Most Succeed On Purpose followers have heard the story of “You Get What You Focus On” however, this post is not about the lesson itself. This is about how to apply that lesson and make it work. We all know that we get what we focus on, but how can we actually change what we focus on?
I’ve noticed that people struggle to not only to adjust focus, but also to maintain that change.
3 Techniques for Changing Focus
There are three techniques to equip you to actually change your focus:
- Evaluate What Shows Up
- Deal with the Difficult, but Don’t Focus on It
- Realign Focus to What is Working
We have previously focused on Technique 1. This week we are going to focus on Technique 2.
Technique 2: Deal with the Difficult, but Don’t Focus on It
It took a few more years (okay, more like ten) to learn this technique. In spite of how I evaluated what
showed up, which certainly assisted in my ability to change my focus…difficult stuff still happened.
And, when that difficult stuff showed up (illness, career issues, money issues, relationship issues) invariably, I’d lose focus on what was working and move it to those pesky little issues that had shown up. For a long time, I rationalized that I didn’t have a choice in the situation. What was I to do, avoid the difficult stuff or focus on it? Of course, I had to focus on those issues in order to deal with them, I argued. Makes sense, right?
Despite my grandfather’s words of wisdom repeating themselves in my head (You Get What You Focus On), when life’s challenges showed up, I saw no alternative but to focus on them. Again, I rationalized that I had to focus in order to overcome them. The little Rocky Balboa – Eye of the Tiger spirit inside me enjoyed overcoming issues. After all, I was good at it.
For example, a friend gets a divorce. I need to support her, and I need to tell everyone I know that I am supporting her (insert focus). Oh, my relationship fell apart, so I have to take time out to address this matter and to talk to others about it (insert focus). Oh, I hate my boss and/or my job, so I complain about it all the time (insert focus).
To deal with stuff, I thought I had to focus on that stuff. Boy, was I wrong.
Stuff happens, period. It’s how we look at that stuff which determines its value (good or bad). So learn to deal with it, but don’t focus on it.
What’s the difference? How can we deal with the bad stuff that happens in our life without focusing on it? I have two tips.
Don’t talk about bad stuff to anyone who isn’t involved
How many times has someone told you his or her problems even though you couldn’t help and had nothing to do with it? How many times have you told people your problems even though they couldn’t help and had nothing to do with it? How many times do we complain about the weather? Too many, right? Me too.
When we talk about issues, especially to people who can’t help or others who are not involved, we give those issues focus. And when we give issues focus, guess what we’re focused on, and guess what we get? More issues.
This will be an extreme example, but it’s important to the lesson. My mom’s health is rapidly declining. I am worried and know that her days are numbered. I haven’t told anyone other than my very close friends. I haven’t told people, not because I don’t care, and not because I don’t want people to know. I don’t talk about it because most people really can’t do anything about it. Unless I specifically need their support, or it’s relevant to something we’re working on, I just don’t talk about it.
For some, that may seem odd. But know that because I’ve learned how to get what I focus on, that I have also learned not to talk about anything to anyone unless they can specifically do something about it.
In most cases, what we talk about are all the little things that are wrong with our lives. The IRS did this, the government did that, my husband did this and my boss did that.
We retell these issues to anyone who will listen. What we don’t realize is that every time we retell a story, we’re changing our focus to that negative story.
STOP TALKING ABOUT ISSUES! Stop telling stories about them. Deal with them, but stop talking about them.
Stop making drama an excuse for bad choices
I used to have an issue with being on time. (Okay, my Controller would still say that is true, but that’s a blog post for another day!) I had good reasons for being late: A customer called a fire drill and pulled me away from my schedule. My car broke down or I had a flat tire. An employee was having marital issue and needed consoling. You get the picture. All very good reasons.
The truth is that those are also really good excuses. The truth is that I over-scheduled myself (because of my need to be busy) so much that I didn’t leave time in my day for the normal “fire drills” that just naturally came up. The truth is that this didn’t happen occasionally, it was a pattern of behavior. And, the hardest part to accept was that I was choosing to repeat this pattern.
When a pattern repeats itself in our lives — it’s actually a choice, and believe it or not, we do have complete control to make new choices. However, we allow ourselves to use daily drama as an excuse for a poor choice, which means we’re actually refocusing on the drama. And when we focus on the drama, and use it as an excuse, we’re actually creating more drama because “we get what we focus on.” That’s right. By using drama as an excuse, and retelling the drama, we are unconsciously creating more drama.
Stop focusing on the drama and accept responsibility for poor choices.
Are you continuing to focus on negative aspects of situations? Remember to deal with the difficult, but don’t focus on it!