How to Narrow Your Focus in Goal Setting

Vision casting is an important exercise to help you picture the future and purpose that you are working towards. However, it can be easy to become overwhelmed after you cast your vision as you move towards bringing your vision to reality. It can seem like your vision is on the other end of a huge canyon. You can see it, but it feels so far away and you are not sure how to get from where you are now to where you want to go.

Never fear! The Agave Planner is here! I have created a few steps to help you develop a clear path from vision to reality. In this exercise, we are going to decide on 5 areas of focus over the next 3 months. After that, in other posts, you will learn how to take those areas of focus and turn them into AGAVE goals, and then develop an Action Plan that really works!

The last thing I had you do on the Vision Casting exercise was to identify the items from your brainstorming that were most meaningful to you. Go back now and look at those things. Ask yourself the following questions to narrow those meaningful items into 5 areas of focus:

  1. What feels most urgent to you? Is there anything that you feel like needs the most attention, or might be impacting other areas? Maybe it is your physical or mental health. Maybe it is your student loan debt. Maybe it is your confidence or sense of self-worth. Is there anything in your vision that you feel is absolutely foundational. Identify those one or two areas first.
  2. What is particularly important right now? Maybe there is something special about this season you are in that you really want to focus in on. You might be in a particular life stage, expecting a new baby, engaged to be married, graduating from school, or starting a new job, and you have something specific you want to focus on related to the events over the next 3 months. Or maybe it is summer and the kids are out of school, so you want to be extra intentional about creating fun memories of family adventures. Whatever it is, think about this time of life and what is the most important right now.
  3. Is there anything that needs to wait? I think the important thing about this step is to allow yourself to release the items that may be very important to you, but are not the best things to focus on right now. For example, let’s say that your vision for your future includes becoming a daily runner, but you are about to have knee surgery, or you are on bed rest for pregnancy complications, this next quarter might not be the best time to take up running. You are not saying you are never going to focus on these things, they just are not going to be your main area of focus this quarter.
  4. What else can I cut out? If you still have more than 5 things, I want you to make some hard choices. You have to cut something out. I once heard someone say, “If everything is important, then nothing is important.” So, this is one of those times where you have to decide what is really the most important thing to you. We only have so many hours in the day and by narrowing your focus, you are committing to prioritizing the things that are most important to you.

So, now that you have your 5 areas of focus, you are going to define what within that area you are going to focus on over the next 3 months. If your focus was getting rid of debt, exactly what debt are you going to work on paying off over the next 3 months. If your goal was health, what commitment are you going to make for the next 90 days to make that vision a reality. Maybe you have a career goal that is going to take a long time to accomplish, but you know that you can complete a class or certification, or attend an event that will get you closer to the vision.

Sometimes, your vision seems so far from reality that you have no idea what you need to do first or next to get you your goal. You may have tried and failed so many times that you have run out of ideas or feel like you are completely incapable of making any progress. If this is where you are now, I want you to take a step back and look at the big picture. If fear is holding you back, head back to my post on vision casting and read my tips for how to get over limiting beliefs. If you have tried things that haven’t worked, I want you to re-frame your thinking. Instead of thinking of yourself as a failure, identify all of the things that you have learned from those experiences and write them down. With this list of learnings in mind, is there anything else you need to learn in regards to this area of focus? If so, that is what you will work on over the next 3 months! Or if you are still blocked – read a book or listen to a podcast within this subject area and get some ideas about something you could try. One of the beautiful things about the quarterly system is that you can commit to anything for 3 months. If it doesn’t work out, you can try something else next quarter. The point is just to try something.

So, now you have your narrowed down focus areas for the next 3 months. Great job! In the next post, we will talk about taking those areas and turning them into AGAVE goals.