Energize your work by changing your focus


Imagine yourself sitting in a bungalow on a tropical beach. It’s a bit of a budget place, so the accommodations aren’t all that fancy. On the other hand…come on! You’re hanging out at a tropical beach!

Now imagine two scenarios. In one, you’re sitting in the bungalow and thinking, “Man, this place has seen better days. Look at these walls – they should have had a new paint job years ago. What a dump. I wish I could afford a better place. I always have to settle for second rate.”

Now for the second. You’re sitting there and, while you notice that the bungalow has seen better days, that’s not where your attention is lingering. “What an incredible view! I can feel the vitamin D just looking at that sunshine. Look at the color of that water. Amazing! I’m so blessed that I could find this low-budget option so I could come here even when money is tight.”

What you experience is the result in large part of what you choose to focus on. The exact same situation can be experienced in completely different ways.

You can use that fact to improve your day-to-day experience at work.

Where is your focus?

Take a look at what you focus on over the course of a work day. Do hash and rehash everything that’s wrong with your job, with your boss, with the jerk who leaves his dirty dishes in the lunchroom without washing them. Do you get pulled into the daily water cooler bitch-o-rama?

Or do you take any opportunity you can get to look for what’s good? Do you stop and savor the things you enjoy? Do you make an effort to notice things to be grateful for?

This isn’t about blowing sunshine up your wazoo and pretending everything is sunshine and daisies if it’s not. It’s about choosing where to direct your attention.

If something sucks, pretending it doesn’t won’t make it go away. But you don’t have to feed the fire of that suckituce. You can choose whether to keep your attention there, spinning round and round on that hamster wheel of negativity, or whether to aim it in a more positive and sustaining direction.

The more you can create a positive perspective, paying attention to the various shades of what’s good, the more positive your days will be, and the less of a draining effect the negatives will have.

How to shift your attention to the positive

If you realize that you habitually focus on the negative, you’re probably not going flip a switch and magically focus on the positive. But you can gradually shift the balance in a positive direction.

Step 1: Take stock

Start by simply noticing where your attention spends its time. For the next week, do an end-of-day review. Where was your focus during that day? Pay special attention to the sticky bits, the negative things that keep recurring.

If you want to get a more detailed look at this, try setting a timer to go off every hour during that week. When you hear it, check in with yourself. Ask, “Where has my attention been? Has my focus been positive, negative, or neutral in the last hour?”

The idea with this part is to simply get a better picture of what is actually going on. You can’t change what you don’t notice. Consciously noticing the times when you fall into the negative spin cycle gives you an opportunity to start making different choices.

Step 2: Notice and replace

As you start seeing when your focus is dwelling on the negative, it opens the door to looking for alternatives. “OK, here’s that ‘my boss is an asshole’ story. Maybe that’s true, but what else can I notice? What do I like about him? What do I like about my job? What do I appreciate about the people around me?'”

You can use the negative focus you notice as a reminder to shift your attention to something more positive and constructive.

Step 3: Look for the positive

Finally, you can start habitually looking for positive things to focus on. What can you appreciate? What can you enjoy? What can you notice that is even a little bit fun, or delightful?

Think of it as a jar full of marbles. The more positive marbles you put into the jar, the less space you have for negative marbles.

The exciting thing about this opportunity to add juice to your job is that it relies exclusively on the sole thing you have real control over in this world – what goes on between your ears.

By managing your focus, you direct your mind to create a more positive perspective. That perspective in turn creates a more positive experience. Even when nothing in your external world has changed.

Kinda like magic, right?

[This post is part of a series on how to feel more juice in your current job.]

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]


Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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