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.

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.

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
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{ 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
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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!
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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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