How I found my focus

You may have noticed the blog writing has been somewhat sporadic recently.

I just about managed to get something out in December about New Year’s Resolutions then fell off the world as I organised my previous company’s national sales conference in Wales, and then resurfaced in Brighton just long enough to tell you I’d be moving to Oxford.

So often I am caught up in a whirlwind of busyness. With an exciting new role which I am free to shape as I see fit, and plenty of new opportunities for clubs to join, campaigns to support and people to meet it would be so easy to end up chasing my tail.

Do you feel the same? Are there are just so many things you could be doing that it becomes exhausting?

So how can we choose? How can we focus?

One amazing thing about my new role as a Communications Manager at Giving What We Can is working alongside so many brilliant people who share the same passions I do. And even though we’re a small, busy team they have the foresight to really encourage development. So armed with an audio book subscription I’ve been working my way through some recommended business and management books.

One audiobook I listened to recently (recommended by our director) called the E-Myth Revisited, inspired me to think about my passion and my purpose.

What do I most want to achieve in life?

What should I be doing to work towards that?

What should I not be doing?

I’m so often guilty of taking on too much, trying to do everything, so I do need to try and bring some focus to what I’m doing.

Searching around the book, I also came across Life on Purpose: 15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission. Sometimes these sorts of things can feel a bit new age for me but in the same way it is important for a business to have an aim, I feel it’s important for individuals too.

The questions helped me focus on what I want the world to look like. What am I good at? What do I enjoy?

One of the most poignant questions from Life on Purpose was something the author got from the E-myth; what would you want people to say about you at your funeral?

I think about this a lot. I believe we only get one life, I want to make it count. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and have regrets. I want to feel I’ve left the world in some small way better than it was.

Strangely, I often think of someone I used to work with called Geoff. He sadly passed away last year but up until the end he was working to help other people. He worked in audio-visual and nothing was ever too much trouble. Even suffering through cancer he was always kind, smiling and helpful. His funeral was packed with people who had nothing but kind words and funny stories. That feels like the sign of a good life lived.

I think if we can combine that kind of compassion with reason to help us best achieve the good we aspire to then we really can make a huge impact. Just by thinking more carefully about where I donate I know I will have funded enough medical treatments to have dewormed over 3000 children. Every time I stop and think about that it seems amazing.

I hope that by persuading others to do the same I can have an even higher impact.

Going through the questions and thinking about what I would like from my life, many of the things that came out for me were about  wanting a world where everyone was able to fulfil their potential, where people were happy, compassionate and free of needless suffering.

My hope is that throughout my life and career I will earn respect, become a thought leader on the big issues of the day and inspire others to think about how they can most effectively do good in the world.

The people I most admire are friends who always have time for others, who think critically about difficult issues and always speak out against injustices. They are colleagues who have nurtured and inspired me. And they are non-profit leaders and politicians who have galvanised support.

Who most inspires you? What is it about them that captures your imagination?

At my funeral, I hope that people will say I stood out, that I was always there for them and that I made some small difference. I hope there will be people there that I have inspired.

And that is my mission, my focus; inspire the most good possible in myself and in others.

Way back when, as a university student, I wanted to enter politics to change things. I loved trying to engage others, make them passionate about what we can achieve, make them care as I did. That’s why I put time into running the Lib Dem society at university, how I got involved in canvassing. Later, that is what I loved so much about running the Effective Altruism Brighton group; meeting such bright, compassionate people and encouraging them to do more.

Perhaps I am just re-writing a clearer narrative for myself but it feels great to be on a path, in a job, that aligns so well with my aims and values.

S0 what will I do with this mission? What is the point in all this thinking?

Well it has given me some areas to work on. To try and achieve this overall life aim I will focus on leading by example (after all I cannot ask others to do something I would not do myself). I will reach out and encourage others through listening, forming deep relationships and caring. This is a big one for me as I struggle with being vulnerable and open. I hope my blogging will help with that. I will live life to the fullest and savour every moment so that I can look back without regret. And I will seek out new experiences, push myself outside of my comfort zone and never stop learning how to do all of this better!

Day to day I hope it will help me focus some of my activity. Occasionally, instead of just being lost in the whirlwind of the every day I want to poke my head up and ask; is what I am doing going to help me inspire good? If I am busy with this every day for the rest of my life what will be said at my funeral?

It doesn’t mean I won’t always have a too long to do list in Evernote or a full calendar but if just a fraction of my time becomes more focused it will add up. And when it comes to the next raft of exciting opportunities perhaps I can follow the path that leads to my goal rather than chasing my tail.

Wish me luck.


What is your mission in life?

What do you want people to say at your funeral?

Give yourself some time, really think about it, and let me know what you come up with.

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