You’ve driven up to the mountains; you can see the trail ahead of you, the sign just revealing the start. You know its going to be 4 miles to the top, and you look up at the mountain you’re about to hike. You can see the forest covering it and what you think is the peak, but you’re unable to see the actual way up there. You know the trail in front of you will lead you there, so you simply look back down at the trail and begin walking.
Isn’t this what we do when we go hike? So what’s this got to do about Focus? A lot actually! Just follow with me and hopefully I can explain it well enough.
When we look at our goals, often we look at the end goal to our struggles. We see the high school skinny picture we once were, we see the coworker with the new promotion driving the new BMW, or Facebook pictures of a friend’s engagement. Whatever the goal may be, we get a picture of what our end result will be. And that’s GREAT! We need that end goal, we need to see the mountain we are about to climb. But wait… What happens to us when we focus too much on that mountain? The trip seems long, the climb too high, the goal too far away. I know that a personal goal of mine is to weigh less than 250 lbs, a loss of 75 lbs from my heaviest. Yes, that goal is daunting, really, it feels heavy, but I cannot be focused simply on the end goal. While I make sure my decisions align with the end goal, I don’t focus on it. If I did, the weight would crush me, the distance would be far too much. So, I change my thought process, and just like hiking, I focus on the trail before me.
So what do I mean by “focusing on the trail before me”? It means to focus on the steps you have to take today. The 5 feet in front of you that you can see the steps. When you look at the mountaintop you can’t see the trail and the details, but when you focus on the trail in front of you, you can step over the rocks, maintain solid footing, and traverse the needed ground. Sure, the view isn’t as great as it is at the peak, but it takes time to get there. If you keep trying to focus on the mountaintop, you’ll stumble at the places you are today. The steps needed to reach the end goal will be slowed, or even halted, by the lack of attention to today.
So how can we practically apply this to ourselves?
First, write down whatever mountain (goal) you’re trying to climb. This is the big picture. The end goal of your struggle. You need to be able to see it, to envision it, but it shouldn’t be the focus of your eyes.
Second, look at where you are today. Assess what you need to do to achieve your goal in the place where you stand today. When I look at my goal, I know that I cannot lose 75 lbs in a day, so I look to what I could today to effect my overall goal. I ask myself, “What should I do today that will bring me closer to my end goal?”
Third, get MOVING! Start making steps, make decisions, make preparations, make a movement towards this goal. You can’t climb the mountain if you’re still sitting in your car. Start making strides, you’ll be amazed how quickly the distance becomes shorter.
Fourth, constantly remind yourself where you’re going. Sometimes we can get so overcome by the path we are on, that we forget to see where we are headed. Just like hiking, life has many trails, and sometimes these trails can take us in the wrong direction. Reflect, reassess, and refocus on the goal that you set and the actions you need to be taking. The worst is to push so hard to reach a goal, never noticing that you’re actually going in the wrong direction.
Fifth, celebrate! When you finally reach the mountaintop make sure you see just how far you’ve come! You made it to the goal, you climbed the mountain! You’ve achieved something that few will, you’ve made it to the top. In your journey, you will see many that have turned around, or ventured off the trail. They didn’t focus on the steps in front of them, they focused only on the goal. They lost motivation or direction, or both.
As you climb your mountain, remember, sometimes the terrain changes, the trail looks different. Some things will change. Some trails may be a better choice for you, while some may not. You’ll get tired, you’ll get discouraged, you’ll think about stopping. Simply stated… DON’T STOP! Remember your end goal, but walk the trail before you. That trail leads you to the top, even if you can’t see it all the time.