Where your attention goes – you follow. – Unknown

I grew up with a very clumsy kid named Jimmy.  From the time Jimmy left the crib and began toddling around the neighborhood, front porch sitters commented on his clumsiness:  “Jimmy can’t go two steps without tripping over his own two feet.”  “No wonder his shirt is so stained, Jimmy can’t find his mouth with a spoon.”  “He treats that tricycle (later bicycle or motorcycle) like a pancake and keeps turning it over.”

Even Jimmy’s daddy worried about career options for Jimmy: “I hope my boy can find some kind of office job.  If he works at the paper mill, he will break the machines or kill himself.”

By the time Jimmy entered college some of his clumsiness had disappeared and he managed to play football with no major disasters. Nonetheless, folks were surprised when he completed college, plus medical school and pursued a successful career as a surgeon.  Jimmy’s transformation puzzled most folks. However, Jimmy knew exactly how it happened.  A teen ager, Jimmy learned the valuable lesson that action follows thought.

Yes, he understood that where his attention focused, his action inevitably followed.  Prior to learning that, Jimmy had focused his attention what could go wrong in his life and how he might fail.  Hence, his life went wrong and failure followed. Once he changed the focus of his attention, his life changed.

When attention is focused on avoiding failure we are propelled in the wrong direction and failure results.  When we focus our attention on attaining success, things change. Each of us is free to decide where to focus our attention, we can:

  • Pay attention to success or worry about failure.
  • Focus on the positive outcomes or fret over each negative detail.
  • Focus on abundance or see scarcity.
  • Direct our attention to feeling calm or focus on what’s stressful.
  • Keep our attention on the road ahead or worry about running into the ditch.

The secret is to:

  • Select and commit to appropriate goals. The best way to do this is in writing or (at the very least) speaking out loud. Just thinking about it doesn’t work. It’s too easy for the thought to get lost in all the clutter that floats around in our heads. On the other hand, speaking the words out loud or committing them to paper, sends a powerful message that you are serious. What starts as a conscious commitment soon becomes an entrenched positive habit.
  • Practice awareness. Avoid allowing your attention to drift to worries and fear of failure. Whenever you find this happening, remind yourself of where you’ve chosen to focus and re-commit to that choice.  Your inner critic may attempt to distract you.  However, each time you consistently recommit your focus, doing so becomes easier.

Jimmy is living proof that the way to overcome undesirable or annoying trait, is focus – focus on a goal, remember where you want to go and plan how to get there.

Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV.  Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from amazon.comShare your thoughts and opinions with her at betvern@cascadeaccess.com