Finding Real Focus

Finding Real Focus

If you’re like me, it’s impossible to stay fully focused on any type of task. You open your laptop to start writing your paper, you get to your name and class, and out of nowhere, you’re watching the most random of videos online (here’s one of a dude spinning the most random things). You try reading a book or your Bible, and after one comma, you find yourself scrolling through Instagram. Heck – I’d even bet reading this you won’t get too far before getting distracted.

All of us suffer from some form of lack of focus in any major area in our lives: academic, spiritual, or everyday tasks. We have now become a generation where asking for extensions is a given and nothing we do or give is from a place of full capacity. We all want to gain some control in our focus department, but we often are lost on how to do so. Where do we even start?

How we try to focus

We all have that moment we got so frustrated with our lack of focus that we drastically tried to change. I remember one point being so fed up with this habit that I made a vow to change. So I disabled Facebook, turned off data for my cell phone, restricted sites on my browser, and even bought a planner. I was on my way up! And for a couple of days, it worked. I was turning everything in on time and seeing an uptick in my grades. But sooner than later, I slowly reverted back to my old slothful ways and found myself going against all my self-imposed restrictions.

Why didn’t it work? I think we all try the same methods to try to refocus our lives and gain more control. We think that if we place enough restrictions, shut out the distractions, and have the strength to say “no,” we will be able to focus. But what if that’s exactly what keeps us from focusing our lives?

Stop saying ‘no’ and start saying ‘yes’

The key to unlocking our focus is not by saying “no” to our distractions but by saying “yes” to more powerful longings in our hearts. Maybe it’s not that we’re apathetic, but we’re simply bored. We need inspiration to keep our lives running.

Case in point, in my life there is one task that will always garner my full attention and focus, no matter the circumstance—the glorious task of watching the Golden State Warriors. When they are playing, my eyes are locked in, my mind is focused fully, and no distraction in the world ever gets to me. Why? The players on the court actually inspire me, they give me joy, and they fill a longing as trivial as that longing is.

The only way to real focus is to dive head first into our desires and longings rather than simply turn away. Our lack of focus in uninspiring tasks, such as papers and assignments, could be a cry from our soul of a lack of inspiration it’s seeking.  

How does this practically look?

1) Seek real inspiration. Our interests are so basic now. Our hobbies these days usually resort to watching dramas, browsing social media, or just staring blankly at your phone to kill time. Rather, take a hike, learn music, or go to a cooking class. Do something that expands your passions to more than what you know. Maybe you just haven’t found your inspiration yet.

2) Set aside time for yourself. We get so easily distracted because we don’t have time to enjoy or explore what we like or want. I find even in my own distractions, it is my soul’s way of saying, “I want to find stuff that I enjoy or like.” We just need more intentional time for it.

3) Find accountability for inspiration. Don’t just simply find people to discipline you to work hard or stay on task; you’ll just see them as nagging parents down the line. Instead, find people who inspire you and have overlapping passions.

4) Grow in your longing for God. Above all, I wonder if we have simply become a generation that lacks a longing for God. Because we lack a foundational longing for God and the Gospel, our focus of course sways because our souls feel like they’re drifting on an endless sea. As Paul writes, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:2). When our soul finds its prime longing, our focus for all things will become sharper.

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