How to be Disciplined and Focused When Your Dreams Overwhelm You

by STEVE BLOOM

Focus

*Note: This is a guest post by Vishnu of Vishnu’s Virtues.

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins

As someone who toiled as a courtroom lawyer, survived a dozen political campaigns, is passionate about community organizing and making a difference by working for non-profits, I have had more than a dozen jobs in the last ten years.

Throw in my penchant for reading, writing and blogging: I couldn’t keep up with myself.

You too are brimming with ideas, business and life plans.

Filled with life dreams and countless directions you could run in.

All the options may leave you feeling overwhelmed and purposeless.

You’re likely asking yourself what you should be doing with your life.

What were you sent here to do? How do you find what your “thing” is?

Juggling too many pursuits and dreams in your life?

Don’t know which activity to pursue?  What to create time for? What to build each day?

What do you do when you have countless dreams and passions in life?

I came to the conclusion that it’s similar to ordering on a menu, when faced with too many choices, we have trouble making any choice at all.

Similar to an ice cream parlor with 50 flavors or a flower store with unlimited variety of roses, all you want at the end of the day is the familiar chocolate chip ice cream or red rose.

The universe complicates matters by presenting you with opportunities which don’t fit and work that doesn’t resonate with your being.

To help find some clarity when inundated by dreams and having to confront opportunities coming your way, try this 3-step strategy.

1. Follow your soul’s art and your most burning dream.

There may be many hats you’re wearing and activities you’re juggling, but which one are you truly skilled at? Which one are you most passionate about? Which one keeps you motivated to keep improving?

In the work environment, you may enjoy one particular aspect of your job most.

There may be one life-long passion that you’ve always wished you had more time for.

If you’re still uncertain about your life path or your journey, continue to experiment and pursue your interests.

Eliminate those activities and skills which don’t interest you or no longer serve you.

Double down on what you’re skilled at doing, what you enjoy doing and what you can envision yourself doing more of.

The ones that make your soul sing and fills you with bliss. The one that doesn’t feel like work and keeps you up until 4 a.m., as you forget all about time.

Self-reflection and experience should reveal the values you desire in the work you do. Pursue those dreams which correlate to your values in life.

Do you need freedom in your work?

Creativity?

Love?

Independence?

Have a blistering desire to make a difference in the world through your work?

Ask yourself what you would be doing in life if you didn’t have to earn money or make a living? Your answer to this question should be the one thing in life you should be focusing on.

2. Do more of what matters and shelf the rest.

Once you’ve acknowledged and written down your top two or three priorities in life, stick to those activities exclusively.

Build those skills. Pursue opportunities in the fields you’ve selected. Acquire more training, education and information to help you pursue your life dreams more vigorously.

Don’t deviate from the two or three focus items.

Shelve all the activities that you have a minimal interest in.

Stop doing activities which you think you should be doing. Or were previously enamored with.

Be disciplined in your focus.

Again, master the skills and pursue opportunities that further your passion and life purpose.

Clear the rest of the time-sucking activities off your calendar.

3. Use this powerful word to stay disciplined.

When you are more fine-tuned about where you want to go with your life and are now pursuing dreams based on your values, then you can afford to say, “No,” often.

When you’re invited to events which don’t serve you, say, “No.”

When you find yourself in circumstances with those who don’t support your life purpose, reduce the time you spend with them. Move in a circle which supports your dreams in life.

When exciting new opportunities unrelated to your life’s focus and desires manifest, be diligent to your calling and say “No,” to the passing opportunity.

You get the idea.

The more you decline those opportunities in life which you don’t value, you will have more energy, time and dedication to pursue what you do value.

Concentrated and narrow focus on what matters to you will only lead you to success in the long-run.

Don’t allow unexpected jobs, lucrative opportunities or interesting prospective projects to sidetrack you from what you really want to be doing in life.

Instead of allowing the world to dictate what you should be doing, determine what you want to be doing. And then, tackle that task with a single-minded focus.

Master that field until you’re the go-to person, experienced leader or expert.

Of course, if an opportunity that you had never considered pops up and deems too good to be true, explore it. Once the novelty factor wears off, question if leaping into that opportunity will move you closer to where you want to go.

Will it make you happier?

Does it fit with your values?

If the answer is, “No,” let it go. Refuse to get off the train to an opportunity that will sidetrack you and stay on board to the final destination.

Don’t be distracted on your journey to your destiny.  

Stick to what keeps your engine running. Find and cultivate those skills and activities which bring joy and purpose. Limit how many activities and interests you pursue while ruthlessly turning down those which don’t serve you.

Achieve your life aim and intention. Concentrate your power. Master your art.

Do you have too many dreams that you’re paralyzed? Have you used the power of focus to achieve your life’s pursuits? Please share your thoughts in the discussion below.

Vishnu writes about how to overcome setbacks in life, live in the present moment and live an inspired life. Sign up for weekly posts at www.vishnusvirtues.com.

photo credit: Mark Hunter

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Comments

  1. I like the premise of this post, Vishnu. In a world where we have blogs, podcasts, videos popping up everywhere, how does one keep up? So much inspiration and only only life – wtf ! Focus is especially important, with so many distractions.

    I wonder how many people there are that don’t know what they want? If you ask them what they’re passionate about, what they dream about, they come up blank?

    I was definitely one of those people a few years ago. I too had different jobs doing different things. So instead of waiting for inspiration to hit, I just started trying different things. The things I became good at, I became ‘passionate’ about.

    Now that I’ve ‘found the thing’ that I feel I’m meant to do, I still don’t see it as temporary.

    Why one thing forever? Why not one thing right now. And something else further down the line when life changes?

    • THanks Razwana – yeah, there’s a lot of different directions and distractions out there. Yes, not knowing what we want to do is also a problem and you offer a great tip on how to go about finding what you’re passionate about. Try out a lot of stuff and become passionate about what you’re good at!

      And you’re right, you don’t have to do one thing forever but whatever it is you’re doing, focus on that til it’s time to move on. I think I would just say reduce the number of projects or dreams a person is working on and go all in. It may change and that’s perfectly fine!

      Thanks for chiming in.

  2. I am one of those people Razwana described. I’ve never found anything at work that I can disappear in and have time slip away. I have a list of things that are soul destroying, but none that call out to me as what I want to do for a living.

    In the minimal free time I have, my main effort is to try to revive my spirit so I can face another day in the office. This is not living – it is watching days pass by. I don’t have any time to reflect much less try out new skills.

    What would be your recommendation?

    • Tammy, if you didn’t have to do anything or go into work, what would you do? My suggestion would be to do that.

      IS there anything at work that interests you? Any skill-set or interest? If yes, work on fine-tuning that. IF not, look for an exit, other opportunities outside of work and other education. A couple suggestions of what else to do; volunteer, talk to people in industries you may have a slight interest in, pick up new hobbies, take some classes, read more books and blogs:) See what is of interest to you and do more of that.

      What else can you do in your off hours to revive your spirit?

      Maybe Razwana can add to the discussion as well?

  3. Nice post Vishnu,

    “Ask yourself what you would be doing in life if you didn’t have to earn money or make a living?”

    — I think another great tool, except this one, is to consider “what are you already doing”? Because often we do many of the things we like already, we just don’t think about it. Or we do it at a low level, and need to step that thing/skill up to a much higher level before we can do it professionally.

    • Thanks Ludwig for your feedback —

      and your comment on seeing if you’re already doing something you really enjoy. We absolutely may be enjoying ourselves and having the time of our lives and not even realizing it. An awakening or realization about doing more of what you’re already doing is a practical and good reminder. Thank you.

  4. Hi Vishnu,

    As always, I am impressed by the tone of honesty that runs through the fabric of your article. As far as discipline and focus is concerned, I think this needs to be inculcated very early in life…may be in those impressionable years when youngsters trust their peer group more than their nearest well-wishers and get carried away in the stream of immature thoughts and decisions. They waste a lot of precious time in following what could turn out to be a wild goose chase!

    Some of us may not be very fortunate to have supporting and understanding parents and therefore we keep groping in the dark even when there is the need to remain focussed. Sometimes, when the work we take up may not be of our liking but before abdicating it and trying to run away from it, it is imperative to think: Can I afford to lose this job? Will my passion feed me and my family?

    I hope you can understand very well now why our parents stressed so much on discipline…why they choose a stream for us to follow! I was not that lucky but as parent, I have done it for my children…and am glad I did!

    I wish more parents and youngsters could read such a thought provoking article!

    • Thanks for your visit here Balroop and your comment!

      Yes, ideally infusing that spirit of focus and discipline on kids is a good idea. But that’s not always possible in every situation like you experienced with your parents, for example.

      I think my parents too stressed focus and discipline but what they insisted on was focusing and being disciplined on what they wanted me to do. haha
      They didn’t say go be your best self and focus on your priorities but instead, here’s what we think is important, so do this. A few jobs and careers later, I’m focusing on my priorities in life now.

  5. At times I’ve felt that with too many choices I end up doing less. I’m focusing not just on my key projects but also restricting the time frame to the next 3 months.

    • Sounds like an excellent idea, Peter. Not only are you limiting your activities but being more focused by capping the time you’re going to spend on it. I have a feel this might be your most effective, efficient 3 months.

  6. Great post Vishnu! My overall dream is to write, coach, and speak full time. I’m trying to be more specific about what I can do today that would best allow me to move closer toward my dreams. Sometimes I have to say no (even if it’s an aspect of my dreams) to the good so I can say yes to the best.

    • Glad to hear you know what you want to do Dan and are doing it every sngle day! I totally hear you – saying no to the good and yes to the best! Looking forward to keeping up with your continued success.

  7. I wrote a personal mission statement and it kees me on track. It serves both as a great self-analysis tool and a focusing lens.

  8. charles namai says:

    Woooow a great article
    I have been torn in between doing what i do for daily bread and breaking out for a life long achievement. The fear is starting a fresh with new life although i know the outcome is rewarding.
    I like farming, i know it can pay me in a season what i can earn in a lifetime but this fear is so immense that i may not make it or that i am comfortable where i am. How can i overcome this…. and decide ones and for all.
    Regards,

    charles

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