Focus On What You Want, Not What You Don’t Want
Imagine trying to build a beautiful sandcastle on the beach.
But, instead of focusing on the design and the intricate details, you spend all your energy desperately trying to push back every wave that threatens to wash it away.
That’s what happens when we fixate on what we don’t want in life.
We become defensive, resistant, and ultimately exhausted.
Think of all the times you’ve caught yourself saying things like:
- “I shouldn’t have said that.”
- “I hate feeling this way.”
- “I don’t want this to happen.”
While it’s natural to have preferences and dislikes, dwelling on them drains our mental energy and keeps us stuck in a negative space.
It’s like trying to steer a boat by focusing on the rocks you want to avoid instead of the lighthouse guiding you towards your destination.
The Consequences of “Shouldn’t-ing” on Yourself:
- Frustration: When we resist what is, we create inner conflict, leading to pent-up frustration and negativity.
- Failure: By focusing on what we don’t want to achieve, we inadvertently give it more power and neglect the actions needed to achieve our desires.
- Fear: The constant negativity associated with “shouldn’t” thinking breeds anxiety and fear, holding us back from taking risks and pursuing our dreams.
In Construction, You Can Die
For 35 years, I was a union electrician working some of the most interesting, complex and iconic projects in Los Angeles.
I learned early on how dangerous construction could be.
We would have regular weekly hands-on safety meetings where the safety officer would tell us of accidents that have happened and the men and women who died or got injured;
- guy gets crushed between a load of material being moved and a wall
- guy uses a scissor-lift in a parking structure and it falls over because of the sloped floor
- 2 guys forget to use an air-sniffer before going into a manhole and asphyxiate before they can get pulled out
It was a weekly wake-up call to keep your head on a swivel and not let your attention wander.
At first, for me, it was really debilitating.
“If I do this, that could happen, but if I do that, that could happen…”
And on, and on, and on.
Pretty soon, you’re spending more time worrying about the work rather than doing the work.
And that can lead to the ulitmate worry, a pink slip and a layoff.
I had to learn to shift my focus on what I wanted instead of what I didn’t want. And, yes, there were things that I had to be careful of but to think about it in a way, “Well, if this happens, I can do this, this, and this…”
The thing about thinking about what you don’t want is that it’s endless.
In construction, you need to be aware of what can happen but then let it go and move on.
Mark Twain said it best,
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
If you don’t, it’ll take you down rabbit holes that you can get lost in.
If instead, you’re focused on what you do want, it’s like a laser beam!
Cutting through all of the noise, chaff, and smoke; clearing the way to focus on The One Thing
That is the power of focusing on what you want; it frees your thinking, activity, and energy one what you want.
Shifting Your Focus: From “Shouldn’t” to “Could”
The good news is that we can reprogram our thinking and break free from the cycle of negativity. Here’s how:
1. Acknowledge Your “Shouldn’ts”: The first step is awareness. Notice when “shouldn’t” thoughts creep in and acknowledge them without judgment.
2. Reframe Your Thinking: Instead of dwelling on the negative, ask yourself empowering questions like:
* "What do I want instead?"
* "What can I control in this situation?"
* "What is the best possible outcome here?"
3. Focus on What You Do Want: Shift your energy towards what you truly desire. What excites you? What brings you joy? Write down your goals and dreams, and create a vision board to keep them front of mind.
4. Take Action: Don’t just dream, do! Start taking small steps towards your goals, even if they seem insignificant. Momentum is key, and each action is a step closer to your desired reality.
5. Celebrate Progress: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. This reinforces positive thinking and motivates you to keep moving forward.
Remember, you are not defined by your “shouldn’ts”. You have the power to choose your focus and create the life you desire. Let go of what you don’t want and embrace the possibilities that await you!
- For the next week, keep track of every “shouldn’t” thought you have. Write them down and then reframe them into empowering questions.
- Create a vision board filled with images and words that represent your goals and dreams.
- Choose one small action you can take today to move closer to your goals.
- Celebrate your progress, no matter how small.
By following these steps, you can break free from the shackles of “shouldn’t” thinking and step into a world of possibility, freedom, and fulfillment. It’s time to stop building sandcastles against the waves and start creating the masterpiece of your life!