Focus on What You Want, not on What You don’t Want

Our focus acts as both a magnifying glass and a magnet. In other words, whatever we put our attention on, expands in our life. Whatever we talk about, we see more of. Whatever we think about, we experience more of. How is this so?

Because what we focus on directs our brains to seek out and produce more of the same. Focus acts as reinforcement.

How can we apply this principle in our lives to improve our performance and our quality of life?

Whenever you achieve something, do something well, learn a new skill, complete a task effectively or receive positive feedback, PAUSE and take it in. Give yourself a mental pat on the back. Celebrate in some way – even if it’s just having the thought, “I did well” and smiling quietly to yourself. Get in touch with the feeling of satisfaction, contentment, success or fulfilment that it gives you. Indulge in the good feeling – don’t immediately move on to the next thing, without acknowledging that you’ve accomplished something. We tend to rush through life and not enjoy or even recognise many of our achievements. This not only detracts from our happiness but also our performance. The effect that celebration has on the brain is to put it in a “can-do” state of mind. This means your brain will be operating more efficiently and effectively when you apply it to the next task, and you create a positive, upward spiral of ever-increasing success.

A powerful brain-boosting way to end every day is to write down three things you did well, or succeeded at, or accomplished that day, even if it’s as seemingly simple as “I managed to fit in some exercise today”. The days you find this most difficult to do are the days you need to do it most. Focusing on “what went right” instead of “what went wrong”, not only improves our mood but our capacity to create more things that go right in our lives.

The same applies when we deal with other people. The most effective way to improve someone else’s performance is to acknowledge all the things they do well. Genuinely praise their strengths and remind them of all the things you value about them. People unconsciously live into our expectations of them. This is another way that focus acts like a magnifying glass and a magnet. The more attention we pay to all the things we like about someone, the more they will demonstrate that behaviour.

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