Change your focus, change your life!

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photo from

I find that when I focus my attention on a certain activity, it tends to flourish.  The more I write, the more ideas that I get for my writing and the more I want to write.  When I focus on painting, I get more and more ideas for future paintings and it seems that stuff related to painting jumps out at me everywhere I go.  The same thing happens when I’m spending a lot of time on cakes, or thinking about starting a business.  Whatever it is, it multiplies.  This is fascinating to me.  It has always been this way, but I’ve only recently started to take notice of it and really analyze the process.  And it is the same every time, with everything that I do. 

Attention has amazing power to transform our lives.

This is true not only with our creative endeavors, but with every area of life.  Take financial difficulties for example…as I have a ton of experience with this one…if you are constantly focusing on your lack of money or resources, you are using your power of focus against your situation.  What you focus on multiplies.  So, instead of focusing on the lack of money, shift gears and use your powers for good.  Focus on how grateful you are for the money that you do have.  Focus on appreciating the other blessings in your life.  Focus your attention on starting a side business or selling something that you can make or some service that you can offer to provide value to others.  Focus on something that allows you to come from a place of abundance rather than lack.

Or maybe you are trying to lose weight, and all you can think about is how huge your thighs are and how even your “fat” jeans are too tight now ( I have tons of experience with this as well).  So you vow to never eat sugar again and make an emergency trip to the grocery store for carrots and celery sticks.  And of course you binge on cookies a few days (or hours) later because you are keeping the focus on what is wrong with you, rather than on what is right.  Maybe instead of beating ourselves up about eating junk food, we should shift our focus to loving our bodies in whatever state they are in.  We could use our power of attention for good by focusing on eating natural, healthy foods and allowing ourselves a treat now and then.  We could focus on exercise as a fun and invigorating activity that allows us a chance to connect with others rather than a chore that we must endure.

We each have limited amounts of time and energy in this life, so it is extremely important that we choose wisely where and on which activities that we will focus our attention.  What area of your life do you find lacking?  Try shifting your attention to that area in a positive way and you will be amazed by the results!  And likewise, if you have that nagging situation that is always on your mind, but never seems to get better, try removing you attention from it and re-directing it to something more productive to get the results that you need.


10,000 Hours

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          I recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and one of the many things that I took away from the book was his theory of 10,000 hours.  He states that it takes 10,000 hours of focused practice to effectively master any skill.  10,000 hours!  That is almost 5 years if you do it full time (40 hours/week) or 19 years if you squeeze it in as a hobby (10 hours/week).   Umm, that’s a long time.

            What really struck me about this, though, is the idea that natural talent has a lot less to do with mastery than hard work, consistency and practice.  Of course, your chances for success are better when you have an underlying natural talent, but you are not doomed to failure if you’re not at the top of your game the first time you try something.  For example, I just recently ran my first 5k.  I have walked several 5ks, but I actually ran the entire race this time.  That may not seem like much to some, but for me it is a major life accomplishment.  Due to the fact that I don’t have a shred of athletic talent, it took me over a year to train for that race.  A talented runner could have trained for a marathon in the time it took me to do a 5k.  But the fact is that I did it.  I stuck with it and didn’t give up no matter how hard it was.  That’s the beauty of the 10,000 hours.

            But when I think about my life’s work, it doesn’t make much sense to me to choose something that I am not naturally good at.  Why would I want to put myself in a position that will require me to work twice as hard as the naturally talented folks just to keep up.  That’s insane.  Why not spend my 10,000 hours getting good rather than just getting by.

            I took some time to think through what skills in my life that I have already dedicated 10,000 hours to, whether I’ve done it as a job, or simply for the love of doing it, and there are only a few:  Architecture, art, self development.  There are many other skills that I would love to develop, but given this enormous amount of time that it takes, it seems risky to take on too much.  Its really interesting to think how few things a person can really do well in a single lifetime, if their goal is mastery.  I’m starting to realize more and more how important it is to FOCUS in life.  I am like most creative people and at any given time, I have a hundred different things raging through my brain.  It is extremely difficult to focus and narrow down and simplify my thought processes.  But anything worth doing is worth doing well.  And in order to do something well, it requires dedication and commitment and focus… and according to Gladwell, 10,000 hours.