The third commandment – focus on what truly matters to you

the-third-commandment-1There’s a huge amount written today about finding you passion, about what moves you or discovering your true calling or gift in life. However, the reality is not quite that simple.

Firstly, finding your one true calling is hard to do – really hard! Secondly, that true calling can change over time.

Growing up as a kid, I wanted to be a police officer. My play with friends was often based around that idea, I researched it, and after I left college, I joined the police force. I was an officer for about twelve years. During that time I did a lot of extremely interesting, challenging and exciting things that helped me grow as a person. However, in my early 30s, my passions changed and I outgrew the role as a police officer and moved on to other things.

Many of the things I’ve done have been very fulfilling and I’ve enjoyed nearly every one of them. The point is that my “true calling” changed, or perhaps more accurately was much broader than I realized in my teens and early 20s.

Most people in the modern world don’t have a traditional career that our parents or grandparents grew up with. We don’t work for the same company for 30 years and retire with a gold watch! We have to plot our own course and take account of the changing currents and the things around us that influence us. Finding that one life passion is less important that focusing on the things that really matter to you in the here and now and accepting that those things will change over time.

So – here are my five steps to focus on the things that really matter to you.

1.       Make a list – It seems screamingly obvious when you see it written down but you need to keep track of the things that really matter to you. Take a few moments every day to pause and write down your most important goals right now. It shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes each day and over time you’ll start to see patterns emerge that give you some insight as to the things that really matter.

2.       Be holistic – When you start to think about what really matters, you will find that you tend to focus more on some areas of your life and less on others. Generally, I find that people start by focusing on work-related issues because that is where we tend to think of success. The reason for this is that most people have their performance objectively measured in some way at work.

It’s important to broaden out your thinking to encompass all areas of your life (work, family, friends, personal development, mental and physical health, spirituality, etc.). Without giving yourself permission to explore all the areas, some things that truly matter will remain hidden and you will be left with a feeling of being unfulfilled.

3.       Expect change – As you work on writing down the things that truly matter you need to expect change.

Change can come in many forms. Sometimes it dramatic and urgent, such as an illness, or a new and exciting job opportunity, but often it’s subtle and incremental, such as the change I experienced over my time as a police officer.

Whatever kind of change you observe, you should be prepared to look at it objectively, evaluate it, and, if appropriate, embrace it. You should not be blown in the wind by every new idea that comes along. If you see a new idea appear regularly on your list, you should consider it carefully and ask if it has become something that truly matters. If it has you should embrace it wholeheartedly!

4.       Make a plan – Knowing what truly matters to you is one thing. Making it a reality is quite another. It’s vital that you actually make a plan of how to move forwards. If it truly matters to you to get that promotion at work, what’s the plan? If spending more time with family truly matters, how will you achieve that? Whatever it is, large or small, identifying it is only the first step. You need a solid idea of how to get from where you are to where you want to be if you are going to succeed.

5.       Take action – This last idea is as screamingly obvious at the first … but gets ignored at least as often! All the planning, evaluation, and thought in the world cannot make the things that truly matter to you a reality. Thinking about them and planning for them puts you in the right frame of mind and often allows you to see opportunities that you otherwise would not be focused on but at the end of the day, nothing becomes a reality without a commitment to do the hard work that gets you there!

I fall into this trap more often that I would like to admit. For example, I’ve had a lot going on recently and my writing has suffered as a result. My postings have become patchy and I’m not getting the results I want. I’ve had to remind myself – as I often do – that I have to take consistent action and do the hard work to see the results!

Are there areas of your life that truly matter to you but that you are not focusing on? Conversely, are there things that you are working on that just don’t matter at all? How do you get your life into focus and make sure you are doing the things that truly matter to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below … I’d love to hear!

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