Is my life too shallow?
Am I spreading myself too thin?
Are things that truly matter remain my priorities?
Is what I am doing daily still meaningful and effective?
These are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately as I feel fatigue creeping into my soul. It’s time to relax by the window with a cup of tea, watch the rain, and focus on me. My mind tries to run away, pulling me in different directions and reminding me of all the things I have to finish today. My hand is itching for my phone to check social media and emails. To sit and do nothing for hours feels unnatural, wasteful. Only it’s not. This is exactly what I need at the moment. So, I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and force myself to disconnect.
In our world of neverending online information and social media, it’s almost impossible to focus on one thing at a time without being interrupted by something. I am constantly tempted to check notifications on my phone... even when I turn them off. I get derailed by things online and find myself reading an article about some celebrity or researching migratory patterns of birds when all I wanted was to look up a definition of a word. I lose focus, momentum, flow. When I return to the task I was supposed to be doing in the first place, something gets lost.
No one can do multiple things at the same time. It decreases the overall effectiveness and the ability to be present in the moment. Things get slowed down or completely halted. Even research confirms that it takes about 25 minutes to get back on track after a distraction.
Whether it’s an activity or a person who needs my attention, I have to be there one hundred percent. It’s impossible to check Instagram and have a conversation with a family member at the same time (not that I've ever done this before :)).
How do I ignore the noise?
Have set times for checking e-mails and social media.
Put away the phone when I am doing something that requires focus
Have NO ELECTRONICS zones – such as during meals or family times
Do things offline if the internet is not needed for the task
Schedule some screen-free days throughout the month
Stop yourself from going down the internet rabbit hole
Sometimes it's not the Web that's causing the detour but fatigue, unrelated thoughts, pain, children, stress. Lately, it has been hard to focus due to the events that have been going on in our world, country, in my city. I feel like my progress, especially in creative work that requires the presence of both heart and mind, was stalled because of it. How do I get back into a habit of submerging myself into the task at hand and forgetting everything else?
How do I increase focus?
Plan uninterrupted chunks of time for important tasks
Do things that require concentration first
Use the best time of the day for focused activities
Set a timer for an activity and then take a break
Plan a reward for not getting distracted (snack?)
Exercise regularly to get the blood flowing
Set the mood - stick to certain music or setting for the task
Living from the inside out
The life force begins and ends on the inside. I am a soul living in the body, not the other way around. What’s inside needs to take priority over what’s outside. If I don’t feed my own soul, I won’t have anything to give. For me, there is an endless source of inspiration, strength, and renewal that can be accessed through my spirit when I connect to God. He made me, and He knows how to fill me. But I often forget to tap into it when I am in a “go, go” mode. And I often don't realize it until I drain myself.
Busy does not always mean I am accomplishing something. I can be moving but in the wrong direction or in circles. If I don’t pause and take time to recharge and re-evaluate, I might get stuck later on.
When I tune out the external world and take a good look into my soul, I can align once again with who I am. Instead of trying to be like others and do what they do, I can focus on being a better version of myself by going deeper. There are gifts and abilities inside. They need attention in order to grow and come out into the light. No, I don’t need to go after the latest and the greatest. It might not be for me. The first question should be—does this ring true to my calling?
Aristotle said: "Knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom." When I know who I am, what I stand for, and what I can deliver, all the unnecessary extras start to fall off. To get to these truths, might take healing and restoration, reclaiming fractured parts of the soul, learning to accept limitations that cannot be changed, and leaning onto the strengths that could improve even more. In other words, it requires digging in.
It's not always a comfortable place to be alone with one's thoughts and feelings, especially if they tend to be negative. To perform an objective self-assessment is not easy too. This might require feedback from others. I can ask my spouse or a close friend to let me know how I am doing or if what I am doing is helping or hindering me. I can spend time with God and His Word, read other books on self-discovery.
I also like making lists of my strength & things I am good at. Here are a few free tests to take on personality and gifts to pinpoint it:
How do I stay true to myself?
Schedule time to be alone and tune into how I feel
Evaluate activities for effectiveness/ necessity
Do more of what brings me joy and satisfaction
Check if tasks align with who I am and what I want to do
Let go of the activities that drain me & say "no" if needed
Take time to overcome the hurdles and grow my strengths
Pause, relax, and receive what my soul needs at the moment
On that last note, sometimes not doing anything “useful” is what my soul needs. I can take a walk and enjoy nature, sit and drink some tea on the porch in silence, make a bubble bath, watch a fun movie. It’s totally fine to unwind. Here are a few great ideas.
Heading in the right direction
After removing the distractions and re-aligning with who I am, it's time to move forward. I can start by making a new list of goals and writing specific steps for the year, month, week.
If I don’t fill my schedule with the right things that keep me in my element, something else will fill it. I want to be intentional with my life. After setting aside uninterrupted chunks of time for myself and my loved ones, what do I want to accomplish next?
I've noticed is that it's not enough to know what I want to do but also why I want to accomplish this goal and how it will be done in a way that is uniquely me. For example, it's not "I want to be an author" but why, what kind of author, and how would it look like for me specifically. I need to identify the things that make me different from everyone else:
What can others expect from me and know that I will bring to the table consistently?
In what way can I influence and touch the lives of others that no one else can?
What is my particular set of talents?
What specifically do I want to achieve through them?
Each person is a unique brand. I can start to develop mine by identifying what’s important to me:
Make a list of 20 things: beliefs, values, people, actions.
Rank the top 10, then top 3, then narrow it down to 1.
Now I can take this most important value and incorporate it onto my mission statement to guide my actions. It should have the following components: what I intend to do exactly, who I want to reach specifically, what do these people want/need, and what effect/outcome my actions will have.
There are certain things that only I can do. To free up more time for them I could either delegate some other tasks or drop them. The most successful people know what to focus on.
Every well-developed artist has a unique signature style that is recognized by others. They start by
copying others, learning, developing basic skills, but then progress into finding their own way of creating art. They might get really good with a particular medium, subject matter or technique. It might not appeal to everyone, but people who appreciate what they do will follow their work.
It’s the same with writing fiction, running a business, doing a certain job or ministry. Be selective. Don’t take on what’s not yours and try to spread yourself out. It’s fine at the beginning in order to discover what clicks, but then focus is needed in order to advance beyond average. It’s better to do one thing well. What is it that you want to do the most? Focus on that.
As this crazy year draws closer to its end, I want to stop and take a look at what I’ve accomplished so far and where I want to go next. I want to declutter my life by stopping, eliminating the noise, looking deeper into my heart’s desires, re-aligning with my purpose, and adjusting my course.
What about you?