Do you ever feel like this? Do you feel like your life is spinning out of control or, at best, like you are trapped in an endless cycle with no means to escape? Is your world swirling around you with deadlines, unfinished projects, over-scheduling, lack of established routines (“winging it”), and threatening to eat you alive? I know how you feel! In fact, I am right in the middle of breaking out of that cycle and out of chaos as I write this.
It is often difficult to admit that you have a problem, that you are not happy with your life the way is, and that you desperately need a change. That is called pride, and I have loads of that (unfortunately). After all, I am a college graduate, I know a lot of “stuff,” I have practical skills and work experience, I run my own businesses, and I consider myself somewhat intelligent. Why, then, have I been incapable of breaking free of the tornado that has become my life? Why is my house a mess, my paperwork – a mess? Why can’t I ever get anything finished in a timely manner, and why do I never have time to do anything I actually look forward to and enjoy? Sound familiar?
The big answer is a lack of focus, not having a plan and specific goals, not maintaining personal values, and relinquishing (giving up) control over your life. We often tell ourselves that we are trying to make a change, we are trying to be better people because maybe we are the problem. Stop “trying,” because that word implies that failure is an acceptable option. Is it? The answer is “no,” if you want to make lasting changes. If you want your life to be better, then you have to make sure that failure is not an option for you – seriously!
So what should you do? Well, I have learned that what goes on in my world is truly what goes on in my mind. In my world, there is utter overwhelm and chaos, lack of focus, clutter, and dreading tomorrow. Guess what? My mind feels that way all the time! I lack mental clarity and decisiveness. The answer to this problem is to focus.
Think about how ice skaters can twirl around so quickly that it literally makes you feel dizzy just watching them! But then they stop twirling instantly and finish their routine. How do they do that? They focus! They turn their heads to look at a specific point so that they do not get dizzy and lose focus. This keeps them from falling to the ice while the world spins around them (Remember doing that in the yard as a kid?).
So, I have learned that my lack of mental focus has created drama and overwhelm at home. Truthfully, none of us will never get anywhere without focus! Ok, we will get somewhere, but not where we want to. Remember the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”? Let that sink in. Think about that a little.
You may be wondering, if focus is what you need to do, then what are you supposed to focus on? That’s a good question, and for everyone it will be different. But in general, what you need to focus on is your vision for your life, including specific, measurable, and attainable goals. You use your focus to reach those goals, and you avoid any activities which will derail you from the path you have chosen, even if they are enjoyable.
I know this sounds dreary, but how many flabby professional athletes have you seen on TV? Not too many, and the reason is that they have eliminated distractions and activities (like watching too much TV and eating delicious but unhealthy foods) from their lives and replaced them with those things which will help them to attain their personal life goals (exercise, healthy food, plenty of rest, etc.). They like to have fun like everyone else, and they do now and then, but then they make sure that they never lose sight of what is important in their lives and what they value. This is true for the rest of us, too. We should discover what our values are and hold on to them.
I have often lost sight of my values, failed in making goals and keeping my “eye on the prize,” and become frazzled over and over again. So, today, I will begin thinking about what my values truly are (family is one of them). From there, I will list the goals I have for my life and backtrack to discover what steps I need to take in order to attain them. By taking a first step today and not making excuses (or “trying”), I am taking control of my life and my current situation, something which is often written about in the Bible.
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” -Proverbs 25:28, ESV
What does this mean? If we do not exercise self-control, then our lives will be like that city – lying in a heap of ruins! Does this sound like your life? It definitely describes mine (and my house most of the time)! However, if we hold onto our values and focus on our goals, then we will be decisive, able to confidently make decisions based on those values; and that out-of-control feeling will become a thing of the past. Hurray!
A journey begins with a single step. I ordinarily would wear myself out by making all the changes I need to all at once. This is one reason why I am currently unfocused and unable to create the life that I want to. I need to slow down and work on one thing at a time, taking one step at a time – every day. I will give up on my pride and ideas that I need to execute everything perfectly. Desiring perfection is what has led to procrastination in taking that first step and then the next. Slow progress, one step at a time, is better than no progress, so I am giving up the idea that I have to be perfect at everything – right now.
How about you? Are you ready to jump out of that cycle in your own life? I’d love to read about that in the comments below!