By: Keith Dixon, MSMFT
Its that time of year for new years resolutions! When we look at our life and dream of the ways we want it to be different, where we desire to refocus on what is important to us.
How long does it usually take before we are longer in focus? Couple weeks? Couple days maybe? Here are some tips on how to really focus well on something in your life.
1. Trust in what you want to do – believing and trusting it will work or be worth it; so much that you are now going to act on it.
Before you truly decide to focus on something in your life, make sure that you trust that it is truly something that will help you. Do you really trust that focusing your relationships, your health, your spirituality, yourself will be beneficial for you? If you don’t, do some research, or ask a trusted friend or mentor. If you are going to refocus your life, make sure to get to a place where you trust that focus will be good for you. If you don’t, doubt will easily derail your efforts as soon as complications come.
2. Delight in it – love doing it, find enjoyment in it!
This one seems so obvious yet is often one of the hardest to follow through on. When you spend time focusing on something, make sure to find ways to enjoy it! Often times there are parts of the focus that are not so enjoyable, that is precisely why its important to find the ways that you can enjoy it. If you are trying to eat healthier, try finding new ways to create things that you like. Maybe try doing it with others if you enjoy that. Maybe turn it into a game for yourself. However you can find joy in that thing, find it! You won’t last long without it.
3. Commit all yourself to it – time, energy, thoughts, money….we need to make commitments to the things we believe in and trust to keep focusing on them
Remember that all good things come at a cost. Make sure to count the cost before you commit to a new focus and remember that it will likely still cost a little (or a lot) more than you thought. Be prepared to invest time, money, and energy into what you want. Building relationships costs time, money to go out, and energy to engage and be there. They are certainly worth it, but don’t think that you can get them for free. Commit yourself and your resources to get what you want and you will see better results.
4. Be patient with it – allow for it to take time and do not get distracted but continue to focus on it in times where progress seem to be stagnant.
Know that all good and lasting change comes with time. Even when we see results right away from changes, it often takes time to keep them lasting. More often however, the changes don’t come right away and we need to keep working. Be patient with yourself and your goal, it will come as you continue to invest, it just may not always come when you want. Don’t let that get you down. Trust the process!
When we are patiently working it is also important to Be Mindful of the emotions that come up for you during the process. Whenever we are pursuing change in our life it is uncharted territory and that is often scary! Uncharted territory tends to bring out some of our highest alert systems–which in turn compel us to coping responses that we think will protect us from unwanted feelings.
For example when things are taking longer than I expected, I often get overwhelmed and just give up. My giving up is a way to deal with the uncomfortableness of feeling overwhelmed. Though it does help me not feel overwhelmed anymore, it also has kept me from reaching my goal. When we are working toward something it is important to be mindful of the feelings we have, be patient with them before acting so we can understand them and make informed decision about how to both ease our uneasy feelings and still be on track for our goals. So now that I understand that when I feel overwhelmed because things are not happening as I thought they would, I have learned to catch my tendency to give up and instead remind myself that my goal is still achievable and I am just learning– I need to keep working and adjust my expectations. I also reach out to friends who I trust who will often reassure me and help ease my anxieties.
What feelings come up for you when you fail? When some outside influence makes your goals harder? When things don’t go as planned? These are all common factors we will have to deal with as we are patiently working toward our goals, and they will bring up feelings and compel us to deal with those feelings. This is a great time to be paying attention to our feelings and learn how to deal with them in productive ways that keep us on track to our goals. This is a great place to invite our friends and family into our goals, process your feelings with them along the journey!
So whatever your goals are this new year, make sure to really focus on them by trusting in them, learning to delight in them, committing yourself, time, and resources to them, and learning to be patient and mindful during the process and eventually you will see the progress you desire. You might also discover how the journey is often the real adventure, not just the destination.