! Good luck! :0)

  11. You are my aspiration, I own few blogs and very sporadically
    run out from brand :).

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