Breaking Down FOCUS

by Jen Slayden on · 19 comments

When I first saw what Lance had picked out for this month's theme, I actually started laughing. After a week spending every waking hour with my children and spouse on a five state and seven day road trip for Christmas, I had visions of how many repeated conversations we had with our kids because they had ipods in their ears, or were fighting, or basically using selective hearing.

FOCUS is a word I have used often with my three kids.

"PLEASE, focus for a minute" I have said, getting on my hands and knees when my children were smaller to look them in the eye, as they bounce around dancing with their partner named short-attention span. With two of my three now teens that are taller than me, it is a harder feat to accomplish. I can pull up a stool and say it. More often I use the symbol, putting my index and middle finger from my eyes extending out to them….as if saying:

"I'm watching you! FOCUS!"

Sometimes, they use the symbol right back at me, rightly so!

What is my excuse? How come I lose my focus? I have times where I am in my own little world, multi-tasking a chore while chatting on the phone, computer beside me, checking to see if I have an email proclaiming that I have won a complete home make-over, along with a maid, a personal assistant, and a vacation where my family and I fly somewhere instead of being trapped in a van together for 15 hours straight.

Who am I kidding? I loved every minute. BUT, I am committed to simplifying this New Year, and using tunnel vision tricks to bring more clarity to my life. I truly believe that when I lack focus I can tend to lack accountability.

Have you ever caught yourself in a situation where you have forgotten an appointment, procrastinated because you didn't know how to start a project, or put your dreams on hold because lack of focus? How many times when this happened did you find yourself coming up with an excuse? It doesn't matter whether you are telling this excuse to yourself or someone else, it proves that there isn't enough focus.

So, will you join me this New Year? Let's come into FOCUS together. The acronym I created below serves to remind you to live with clarity and intention.


F FUEL. After running several marathons, I have learned that if I do not feed my body healthy food or drink enough water I am sluggish, tired, and hazy. But you do not need to even be an athlete to achieve the benefits of good nutrition. Make a commitment to drink more water this year. Cut out soda. Eat more veggies and fruit. Take a multi-vitamin. Choose one goal that what works for you, and you will find that even one change can produce great results. You will have more focus, be less tired, and feel happier. I guarantee it! Fuel up for focus.

O ORGANIZE. It is hard to find focus when you aren't sure what it is you are supposed to focus on! What are your goals for the year? Organize your thoughts! I am in the process of creating a VISION BOARD for myself that encompass my hopes and dreams for the year. I use the word HARMONY since that is my platform and brand. I am looking to find more harmony through my music, writing, family life, relationships, self-care, and community service. Without this organized vision board, I could easily loose my focus and in turn, my motivation and accountability. Organize your thoughts for greater focus.

C CHANGE. The new year is a good time to reflect upon what hasn't worked in the past. Just writing this article has made me aware both multi-tasking and being attached to a certain outcome do not serve me in any productive way. I will accomplish more, with less stress, when I tackle one task at a time and be willing to change the habit of multi-tasking into a habit of one-thing-at-a-time doing and change to succeed.

"If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results."  ~ Jack Dixon

Embrace change, welcome focus!

U UNLOAD. It is impossible to focus in a cluttered area. In the last year I have been slowly downsizing, sorting through items that I don't need, unloading them at a donation center, and creating a relaxing and simple space to compose music and work. The same concept can apply to our minds. If there are burdens that need to be dealt with: anxiety, depression, or the weight of the world on your shoulder, please seek help. Often times these emotional challenges can make you physically ill as well, lessening your desire to achieve the gifts you were meant to bring to the world. Life is too short to live in emotional haze or physical chaos!

Unload mind and space, upload focus!

S SLOW DOWN! The cliché we hear constantly is said constantly for a reason: it is one of the hardest, but most important challenges we can accomplish to help us find our focus. Even though it seems contradictory to slow down when we have so much to do, research shows the results that people who meditate, practice yoga, or take time to enjoy nature and simple pleasures are much more productive. Slowing down will speed up your focus. How cool is that?

A stop in Zion National Park and a quick hike with the kids helped us regain our focus on a long travel day!

No steam or gas drives anything until it is confined. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined." ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick, D.D.

I am implementing more focus with my children now that we are back home from our trip – starting with healthy home cooked meals after not-so-desirable choices when we were on vacation. For families, focus is especially important. Children are bombarded with media and unlimited choices everywhere they turn. With a little effort and a lot of luck, I can find a stool, look my big teenagers in the eye and say FOCUS and they will slow down, take a deep breath, and know what I am talking about.

May FOCUS promote healthy living, success and peace for you in 2012!

In Harmony,


by Jen Slayden

Jen Slayden finds her harmony in Western Montana with her husband Mark, their three kids, and an outdoor loving black lab named Cody. Stop by and check out her life in music, words, and education at Find Your Harmony.
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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

rob white January 4, 2012 at 8:20 am

Excellent breakdown, Jen. I love your accountability. In the past I’ve lost focus when I encounter feelings of incompletion that come from the past. Renewing my focus requires Whole Mindedness and taking what I call “Atomic Action. We are Whole Minded, and fresh and ready for the present moment when we let go of our failures and incompletions of the past. Atomic Action is a consequence of Whole Mindedness. Every level of the mind is focused on the action in the moment, and the result is incredible. When my ‘memories of past failures’ (be they conscious or subconscious), fall upon the moment, my action is a swing and a miss. A Partial Mind cannot keep its eye on the ball because it is looking in two directions (in the present and in the past).
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Jen January 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Love what you say here. The idea of Whole Mindedness appeals to me so much….and is what I do try to create.
I guess I have felt that in times of my life when I have been spontaneous! I took action before my brain said “hold on there…remember when?” and that way I was working with the feeling of the moment. My partial mind, when it leads me away from true focus, is usually in the past, and in the future, and NOT at all in the present!

Thanks so much for this insight. And thanks for stopping by! Best to you in 2012…
In Harmony,
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Cindy January 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Really nice text, my father used to do the same with his fingers and looked into our eyes:) I also recognized that I am suffering from a lack of focus. I also like you anagram of FOCUS. Maybe I should print it and put it on my desk not to forget it:)


Jen January 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Printing out is always a great way to remind yourself! I do that often. We are surrounded by good energy and great insight in this community!
Thank you for stopping by and sharing yours!
In Harmony,
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Jenna January 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Amen sista! Amen!


Jen January 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

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David Stevens January 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Hi Jen,
The anagram is very clever… have told a lovely story to match this month’s theme, congrats.
be good to yourself
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Jen January 5, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Thanks David!
I always appreciate your custom signature! Because usually when I am being good to myself I am practicing what I preach…..

Enjoy the month In Harmony!
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Cathy | Treatment Talk January 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Hi Jen,

Love your acronym. Focus is the key to accomplishing our goals, isn’t it? My kids are a little older and they didn’t have quite as much input as teenagers do now, so I can imagine it is a challenge to keep them focused on the task at hand. A vision board is a wonderful way to remind yourself of your goals for the year. I find writing, yoga and meditation help me to stay focused. Happy 2012 to you!
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Jen January 5, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Hi Cathy,
Happy New Year to you as well.
I am going to dedicate myself to more yoga this year. I have been saying it so long…..but THERE, I committed by writing it down. I truly do find more focus when I have a relaxed mind and body. Generally after exercise I can get into a wonderful space in my brain of creativity and clarity.

For my teenagers, I am finding they are better focused when we give them less choices. So TV is off most of the time, quiet time away from the others in the house is encouraged (for them and the parents!) and making music around our house makes a creative spin to the lessons to focus while still having fun. There is always room for improvisation, in music and in life, right?
In Harmony,
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Tess The Bold Life January 5, 2012 at 8:01 am

Hi Jen,
What a cute kid and the hiking photo is awesome. Focus for me has been working like a charm as I put the final touches on my new course. I feel like I’m in the groove for a prosperous year with my word create and my new focus! Happy 2012!
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Jen January 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Hi Tess,
Happy New Year!
I love that your word of the year is CREATE. And I am so excited to hear a little more about your new course. I wish you continued success and FUN in your creativity all through the year, Tess, and thank you for being a wonderful role model!
In Harmony,
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The Vizier January 5, 2012 at 8:40 am

Hi Jen,

Trying to get your kids to focus must be quite a feat I imagine.

It’s true, I had trouble focusing at times and at other times my focus becomes obsession. This is especially so when I am playing PC games. I think your kids will understand haha! Still you have brought up some great points to help us focus better.

I think being organized is vital to focus. When you are organized, you gain the clarity that is necessary for focus. One of the key factors that has helped me to focus is clarity. When I am unsure, I tend to hesitate. But once my confusion has cleared and I know what to do, focus comes naturally for me. Thus, I always make it a point to gain clarity in every situation.

Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

Irving the Vizier
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Jen January 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I really appreciate what you are saying about clarity, Irving. I can really relate to that! I feel the same way when I am truly organized. There is no magic bullet for me either. Sometimes I really have to work hard to get (and stay) organized, using many different methods. But when I get there. Whew! I can really appreciate the clarity that comes with it, and in turn, the productivity and good energy!

It’s funny. Our family is a bit different…we have a wii, but the kids really don’t play video games. We only become a little obsessive when we are fly-fishing:) I suppose it is kind of like a nature-video game. But the stats aren’t there to catch the white lies about how big the fish was that got away:)
Happy New Year, and thanks for being here.
IN Harmony,
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Annie Andre January 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I do the same thing with my three kids (the finger thing).
I just want to know if you think there’s such a thing as too focused? Sometimes i feel like all i do is focus focus focus. Or maybe i’m just stressed out.
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Jen January 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

That is really an interesting question. I’m wondering what other people’s thoughts are on that.

My first inclination is to say that there isn’t such a thing as too much focus, but there is such a thing as focusing on the WRONG things. Does that make sense? So if you feeling yourself constantly spinning your wheels and not getting anything done, perhaps it is time to slow down and re-assess.

In my own experience, when I am authentically focus, I feel like I have accomplished something worthwhile but at the same time it didn’t stress me out.

Wishing you all the best!
In Harmony,
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Anna January 6, 2012 at 7:23 am

I agree that slowing down increase your focus. But you must admit that it is very hard especially in out full of speed daily routines…
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mollyminks January 8, 2012 at 12:53 am

Love the acronymm, I think I spelled that right? Anyway, yes it is true I have delt with the same problem with several of my kids. Sometimes I have to step back because all the calories spent trying to get them to focus I feel has been possibly detrimental in the long run.
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Betsy at Zen Mama January 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I love the idea of focus! I totally agree that we are bombarded daily with way too many things to make us unfocused (like I just discovered Pinterest!). And for kids… they do their homework and can watch tv, check facebook and text all at the same time. Not much focus going on there. Thanks Jen and Lance for picking such a perfect topic for us to “focus” on :)!!
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