A Focused Life is a Happy Life

You know the feeling when your mind is unsettled, restless, and confused? It begins with a spark of disinterest, melancholy even, as we wash the plates at the end of a long, tiring day. Then, without warning, the uneasiness spreads like wildfire through our souls. We worry about our loved ones, our financial stability, our responsibilities from work and home. The swirl of sound in silence fills our brains with “What ifs” and “What nows” until we begin to doubt our past, present, even our future decisions. Anxiety overwhelms us.

It then becomes difficult for us to ascent into the height of prayer life. We try to imitate Job and his steadfast faith, but we find ourselves more often than not trying to find ways to “fix” our problems. We take on more work. We indulge in swaths of comfort food. We “escape” to our screens. We lose focus.

A Strategy to Fix Focus

When our minds are unsettled and our spirituality feels dry, the best step you can take is simply the next one toward Christ. Whether you want to improve your prayer life, become more efficient at work, practice a hobby, or pay off your student loans, the process is always the same – you must put one foot in front of the other.

I propose what is known as “The Red X Strategy,” also known as the is a simple way to measure your consistency in your life goals. Here’s how it works:

  • Choose a goal.
  • Print off a calendar.
  • Each day you complete a task toward accomplishing your goal, draw a large red “X” on the day in your calendar.

As the days go on, the red Xs will interconnect like a chain wrapping around each week. You’ll liked seeing this chain and you won’t want to break it. After a time, you’ll find that your goals will be met and your life focused once again.

The “Red X Strategy” is Biblical

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (James 1:5-8).

When we are inconsistent with our lives, we are “double-minded,” always thinking about multiple projects to the point we live double lives. On one hand, we desire to fulfill our own will and on the other, we desire to satisfy God’s will for us. The problem is, we are blinded by our passions and are unable to discern what exactly is God’s will.  We find ourselves ignoring our loved ones in order to pursue our passions or vice-versa, and we never really find a happy medium. We never arrive at wisdom, but we do pile our to-do list higher and higher.

We cannot gain wisdom unless we focus. This is one of the reasons I believe Jesus died on a Cross, because when the two beams were placed, one of top of the other, they create crosshairs, a single point of focus that we must always have in our sights in order to achieve our ultimate goal: that of our salvation.

With Christ nailed directly to the middle of the Cross, the blood that poured from his body turned the sacred wood into a “red X” in which our journey towards sanctification begins. To achieve anything worth achieving, you must focus, pick up your cross, and follow Him. When you align your will with God’s, he gives you wisdom, which results in right judgement of your priorities, consistency in your work and, most importantly, peace of mind in knowing that all of your efforts are focused on completing one, primary task:

Knowing, loving, and serving Him.

Focus is a gift of mercy.

Focus is what calms the unsettled mind.

Focus is what turns our goals into achievements.

Focusing on Christ and His Cross is what makes life worth living.

Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash


T.J. Burdick the author of several books and articles on the Catholic faith. He writes and speaks on how to grow in holiness amongst the distractions and difficulties of the current age. When he is not spending time with his family or writing books, you can find him teaching courses on the Catholic faith through Signum Dei (signumdei.com). For more about T.J., visit his site at tjburdick.com

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