How to stay focused
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.
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!