For a long time in my life, I focused on the bad stuff. The negative, annoying, bad things that were happening all around me. The news. Society. Other people. My bad habits. My insecurities. My “not good enough” bullshit.
I focused on that stuff, all day long most days. And hating my day job caused me to complain with people about how bad things are.
During my final job working for someone else I spent upwards of eight hours a day complaining with my coworkers about how bad things were there. Eight hours!!
Talk about focusing on what you DON’T want.
‘Cause here’s the thing… whatever you choose to focus on, expands. It grows. And you start to see more and more evidence of it.
This is true whether what you’re focusing on is “good” or “bad.”
And that’s what I finally realized when I was still working a soulsucking day job: I get to choose. I get to decide what I focus on and what I take my attention away from.
I’m not gonna lie, I definitely still complained with my coworkers. (It was kinda hard not to, things were really shitty at that company.) But when I got home, I left the complaining at the door.
I shut off my work phone and put it away and didn’t look at it again until I was sitting at my desk the next morning. Whatever happened, happened. I didn’t care anymore. I was DONE working for someone else and DONE working at a place I didn’t believe in.
I made the choice to block it all out, like I didn’t even work there. And instead I focused as much of my attention and energy as possible on what I actually wanted: to work for myself.
I got home at night and I blogged and I wrote and I worked on building my writing business. I got really good at acting as if I wasn’t working for someone else anymore (even though at the time I still was).
I had a quit date, it was written down and I declared at the beginning of 2012 that this was the year I’d finally leave my job and work for myself.
I believed it. With every ounce of my being. Even though I had ZERO clue how I’d make it happen. I just trusted and I kept acting as if.
When I got to the office every day, I told myself I was at my side gig and I was consulting and wasn’t really an employee. I pretended I had a contract and that it was over on my quit date.
I believed it.
And I FOCUSED on it.
So when I ended up quitting and leaving three months before the quit date I set, I wasn’t at all surprised. Because what you focus on expands.
And I’d been focused on working for myself and being able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. That was my dream.
But I was also focused on complaining with my coworkers when I was at the office. So that continued to expand too, and before I knew it, the entire place had become one big fucking shit show.
When I put in my two weeks notice I didn’t even end up finishing the entire thing. I’d had enough and I didn’t want to have ANY of my focus on that stuff anymore. So I went to the HR lady and told her I was done.
And I walked away–OK, I admit, I danced away like a fool in my car–and started a brand new life as an entrepreneur.
Whatever you want, you can do it too. You can use your focus to create whatever YOU dream of doing and having and being. ANYTHING.
It’s all up to you. And simply by placing your focus on exactly what you WANT in your writing life and beyond, and REMOVING your focus from all of the things you DON’T want, you will totally change your life. Why?
Because life grows where focus goes.
Dream life or bust,
One Reply to “What You Focus On Expands, So Focus On What You Actually Want”
I’ve struggled with too much of that myself. Part of it is that human beings are hardwired to survive, so our instincts are to focus on threats and problems. (Also something storytelling needs to remember, that an opportunity may be a problem in reverse but it’s harder to make dramatic.) In fact, there are theories that dwelling on a problem creates an actual adrenaline high. Getting mad is FUN, in a brutal but easy way, and “counting your non-blessings” can be the easiest way to liven up a spare moment.
But, when I was learning to ride a motorcycle, we were taught one rule about obstacles in the road: don’t look directly at them. Because if you keep staring at the pothole or fallen branch, sure enough you’re going to steer right into it. Instead you glance at it enough to plot how to go *around* it, and then watch where you actually want to go.
Frustration and anger can be energizing, and tell you a lot about what we actually want. But it’s best to hear their message, pick our solution… and get back to focusing on the prize that we’re actually doing it for.