This is a follow-up to last week’s post about the power our thoughts have in shaping our lives [link here].
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were once asked to boil the reason for their success down to just a single word. Both of them chose the word FOCUS.
Below, I’ll share a simple four-step system to focus the energy of your thoughts in order to make the things you want come true in your life, and I will tell a little of my story. I’m no Cinderella, but it’s a pretty good story nonetheless.
I challenge you to follow these four steps. As you begin to see the path form, walk it, and see that with every step, the next move becomes clearer, until your prize is within reach.
STEP 1. Discern it. Write it out. Grab a pencil and a few sheets of paper and write down the following categories. Leave six or eight lines between them to give yourself some room to work. The categories are:
For each category, brainstorm anything and everything you could want for your life. Be as specific as you can as you write your perfect wish list. Write down anything you would want to have at any point between next month and 20 to 50 years down the road.
A lot of the ideas you write will probably fit snuggly into two or more categories. You’ll find that that will make a lot of sense down the road. For now, it doesn’t matter which category gets the idea. Just get it written down somewhere.
Remember, we’re just brainstorming at this step, so we’re not yet thinking about how any of these things might come to happen. That will come later, but for now, what’s important is that your focus be on throwing caution to the wind. Write those ideas down without inhibition.
There are no wrong answers; just don’t let yourself think anything that could limit you. It’s not too late for you; now is a great time to start. It’s not too much money; your money is out there, you just don’t have it yet. It’s not impossible; anything is possible if the universe or God or your higher power want it for you. It’s not too big; you’re old stinkin’ thinkin’ has just been too small! We’re talking about a future where you can have literally anything you want, so think big!
STEP 2. Plan it. Go through your wish list line by line and write in a time frame in which you would like to see each thing come into your life. Think in terms of this year, 2-3 years, 5-10 years, and so on as far out as you think you need to go. Step 2 was easy; step 3 is a doozie.
STEP 3. Rationalize it. Write the whys. This is the most important step for harnessing the long-term change and focus you’ll need in order to get to the point of checking things off your bucket list. The mission here is to nail down a strong reason for wanting what you want. Think specifics and get emotional. Emotions are powerful tools and can be used here to motivate and to help us remember the reason for our focus.
Instead of “I want to make more money so I can go on vacation,” think “I want to make and extra $x next year so my partner and I can renew our wedding vows in Tahiti.” This example could have benefits in several categories like spiritual, emotional/relational, family, and, of course, fun!
Instead of “I want to lose weight to feel better about my body,” think “I want to lose x pounds and get leaner so I can feel sexier, feel stronger, have more confidence in my job, and more energy for my family.” The benefits here touch the categories of physical, family, emotional, career, possibly financial if confidence on the job were to lead to a promotion, and I’m betting there would be a lot of fun sprinkled in there too.
STEP 4. Realize it. Take action! This last step is where we think of a few steps that we can take TODAY toward making any of our goals a reality. Start with the shortest-term goals and write down something you can do before bed tonight to make some progress toward that goal.
Even if it’s just sending an email or making a phone call, do it because action begets action and once you get that ball rolling, it’ll roll and roll and soon become difficult to stop.
I don’t know why anyone would ever want to eat something as majestic as an elephant, but, from what I hear, there is a method: you just take one bite at a time. No matter how small it is, take that first step TODAY!
Your first action step, once taken, will put things in motion that weren’t before. It sounds silly, but take just a single step toward that special something that you feel a deep, emotional drive to have, and you will see that the second step is just another single step away, and then the third is just one step further.
While you’re walking the road, it will help you if you can hone your focus. One way to keep an eye on the target is to daily read over your list- especially of the short-term goals. Daily is good; twice-daily is better.
What we focus on always gets bigger, whether that be our stress or our aspirations. The repetition of daily rolling your ideas around in your mind’s eye will intensify your focus, and the more you can focus your energy, the more the universe will get behind you in making it happen.
I don’t yet have everything on my list, but I can say with a new-found confidence that my train has left the station and I am on my way. The frequency and magnitude of my personal successes have been increasing exponentially over the last 5 years or so. Let’s talk about that..
At my lowest, I was out-of-work, a single-father, and a divorcee with a taste for beer, and an idea in my head that all I needed was a woman to be happy. I had a couple of old friends, but not much else going for me.
A friend’s mother took pity and began mentoring me. Part of me wanted to die rather than give up my old ways of thinking, but part of me knew I had made a mess of things and I was ready to let someone else drive. I soon got myself a job making just $10 an hour. I wasn’t proud of it then; in fact, I hated it, but I kept building.
I made frequent mistakes, but I always stood up straight, dusted off my shoulders, and got back on the straight and narrow: working hard, reading books, going to church, and seeking all the education and focus that I could.
Flash forward a few years. I’m now married to an amazing woman that’s way out of my league, (I met her on my first day of volunteering at church!), I’ve started two new businesses in the last 12 months, I’m working less, making more than ever, and I’m doing what I love. There is so much more to list, but I’ll save that for another time.
Suffice it to say that I am blessed more and more daily and I can hardly keep up with all the opportunity that has manifested in my life. I give the glory to God and my mentors, books, my wife, and my kids, but I also know that my mentors would remind me that it’s my choices that have put this new, amazing life into motion.
I don’t say this to brag, but to show my readers how changing my thought life has profoundly changed my relationships, my employment status, my parenting ability, my marital status, my confidence, and the trajectory of my entire life.
I couldn’t have done it without deciding what I want and going for it, and I truly want the same for you. If there is anything I can do to help you discern, plan, rationalize, or realize your dreams, please do not hesitate to reach out. If you’ve got some goals, I’d like to talk about that.