When you were in your last J-O-B, you had built-in accountability. Someone, probably your boss, told you what to do, or at least gave you guidance. Someone was there if you got stuck, or lost your confidence, or needed direction. That also gave you focus.
Who do you go to now?
As a business owner, you’re supposed to know what to do (aren’t you?) – and you have to create your own accountability. Many of us find this a very difficult thing to do by our nature as entrepreneurs – we think we’re supposed to go it alone, to be fearless and not need anyone’s help. But here’s a secret I learned years ago from a business coach: even the sharpest knife can’t carve it’s own handle. It’s okay to need help, in fact it’s smart to seek it out. No one expects you to always know what to do. (You can relax now.)
And really, let’s be honest here, you’re not superhuman just because you own a business. You are very good at some things and not so good at others – and it can be pretty darn scary standing out there all by your lonesome sometimes, can’t it?
So I’m taking it upon myself to be your coach for a few minutes, just in case you’ve lost your focus. I’m giving you permission — I take that back, I’m giving you an assignment — to stop what you’re doing and move through the following 5 strategies to regain your focus.
Here are my best suggestions for finding focus:
1. Stop and take short breaks to trick your brain when you’re overwhelmed and can’t focus. Don’t focus on focusing.
It’s your thinking mind, your conscious mind, that got you into this to begin with – this little mouse wheel — and it kind of takes over, you know, puts you in this vortex where you’re just kind of going around and around and you’re thinking the same things over and over again and you just can’t stop yourself from being overwhelmed. So that’s why you have to really stop and go into your unconscious mind to stop it. Thinking harder won’t stop you from being overwhelmed. Thinking harder won’t help you focus.
So I’m recommending that you do things you think you shouldn’t do — take a short break, walk the dog, meditate, go out for coffee, do some stretching, anything to trick your conscious mind into going away for awhile.
Don’t focus on focusing. Just stop that conscious mind from thinking altogether. If you’re waiting for someone to give you permission, here, I give it to you: stop thinking.
2. Stay in “the now.” Put your attention on what you’re doing now, and don’t multitask.
Okay. Being present in “the now” is something that I really feel strongly about, and this can really help your focus. And here’s how I look at it: you can really only do one thing at a time, and multitasking is not what’s it’s cracked up to be.
There’s a principle in physics, I believe, that no two things can occupy the same space at the same time. Now, my son says I’m stretching that a little bit, but just let me say that if you are trying to carry on a conversation and answer your email at the same time, you know that you’re really not focusing on either one. And you could very easily delete something important or not give the person you’re talking with the attention they deserve. If you just stop and turn away from your computer for two minutes while you really put your attention on your conversation, and then go back to your computer, it really doesn’t take a lot longer in the whole – especially if you can focus on each one — while with multitasking neither task gets your focus.
I have really found this to be one of the only ways that I can obtain real focus and clarity. You can only do what you can do, and only then can you move on to something else. Staying in “the now” is really a powerful strategy for finding your focus
3. Check for blocks you may be putting in your own way, and make plans to bust through them. Look at what you’re resisting and why.
It may actually be you that is holding you back.
There might be some unconscious blocks that are keeping you stuck and unable to focus. Are there things in your business that keep showing up over and over again, and never get done — they just get moved around? Ask yourself if there’s something you’re resisting. What is it that’s keeping you from completing this thing?
Is there someone who could help, like a community of like-minded people or a mastermind group or a coach or a networking group or someone you could outsource it to — why isn’t it getting done? You have to ask yourself, “Do I have a block for not wanting help? Are there blocks that I’m putting in my own way? Why?” And if you really stop and look for these things, don’t just say “I can’t focus, I can’t get around this thing.” Really stop and say, “Is it me? Could I be standing in my own way in this particular area?”
Sometimes just resisting something can gum up the works. You’ve heard the saying, “What I resist, persists.” The idea is that if you resist something, you’re giving your attention to it, which actually magnifies it. If you just accept, recognize, and release your resistance, the situation will usually diminish. Are you resisting something?
4. Move forward by making decisions with your body truth.
When we’re kids, we naturally know how to make decisions that are best for us, but as we get older, we get that stuff drummed out of us, and we’re encouraged to use logic more often than our natural decision making processes. Those of us who lean towards doing things “the right way” and in looking good and in pleasing people can really get hung up in decision making, and when you run a business, you have to make a lot of decisions. I’ve found that business owners can lose a lot of focus here — we fear making the correct decision, so we put them off or just don’t make any. All of us are familiar with the decision making process where you put you a line down the paper and say “these are the pros and these are the cons” and then you have to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons. That’s a good process, but sometimes it’s just not enough.
Here’s a decision making process that’s like listening to your gut, only better. After you’ve done the logic thing and haven’t come to a conclusion, go someplace quiet and picture yourself in each of the situations you need to decide about.
Get quiet, close your eyes and picture yourself in each of the situations, today and maybe two years down the road, and imagine all of the detail you can. Really breathe into it and while you’re imagining yourself in that environment, ask yourself these questions. “Does it make me feel expansive? Do I feel bigger while I’m in this environment or does it make me contract and feel ‘less than?'”
You will get a definite body signal that is called your body truth. Then go do the same thing for the other environment, and compare those two body truths. It’ll be surprising to you, but it will definitely be an answer that fits you because internally, you really know the answer. But your brain sometimes can’t get to it without going through that process.
5. Take imperfect action, keep moving. Stopping to make things perfect invites indecision and overwhelm.
One of the reasons why focus may be difficult for you could be because you insist on getting everything perfect before you act.
The truth is, you’re going to evolve naturally as you go along and as your business matures. And you aren’t going to be able to predict everything from the get go, so it’s more important to just get started, to not wait until things are perfect. Just put the website up anyway and get close. Don’t worry that your sales copy is perfectly on the mark — maybe it’s close enough. Now, I never thought I’d be saying these things, because I used to be one of those people who wouldn’t let anything go until it was perfect — and I let a lot of opportunities pass me by.
In order to keep focus in your business, you need to take action and don’t worry that it’s the perfect action. Stopping to perfect leads to inactivity which ruins focus, and it breeds doubt and indecision. Don’t get caught here! You can adjust as you go — but you can’t course correct until you’re under way.
Things change so quickly in business today, much more quickly than ever before, that you really can’t afford to not keep moving. Your business is changing, too and the way you’re doing business is changing. So if you’re waiting for something to be perfect, your own business is not going to be the same in six months when you’ve got what ever you’re perfecting perfect. So — you just can’t wait.
The end result of all of this, no matter which approach we take, if we don’t ask for help or take steps to keep moving in the right direction, is that we lose focus. We no longer remember why we’re doing what we’re doing or why it’s important. It takes us twice as long to get anything done. The joy goes out of it. We’re not successful, we start losing money. All bad stuff.
So get going on your assignment. And I promise to give you an “A” if you turn in your report!