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Keeping Focused

All you have to do is know where you’re going. The answers will come to you of their own accord.—Earl Nightingale

Several years ago, my husband and his family were part of a dart team, and they met every Wednesday evening to compete against other people. Having just arrived to the U.S. from Italy where darts are pretty much an unknown sport, I was intrigued by the accuracy of their game; the few times I tried to throw darts myself, I was relieved that no living being was around. One would have thought I had disjointed arms and aimed the darts at everything but the board. One day, while we were at his parents’ house and the whole family was practicing for the next tournament, I asked my husband if he could share the secret of his success. “Just fix your eyes on the bull’s-eye,” he said, “and you can’t go wrong.”  

Ha! Maybe that worked for him, but in my case, I think my eyes and my hands were going through a bit of a cold war and were not talking to one another. I fixed my gaze on the red spot intensely enough that I could have burned a hole into it, but my darts were still all over the place. Angry at myself for my lack of skill, I thought about giving up, but something bigger than that—pride, I think they call it—refused to lift the white flag, and here I was again the next weekend. I was alone this time to at least save my dignity, shooting darts like a toddler playing with a new water gun. With time, my ability to at least hit the board improved, and I even managed to score decently a few times, although I never gained the level of skill the rest of the family had achieved over the years. I wasn’t good enough to play at tournaments, but I could hold my own in a match played at home with the family.

Through the years, I realized that approaching new challenges is no different than learning how to shoot darts. You set your eyes on the goal and move through the motions, allowing your mind to evaluate and adjust each time you obtain a less than desirable result. In the end, you might not become an expert, but you will have learned that nothing is unachievable if you continue to try. The greatest problem with meeting challenges is that many times we don’t focus in the right direction. If instead of staring at the small, red spot in the middle of the board, I had stared instead at the picture frame hung nearby, sooner rather than later I would have shot a dart in the forehead of the hound in the picture.

Focusing on the challenge and assimilating it through our senses is what enables us to send the right data to our higher mind. Once we have a clear picture of what we plan to achieve, our inner mind gets to work to figure out ways to bypass obstacles and deliver us at the doorstep of success. Clarity is the first step to going somewhere and achieving anything. If a mother wants a more challenging job that will pay her more but will require her to work longer hours, she might find herself in a pickle of a situation trying to figure out how to meet the demands of childcare. So although she doesn’t do it intentionally, she will self-sabotage to give herself more time to work out the details. If she decides the job is what she truly wants, and childcare is the only obstacle in the way, then she can give her mind something well defined to work toward. When I have asked a few people what they want out of life, many of them have replied that they just want to be happy, but what does that exactly mean? Each person is wired to find happiness at different levels, so when someone says she wants to be happy, she leaves the spectrum of possibilities too wide open for the mind to come up with a plan. Building a beautiful house is not too difficult a job if one has taken the time to draw a good model plan.