Three Steps to a Focused Life (Part 1: MaQuA)
(Note: This is the first in a three-part series on helping you achieve focus in your life)
How many people do you know that you can honestly say live their life with driven and focused intentionality? My guess is you can count them on one hand. But that’s because living with such manic clarity is extremely hard! It means saying no to the nine good things so you can say “YES!” to the one great thing. It means taking the long, painstaking amount of time to do deep soul searching and ask yourself what it is that sets you on fire, what grinds your gears, what keeps you awake at night.
If you’re like me, you often wrestle with confusion and discontentment because of the plethora of activities, sports, hobbies, career opportunities, and overall life paths that have been made available to us nearly everywhere we look. Just think about it. The possibilities are endless! Technology is bringing business and communication to your very fingertips. Try to think of the most obscure subject matter and there’s probably a book out there about it. Want to travel the world? Hop on a plane and be there in a day or less! Given our current acceleration toward increased opportunities for growth and exploration, I think it’s safe to assume the number of possibilities will continue to grow. That’s why it is becoming more and more important to live lives that are focused.
With that being said, you can’t live a focused life if you don’t know what to focus on, right? But choosing something to spend your life’s energy on can be a daunting and, sometimes, scary task! It’s no easy endeavor for sure, and you might find yourself asking yourself, “How do I know I’m picking the right path?”.
The first step in creating a focused life is to discover what motivates you. Before you can ever put the pen to the paper testament of your life’s vision or mission, you must first search your soul. Author Andy Stanley calls this step “Visioneering”. He describes it as the process in which “ideas and convictions take on substance”, a journey of intentional living in which one “engineers their vision” by actively exploring their deepest desires and longings, the things that light a fire underneath them and make them want to get out of bed in the morning. Whether it’ personal fitness, leadership development, or creating beauty through art, we all have something(s) buried deep inside us that can act as a compass as we navigate the tumultuous seas of life and the plethora of unknowns that they hold. A good way to discover your key “motivators” is to make a list of jobs or opportunities you find that make you excited, such as joining the military, becoming an artist, moving to France, etc. Once you’ve made your list, begin to ponder the items on your list and try to discover the key components within them. These will probably be generic attributes like health, adventure, responsibility, etc. Here’s a tip:
Don’t rush this!
It’s important to give yourself time to think this through so that you discover your true motivators. I had to walk through this process and it was a bit overwhelming initially. I found myself being swayed by so many opportunities and job descriptions that sometimes I wasn’t sure I could ever choose one path! I knew I loved architecture but I also loved travelling and going on mission trips! I’ve always loved music so I thought being a musician sounded pretty fun. I’m also a big fan of fitness and martial arts (SIDENOTE: most people don’t know this but if I hadn’t become an architect I probably would have either joined the military or become a personal trainer). I felt that there were just too many options for me to pick the right one.
However, as I began to look deeper into WHY I wanted to do these things, I eventually came up with three primary motivators: Mission, Quality and Adventure. I made the acronym MaQuA to help me remember (isn’t that an awesome acronym?! I’ve always thought it could be the name of a cool French one-hit-wonder pop band, or a blue drink that comes in a giant glass with a tiny pink umbrella…but I digress).
Let me explain why I picked these three specific motivators:
· MISSION- I’ve discovered that serving what I consider to be a greater good in this world is the most important factor in contributing to my level of fulfillment in life. I experience great levels of satisfaction when I know my work is contributing to improving education, helping those in need, making people feel valued, etc.
· QUALITY- All work is a balancing act of different variables such as speed, quality, and cost. I have a passion for quality. I want the work I do to be excellent, to make the one experiencing it feel valued and uplifted.
· ADVENTURE- I am a born learner and experiencer. I can’t get enough of life! I want to learn new languages, try new foods, explore strange lands. I seek adventure and need it to be an integral part of my life and work.
Once I discovered MaQuA, so many things began to make sense to me! I understood why I wanted to design architecture all over the world and why I didn’t like the idea of doing good things for those in need but doing it with poor quality. It’s almost like I had gotten a DNA test and found out who I really was, deep down. I began to worry less about the vast amount of fleeting opportunities I discovered and focused more on what would fulfill me at my very core. Now I know that whatever job I pick or adventure I choose has to be loaded with MaQuA!
Having a litmus test to distinguish between “okay” opportunities
and “the BEST” opportunities is essential if we seek to maximize our potential.
If you’re reading this, I’m going to take a guess that you don’t want to waste your limited time on this rock we call earth. Life is a gift and you have the opportunity to influence it.
PS: If you liked this post, have a question, or even disagree, leave a comment below!
(Note: In my next blog, I will be diving into the importance of creating a vision and mission statement for your life)