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In today’s episode, I’m going to discuss the importance of where we put our focus. I’m going to share some tactics that work for me to change my focus, and then we’re going to finish by, of course, giving you a micro action to help you improve your focus going forward and maybe distract some of the negative or self-doubting thoughts that sometimes pop in your head.
I want to start with a little story I once heard, and pardon if the details are totally different than what it is out there somewhere, I’m not sure, but I remember hearing this story and thinking it was such a great analogy for the power of focus. There was this gentleman. He’d never been skydiving before, and he wanted to go skydiving. He was like mid-30s, heading up there, and was a little scared, of course, but he was trying to overcome his fear of heights and all this kind of stuff, and he wanted to do it through skydiving, so take this big leap.
Now, the day of, he got there. He got to the whole thing. They walked him through the instructions, and they did everything they needed to do. He got in the plane. He’s going up there, and he’s going to go solo because he’s in like Mexico or something. I don’t know. This story has some loopholes, obviously, but generally you have to go tandem in United States, but forever reason, wherever he was at, he was able to jump out of the plane solo.
They were giving him the lesson, and as they were going up, they were explaining to him, and they were showing him a map of where he was going to jump over. He’s looking at this map and saying, “Okay, so I’m going to jump up here,” and he has this target area that they want him to land over in this area. The instructor says, “Well, whatever you do, don’t go towards the lake over here because you’ll end up in the lake, and it’s dangerous, and you could drown. Just don’t go towards the lake.” That’s what he told him.
He’s like, “All right.” He kept telling himself, “Don’t go towards the lake. Don’t go towards the lake. Don’t go towards the lake. Don’t go towards the lake.” He’s like, “All right.” He gets up there, and he gets to the side of the plane, and he is scared, and more than he’s probably ever been in his life, but he takes the leap, and he jumps out of the plane. He said he looks down, and he feels this sense of joy feeling that he took the leap. He’s like, “Oh.” He’s like, “This is amazing. I’m flying through the air,” and he reminds himself. He’s like, “Okay, now, don’t go towards the lake.”
He looks and tries to find the lake. He looks, and he sees the lake. He’s like, “Okay. Don’t go towards the lake. Don’t go towards the lane.” He’s looking at the, continues to look at the lake, and he feels like moving closer towards the lake. He starts getting scared. He’s like, “Okay, I can’t go towards the lake. I can’t … ” All he keeps focusing on is what he doesn’t want to happen, but of course as he continues to focus on the lake, ultimately, where does he end up? He ends up in the lake.
Now, he was fine, and he ended up skydiving again, all that kind of stuff. He didn’t drown. Everything was okay, and he enjoys skydiving to this day, so all is well, but he learned an important lesson from this. Focusing on what you don’t want to do or what you don’t want to happen is a sure way to make that happen. Focusing on what you don’t want to do or what you don’t want to happen is a sure way to make that happen.
For anyone who has kids, when you tell them, “Don’t touch that,” all they hear in their mind is “touch that.” All they’re focusing on is “touch that,” so it’s important the language that we use when we’re thinking about where we put our focus. If we tell ourselves … If we’re focusing on achieving a goal, and I’m a, you know, Olympic doing the pole vault or something like that, then whatever I’m saying is, “Whatever I want to do, just don’t hurt yourself or don’t go too far,” or whatever it is, that’s not going to turn that off, but you really want to focus on seeing it in your mind, focusing on what you want to happen and doing that.
Had he been focusing on the target when he first jumped out … That’s one of the things he learned later is okay, and part of that was the instructor telling him, “Don’t focus on this,” which that’s a little thing as an instructor if you’re working with someone to use the right language so that they can really focus on the things that they want to move towards, not the things they want to avoid because focusing on the things you want to avoid, you’re going to end up there.
When we focus on something, it determines where we’re directing our thoughts, our attention, and our energy, so ultimately, it determines our path. You’ve probably heard this saying, when someone’s really focused, they have blinders on. They do that for horseracing and things like that so that the horses only have that focus of where they’re moving towards, not all the other things on the side because they’d start getting distracted, they’re not going to run as fast, but when they’re focused on moving forward, that’s where they’re going to go.
One of the things that’s important to understand is how our vision and focus work together. For some people, they don’t necessarily have something compelling enough to focus on. They don’t have a vision that will motivate them to put the blinders on to move towards what the singular kind of focus and determination towards that goal. It’s important that you have this crystal-clear vision of how you want to experience life.
I try to look at it more as living each day as opposed to an ultimate destination, but I have both those in my vision as far as part of my vision is everyday living is just how I live life, but for some people, the vision is “ultimately, I want to end up at this point,” their goal. Well, if that’s not very compelling for them, if they’re saying, “Well, some day, when I’m 60, I want to retire and live on social security income.” That’s not a super compelling vision, so something that actually lights the fire inside you that you’re passionate about that really is going to motivate you because it’s going to take a lot of time. You’re going to spend a lot of time and energy on it, and when you have that passion towards that, it’s actually enjoyable. You’re feeling good about doing, then you’re actually moving towards that.
That’s part of the marriage of vision and focus is that if you don’t have a vision, and what you’re focusing on is just, you can focus on a number of things, just change your initial thought to focus on something that you’re grateful for or something more positive, whatever it may be, and that’s definitely good, but when you’re thinking about ultimately where you want to go, you want to have that direction so that you can constantly realign your focus towards where you want to go and the type of life that you want to live.
I’m going to give you some different tactics that I use that work for me and things that I’ve learned, I guess, throughout my life that allow me to change my focus. Now, the first one is I was mentioning before is first having a clear vision that I can focus on. It’s one of the things that I always realign with, and every day as I go through, and I talked about, in the previous episode I talked about the priming that you do is having a vision of where you’re going to go in your life.
Each morning, I’m focusing on that, realigning on how I’m living my life, where my goals are going, and seeing that happen and feeling the joy that I get every day from just living my life like that, and ultimately, achieving some of the things that I want to achieve in my life and how good that feels, so focusing on those things, not negative, like, “Well, what if that doesn’t happen? What if you make a mistake? What if someone … ” You get embarrassed, and you make this big … I’ve done that already. I learned that things like that may still happen at some point, but I’m not going to sit there and focus on it. I’m not going to let them stop me from going out there and doing what I can do to improve the world to make it a little bit better.
One of the things that happens, and I’m going to give you this as a micro action today as well, but one of the things that happens in your mind is, I’ll say, one of the things I heard recently, it was at the Tony Robbins event that I liked was basically saying that think of it as the mind, not your mind, and saying that there’s these thoughts that are million-year-old thoughts that kind of float in and out of, if you think of waves, like radio waves and lifeline and all this kind of stuff, there’s all these thoughts that are floating around. They’re these thoughts of self-doubt and these negative thoughts that just float into the mind. It’s part of almost that reptilian brain feeling where it’s like the problem, “What if this happens?” or, “You sure?” kind of self-doubting feeling, like you don’t want to get hurt, all those little things that continually pop in the mind.
One of the things that you can do is if you’re seeing that happen, there’s a couple of different either visualization techniques or anchors that you can do to deal with those type of things. Some of them are both visual and auditory, kinesthetic, and different things that you can do to trigger yourself to get back into a good state, to stop focusing on some of the negative things, and to realign your focus somewhere positive.
It’s important to understand that to master the mind takes a lot of work and a fair amount of trying things that might be outside your comfort zone. It’s that old saying, the definition of crazy is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. You have to get out of your comfort zone a little bit and to deal with some of these things.
For some people, it may be very easy. For you, you might be saying, “I never have self-doubt thoughts,” but for me, I know they still pop in, worries still pop in, and self-doubt still pops in. I’m not saying to ignore those, but I’m saying there’s times when you know that it’s not a beneficial thing you really need to address. Really, when you’re … If it’s putting you in that anxiety-negative state, you’re not going to effectively deal with the problem anyways.
One of the things I’m going to have you do as a micro action, next time you have one of those fearful or self-doubting thoughts that float into your mind, I want you to try this exercise here at least once. First, I want you to visualize the thought physically floating across in front of your mind. Then I want you to start making it look silly. You can add long floppy ears to it, give it a big smile or a big butt, whatever you want, whatever makes you laugh where you start changing your state, you start laughing at it a little bit. The more boisterous, the more funny and the more you actually laugh, the better. You’re going to start visualizing this thought looking sillier and sillier and adding things to it.
Then think to yourself, you want a stupid thought that the mind is putting out here. I want you to physically reach up with your finger. You want to flick away the thought with your finger, and see as it goes further away, further away, and it gets smaller and smaller until it disappears, and you can’t see it anymore. You’re already feeling better. You’re not worrying about the thought anymore.
Now, I want you to turn your focus towards something that you’re grateful for. Visualize an experience, that moment, go back to that moment, something that you’re truly grateful for. Feel the joy that it brings to you, and just smile, and really enjoy it, and then go about your day.
It’s something that you shouldn’t take more than maybe 60 to 90 seconds to allow yourself to be, have anxiety or worry or self-doubt over these thoughts. You can pretty much process them fairly quickly with this method, and it allows some of the visualization, some of the triggers. Over time, you can just use some of them like, “Ugh.” I often just go, “What a silly thought,” and it disappears out of my mind, like it’s pretty quick, or, “What a stupid thought. That’s so dumb.”
There’s different things that I do that are just small part of that, but if you do the whole thing, I feel pretty confident that it’ll help you get past that focus and start to focus on something that you actually want to move towards. You can focus on what you’re grateful for, and then obviously, if you have a vision that you have already created, which you should have at least a basic vision, if you listened to some of previous episodes, of where you want to go, then you want to turn and realign your focus on where you’re going.
Today, I just want to make it really simple and quick, kind of drive home the purpose for you as far as what you focus on is what you find and make sure that you’re focusing on the things that you want to find in your life. Thank you again for being on this journey with me, and make sure you have a wonderful day.