5 Steps to Focusing on Today

Eat and drink and be merry. Because tomorrow this may all be for naught.

Then I commended mirth, 
because a man hath no better thing under the sun, 
than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: 
for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, 
which God giveth him under the sun.

Then I beheld all the work of God, 
that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: 
because though a man labor to seek it out, 
yet he shall not find it
 - Ecclesiastes 8:15, 17a

Let us eat and drink; 
for tomorrow we die
 - Isaiah 22:13, 1 Cor. 15:32


It is foolish to ignore a dream. It is also foolish to ignore life in pursuit of that dream. So my words today are meant to find the balance between perseverance and focus.

1. Remember what your dream feels like.

My dream tastes of freshly baked cookies and snatches of kisses from tiny little lips covered in crumbs. My dream smells of fresh country air and sounds like the laughter of children playing outside my kitchen window. The aroma of fresh roses wafts in through the open window, and the sunshine melts me into a soft puddle of happiness. The garden of fresh vegetables calls me early in the morning, and my laptop calls me at night. I am right where I should be. With me family. In my home. I am doing what I always wanted. Playing. Teaching. Loving. Writing. 

I write because I want to. Because there is a story bursting to be told. Because my heart will die inside me if I don't. Because I love the praise of adoring fans. I love to entertain. To surprise and delight. To put the words together that feeds someone's imagination.

I hate being a slave to someone else's agenda. I want to be free. Running wild like a child. Exploring the forest for adventure. Climbing mountains. Seeking love and peace and goodness.

2. Live like tomorrow has already come.

If you produce a best seller, are you going to stop writing? I'm not. I want to keep going. If I made millions of dollars on a book, I wouldn't retire. I'd quit my day job and keep right on writing. That's because I am a writer. It's in my blood. Success will not change that.

This means that today I must make writing a part of my life and family. It's here to stay. Until I die when I am ninety-six. That gives me over sixty years to write, plenty of time to give the world many wonderful books. No need to do them all in one night.

But my children will only be with me for the next eighteen years. No book is worth wasting my time, especially when it is for them, to be with them, to be a wonderful mother, that I yearn for success.

3. Believe that success will come to you.

Perseverance comes from having the faith that success is possible. Balancing perseverance with life comes from having the faith that success is a gift. It is not earned. Oh, I'm not saying that it comes at no effort. I'm saying it cannot come by our own efforts. Call it karma. Call it luck. Call it blessings from God. If you think you've gotta succeed all on your own, you'll only kill yourself trying. But if you trust that if you move forward at a steady pace, the rest will fall into place, almost by a miracle, then it will happen. Faith is a powerful thing. Even if it is just that people are drawn to the power of your good attitude.

4. Set goals and tasks.

Brian Moreland, in his success story, said that he had a dream but no direction. So he listed his values and set his priorities.

I asked myself, “What do I want most? What’s most important to me about my dream career?” I listed my values in simple words like: achievement, fun, seeing my books on bookstore shelves, sharing my writing with readers, receiving advances and royalty checks, hanging out with other writers, writing a bestselling novel, etc. And then I listed those values in order of importance. Prioritizing your values is key, because it causes your mind to focus on what’s most important to you.

It's really a Stephen Covey kind of thing. Set your goals and list the tasks you need to do to get there. Then keep moving forward. One day at a  time. Each and every day into eternity.

My goal at this time is not to produce a best seller. Someday, yes. But now, my values are these: my family, writing great fiction, earning enough money as a writer to quit my day job, being a lover of good books and stories, working from home.

5. Remember your dream.

In the effort to move forward, we sometimes forget why we are doing this. Our goal becomes the task rather than the dream. We need to remind ourselves why we are doing this. We need to stop and smell the roses, take a deep breath and let it out slowly, and smile because there is so much more than just the tasks for the day. There is a dream that we believe in.


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