“Focus on where you want to go instead of where you have been”

Sir John Templeton
Worldwide Laws of Life

In his book Helping Heaven Happen, Dr. Donald Curtis presents a short dialogue that could well describe the situation in which many people find themselves. It goes like this:

“How is everything going?”

“Well, I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news. I’ll give you the bad news first. We’re lost.”

“We’re lost? And what’s the good news?”

“We’re making very good time!”

From this conversation, these people do not seem to know where they are going. Instead of formulating a plan and following it, they run around in circles, gaining speed and momentum, but going nowhere. They are like a rudderless ship.

And with no focus or definite direction, how can their goals be achieved? An old axiom from the Qur’an says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” When you want to achieve a goal, first have a mental picture or vision of it. Be sure your goal is genuine. Do not let yourself get caught up in spurious appearances or illusions of the outer world. Keep on track. Doing something about your goal comes next if you are to translate your vision into reality in your world.

“To focus,” says Webster’s New World Dictionary, “is an adjustment to make a clear image.” Also, “to concentrate as in focusing one’s attention.” Therefore, our aim in life is similar to focusing a camera lens for good pictures.

Keeping your eye on the vision becomes necessary throughout the process. Focus on where you want to go, instead of where you have been. So much valuable time can be wasted in getting bogged down in past experiences or mistakes that have no relevancy to the present goal. It is good to learn from past experiences and then continue forward. As you set your priorities, your objectives, and your direction in life, think positively and optimistically. And be aware of others who may come behind you.

A story comes to us from long ago of a king who organized a great race within his kingdom. All the young men of the kingdom participated. A bag of gold was to be given to the winner, and the finish line was within the courtyard of the king’s palace. The race was run, and the runners were surprised to find a great pile of rocks and stones in the middle of the road leading to the palace. However, they managed to scramble over it, or run around it, and eventually to come into the Courtyard.

Finally, all of the runners had crossed the finish line except one. Still the king did not call the race off. Everyone waited. After a while one lone runner came through the gate. He lifted a bleeding hand and said, “Oh, King, I am sorry to be so late. But you see, I found a large pile of rocks and stones in the road, and it took me a while to remove them. I wounded myself in the process.” Then the runner lifted the other hand in which he held a bag. “But Great King, I found this bag of gold beneath the pile of rocks and stones!”

The king responded, “My son, you have won the race, for that one runs best who makes the way safer for those who follow.”

We have a choice. We can live in the past and be miserable and unhappy, or we can pick ourselves up and move ahead in life. When we choose to focus forward, we can find the energy and ability to remove any “rocks” that may appear to be hindering our smooth progression. If you take stock of yourself and find you may be spending time frequently reliving unhappy experiences of the past, make the decision to rid yourself of the ties that bind you to a former way of life.

Where would we be as a human race—scientifically, technically, economically, medically, culturally, or environmentally—if those fine minds who made many unprecedented discoveries had looked backward and dwelled in the past instead of visioning growth and new horizons and setting goals to reach them? In preparing material for the book Looking Forward: The Next Forty Years, some amazing statistics came to my attention. For example, The evolution of human
knowledge is accelerating enormously. More than half of the scientists who ever lived are alive today. More than half of the discoveries in the natural sciences have been made in this century. More than half of the goods produced in the history of the earth have been produced since 1800. More than half the books ever written were written in the last fifty years. More new books are published each month than were written in the entire historical period before the birth of Columbus. And there’s still more!

What does this say to us now? Choose this day to move ahead into life. Focus on where you want to go. Look forward to new horizons. As we read in Maya Angelou’s work All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, the future is “plump with promise.” Open your visioning to new possibilities. Let the value of your present wisdom ascend. Experience the peace that passes understanding and the joy of abundant living!