Achieving your Dreams 101: The lost art of Focus

I've been thinking; how does a thirty-eight year old man who has always been full of dreams ever get to achieve any of them? There are tons of books outlining a million different strategies on the subject I am sure but how do you know they will work for you? I am no expert on achieving my dreams but I have tried a lot of techniques and out of everything I have come across, there is one that keeps coming back in one form or another and it just so happens that it is the one that always make me feel like I can almost touch my dreams. It is the lost art of Focus; the ability to ignore all distractions getting thrown at you on a daily basis and zone in on what it is you want most in your life.

The problem most of us face is that we are really good at focusing for a few hours. Some even manage to keep it for a few days or weeks, but eventually, something urgent comes up and manages to send our dreams to the back of our mind. We usually tell ourselves: "I'll come back to it after I take care of this." or "Maybe it wasn't really for me, maybe this is what I should do?" It does not matter what the reason is, if you don't Focus on your dream and make it your number one priority on the daily, you will go through your life always wanting and never satisfied.

Focus is a skill. And like any other skill, it can be improved over time with practice and determination. Start with setting yourself a small goal that you can achieve in one day and focus on it until it is complete. That way you can experience a win and start to build some confidence in yourself. Keep building on that, gradually increasing the size of the goal and the amount of time for completion. Before you know it you will find yourself in a totally different place.

Simple right? Well, if it was that easy everybody would be at their peak. Unfortunately, our lives glitter with distractions. Beeps and buzzes, emergencies, promotions, accidents, weather, etc... All very valid reasons to lose our Focus and if we do nothing about it, any one of them could be the very reason our dreams are still only dreams. Thankfully, there is something to be done. No one should go through life reacting to every distraction that comes along and all that is required is to make a conscious decision to be proactive instead of reactive. If you accept the fact that distractions will come your way and plan accordingly, focusing on your dreams and prioritizing your time; you will soon become unstoppable.

Focus by definition, means having clear visual definition. It is imperative that you have a clear vision of where or what you want if you are ever going to be able to Focus on it. It is impossible for anyone to Focus on fog, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who could tell you at a moments notice what they want out of their lives. Having a clear visual definition implies that you know exactly what you want, how it smells, what it sounds like, what it tastes like and how much it costs. Write it down, draw it out, collect magazine clippings,  do your research, but more importantly; keep it in your face.  In today's world, distractions are everywhere so it just goes hand in hand that your dream should also be everywhere.  Specially with all the technology that is available.  If you can learn to harness that technology and make it work for you, you will come out ahead of the game.  Mobile apps like Pinterest make it easy and even "cool" to create vision boards. Others can help you connect with like-minded people; on or offline. It is important to remember however that these are tools and like any other tool, they are meant to be used in a certain way. Don't get lost in a never-ending spiral of YouTube videos or looking at pictures for 3 hours. Prioritize your time and allow yourself some time to build up your vision but don't get stuck in the vision building process.

All of these things are meant to help you get to your dreams.  They are tips that work but only if you are willing to put in the work.  Focus is one thing but it means noting if you do nothing.  It is simply a key that unlocks the power of action.  Take some time to clearly define what it is that you want, give  the lost art of Focus a chance and get to work.



Top Three Lifestyle Changes to Fund Your Dreams

I've been thinking...One of the biggest reasons we decided to get on this journey to self-sufficiency is so we don't have to depend on a particular system or another for our survival. Our current state of affairs is no longer acceptable to us and has been for a while now so instead of accepting the status quo we focus more on action and now make daily decisions that will eventually take us to the lifestyle we want. The first major hurdle for us, as for many other people, I am sure is how do you fund your dreams. How can we gather up the capital necessary to actually go out and purchase that piece of land so we can start living a cleaner, simpler life? Sure, we could go to the bank and borrow the funds but that would mean enslaving ourselves to said bank for the next ten or fifteen years and that is unacceptable to us. Tessa and I once again went back to our roots on this one and opted to embrace the lost art of saving! I know, it's not the sexiest idea in the world, specially in a society of instant gratification where people finance their fast-food. It is however, the soundest way of getting what you want in life. If you are still with me and not totally closed to the idea, keep reading. I will go through the top three changes we had to make to be able to keep paying our bills and yet put enough money away to achieve our goals.

Life has a way of getting in your way when you don't live it on purpose. There is nothing easier than to drift through your days with no particular direction. Every time you hit a snag you react, but soon you realise that these snags are getting harder and harder to handle and before you know it you are stuck in a corner with nowhere to go. The only way to avoid this is to have a plan; To that point, if you don't have one, you should definitely take a minute to figure out where you want your life to go because once you do, the rest suddenly becomes crystal clear. With your destination in mind, you can forecast all kinds of things; what will the cost be, how much time you will need to get there, how many rests will you need to take along the way... You get the idea.

For us, that destination is living a self-sufficient life on a fifty acre piece of land, in an unorganised township and with all the surface, lumber and mineral rights attached so that there is no way anyone could interfere with our vision. We would like to be in a position to purchase this land within the next two or three years so we can start to build our homestead and free ourselves from the chains of urban living. We want the house to be roughly eight-hundred square feet and be powered off-grid by solar and wind generation. Oh, and we want to do all that without getting into any debt. A tall order by many standards but like I said, when you have a destination, the path suddenly becomes a lot clearer.

We have to make a lot of adjustments to our current lifestyle if we ever want this vision to become reality. Here are the top three changes we made so far. To begin, we are taking home less than sixty thousand dollars a year combined. We have been able to make it so that our expenses account for roughly fifty percent of that so about thirty thousand a year. This means that, if we save the rest, we can pile up ninety thousand dollars over three years. Not bad right? The only issue is that if you don't have that destination in mind all the time, you will never save anywhere near that much. Without a goal to keep you on track, you will tell yourself; "It's alright to eat out, we'll make it up next week..." or "Sure, we can totally buy this t.v." The fact is, people don't like saving money for no reason so the number one change we made is: Have a clear and precise end goal and write it down.Additionally, we have to remind ourselves daily of that goal. Keep it in our faces so that we never forget why we are making all those sacrifices. Trust me when I say this, you will have moments of weakness but if you have a picture of your goal stuck to your front door, it will be a lot easier to stay home instead of going out to the movies.

The second change we had to make, is to set ourselves up with a strict buying limit of twenty dollars. This means that, anytime we want to buy anything that is not in our budget and is over twenty dollars we have to go home, discuss it and then sleep on the decision first. If we still feel like buying it in the morning then we go out and get it but most of the time, we will end up either not buying it at all or including it in the next budget in a way that does not affect our number one priority ; the homestead. Incidentally, this brings up the third change which is have a budget and stick to it. Before all this, we never had a budget. The simple mention of making one almost made me gag but I believe it is probably one of the biggest difference makers in our arsenal today. Knowing what comes in and out of your pocket is imperative if you are ever going to achieve any financial goal.

These three seemingly small changes will make all the difference in the world when it comes time to fund your dreams. Just to clarify, they are:

1. Have a goal, write it down in as much detail as possible and keep it in your face.
2. Set yourself a strict buying limit and never make a purchase without first sleeping on it.
3. Have a budget and stick to it.

I strongly believe in these three principles and I am willing to bet that if you decide to implement them into your life, you will start to see great things happen to your savings account. My wife and I are in this run together and hope we inspire you to get going. Life is too short to simply drift through it all. Set yourself a goal and give everything you have to achieve it, we will be at the finish line to cheer you on!

As always, Thank you for reading!