Where do you see yourself in five years?
More than likely, when you think about that question, you have some sort of idea what you might be doing, where you might be living, or who you might be living with. Just because your dreams, hopes, and intentions may point in a specific direction, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to end up where you intended.
This is the truth Andy Stanley so brilliantly communicates in his book The Principle of the Path. Today, I want to share three of the best takeaways from the book that illustrate how our lives follow what we focus on:
Takeaway #1: “Direction—not intentions, hopes, dreams, prayers, beliefs, intellect, or education—determines destination.”
Have you ever looked at your life and thought, “How did I get here?” Whether it’s in your career, your spiritual life, or your family, maybe you never intended to be in the place you are now. This is because direction, not intention, determines destination.
Even if you’re in a great place in life, you’ve seen this principle play out. People never intend for their careers to crumble, but their lack of integrity and many poor decisions eventually catch up with them. Couples never go into their marriage intending to get a divorce in five years, but the decisions they make, not their intentions, determine the direction of their marriage. Destinations are determined by the direction we choose with our actions, not by the intentions we espouse.
Takeaway #2: “What gets our attention determines our direction and ultimately our destination.”
Once we understand that our direction determines our destination, what can we do to make sure we’re heading the right way? It all comes down to where we focus our attention. You’ll never accomplish the things you want if your attention is focused on other, less important things.
If you want to do something significant with your life, focus on significant things. If you want to have a good marriage, spend time thinking about how you can become a better spouse. If you want to be a good leader, be intentional about improving your skills and knowledge base. Most of all, be intentional about effectively serving others.
The reason people find themselves wondering why they never end up where they had hoped is because their attention is pointing them in a different direction.
Takeaway #3: “To get from where we don’t want to be to where we do want to be requires two things: time and a change of direction.”
Maybe you’ve realized that you’re not where you want to be in your life. The good news is that getting from where you are to where you want to be might be simpler than you think.
The first thing you need is a commitment to change directions. Knowing that attention determines our direction and destination, it’s time to focus only on the things that are going to help us get to where we want to be.
The second thing we need to realize is that it’s going to take time. It will be challenging, and there will be trials, but if you continue to focus your attention on the things that will keep you going in the right direction, eventually you’ll reach the destination you’re longing for.
If you want to do something significant in your life, you need to intentionally direct your attention toward something of significance. This lesson is a great reminder to live life intentionally.
Are the things currently grabbing your attention leading you in the direction you want to go?