We’ve all had the experience where someone mentions a book or movie to us and “all of the sudden,” we see that title everywhere. People are talking about it; we see ads for it or notice people reading it. It was actually there before we heard about it, but it was not in our field of focus so it didn’t register. As soon as we focus, the book or movie expands in our minds and our field of vision. So it is with everything – focus on abundance and you will begin to notice abundance. Focus on lack and you will see and hear of nothing but lack. Focus on your most important priorities and you will see all around you opportunities to move toward them.
Last week, I gave you a format for setting some priorities in all of the WOYN life sectors – Personal Growth, Career, Finance, Spirituality, and Health & Wellness. I hope you took a little time to think of the one high impact thing that you could focus on in each area that will make the biggest difference. I did my sheet and have it printed on my desk where I can see it so I can focus on those few but high-impact areas.
The best way to expand focus is to track your actions in each area. Let’s take finance which is very conducive to tracking. Regardless of whether you want to reduce debt, increase savings, or put away money for a big trip or project, it will be important for you to know where your money is going now so for 2 weeks, track every penny spent. There are lots of free apps for your phone that will let you easily track spending. Pick one and start tracking – use your notes feature or the back of an envelope – it doesn’t matter how; it just matters that you do it. When you see it, you are mindful and you are focused.
The next important thing to focus on is the small stuff. Big stuff is hard! Focus on the small stuff. We tend to repeat small things frequently and our brains just can’t process how many times we do the 2 buck items. When you track every one of those buck-here, 5-bucks-there items, you will quickly see how frequently it happens and how much it really adds up. It is also easier to pass on the small stuff. It’s not a big deal to skip buying a water at the gas station – put that in your “buck saved” tracking and at the end of the week, put the total toward the goal.
Track it – and focus on the small things. Darren Hardy in his book, The Compound Effect, says, “The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. What’s most interesting about this process to me is that, even though the results are massive, the steps, in the moment, don’t feel significant. …These small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.”
That is so powerful – “small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time.” Compare that to the New Year’s “grand plan” that burns out by mid-month. The grand plan is too hard; it’s too big of a change. The small steps (turtle steps) are easy, so easy, why wouldn’t you do it? Why wouldn’t you track your spending to bring focus and expansion to the money area of your life? Why wouldn’t you sacrifice a bunch of small, meaningless buys in favor of your big trip, home renovation or debt-freedom goal? The reason is that it doesn’t seem like it will matter – what’s 1 dollar compared to paying off the mortgage? IMPORTANT: It’s not that 1 dollar; it all of the 1 dollars that follow that one – the power is in “insignificant steps completed consistently over time.” Focus will lead to expansion – you will see more opportunities to save another buck and 2 and then 5. Consistency and time are powerful – many small amounts add up to big amounts over time.
Tracking = focus = expansion
Here’s to expanding all of our most important, impactful priorities in 2016!