Activities either expand us or contract us. Simply stated, it’s participating in activities that make you feel energized and alive as opposed to irritable and dead inside. A good example is your body language. When you sit up straight, breathe deeply from you abdomen and smile, you feel good! If you slump your shoulders, have shallow breathing and frown, you feel bad.
When you participate in activities that are not strengths, when you do things you don’t want to do, you feel stress, anxiousness and irritable.
When you ARE using your strengths and participating in activities you love doing, it’s effortless. I call it flow. Your heart feels peaceful and time just flies by as you are in the zone.
Now that you are focusing on your dream, project or goal, have you noticed any additional clarity?
At this point, I want to share my personal story with you so that you can see how all of these focus steps fit together and how I speak from experience from my own focus journey.
As I mentioned in my video, my background was spending decades in the field of sales and marketing. When my husband Robert gave me the gift to quit my job to pursue my writing, in June of 2008, it was wonderful. An opportunity immediately presented itself to teach at a conference and write a handout. The topic I chose to write about was how I overcame my struggle with constant dieting and reached my goal weight once and for all. The book is called, The Freedom to Eat! Stop Dieting and Start Living.
The conference was August 2nd. Talk about focus! I cranked out 127 pages and 50 copies made it to the conference. It seemed that everything was moving in the direction I wanted.
The week after the conference I had to have minor surgery. I developed an infection and was extremely sick. My mother, who was 88 at the time, fell and broke her left wrist. A week later she fell again and broke her right wrist. Most of my time was devoted to her care giving. (This falls under Step 3 of Don’t Have any All or Nothing Attitude. Illness and caring for my mother was definitely not part of the plan.)
When I had quit my consulting job, other commissioned sales opportunities came my way. I knew that I wasn’t going to sell books over night, so I lost my focus and gravitated back to doing sales for other people. It was safe and it was what I knew, but it took my focus away from my writing.
Trying to regain my focus to promote my work, I knew I needed a website. One of Robert’s employees put up a WordPress.com site for me. I had no idea what I was doing and let him recommend what he thought was best.
After the conference an opportunity presented itself to produce a meditation CD. That’s why I wanted the website.
At the same time, I was spending a lot of time and effort into the “commissioned sales opportunities”. I call this the dreaded “P” word, potential. These weren’t generating the results I was looking for either. I was working twice as hard as I ever had in my radio career and very little cash was coming in. But these opportunities did give me more experience in learning about the Internet, Internet marketing and search engine optimization.
In August of 2009, I decided that I needed to learn even more about the Internet if I was going to get my message out. I needed help from a technical standpoint. I was fortunate to find an angel named Terry Anglin. Through Terry, I was able to receive hands-on instruction and learning.
On New Year’s Eve, the worst thing that could happen happened. Robert was let go from his job. We were both unemployed.
Just as Robert’s severance pay was running out, one of my friends told me that a doctor we both saw was interested in doing some radio advertising. I dropped by to see him to offer him help. When we talked, what he really wanted help on was his website. I looked at his site and made some recommendations. The next week I came back with a contract and proposal to build four sites for him. He signed the contract and gave me a check. The only problem was, I didn’t know how to build a website! I immediately called Terry and told him I would pay him to build these sites for me. These words still bring tears to my eyes because this is what he said, “No, I won’t do it for you, and I won’t take your money, but I’ll teach you how.”
The sites I built have generated tremendous traffic for my doctor’s practice. I picked up six new clients over the course of the year and each site became more elaborate than the next. While this was generating the needed cash flow, it wasn’t making my heart sing. Maintaining sites, and dealing with technical issues made me irritable and stressed out. The whole purpose for being in business for yourself is to love what you do. While I enjoyed helping people, the activities with creating and maintaining websites did not expand me. I felt contracted.
This focus series inspired me to let go of the sales “opportunities” and other activities that didn’t expand me. Listening to what expands me is what gives joy and purpose to my life. When I am writing, creating and helping others, I have a feeling of expansion.
I wanted to share my story with you to encourage you to follow your heart. Focus on activities that expand you. As I’ve written out these steps, I can see that through the years, even though I have been successful through my marketing career, in my heart, I wanted to write and encourage others. I was too afraid to go for it with my whole heart and being.
When you leap and go for your dreams, it is scary. You are learning to trust in yourself. Perhaps you’ve ignored trusting yourself in the past. You’ve put your trust in other people and they have let you down. We must learn to listen to our still small voice and trust that voice. That’s why it is so important to lock out doubt and fear. It’s so important to have a plan and to take small action steps each day. It’s so important to keep on keeping on and to stay focused.
I don’t believe in wrong turns. I only believe in detours. All of the setbacks I’ve had have made me stronger. If Robert had not lost his job, I’m not sure I would be pursuing my dreams in earnest. I would still be fumbling because the income would be coming in and the pressure wouldn’t be what it is.
So, pay attention to activities and people that make you feel expansive.
That brings us to Step 11 – Coping with Overwhelm
Step 1 – You Have to Have a Plan
Step 4 – Focus on Your Strengths
Step 5 – Meditate or Think on your Plan
Step 6 – Get rid of Distractions
Step 8 – Lock Out Doubts and Fears
Step 9 – Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Step 10 – Listen to What Expands You
Until next time….. Stay focused!