You are much different from I, with different passions, convictions, and personalities. But one thing we share in common is we each want greater clarity & focus in our lives. In a culture of hyper-marketing and endless distractions, we each crave focus – professionally, creatively, relationally, and spiritually.
It seems everyone has an opinion on what we “should” be doing with our lives so it’s often hard to know where to start. Added to this, is our tendency to drift. Most of us start with good intentions, but lack the structures to stay on course with the things we want to do or need to do. It’s often why resolutions don’t work.
When it comes to regaining focus in our lives, a good place to start is by revisiting our deepest desires and compare them with our current reality. It’s not always a fun exercise because it takes time, prayer, and the willingness to face the facts. But this is so important if we want to live meaningful lives.
A good question to start with is…
What am I saying “Yes” to?
This is an ambitions question. This has to do with the reality you are chasing after. But it’s more than just asking what you want later in life. It’s about what you’re saying “yes” to right now.
As Don Miller put it, “The stories we tell with our lives are not defined by what we think, feel, or believe, but by what we do.”
If you were watching your life from the outside looking in, what would you conclude about yourself by the way you spend your time, the things that you talk about, and the people you’re with?
Of course, this isn’t about making superficial adjustments that make you look better or more important to others. But there IS a challenge to move your words into actions. You can tell much about a person’s true ambitions not by what they SAY they want, but how they LIVE their lives.
One experience that has helped me wrestle with this question was the Storyline Conference that I attended last year. Storyline is a life planning process that uses the elements of story. Using ‘story’ as a guide for life isn’t meant to make your life more productive. It is meant to make your life more meaningful.
Again, using Don’s definition – “A story is a character who wants something that overcomes conflict to get it.”
The big idea is that meaningless ambitions lead to meaningless stories. It’s not enough to want to end your life simply having a lot of money or finally arriving to a place of fame. Those are terrible ambitions in and of themselves and make for horrible stories. The stories worth telling are about characters who live for something outside of themselves.
So what about you?
When it comes to the various roles in your life, what are your ambitions for each of those roles?
- What do you want as a mother?
- What are you aiming for as a husband?
- Why do you write music or take photos?
- Why are you hanging on to that job?
- Why do you teach students?
- What kind of relationship do you want to have with God?
In the Bible, David knew what he wanted when he cried out…
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” – Psalm 27:4
Jesus knew what He wanted when he went to the cross…
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
Here are a few of my personal ambitions that I’ve written down…
- As a worshipper and follower of Jesus, I want my heart to be soft towards his voice and direction.
- As a husband, I want my wife to feel beautiful, supported, and cared for.
- As a dad, I want my son to know the love of God by the way I father him.
- As a pastor, I want to serve the bride of Christ & equip His body for Kingdom expansion.
- As a leader, I want to inspire, encourage, & ignite the divine spark that resides in every person.
Coming full circle, regaining focus starts with knowing what your eyes are fixed on. Discipline is not just saying “no” to a thousand things, it’s saying a heart felt “yes” to a few things. Answering these questions well will make it easier to say “no” to opportunities that are potentially distracting from the things and the people you’ve decided are worth giving yourself to.
What are the things in your life that you’re saying “Yes” to?