Focus

These Words Can Change Your Mindset

 

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By Cindy Yantis

I recently reconnected with an old friend with whom I'd been out of touch for several years. She's going through a challenging transition which includes selling her home, something she doesn't want to do, but has to. Interestingly, I went through a similar transition at about the same time we'd last spoken. So, the timing of our phone reconnect all of sudden seemed rather divinely directed. I shared something with her that someone said to me during that time that shifted everything for me. And, when I said the words, she had a very similar reaction.

It got me thinking about how much words, when you hear them at the right time, can shift mindset in an instant.

From a place of boy-have-I-been-there, I shared my experience with her. I was laid off in 2008 and was out of steady work for over two years. I was in a daily struggle to try and keep my house. During that time, my friend and financial advisor, Lisa Gould, was a lifeline of truth. We often discussed various alternatives and on this particular phone call it was a brass tacks breakdown of what it would take for me to, in fact, hang on to the house. And, it literally felt like hanging on for dear life. I loved that house and my identity was ingrained with being its owner, making every little inch of it mine and sharing it with others. It gave my life a meaning that came from years of creating the meaning, by habit, by stories about the American Dream and that home ownership was an integral part of being a successful adult. I felt like a failure if I couldn't keep my home. 

When I discussed all of this with Lisa, during the brass tacks chat, she said, "Wouldn't you rather set yourself up for success than protect yourself from failure?" 

Wait, what? Say that again, I said. 

"Wouldn't you rather set yourself up for success than protect yourself from failure?" 

I still remember where I was sitting when I heard those words. Literally everything shifted in my body, my face felt flush and I felt alive, like I had choices. And, what shifted was my mindset.

And, the reason it made such an impact in that moment, is that I was ready to hear it, to receive and to incorporate it. That's when mindset shift happens. You hear or read something just at the moment when you're ready. It wasn't until she said it that I saw that's exactly what I'd been doing: trying like crazy to protect myself from failure.

Protecting yourself from failure is looking over your shoulder, stopping the bleeding with a bandaid that doesn't hold, being in a constant state of shame for fear of what others might think and always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's painful and a self-generating cycle of doom. You feel like a loser.

Because here's the thing, since what you focus on expands (another phrase that's a true mindset shifter), protecting yourself from failure focuses your attention on the impending failure. 

Setting yourself up for success is looking forward, cutting your losses and moving on so they're not shackles holding you down. It's knowing that your circumstances don't define you, it's what you do with and about the circumstances, that do. Setting yourself up for success becomes all about intention. When you focus on your intentions for success, then success expands. 

Gary Zukav in The Seat of Soul said, "You create your reality with your intentions." So, if your intention is to protect from failing, then you'll be in that state. And, if your intention is to continually be serving your highest good with your choices which lead to success, then you'll be living in that state. 

Well, that changed everything for me at that time. Literally in that moment, my home became a house, brick and mortar. It removed the emotion which is what was keeping me so attached. The emotion is what linked to the shame and feeling of failure. In a success mindset, it became a transaction that freed me to rebuild. Was it hard? You bet. Short selling my house was a huge financial hit. But, I recognize it as a moment in my life, a circumstance I went through. Once it was done it cut the chains that held me back, in so many ways that went beyond selling the house. Because when your mindset is changed it effects everything.

I remind myself often of Lisa's words. And, when I find myself in a conversation like I had with my old friend, I share them as well. With life's ebbs and flows, this phrase has ongoing benefits in my life. It's one of my mantras now.

Whenever I see Lisa I tell her how profound it was and that it needs to be the subtitle of her book! 

What words or phrases have shifted your mindset? Make them a mantra and share them with others. It's the best way to not only expand your own life, but expand and raise the collective consciousness as well.

 


How A Broken Wrist Changed My Life

Womans hand holding coffee

By Cindy Yantis

Man, did I have grand plans for 2017. I mean, I couldn’t wait to hit the ground running with a very full plate of flavorful projects waiting to be completed and/or started. Every day was Ready, Set, Go...

Then, on Christmas Eve, seven minutes after I arrived at my sister’s for the family celebration, I stepped around the back of the couch to slip my gifts next to the tree. Unfortunately, the only things that slipped were my feet on the hardwood floor, clean out from under me as I fell and broke my wrist, broke it badly in fact, both the ulna and radius bones, which meant surgery, which meant a steel plate holding my wrist together, which meant wearing a cast for weeks (albeit one in a pretty color), which meant having to learn how to use my left wrist and hand all over again. 

Can you say Projectus Interruptus? It was more like Life Interruptus.

To say that starting this year with a broken wrist shook me would be an understatement. And what’s entirely laughable is how I tried to fight it, looking at it only as an obstacle keeping me from doing ALL that I’ve been wanting to do. Laughable because that is one fight I was never going to win. When you have one usable hand there’s only so much you can do.

I had no choice but to just stop

What immediately started to happen? Fears started to bubble to the surface that once and for all I was required to recognize, study and distill. Fears about running out of time or of missing out on that next great idea or next opportunity. And, it exposed something very big. It allowed me to take a hard look at myself as the chronic multitasker that I had become.

The multitasker moniker is one that I have worn loudly and proudly. I'd have a running to-do list, set multiple timers, creating fancy systems for said timers, jumping from one idea or one task to the next, and many times doing more than one of them at the same time. I definitely have a record of completing many of these tasks and getting things done and many of them fairly well. Crossing things off my to-do list, nirvana for multitaskers!

But, what often happens with this chronic multitasking? Mediocrity becomes the norm. Things get done but excellence often is not reached. And, focus is splintered in a thousand different directions.

Research has shown that multitasking causes the brain to work at a lower cognitive level and for an extended period time keeps it at that level. So, then it's harder to focus on projects that take a higher and deeper level of thinking and concentration. According to a Fast Company article "These Are the Long Term Effects of Multitasking," multitasking actually has addictive effects on the brain, can diminish IQ and the constant "task-switch" leads to a destructive cycle of distraction that stops productivity. 

So my broken wrist got me thinking about how the universe was giving me a very big message to slow down. To stay with the present moment and the present task at hand. The big Truth is that’s all there is, this moment, in this realm, in this space. And the truth is you can only accomplish one thing, well, at a time.

As a multitasker, I’d packed my plate with as many things as possible and when that plate was full I started another plate. It’s like continually going back to the buffet table that you know, even before you approach, is filled with delectable things you want to try. Things you know you don’t need, are not good for you and will derail you from your healthy Vision or Intention.

But now, if I attempt to carry my typically full plate with my only one good hand, there’s no doubt it’ll come crashing down, shattering into a pile of chaotic unorganized mess that will be nothing short of sad and depressing!

Going From Multi to Monotasker

Being focused on one thing at a time means staying away from the buffet table and removing the distractions that steal focus. It's like ordering from the menu the one thing that serves your vision or goal. And to help safeguard the commitment to being singly focused, if it’s actually a menu that you have pragmatically designed so that every item available to you serves your mission, then you’re in complete control of whatever goes on your plate on any given day.

So, for me I started by taking literally everything off of my plate and my menu of a thousand projects. I spent hours meditating and getting back in deep touch with my core values and my core truths. And, then I just got quiet. I allowed my GPS to re-calibrate as my single task menu items floated to the surface. Then, I sat with those for awhile, then cut them down again. What came out of the process was a clean, simple plate with very few projects on it that I'm absolutely madly in love with. 

And. It. Feels. Good. Really good.

Now, as physical therapy strengthens my wrist, I work to continually retrain my brain to stay focused on the one thing at a time. I've given up my place at the buffet table. I'm more cognizant of my electronics time so am mindful of distractions. And, I'm happy with what I'm doing.

Turns out, my broken wrist was one of the best things that ever happened to me. 

 

Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com. Please visit us on our Facebook Page: Facebook.com/ThoughtChanger  


Shake It Off & Show Up

When Simone Biles nearly fell off the balance beam, I know I was part of a global collective gasp. It was only a split second, but it could have been enough to trash the rest of her routine (it would have for most of us!). But, what happened next was such the mark of the champion that she is.  

Simone-biles-floor

She shook it off.   

Sure, maybe she rehashed the moment later, perhaps over and over again. I know I would have. But, my guess is she didn't. Perhaps she reviewed it briefly with her coach, but then the focus turned to her final event the next night. And, again it was so clear that she held no residual regrets, because as we all know, she nailed her spectacular floor routine and won Olympic gold. In fact, all through the Games, there are two things successful competitors and champions have in common. Number one is they never give up. And, secondly, they shake off their stumbles, low scores and slow finishes. It's the only way they can be their best to show up and win or place the next time.

It got me thinking about how often we hang onto things, or allow past issues or circumstances to hold us back from showing up and being our best.

What would happen if we shook it off? It sounds easy. But, so often it doesn't feel easy.

We might say something we regret, or someone says something or does something that rocks us. Or we didn't succeed like we wanted to on a presentation, or interview, or performance. Then, we rehash it in our minds or with our friends and family, until we're simply stuck in the moment, energetically at least.

To my way of thinking, a good way to shake it off is to start by asking yourself what it might feel like to let it go. Stop the thought and sit with that question.

What would it feel like to shake this off?  Keep-calm-and-shake-it-off

What you're really doing is releasing the feeling that has you stuck, the feeling of rejection, or failure, or fear that you're not good enough, whatever it is. Reiki Master and energy healer Cheryl Blossom suggests paying attention to where the stuck feeling sits in your body. Is it your stomach, or your heart, or your throat? Once you have awareness to where you feel it, then you can breathe through it to release it. Cheryl has coached me through this exercise and it's very effective. 

Then, the next thing you know, you're no longer in the past, but fully in the present moment, ready to show up for yourself.

So, next time something happens that threatens to hold you back, or stop you from doing the next thing? 

Be like Biles. Shake it off. And, show up.

Related:

In Alignment - A Life Philosophy 

How to Never, Ever Give Up

Two Ways to Recognize & Let Go of Fear

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 


Focus on the Significance of Simple

By Cindy Yantis

“Make it simple, but significant.” ~ Don Draper

I used this quote as the theme for a recent writer’s retreat for one of my beloved clients. It gave us an effective mantra for the weekend, kept us on point and helped to streamline the writing in the most powerful way. Don draper

“Make it simple, but significant” also got me thinking about how we often make things too complicated, in general. I know I do, to the point where sometimes I actually feel complicated.

But, simple is clean. There’s brilliance behind simplicity. And, many of the most significant things in life, when it gets right down to it, are pretty simple. To simplify means to get back to basics, to start with one simple question, idea or statement and then find the significance in that.

Significant is memorable. Significant can be priceless and timeless. Significant is a moment in time. 

So, that’s where significance starts. Focus on the simple: the simplicity of an idea, then another idea, then a question, then this moment, then, then, then… You can be present with simple.

Just as letting go of a result often actually brings the best result, by focusing on simplicity, the significance of a moment or idea will reveal itself as well.

Just a thought... simply.

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 

 


How to Love the Rabbit Hole

By Cindy Yantis

I recently sat down to meditate and, in order to clear my head before I started, I decided to respond to one Facebook message so it would be off my mind and I could focus on my meditation. Two hours later...

I went down the rabbit hole.   Rabbit Hole

It's a common theme for me, rabbit holing. This time, for me, Facebook led to Pinterest which led to links of articles about Shonda Rhimes saying yes and the latest polls in Nevada, to a couple of fashion blogs and then offline to send a few unrelated texts, save some photos which sparked ideas for future stories, blogs, scenes, characters and ghostwriting projects. All of this in one adventure down my rabbit hole. So, not all bad. The problem is I can get so enamored with each of those it can keep me from the designated task at hand.

So, what is it, exactly, the rabbit hole? It was made famous through the brilliant mind of Lewis Caroll

"The little girl just could not sleep because her thoughts were way too deep, her mind had gone out for a stroll and fallen down the rabbit hole." ~ Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

For Alice, she "fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time...to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next."

Ah, there's the hypnotic pull of the rabbit hole.

Once she landed with a "thump, thump, thump" the adventure had just begun. She turned corners and went down a "long, low hall" where she tried several locked doors. Then, she found a key which fit into a door behind a curtain. That led to a tiny passage way which led to garden, but she couldn't get to it because she was too tall. Then, ta dah, a bottle appeared that said "Drink Me," which Alice did and shrunk to ten inches tall, so she could enter the garden. By now, she "had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible."

The rabbit hole often gets a bad rap, as a dark place with no end and no escape. One friend said that’s where she goes when she thinks about sad, depressing things. One said that’s where his downward spiral is and when he’s there he just keeps spinning. Another said, her rabbit hole is paved with sugar, with a chocolate cake at the end of it.

What’s in your rabbit hole? Where does your mind go on its stroll?

This got me thinking about what we can control in our environment and what controls us. Because, here’s the thing. It’s your rabbit hole. You can design, decorate and infuse it with whatever you want, with whatever is going to serve you in that moment. Actually it’s a good thing to have a dark place to go to when you need to explore your feelings, a place that feels safe and private. But, when it starts to feel rabbit holey, the good news is, since it’s your rabbit hole, you can turn on the light anytime you want. Who knows what you might discover in there with a little light on the subject?

So, I decided to turn on the light and take a good look around my rabbit hole. On the way down, not surprising, it’s covered with shiny objects, interesting pictures, all kinds of knobby things on which I can get caught, plus enticing doors that lead to who-knows-where in corridors I must peruse. The truth is, it is filled with wonder. Because, I choose it to be. I always seem to come out with nuggets and gems I didn’t have before my journey there.

One of the characteristics of rabbit holing is a lack of focus or sense of direction, time and space. So, this is where you start owning your own rabbit hole.

First, recognize that you are, in fact, in the rabbit hole. Secondly, don't judge yourself for being there. Self-judgment is the number one deterrent to self-acceptance. TweetThis [source: @cindyyantis]

Turn on the light. Look around and decide what it looks like. What color is it? Is there furniture? Fancy light fixtures? Art on the wall? Give it a bit of structure.

Is it worth sticking around for a bit to discover why you’re there? When you think about it, a rabbit has very specific reasons for digging his hole, rather than it just being a day in the park. He’s looking for safety or food or sleep time or a sense of home. What are you looking for?

Give yourself a time limit. Okay, 10 more minutes in this corridor and then it’s back to the task at hand.

Give yourself freedom within the parameters of your redecorated rabbit hole. That way you decide if you stay there or move onto to a different wonderland. Part of the freedom of designing your own rabbit hole is that it’s not about any destination or conclusion, but rather the fresh experience while you’re there and what you might take with you when you leave.

Honor your rabbit hole. Yours is like no other. And, your next one will be unlike the one before that. Enter it with a sense of wonder.

In fact, when you learn to love the rabbit hole, it really is no wonder when Lewis Caroll called it “Wonderland.” 

Tweet: "You can't always control your environment, but you can control your reaction to it." [source: @cindyyantis]

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 


Focus Pocus - Put Focus on Top of Your To-Do List

By Cindy Yantis

Fifteen phone messages need to be returned, 55 emails need to answered, the laser printer needs ink, a proposal needs to be written for a sales pitch, an annual report needs to be delivered in a half hour, your son called and forgot his baseball uniform, six employee evaluations sit on your desk - due yesterday, you have to reschedule a lunch meeting for twenty, oh and Hugh Jackman is on the Today Show...and it's only 9:15 a.m.

What do you do first? Does your list of tasks, obligations and deadlines leave you sitting paralyzed at your desk?

I recently re-read two books which continually have a profound impact on my life and career. It's hard to fathom that "Think & Grow Rich", by Napoleon Hill, was first written in 1937 because the principles still hold so true today. In fact, if you ask many of the top leaders currently, they'll tell you they built their formulas for success based on Napoleon Hill's brilliant insights and foresight. His book has become the Kleenex, if you will, or the generic brand, of platforms that teach us to focus on what we truly want in life as well as a clear blueprint to turn big thoughts into big reality.

The second book is "The Power of Focus", by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt, in which they layout a guideline for attaining clear focus on goals and creating new habits that lead to success. They say, "success isn't magic or hocus-pocus, it's simply learning how to focus."

A key attribute for being a strong Leader is to be a Multi-Tasker. An effective multi-tasker can have several projects going on at once, but to be truly effective, one must use what I call "Focal Point Clarity," which means peeling back the clutter around the current task so that it becomes your singular focus of the moment.

A great illustration of Focal Point Clarity was in the film, THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. Matt Damon played a golfer who had the ability to focus so clearly on the ball going into the cup that literally everything disappeared from his mind's eye except the ball, his club, the flag and the hole. There were no trees, no screaming crowd, no judge and jury, no wind, no mind clutter. Just his focal point - putting the ball in the cup. It's worth watching the YouTube clip if you can find 6 minutes.

Napoleon Hill said, "Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind's eye, and you will be drawn toward it." The same principle can be used for a task on your growing list of to-do's. Here are some tips to help you focus and get to Focal Point Clarity.

  • Stop to prioritize - list by due date and how long you think it will take to finish. You may Focus To Do Listhave to do this 2-3 times a day.
  • Schedule the time by project into your Outlook or calendar program.
  • Clear everything else off your desk except for your task at hand - this is immensely helpful for peeling back the clutter, allowing your Focal Point Clarity to take shape.
  • Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses - when you peel back the layers of the job in front of you, zero in on what makes you brilliant at doing what you do. Let that lead you. It brings some joy into the moment and before you know it, it's complete.
  • Keep a running list - when something pops into your head put it on a pop-up list; to be prioritized later.
  • Handle email/mail only once - shuffling it around makes your lose your focus. Add it to your calendar if you need to and let people know you'll be responding to email twice a day. That will help you stick to the schedule without being concerned about "ignoring" someone's email.
  • Set boundaries - set your own rules for interruption - hold your calls for a time, close your door, let people know when you're available.
  • Walk away - what does this have to do with focus? Taking a break allows your conscious mind to breathe while your subconscious mind continues to work. As Napoleon Hill said, "The subconscious mind works day and night."

And, some other good tips to help you focus in general:

  • 3 squares & 8 hours - get a good 7-8 hours of sleep followed by 3 meals filled with healthy brain food - proteins, anti-oxidants, grains, vegetables - during the day, particularly breakfast which revs your focus engine.
  • Exercise - a steady flow of oxygen in the brain helps us focus, so get moving on a regular basis.
  • Take vitamins - B Complex, A, C and E vitamins help keep the brain sharp.

The reason I picked up my well-worn copies of these books is because I can sometimes fall victim to the fast moving train of ideas, obligations and deadlines that flow by all day long! In fact, I like the train analogy because it describes how my brain starts my day.

I'm standing on the train platform, sipping my first cup of java, gazing at the myriad of trains leaving the station for that day, with my mind's voice yelling out the various ports of call, "All aboard! Platform 1 leaving for Writer's Paradise; platform 2 leaving for Client Project Cove; platform 3 leaving for Fabulous Brand New Idea Island; platform 4 leaving for Hugh Ja... you get the idea.

Then, I look down at the note next to my computer which says FOCAL POINT CLARITY, and I look at my PRIORITIZED to-do list that I made before I left work the night before. I board the selected train and begin my day's journey.

As a primarily right-brainer, I've learned that I must put Focus on the top on my daily to-do list, every day, day after day. After day.

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com