Stay on target
Set boundaries, guard your focus, and set yourself up to win in 2023 with advice from Riley Blanton
You know how people like to use the Death Star as an analogy for challenges with insurmountable odds? Well, this might shock you but I like to do it as well. Today I’m 33 years old and still merrily viewing the world through the lens of Luke Skywalker in the trenches of the Death Star. Like Luke, I often feel beset by threats on every side of me. Such is the life of an adult with responsibilities and people counting on you. Instead of TIE Fighters, gun turrets, and exceptionally tight quarters, I’ve got bills, rising costs of living, debt, relationship management, health concerns, and probably more debt.
Perhaps you can relate. We go through this life with a sort of tunnel vision. After all, we’re just trying to stay alive. Luke Skywalker, on the other hand, had the benefit of a very clear and defined mission: plunk a rocket into the small exhaust port and blow up the orb of destruction.
I envy those of you who might have that clear focus as to why you exist.
I’m still figuring it out and just trying not to crash the X-Wing into the side of the canyon wall. We all just have to try and “stay on target” in our Death Star trench runs.
In 2022 I made some changes to my life strategy. Most of those changes are not necessarily big ones like my household budget or investment plan, but just some small tweaks to how I approach each day. The little things. My view is that the way you start each day sets the stage for what is to come. You can begin the day on your terms, define success for it and even notch wins before the world starts slinging garbage at you.
That’s why after publishing my book last year I have kept waking up earlier than I need to. I have worked cold water into my daily showers, purely for the purpose of notching a moral victory over discomfort — voluntarily. I’m trying to do more to let go of control and see where the Force takes me in life. “Let Jesus take the wheel” and all that. It’s really the same in principle as Luke Skywalker taking his shot at the Death Star with no targeting computer to guide him. Trust in the Force. Trust in something beyond your control.
Today we’ve got a guest entry by a friend of This Is The Way, Riley Blanton. He’s got some wonderful, practical, actionable advice related to what you’re reading here. Riley used to host the Star Wars Report podcast and is actively serving in the military stationed overseas. You can follow him on Twitter @TheRileyGuy
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What’s your 2023 Death Star? Let’s dream big and get focused on what matters.
We all have our own "Death Stars" in our lives - those obstacles that seem too great to be overcome. But I’m here to tell you that there’s only one thing that stands between you and blowing up the proverbial Death Star in your life.
Like Luke Skywalker, we can learn to focus and not be be distracted – even by our eyes which as Obi-Wan told him, have a knack for deception.
One way to achieve focus is seen in the example of Master Yoda, throughout the Star Wars prequels and into the Empire Strikes Back. As a Jedi, Yoda understood the importance of eliminating distractions and staying present in the moment. He sought out the quiet isolated planet of Dagobah to meditate and hone his focus after the collapse of the Jedi order. Failure gives us the opportunity to gain perspective. We must work to eliminate the distractions in our lives and bring our attention to the present moment in order to achieve focus.
You may not be able to immigrate to Dagobah or the deep woods of Montana, but you can turn down the noise invading your life.
Practical tip: Turn off your phone when focus is needed.
Another way to achieve focus is to set clear goals and priorities. Yoda was known for his ability to see the bigger picture and understand the importance of each task at hand. Yoda advised Luke,
“If you end your training now - if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did - you will become an agent of evil.”
Similarly, we can achieve focus by setting clear goals and priorities for ourselves. Avoid being sidetracked. That means muting your phone when deep work is required. Turning off Slack. Setting a timer for how long you’re going to work on a single project before taking a Twitter break.
Guard your focus, because no one else is going to do it for you.
Practical tip: Write down your top 3 priorities for the day before opening your email.
In addition to eliminating distractions and setting clear goals and priorities, we can also achieve focus by practicing mindfulness, a concept that was central to the teachings of the Jedi.
Qui-Gon Jinn was a master of mindfulness and meditation, using these practices to tap into the power of the Force. We can learn from how he admonished Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace, “Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.”
By bringing our attention to the present moment and letting go of distracting thoughts and worries, we can improve our ability to focus and be more present in the moment. That means listing the crucial priority tasks for the day somewhere, so you know how to define success before the sun sets.
So let’s get really practical. Don’t open your email until you’ve set your intentions for the day. Take a walk, eat breakfast, have coffee, journal and check your planner. Once you open email, you’re subject to the whims of a chaotic world.
So rather than just talking in vague Star Wars metaphors, here’s what I’m doing to get focused on my goals for 2023. I bought the Full Focus Planner. (Not a sponsor of this newsletter, it’s just that good)
Practical tip: Buy a planner.
For me, the Full Focus Planner is an amazing tool and just what I needed. Each day, you’re encouraged to identify the most important tasks and focus on them first. This helps to eliminate distractions and ensure that time is being spent on what is most important.
Another great feature of the Full Focus Planner is its emphasis on mindfulness and self-reflection. Each week includes a section for reflection, habit tracking and rejuvenation. This can be a powerful tool for increasing productivity and keeping your focus. It also includes monthly review pages to track progress and make any necessary adjustments to your goals and priorities.
Overall, the Full Focus Planner is becoming my go to tool for increasing my focus and productivity in 2023.
I know what mine is….it is to complete a 70.3 half Iron Man. May the Force be with me.
This is the way
Thanks for reading, subscribing and sharing. If you liked the message today you’ll love this even more. Head on over to No System and check out my very own t-shirt design for “Focus Determines Your Reality” then use promo code THEWAY2022 to get a sweet discount on this very cozy t-shirt. Elevate your Star Wars fandom a bit and share the messages of Star Wars with your friends.