“It always seems impossible until it's done.” Nelson Mandela
Chapters 11 to 16 served as a starting point for your goal-setting. I hope you are getting excited and focused on a new goal: paying off debt, increasing your savings, improving your performance academically or vocationally, or putting together a personal development plan. Keep working hard to get focused on reaching those goals. This chapter will help you hone in on the season of life you’re in and what your priorities should be.
I believe it’s best to have one major focus in life. Having a single focus will help to keep you on task. This chapter is extremely important, because the things that matter most in your personal development might not always get the attention they deserve. You need intentionality, and that comes with singular focus. Trying to do two things with maximum effort is like trying to chase two rabbits. Both will get away.
Get comfortable with the fact that some things will have to wait for your attention. Your aim is to focus on what needs to be accomplished now and what perspective you need to cultivate in this season. Life will be much simpler and less hectic once you know your primary goal. Most great people who went on to accomplish many things had to establish a sole purpose.
Nelson Mandela’s primary focus was to rid South Africa of apartheid—South Africa’s form of institutionalized racial discrimination. Mandela became a world leader who set examples all over the world of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Mother Theresa’s main goal was to help the homeless people outside her convent learn to read and write. She later started a hospice for those who were sick and dying on the streets of Calcutta, India and became a global symbol of service and charity.
Kobe Bryant, the late basketball superstar, wanted to win an NBA championship. He also served as an inspiration to people all over the world by demonstrating how to recover from mistakes and stay focused on goals.
Not everyone will find the same kind of early clarity about their goals. Many of us stumble before we find that main focus. As your calling becomes clearer, prioritizing will get easier. Review Part 1 regularly to deepen your clarity about yourself and your calling. In this season of my life, my focus is writing, personal coaching, and facilitating workshops to promote positive change. My goal is to ignite hope and bring healing to my community. This represents a transition from what I’ve been doing for the last few years, but it has taken time for me to build the skillset, resources, and confidence to feel comfortable pursuing this goal. Like all of us, my life is a work in progress.
When I was in high school, I heard a motivational speaker say something that changed my life forever: “If you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book.” This speaker made the statement to help us, kids in a predominantly black school, become aware of the social perception of black people in America. I felt offended, sad, and angry all at once when I heard those words. He described how the enslaved Africans were hung for learning how to read—while like most modern-day Americans, I did not see the value of reading. We took the opportunity for granted.
That statement sent me on a quest for book titles that would help my knowledge about the world grow. That was 15 years ago, and I am forever grateful that I was in school that day. The message sparked something important in me. From that day on, reading and listening to audio teachings have changed my life and helped me to serve my community. Reading also became one of my favorite things to do!
The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. I am forever on a mission to learn about the world around me. Social issues, health, finance, counseling, and history continue to fascinate me. As I read and learn, I grow and can share what I learn through speaking and writing.
I have compiled a list of thousands of book titles that I intend on reading over the next few years. Thinking about the information in those books keeps me excited and focused. I literally could spend all day with books.
What’s your focus? When I asked a few people this question, here’s some of what I heard:
· “What’s bothering me is that I have to lose weight. I am overweight because I have not been eating right or exercising. It’s affecting every aspect of my life. That’s my focus right now. I’ve lost 10 pounds so far, and I’m committed to getting to a healthy weight. I feel better already, but I know I have more work to do.”
(Focus: Physical health)
· “I am focusing on getting out of debt. I got a credit card when I was in college, and because I never learned about money management, I ran up thousands of dollars in debt on nonsense. Now I’m working to change that so I can be financially free. I have to live frugally for now, and it’s hard, but that’s the sacrifice I need to make to get out of this debt in the next 12 months.”
(Focus: Financial stability)
· “I got divorced a year ago, and I feel like I’m starting all over again. I had to move out of my house, and now I’m doing better. I’ve been going to counseling weekly, going to the gym four times a week, and I’m taking one class every semester to finish up my degree. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
(Focus: Emotional and mental well-being after a major life transition)
· “I just got out of prison, and my main focus is on getting a steady job and saving up for a car. Then I’m going to go back to school to get my truck driver’s license.”
(Focus: Successful reentry and obtaining employment)
· “I struggle with an addiction, and I never went to get help. I am now going to counseling and my support group once a week. Every day is a battle, but I will never quit. I’ve been sober for the last four months.”
“I want to open up a cleaning business where I can employ 10-12 people in the next year. I’ve been doing all the jobs with a few people, and the demands are great, so I’m excited about the possibilities.”
(Focus: Entrepreneurial start-up)
· “I got a 3.5 last semester, and I want to be on the Dean’s List every semester until I graduate college. So these next few years will be focused on being the best student I can be.”
(Focus: Academic achievement)
These examples show that everyone is different. Our priorities and individual challenges are different, so each person’s focus must be different as well. Take some time to identify what your major focus should be at this point in your life. It might not be clear right away, so ask yourself this question often:
What should my priority be in this season of my life?