Casey Slide is a mother, wife, Christian, and engineer living in the Atlanta area. In addition to juggling many passions in her life, she shares her tips and insights for lifestyle and financial topics on the Money Crashers personal finance blog.
Like many people, I can never seem to find enough time to do everything that I need and want to do. With only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, there is no way to squeeze it all into my life.
On a daily basis, I find myself struggling as to what aspect of my life I should focus my attention: preparing healthy foods, educating my son, learning how to save money and make money, enriching my prayer life, exercising, spending time with friends and family, and practicing my various hobbies. All of these are important, but by attempting to focus on all of them, I spread myself too thin.
So how do you determine what to focus on in life? To find an answer, you must first answer a series of other questions.
Questions to Ask Yourself
1. Am I Experiencing Anything That Is Life-threatening?
Obviously, if you are in immediate danger, you'll be attending to that issue, but this question goes much deeper than that. Is there anything that is going on in your life that is going to harm you if you don't deal with it? For example, do you have a serious medical condition that requires attention?
Consider your eating and exercising habits, as well as your mental and overall health by going to your physician for a preventative care check-up. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you are at risk for any potential health problems and what you should focus on now to prevent them. If your doctor tells you that you are overweight and have high blood pressure and cholesterol making you at risk for heart disease and diabetes, you need to focus on making lifestyle changes now in order prevent these life-threatening conditions.
2. Are My Relationships Strained?
You may be experiencing various forms of stress in your life, but if you do not have someone whom you trust and who you know will stand by your side, you will be a lot less capable to take on the challenges of daily life. As communal beings we need each other for moral and physical support. Without a support system, we often become unmotivated and depressed.
If you find yourself saying "yes" to this question, aim your focus at repairing tense or broken relationships, especially with your spouse. This can be particularly uncomfortable if you are dealing with financial infidelity in your marriage, but be the bigger person by making the first move.
3. Are My Finances Suffering?
Once you know you are physically healthy and that your relationships are healthy, ask yourself if your finances are healthy. You can do this by examining the following:
- Do you have a budget you follow?
- Does your income exceed your expenses?
- Are you saving for retirement?
- Are you debt-free?
If you answered "yes" to these questions, fantastic. If not, then it's time to get to work on a personal budget. You may also want to consider ways to make extra money in order to pay down debt, build up your savings, or prepare and plan for retirement.
Once you have a handle on your finances, you can then switch your focus to thriving financially. Perhaps you may even want to start thinking about how to become a millionaire!
4. Is There Something I Could Learn That Would Enrich My Life?
I love to learn new things, and there is often so much on my "to-learn" list that I don't know where to start. So not only is there a question of if I should focus on learning something, there is also the question of what I should focus on learning.
The best way to approach this is to first consider learning about anything that will enrich your quality of life. Perhaps you can learn something to help you save money, such as couponing, cooking more nutritious foods, or starting your own vegetable garden.
Also consider learning things that could enrich your spiritual or prayer life; this will bring you peace and may even be another way to discern where to direct your focus.
5. Where Do I Want to Be in Five Years?
Really, the question is, what do you want to do with your life? Is there a new career that you would like to pursue? If the profession requires schooling, training, or experience, you will need to devote some of your focus to getting that process started.
Is there a goal that you would like to reach? One of my goals is to run a full marathon at some point in my life. When the time is right for me to achieve that goal, I'll need to make the training my focus.
For some, going back to school is the only option, since it provides the education needed to pursue a different career. For example, if you wish to advance in your current career, you might require a master’s degree.
6. What Are My Passions?
We only live one life, so don't waste your time on things that do not matter to you. Does it really matter that you watch that TV show? Do you really need to spend an hour on Facebook checking the statuses of your former high school friends?
No, you don't. You need to get up, get out, and start living. Figure out what really matters to you and make those things your focus. Don't waste your time and energy on things that you will regret.
Maybe you work in the health care field and you want to advance your career because helping others is your passion. If this is how you feel, consider earning a master’s degree in healthcare. With this degree, you can make a major impact in the lives of many people, since you will have the expertise needed to shape policies and advance change within the industry.
It can be overwhelming to think about all the ways you can spend living your life, but the key is to focus on the most important things while letting the rest fall into place.
Once you have a handle on areas of your life, such as your health, your relationships, and your finances, expand your focus to include goals and passions. Don't overwhelm yourself by taking on too much, and know that each potential focus has its time and place.
What are you focusing on in your life?