“Watch where you’re going!” How many times did my mom and dad say this to me when I was a kid? Too many to count. I was reminded of a song I learned in Sunday School class. It starts with, “Be careful little eyes what you see.” When we only focus on our current problems, we are blind to possibilities. Focusing on current circumstances instead of where we want to go can cause us to drown in them.
What we focus on is what we move toward. If we’re driving and we look over into a field to the right long enough, our body unconsciously moves in that direction. Tight rope walkers don’t look down. They look at the platform at the end of the cable. Expert motorcyclists know that riders must look where they want to go because the direction of their focus is where the motorcycle is going to end up. This is also true from a psychological perspective.
It is true that we need to be aware of where we are. We need to have a firm understanding of our current condition. Letting the current condition have all of our attention causes us to move toward more of those problems. We have to have some idea of where we want to go and begin looking in that direction to be moving forward in our lives. Focusing only on where I am now causes me to do one of two things. I either get stuck where I am or I move in a direction that may put me in an even worse situation. Neither of those are good options.
Here are 4 steps to help you get moving in the direction you want to go.
1. Clarify What You Want
Regardless of what is going on in your life right now, clarify what you want. Depending on what problems you’re focusing on right now, this might be difficult. It’s still necessary. What do you want your life to be like? What about your marriage, relationship with your children, spiritual life, or career? Wherever the problem might be, what do you want that area of your life to look like? We will have trouble moving forward until we can actually state what we want.
2. Recognize the Past Has Already Happened
Maybe that’s overstating the obvious. However, if clarifying what you want included undoing the past, try again. We don’t yet have a time machine and I suspect we never will. The past will not change. Sitting around waiting for the past to change is going to keep you stuck. It will do absolutely nothing to move you in a positive direction. Moving forward requires that I recognize I can’t change the past.
3. See the First or Next Step
Once you have a destination, you can start to see the first step. If I want to walk out of my office, my first step is to get up out of my chair. Moving forward requires that I be able to see the step I need to take. If you want a better relationship with your oldest child, your first step might be to go for ice cream and talk. If you want to be less depressed, your first step might be to get up and go for a walk. There are endless possibilities. Look at the path from where you are to where you want to go.
Sitting around waiting for the past to change is going to keep you stuck.
4. Be Flexible
Things happen. We have to be willing to adjust as things come up. Sometimes there are obstacles that just show up from nowhere. Obstacles don’t mean we’re stuck. It only means we have to go around or over them. Sometimes we might even have to tear them down. If we focus on obstacles too much, they become bigger than life and we see them as too big to overcome. Having a destination in sight will help you see how to overcome obstacles if you’re willing to be flexible.
These 4 steps may seem simple. They are. It’s easy to understand. However, it’s sometimes difficult to implement. What is your attention focused on right now in your life? Is it the problem or are you looking toward where you want to go? Get your focus on where you want to go. Clarify what you want. Accept that the past will not change. Identify the next step. Be flexible.
Have you ever felt stuck or felt like you couldn’t move forward in your life? What things helped you in your process of moving forward? Feel free to comment. We would love to hear from you!