Focus on You

In our hyper-connected, share-happy world there are a ton of glamorous pictures and captions shared on FaceBook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social platforms. In a lot of those cases, the photos are carefully selected, curated and edited to make it look like the subject is amazing and what they are experiencing is the best thing in the world. And this can lead to a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out), consternation and feelings of inadequacy.

At the same time, it can be crushing to get a bunch of nasty and disparaging comments on something you put your heart and soul into. Internet trolls and “haters” are everywhere these days.

Getting out in nature helps me stay grounded and provides and opportunity to “reset” my mindset. It’s something about the peace and solitude that allows me to focus on what’s truly important.

With this constant barrage of carefully curated perfection and negative commentary in mind, I want to remind you to keep your focus on what matters the most: you! This belief can be a somewhat counterintuitive message in our current climate, but I want you to reframe this thought process. When I say focus on you, I think of myself like a flight attendant going through the pre-flight safety instructions. You know the one. It’s the one that tells you that in the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, the first step is to put on your oxygen mask. The second part is to look around you and help those that need help getting their mask on. It’s the order of operations that is most important — they’re telling you that before you can help anyone else, you have to make sure to take care of yourself first.

And that’s the key takeaway. You can’t help anyone if you aren’t in a good position yourself. You have to make sure all your ducks are in a row before you can tend to the needs/wants of others. If you aren’t in a happy place where you feel at ease, then there is no way your product or service can provide value to others. There’s no way you can provide value and help others if your affairs aren’t in order. There’s simply no way you can do the work required to get there if you are worried about what everyone else will think.

“The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do.” — Marcus Aurelius

To do work that is meaningful you have to be able to shut out the noise that accompanies daily life. In other words, you have to limit the distractions and the detractors to do things that are significant and meaningful. You can’t let someone’s comment on Facebook discourage you from trying. You can’t let that picture on Instagram change your beliefs or attitude. And we’ve all been there. We’ve all seen the picture of a beautiful beach in a tropical paradise and wished we could have the means to be there. We’ve all seen the post on Facebook where someone is boasting about a new job, a promotion or their amazing life. We’ve all felt the twinge of jealousy and envy that accompanies these posts.

But, we have to do everything in our power to limit those distractions and realize we are different from that person. We all have our own plans in life. We all have to make sacrifices to get to where we want to go. We all have challenges, set-backs and reality to contend with. When you choose to focus on what others have and what you’re lacking, you end up feeling unfulfilled and bitter with jealousy.

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just...” — Marcus Aurelius

However, if you turn your focus inward, onto what you can control, a new attitude and worldview is discovered. By choosing to focus on what you can control you can tame your anxiety, regret, jealousy or envy. By deciding to shut out the outside distractions, you are free to spend time thinking, creating and doing instead of being consumed by the actions of others. And that’s what’s most important: finding the time to do the work that matters to you.

Think of all the time, effort, energy and money that goes into keeping up with the Joneses. How much happiness does that bring? How much will you gain by focusing on what other’s do? How much do you produce when your thoughts are consumed on the actions of others? Channel that time, effort, energy and money into being the best person you can.

We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own. — Marcus Aurelius

By limiting the outside noise, we allow ourselves the freedom to focus on ourselves and ignore the sycophants and the denouncers. By not caring about what others say or think about us, it provides us with the mental space and clarity to do what we feel is right. By ignoring the scorn and praise of others, you have the freedom to achieve great things. By choosing to love ourselves and be happy with where we are, you can make a positive impact on the lives of the people that surround you.

Keep the focus on you and what you can control. Focus on your own thoughts, abilities, and mindset. By gaining the freedom not to care what others think, you are then free to create the life you want for yourself. And once you are in a place where you are content, happy and healthy then and only then can you begin to help others.

What is preventing you from turning your attention inward? What obstacles are you facing that is preventing you from focusing on your happiness, thoughts, and feelings? Feel free to air out your challenges, frustrations or limiting beliefs down in the comments and let’s work through this together!