Last weekend, I decided to go get a drink for a couple of hours on Monday to celebrate Labor Day and to get out of the house. I was planning on two, maybe three hours max since I was by myself and I still wanted to complete some extra things back at the house before the week started.
As it turns out, my friend decided to come meet me and we ended up heading home around 8:30, sliiiiightly over the mental time limit I had set for myself. I got nothing done that I wanted to, but I wasn’t upset, and not just because I had had a good time.
The reason that I wasn’t upset was because that day resulted in a much better friendship between that friend and me. We both had misconceptions and slight mistrust towards each other before, since this was a “friends through a mutual friend” situation, and having fun together ultimately lead to a really, really good conversation where we were able to clear things up and open up to one another in a way that allowed true friendship to blossom.
Just think, though: what if I had gone against my instincts and allowed my focus on getting stuff done to prevent that from happening? What if I had been so bent on what I felt SHOULD get done that I missed what NEEDED to get done? I can guarantee our relationship would still be strained and we would both be trying to pretend that it wasn’t.
Focus and drive are invaluable. However, sometimes we get tunnel vision and neglect to see the opportunities around us that would enhance our lives and purpose dramatically if only we would slow down and take advantage of them.
As much as we need that inner fire, and at times we do need to block out the outside world if we want to get anything accomplished, if we do that all the time sometimes we will miss the fact that perhaps our purpose is changing, or should change. A lot of times we settle on a goal and do our darndest to reach that goal without actually stopping to analyze if that target is actually within the scope of where we want our life to end up.
Our purpose should drive our focus, not the other way around. If something isn’t serving you or serving your objective, why are you still focusing on it? There is no shame in quitting something if you realize that it is actually not helping you get to where you want to be.
This concept that I just mentioned-of quitting for lack of purpose-is one that I have struggled with in the past. When I commit to something, I like to go all in. I don’t back down. I get. shit. done. But really, how dumb is it to keep doggedly trying to accomplish something after discovering that it just isn’t for you, or that your desires have changed, or that it actually won’t help you get to where you need to be?
Quitting because you’re a pussy is one thing. That should never be an option. But quitting because it’s not longer the right fit should never be something to be ashamed of. It’s hard, though, especially if you’ve held a certain purpose in your mind for so long. Those deeply ingrained targets can be hard to let go of, but sometimes it’s necessary to take inventory and clear out all the clutter.
But if we’ve been focused on one point for so long, how can we remove ourselves enough to know if it’s really the not right thing or if we’re just going through a momentary inner struggle?
Honestly, most of the time you already kind of know. There’s a big difference between little dips in the road (i.e. man, this is really hard, I wonder if I have what it takes) and giant stop signs (i.e. every single step I take towards this goal is making me miserable, this target doesn’t actually align with my end game).
On the other hand, there are times when quitting isn’t the answer. Those are the moments when you just have to step back, take a breather, and realize that the reason the wagon isn’t moving is because there is a stick stuck in the spokes and all you have to do it pull it out and you’ll be moving merrily along.
The point is, tunnel vision can be both a blessing and a curse. Don’t begrudge the times when your focus gets shaken and your purpose gets solidified. There will (hopefully) always be more time you can dedicate to your goals, but sometimes moments that remind us of the scope of our existence happen only once in a while; don’t miss out on those opportunities because you are worried about throwing off your game. I promise you, if you want it badly enough, your game will be even better for taking that moment to soak in the reason why you are working so hard.
Feed your focus. Starve your distractions. But never, ever forget your purpose.