When I first got married, I possessed an utter lack of coordination in the area of gross motor skills. I couldn’t catch (or hit) anything to save my life. No matter what was tossed to me — baseballs, car keys, ballpoint pens — I’d fumble and let it fall to the floor.
My father had given up years earlier trying to instill in me any sense of athleticism, but my new husband was not so easily deterred. “Just keep your eyes on the ball, Jennifer. Glue your eyes to the ball!”
It’s a simple concept, I know, but one I’d always managed to struggle with it. Even when I started out with my full attention on the object hurtling toward me, at some crucial point, I’d shift my focus from the thing I was supposed to catch to the hand doing the catching. (Is that a broken nail?) Or to my general appearance. (My shirt’s untucked. Better fix it.) Or to the ground beneath me. (What did I just trip over?) Or to my personal safety. (That thing could hit me in the head!)
Still, my husband was certain that I could master this task in time, provided I received plenty of practice and positive encouragement along the way, which he most willingly and happily gave.
His confidence was not ill-founded. These days, unless the pitch is too fast for my eyes to follow, I can catch almost anything that is thrown to me — even those bits of shrimp the hibachi chef flicks at us whenever we eat Japanese.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
The secret is staying focused. This is true in sports, but even truer in life — as my husband has been so faithful to remind me.
A Christian’s primary goal should be to serve God and share His love with others, but how that purpose gets translated into day-to-day living will look different from one person to the next and from one season to the next, depending on individual giftings, circumstances, and responsibilities.
For me, a devoted wife and homeschooling mama with lots of little ones still in the nest, that day-to-day focus must of necessity be fixed on nurturing my marriage and educating my children. These are tasks that deserve my best effort and demand my full attention.
I cannot afford to fumble things here, when so many futures lay on the line. Giving way to distraction can have devastating consequences. I must sustain my focus. I must take heed. I must prioritize.
But saying that something is a priority and really making it a priority are two vastly different things. Have you ever noticed that? I can say that I want to lose weight, but if I eat like a pig and refuse to exercise, onlookers may accurately deduce that I’m not really serious about doing so. My actions reveal my true priorities.
Prioritizing time with family must be more than a platitude. It is too easy to become distracted, to shift our focus at what may later prove to have been a critical juncture. What we need is a game plan.
Write down your goals.
It is impossible to focus on something that is not clearly defined. By taking time to commit your goals, dreams, and aspirations to paper, you can narrow your focus and give attention to the things that are most important to you.
Review them regularly.
Such routine reminders will help you stay on target. Try to break your general goals into smaller, stepwise tasks, then put them on daily, weekly, and/or monthly checklists. This practice will keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.
Examine your routines.
How do you spend your time? Do these activities help or hinder you from achieving your goals? Every six months or so, reevaluate your current schedule and try to minimize your involvement in anything that is not moving you toward your primary focus.
Stay fully engaged.
When you are with your loved ones, be with them. Remain mentally present as well as physically. Power down the laptop, pocket the iPhone and reconnect with real, live people.
It takes time to build solid relationships. If you are always in a hurry, it’s never going to happen. Slow down and savor each moment. You have a relatively small window of time in which to impact the lives of those around you or impart to them your blessings, love, knowledge, and values. Don’t squander it.
Do things together.
Rather than pushing your children aside to pursue personal interests, get them involved, too. Cooking, gardening, scrapbooking, exercising — learn to view everything you do in terms of its potential for fellowship and/or discipleship. Get excited about what excites them, as well. As much as possible, when your kids are awake and around, do things that can be shared, and save the other stuff until after they’ve been tucked in for the night. (For me, “other stuff” would include blogging, which explains why my posts are so sporadic.)
These are the things I have made a conscious commitment to do. Sometimes I fall short, but I’m steadily making progress. Little by little. Day by day. I’m becoming less project-oriented and more people-oriented. I’m trying to ignore the many inconsequential things that vy for my attention in order to fix my thoughts on the vitally important.
Because it isn’t enough to suit up to play. It’s not enough to make it onto the field. If I don’t keep my head in the game, it will all be for naught. If I want to win, I must stay focused. I have to pay attention. I’ve got to glue my eyes to the ball.
Won’t you join me? What are your goals? What steps are you taking to reach them?
Go to LIFE LESSON #2 >>
Jen Flatt Osborn says
Wow, Jennifer. From one writer, and lover-of-words, to another, you are truly gifted. Your sincerity, transparency, and love for God and family seep into your writings. How refreshing. I’m officially a fan! Thank you so very much.