Step Back and Get Perspective

View through a narrow wall

Isn’t this a neat shot? It was taken from inside a castle in Napa, CA. These small openings allowed defenders to attack intruders while minimizing their own exposure. This design has its strengths, but I think whoever was peeking out might have been vulnerable to enemies approaching from just outside of his line of vision.

Focus is a wonderful thing. It helps us stay on track and get things done. We talk about focus a lot when discussing productivity. However, focus can sometimes work against us. When we are hyper-focused on achieving a solitary goal, we risk losing our perspective. For example, we may spend the whole day obsessing about what number will be on the scale in the morning. Resolutions are wonderful, but they shouldn’t take over our lives. Meaningful change takes place when we integrate a positive initiative into the rhythm of our lives.

If you are finding that all of your time, energy or thought is being spent on only one objective, it may be time to step back and look around. Take a day off of working on your goal, or temporarily shift your focus to something completely unrelated. Remember that you are pursuing this endeavor to improve your life, not hijack it. The end is important, but the journey is as well.

16 thoughts on “Step Back and Get Perspective”

  1. It’s sad when we focus so much on the goal that we don’t enjoy the journey! Here’s an analogy I wrote about planning and reaching goals: “If you don’t have a plan, isn’t that like setting out on a road trip without a map? How will you know when you get there? I’m not suggesting that you should hop on a superhighway without any exits and drive like mad until you skid into your destination. The approach I prefer is more like motoring down a country road on a summer day with the top down…the road might meander a bit, and you are welcome to take side trips, and stop at scenic vistas, but with your map/plan handy you can easily find your way back to the main road!” So, it advocates having a goal, and a plan, but also enjoying the journey.
    Hazel Thornton recently posted…7 Ways to Make Resolutions Fun AgainMy Profile

    1. I really love this analogy, Hazel. It’s so true. What have we gained if we reach a goal but sabotage the rest of our lives in the process, right? Thanks for sharing this with me:)

  2. Since having my son, he’s given me many gifts, but the gift of perspective was a welcome surprise. I expected to start my work week being super-productive today but alas I’m home with a sick kid. This downtime is giving me space to assess if my goals this week are THAT important. Oh and say a prayer that I don’t get it and can make it to Friday’s meeting!

    1. This sounds so familiar to me! I felt like so many plans were sabotaged by a child’s illnesses. Being a parent required a fundamental shift in the way I planned and worked. I realized that I wasn’t in as much control as I wanted to be of my time. I found it challenging and often frustrating. At the same time, I can see there were golden moments nestled into those upturned plans. I got better at shifting my plans and turning on a dime. Those are skills I value now. I will certainly be praying that you stay healthy!!!

    1. I think you and I share a love of planning, Sabrina! Planning helps us assess how things are going, and whether we need to make any adjustments along the way. It can be tempting to hyper-focus on one thing, but that often ends up leading to new problems and corresponding frustration.

  3. Focus. Singular, hyper, multi…so many facets. I feel different ways about this. I understand the need for a more extensive plan (map, super goal, destination, etc.) but I also believe that there are times to go into hyperfocus mode. I see this more of a dance-type movement among the various types of focus. For example, when I’m writing, I like to block out all other commitments and distractions and just write. I will often use a timer which allows me to write steadily for “x” amount of time. When the buzzer dings, I stop and evaluate where I am, asking myself, “Do I continue or shift focus?” When practicing mindfulness meditation, there is often a singular focus of awareness, like the breath, or sound, or sensations in the body. One could call it a hyper-focus. However, during meditation, our minds naturally wander. So that singular focus comes in and out of our attention. In this case, again, it’s a kind of movement or playing with focus. I guess all this is to say that there I focus in different ways at different times. All are valuable and necessary for me.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…How to Make Conditions Better for Your Fresh StartMy Profile

    1. I totally agree, Linda. You have some very healthy systems to allow you to hyper-focus when you want/need to, while also putting some boundaries on that time so you can step back and assess your state of mind and your progress. I think being too heavily weighted on either end of the focus continuum is what can lead to disappointing results. It is all about that beautiful dance you describe!

    1. You have a much better eye than I do. I can only imagine what photographs you would have captured in that castle. There was a lot of neat stuff to see:)

  4. I am trying to implement “field trips” into my schedule this year. Meaning I want to take a day or afternoon, once or twice a month to do something fun – see a movie, explore a new town, go to a museum. Something outside the ordinary and not work related. Hoping to change my perspective with this new plan.

    1. What a great idea, Janet! I think broadening our experiences gives us ideas and approaches that we are less likely to find it we operate in the same sphere day after day. I look forward to hearing what comes out of these field trips. Sounds like fun to me:) You’ve got me thinking on this idea!

  5. I really think we need to do this always. Things change as we move forward with our goals. It might not end up the way we think it will. I love the idea of stepping back and reassessing the situation. Great post Seana.

    1. As Linda commented earlier, it is somewhat of a “dance” between focusing in and getting things done, but then stepping back and seeing how our progress is in the context of our greater lives. Both are important and healthy.

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