1. You’ve mentioned that learning to focus means ignoring the “good” things for the best. Can you share what some of those good things are in your life?
I don’t spend time on crafty stuff and hardly ever on décor projects, homemade gifts, etc. I get very behind on family photos and when I do make albums, they’re super simple, online ones.
The only two hobbies I really allow myself are veggie gardening (because it’s healthy food for my family, plus the time I spend in it truly refreshes and nurtures my soul), and regular times of reading, usually before I go to bed.
I’m a huge fan of making DIY products, like all-natural cleaning supplies, beauty products, home canning and preserving, that sort of thing. However, my time really doesn’t allow for it as much as I’d like, so I allow myself to occasionally dabble in it but mostly I’ve learned to be OK with finding great products and companies that I’m happy to support and buying most of those things instead of making them.
I am not involved in any clubs or regular meetings (other than attending church). I’m not in any mom’s groups, book clubs, etc. I don’t volunteer anywhere at the moment.
I don’t spend much time on social media or browsing the internet, much as I may enjoy Pinterest or Facebook. I find they distract me and make me more unfocused, so they’ve had to go.
It’s a priority for me to make nutritious and from-scratch meals, but they’re usually very simple and un-fussy. I don’t try out new recipes as often as I would like to, but tend to stick to tried-and-true recipes or just make things up based on what I have on hand.
2. What are some of the symptoms of an unfocused life for you (physical, emotional, spiritual and mental)?
Physical stress, which shows up in a foggier brain, being more irritable, getting eczema on my hands, sleeping poorly.
A lack of personal and spiritual growth. I tend to stagnate and feel a bit stuck.
My meaningful relationships are less vibrant and fulfilling, especially my marriage and my close female friendships.
My thoughts are more scattered and as a result, more anxious. I worry more about the things I should do, didn’t do, have to do, etc. Sometimes this even goes downhill into mild depression, and other times not.
The clutter level in our house ramps up when I am unfocused, and the more cluttered/disorganized things get, the more that it affects me emotionally and takes away my mental clarity.
I’ve told Mandi before that when we’re not on track, we eat a whole lot more things like cheese and grains, because they’re to me they feel more convenient than washing and chopping fresh fruits or veggies, using dry beans, thawing meat, etc. Its usually still from scratch, but it’s my version of convenience food, and it’s definitely not as good for us.
3. You and I are both recovering serial entrepreneurs who have had to learn to ignore the “shiny thing” syndrome when new ideas or opportunities come along. Do you have a process for evaluating new opportunities/activities/goals (whether personal or business) to determine whether they deserve your focus?
I wouldn’t say that I have a formal, structured process, but I do have one of sorts. It usually includes first trying to assess how much this new opportunity/activity, etc. will require of me (time, energy, being out of the house or away from my kids, etc.). Then I try to think through whether it’s even something I really want to do and if it fits in with my current priorities – will it be of benefit to my relationships? Will it refresh me or make me happy? Is it a worthwhile business opportunity that deserves to be considered? Does it fit with my priorities? What would I have to say no to if I said yes to it? Ultimately, I often write out a pro/con list (because I love making lists), and since I’m so visual, that really helps me come to a decision. If it’s a really big decision or I’m feeling particularly torn, I bring all of this to my husband and get his opinion on it, and hearing his thoughts often helps me to clarify my own.
4. I love your focus on ONE THING in each area of your life. Do you keep a list of the other things you’d like to pursue at some point, or do you just follow your gut when it comes to choosing the next ONE THING?
You know, it ebbs and flows. Sometimes I do have an actual written or typed list that I keep either on my computer or in a prominent place where I’ll see it and remember (this could be near my bed, in my bathroom, perhaps in a journal or planner I use each day, or even on my fridge if it’s not too personal). Other times I’m not so organized and it’s more of an intuitive thing, that I’ve decided in my mind what that thing is and I just try to keep bringing myself back to it. I’ve also been known to do things like set myself recurring email reminders or iPhone alarms (for example, if I’m trying to be more affectionate to my husband, or I want to be consistent with going to bed or getting up at a certain time). As a person who struggles with staying organized, these automatic reminders can be really helpful for me.
5. And finally, what do you think is the biggest danger to your focus? Is it your own personality (and desire to do all the things), feeling like you need to live up to other people’s expectations, or something else?
For me personally, there are two main dangers:
I am somewhat of a recovering good girl/people pleaser. I easily slip back into allowing myself to feel bad about things I shouldn’t feel bad about, or guilty for things I haven’t done, or let other people’s expectations weigh very heavily on me.
Ever since I was about 12 or 13, I’ve struggled with being too much of a type-A, busy-busy, overachieving sort of person. In the past 20+ years of my life, letting go of the temptation to take on everything that seems interesting or enjoyable or just good in some way has been so hard for me. I will probably always love being a very busy, on-the-go, ambitious person, but there are limits I must place on myself so that I can remain healthy and give my best to the things that matter most. Letting go of that idol of busyness and doing everything is huge for me.