4. The Power of Focus: Making New Year’s Resolutions 2018
Updated: Aug 9, 2019
January 4th 2018
The final video in my Making New Year's Resolutions 2018 Series. Today we are talking about focus and the book and that changed everything for me.
This week, or today, the video is on the third (actually fourth) and final part of my New Year’s resolution series, and today we’re going to be talking about focus. So there’s always this burst of energy in the New Year and that’s where New Year’s resolutions stem from. And often we realise after years and years and years of setting New Year’s resolutions, that burst of energy soon fizzles and dies and then we’re left feeling a sense of lack of accomplishment, a let-down, sometimes a horrible sense of failure when we haven’t reached our desired goals by the end of the year.
I came across something that I want to share with you, and I came across it probably about a year and a half, maybe two years ago when I was going through my whole sorting out the house and decluttering and simplifying my life and lifestyle and focusing on the things that are the most important to me.
During that whole adventure I came across a book called “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown. This is the cover. It’s an awesome book. It’s a game changer and it changes the way you perceive… honestly life, like every single detail and part of life can shift when you apply the principles that he outlines. And this… “Focus” is actually the chapter that I’ve read a few times. I didn’t realise that the bookmark was on “Focus” but that is what the video is on today… so serendipity.
When setting goals, we talked about in the first video who do we want to be in 2018? What is the character trait that we wish to develop? So with me I shared that my mantra for the whole of 2018 or let’s just say for the start of 2018 will… everything’s open to change, but at this point in time my focus is ‘go gently, go gently’.
And it’s come up in the weirdest places. Like I was… yesterday was Christmas Eve… no, Christmas Day, and my husband and I were cooking lunch for a bunch of family friends that were coming over, our dear, dear friends that were coming over for lunch. And we were in the kitchen and I was in a state of rush and haste because I’m thinking we’ve got to do these many things before they come at 1:30pm, let’s get on with it, let’s get it done.
We woke up early. We set the place. We were very gentle and mindful during the morning, but when it came to cooking, I always get a bit stressed, one because I’m not a great cook, and two because of that it takes a lot of concentration. So I was getting worked up. And as I’m preparing the vegetables and stuff, I was making casserole, I just heard go gently from inside me, and I was like okay, that’s right, I forgot. Go gently. And so with everything that I was preparing and chopping up and cooking I just breathed with it.
That gentle reminder from within me was enough to help me enjoy cooking Christmas lunch with my husband and not treat it as something that needed to get done in anticipation for the real event of the day which was our friends coming over. No, that’s not the way 2018 is going to work out for me anymore because the cooking of the lunch with my husband is equally as gorgeous and delicious and lovely as the lunch itself with our friends.
And so, this mantra is slowly emerging from within me. It’s not a habit. It’s not second nature. It’s cultivating. So thankfully my inner voice is helping me big time because I forget. And every time it says go gently I just stop and I think yes. I have to say yes to it. You can always say no to your inner voice but I’m consciously saying yes… to yes, go gently, breathe, enjoy. Life is in this moment. This is the present moment. This is the present. There’s no other gift than now. Don’t delay your feeling of appreciation and wonder and joy for the moments that are technically the proper memories of life, like the actual memories of life, the way we’ve been conditioned to think about it. No, the preparation, the cleaning of the house, the music on, that is all life. It is all one amazing moment and ‘go gently’ has been my mantra with that.
We talked about who do we want to be in 2018, and the second (actually third) video was all about leaving space for the unknown. So have all your goals and what you want to accomplish in 2018 but just leave room for the unknown, mystery, and adventure that life has up its sleeve for you. Because if you just fill it in and micromanage it can’t get in, you’re too busy to notice. And so when you leave that space for the unknown, magic can emerge through into your life.
So, this great book, called “Essentialism”, discusses going from chaos to focusing on what is essential. When I set my goals in the New Year, or any time I set goals but in particular, in the New Year there are a few things that I want to accomplish in 2018. There are some big players that I do want to accomplish and I think it’s important to have that to allow your mind to focus on something, to engage in action, to dive into life, to not wait until the perfect answer or the perfect moment in order to start living and start, you know, getting your feet wet, your hands dirty with life. So when you can’t hear your inner voice make the most informed decision you can with your mind and then just go for it and allow change to happen and allow the ball to move direction but get the ball moving.
What this book helped me do is untangle the habit of needing to do several things at once. And the key message from this book “Essentialism” is one, prioritise what is essential and two, focus on one thing at a time. It’s been such a challenge. I’ve been trying to do this for the last year and a half and it is such a challenge to not fall off the wagon while doing it, to not stall, to not procrastinate.
Focusing on one thing is yes, I’ve got three things that I want to accomplish in the year and I always just keep it at three things for the year, but what’s the first thing I’m going to focus on and complete. So that’s what’s in front of me right now and for the next however many months it takes I will only focus all my energy and time and passion and intent on this one thing. So when that’s complete I’ll go to the second thing.
In previous years, before I read this book, I would have three things that I wanted to accomplish in the year and I would get them all going. I would have three plates spinning in the air and multitasking and focusing on all three thinking that okay, it might take a year to get everything done and so I’ll get started and keep moving with each of them going.
After reading this book, I tried out and experimented with just focusing on one plate and getting it spinning and then it coming to full completion and then it gets set down and then get the second plate moving and get it going and then set it down. And you won’t believe it but as counterintuitive as it often feels, it feels like you’re slowing your progress down, you’re only focusing on one thing and so these other things are just sitting in the background waiting for your attention. It’s like can’t it get done quicker if we focus on all three things at once? Like aren’t I able to do that? It feels like it’s counterintuitive just to focus on one thing and only do that and then move on to the next.
I felt that way anyway when I was starting this out, this practice out. But in fact what I found was that it permeated every aspect of my life in terms of focusing on one thing. So you know, with my goals I would feel so accomplished when I had put my time and energy into this particular goal whichever one it is at the time and got as much done as I wanted in the day and then the rest of the day is just free time. It’s just enjoyment time. Because I did, I did what I needed to do. I got it done.
I went away, I walked away from a life of always having things lingering in my mind, like just hovering in the background to having laser focus on one task, one mission, one goal, one vision, and deciding how much energy I wanted to put into it day by day. And then once I had time just opened up. So I could focus on fun stuff, I could read a book, I could go for a walk, I could spend time with my husband, I could tidy up and declutter. It’s being a bit of an addiction for me lately. But it was this relaxation that entered my life when I decided just to focus on one goal at a time.
And what that brought was more joy, more like I said relaxation around goals and achieving goals and activity, getting stuff done. And it opened up a lot of playtime. When you play you open up all your channels to creativity. Your mind is operating in a different space. It’s mainly in alpha mode. And so in alpha mode you’re able to access more of your inner voice or you can access your inner voice more clearly and you’re more prone to resourcefulness in that state as opposed to being in high-thinking beta state where your thoughts are already churning, so that level of creativity is not as high as you potentially can be.
All these magnificent things opened up when I decided to just focus on one thing at a time. It felt… It was so difficult in the beginning because I felt like I was letting myself down, like I should be doing more, I should be doing more, I should be trying… if I’ve done that one part on that goal, well don’t waste time, get started on the second goal that I’ve got and focus on that after I’ve done the first two hours of the day on the first goal and I’m happy with how much I’ve done. Don’t waste time. Get on with the next thing. You’re wasting time.
But it is so much more fulfilling and in fact for me it’s been a lot quicker achieving my goals when I’ve just focused on one all the way to completion and then picked up the second thing then just focused on that all the way to completion. So the amount of things that I got done this year, 2017, has been phenomenal because of that focus, that different way of focus.
Now some goals have merged into 2018 and that’s fine because it’s… you know, there’s certain goals that will evolve and require more of you than initially anticipated. And so that’s fine. That’s so fine. That’s part of growth. That’s just moving with life. And it becomes bigger the more you get your teeth stuck into it. It becomes bigger.
And so, there’s one particular goal that’s being transferred over to 2018 and it was the last one that I focused on. So I found that by just pouring… So for example my website last year was my first intention, my first goal. And I put so much energy and time into it. I had a beautiful friend, a professional photographer do these amazing photos that I love, that I’ll use for years. There was so many components to that one goal of getting my website up and going, like a professionally developed website up and going that it required… I didn’t realise just how much of me it required. It required so much from me to get this one goal done.
In the previous year, 2016, I had the website on my list of goals to accomplish but I had several other things, like I had two other goals, three things at once, and I just found I was chasing my tail the whole year. I wasn’t getting any traction on anything. So when 2017 came and I read this book and I started practising what I’d read in this book I found that focusing on just the website got the website done in the first four, five months and it took four, five months to get it done to the point where I was happy with it. There was so much details that went into it and hiccups and troubleshooting that needed to be taken care of that required all of my focus and energy, but it was all I was focused on.
And so it, step by step got completed and now it’s done. And then I moved on to the next thing which were my videos. And so I just focused on videos and I got the videos going and I went from doing one video a week to now my inner voice has said to do two videos a week. So I’m still getting my feet around that because that’s fairly new for me in the last few months to do two videos a week. It requires a different routine. But I put all my focus into that.
Moving into 2018 with the book that I’ve been writing for a while and I want to publish… hopefully I’ll publish it in 2018, we’ll see, but this is the third goal I had. And so now that the website is done and the videos… my video blog is being developed, I am completely focused on my book and I know that it will be my only focus for the next however many months. Every time I feel like I’m at completion and then this burst comes through of more to include or a different angle to take it into. And it’s been a beautiful example of a goal that’s mirrored my self-development. It’s matched it.
Having the book published is going to be fantastic. It’ll be the cherry on the cake though. It’s not the cake. The cake is the growth that I’ve had to go through to get to a place where I could publish it. Publishing it will just be the absolute full-stop at the end of the sentence but the whole poem is who I’ve become in the writing of it. And so it’s a beautiful way to get through the year and to move gently through the year, to focus on one goal at a time.
In the next few days as the New Year unfolds I’m going to sit with nature and come up with my three things that I would like to accomplish for the next year. And so in a nutshell taking all three (actually four) videos into account and all three ideas, the first one is I’m going to go gently through life, go gently, go gently, go gently and lovingly, and that helps me slow down and savour each moment of life as being just important as the next, and I’m going to leave space for the unknown, and I’m going to have my three goals that I will move gently through.
With that focus and with the action I will accomplish the things that I set out to accomplish with the help of my inner voice helping me focus on what’s in front of me right now and helping me decide what is the next thing to do in this moment and then get that done and then tune back in and okay, what’s my next step. So that’s how I get through my goals. I don’t know how it’s going to happen and I don’t know how it’s going to unfold. I just do it one step at a time and I listen to the step and I take action and follow it to completion and then get the next step done.
With that in mind, everything feels really gentle. It feels equally exciting and adventurous and my curiosity is open because I’m clear about what my goals are but I don’t know how I’m going to get there. That’s going to unfold perfectly and beautifully by following my inner voice. But also there’s just this deep sense of relaxation. There’s no energy being leaked in terms of value and worth. My goals are my own adventures. They’re my own kind of magical things that I want to experience and accomplish. There’s no delay of feeling respected once I’ve completed them. The respect is there in the doing of it. I feel so accomplished just by putting my energy and my focus into it. And however it turns out I’m sure I’ll be proud.
With three cups full of love, acceptance, and respect goals are an emergence from within that space of fullness. It’s not a journey to arrive at a place where you then feel deserving of feeling loved, acceptance, or respect, whichever one it is that’s calling out to you. It’s a journey that’s filled with those three things every step of the way of the journey. So it’s not a journey to feeling full, it’s a journey of fullness and allowing consciousness to move through and express and expand through each of us. And I feel that when we do that our most fulfilling life will unfold before us… And challenging, like we want to grow and so we welcome challenge.
And so, I think 2018 is going to be a marvellous year. Whatever it brings, whatever it throws at us it will be full of challenge and full of growth and full of adventure. And so my prayer to you is that I wish you all the adventure and challenge and growth and curiosity and love in the year ahead, in 2018, and I’m so grateful and thankful that you’re sharing this journey with me. It’s a beautiful way to connect to people and I’m really excited to see how the year unfolds.