How to Determine What to Focus On in Your Life

by Lance Ekum on · 13 comments

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.

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.

Final Thoughts

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?

Lance writes sto­ries from his heart, aim­ing to inspire and moti­vate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he’s not here, you can find him hang­ing out with his fam­ily, rid­ing a bike, or just gen­er­ally act­ing goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Tree­house newslet­ter and get addi­tional inspi­ra­tion in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
View all posts by Lance Ekum

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg January 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

My focus for the past two years has been to travel the world. I had to save enough money to make it happen and it’s now FINALLY happening. Our trip starts tomorrow. If you put your energy towards the right focus it’s incredible what can happen.

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Aileen | Kaizen Vision January 25, 2012 at 9:08 pm

What a perfect post for me to see today! I wonder if life was that much different in past times; is this just part of an overwhelmed society? There really are so many (too many) things to focus on and I feel choices have to made and things need to be dropped or nothing gets the real focus it needs. There are moments when it feels like life balance is possible, and moments where I think the art of juggling is the closest to balance one can get.

I really appreciate the insight in this post :)
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darla January 26, 2012 at 9:50 am

I LOVE this! It confirms everything I have been feeling. You’re awesome!
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David Stevens January 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Hi Casey,
Questions 4,5 & 6 are the ones that I ask of myself and of my clients. They are part of the essentials if one wishes to enrich their journey in Life……especially if one is in or commencing their ‘mid life’ years. They help formulate your Vision of how you would like your Life to pan out. Thankyou.
be good to yourself
David
David Stevens´s Last Fabulous Post ..Living Life Today – Excuse me…..your Life is waitingMy Profile

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Ann January 27, 2012 at 5:07 am

I found this article really inspiring. Thank you! All of the questions I can surely relate. Especially, No. 5… I always ask myself, where will I be in 5 years? what do I want to be? but I do think my mind is tired of me… because I always keep asking and not taking a step to to want it.. I finally realize that I’m not getting any younger and I am taking a step. I am focusing one goal at a time and I think I have improvements… I’m internet savvy, so I love to read blogs like this. It inspires us to be better at what we do and not sticking to what we are not good at. I also love to read a blog by Kent Julian, http://liveitforward.com, he has articles posted that helps people like me to make the move in the work and life that I love. Giving tips on keys to be successful on your career…

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Steven | The Emotion Machine January 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

These are great questions for helping people re-evaluate their focus. Often times we need to re-adjust our focus as we enter new areas of our life.
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Noel January 27, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I guess most of the people are focusing on enjoying life, having fun while ignoring their health, financial matters, goals… the things which are important in our life. They spend more than they can afford, eat whatever they like even they’re sick. It’s not that having fun is wrong but we tend to forget those that we need to take care of. And your questions here Casey, remind us what’s the main issue we need to put more attention to. Great post!
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Cathy | Treatment Talk January 30, 2012 at 8:08 am

Hi Casey,

I can completely relate to your first paragraph as I’m sure many of us can. The question for me everyday is how to squeeze it all in. One thing I have let go of is TV. It can suck up so much of a person’s time. Recently, I read a quote that a 65 year old watching TV 4 hours a day will have spent 9 years watching TV. I have a few shows that I enjoy, but have cut way back from what I used to watch. I would rather spend my time on work, reading, exercise and spending time with my family and friends. It is a balancing act, but being focused on what is important helps. Enjoyed your inspiring post!
Cathy | Treatment Talk´s Last Fabulous Post ..Let Go of Your Bad Habits and Find Your PassionMy Profile

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Christy January 30, 2012 at 8:10 am

Casey thank you for this great post. It really is important to set some life goals; by this we are able to focus on achieving our goal, despite all the bad circumstances or difficulties may come our way. My focus for 2012 is to meet new places and landscapes and find out more about nature. This would make me happy!
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Chrysta Bairre January 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

These are wonderful questions to determine focus in life. So often we get distracted by those things that are urgent, but not necessarily important, or we focus on misplaced goals that don’t really address our true desires and needs.

The life-threatening question is especially helpful and brings to my attention the idea of living my best life. I may be participating in activities that threaten my best life- not just my physical health, but my emotional and mental health, too. I am encouraged to consider how I can support a healthy life!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Chrysta
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Anna January 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Indeed, great question to try to find ourselves and the goals of our live. I am asking myself – Where I want to be in 5 years, nut still I cannot find the answer. Does this mean that I am lost forever?
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Michele Bergh January 31, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I love this post. I’ve spent the last year really looking at what I want, where I want to go, what isn’t working, etc. and these questions are great points to consider in that process. I’m going to make a note of these so I can perhaps have an easier time evaluating as I go:)
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Andrew Walker February 28, 2012 at 2:45 am

Hm.. This is a very nice tips. Very structured, informative yet helpful. Thanks a lot for sharing this!
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