Focus on What You Do Right to Change Your Life
Every single client that I have ever worked with is an expert at knowing what they are doing wrong. But here’s a secret to getting the results you want in life: Focus on what you do right to change your life.
Do any of these phrases sound familiar?
- I messed up.
- I can’t get anything right.
- This is never going to work.
- I can’t do this.
- I need to get my act together.
- I screwed it up.
- This is too hard.
These are some really common thoughts that we all think, way too much of the time!
We focus on what we are doing wrong. We focus on the areas we want to improve but we do it in a way that guarantees that we’ll keep messing up!
This is so counter-intuitive. We try to mean-talk ourselves into doing better and it never works for the long-term.
Here’s the thing. The more we repeat this process, the more it becomes ingrained in our minds. Our brain loves to be efficient and if we don’t change too much, it’s because our primitive brain is running the show.
We want to do something. Let’s say, we want to eat our healthy lunch every day. So, on Monday, we have our lunch planned and ready…and then we don’t feel like eating that.
We eat something else. Maybe we decide we’re just going to have pizza or something else. We’ll do our healthy lunch tomorrow.
We eat the pizza. Feel kind of yucky. And then tell ourselves we messed up.
No matter what else we do that day, we’ll focus on that one thing.
But maybe on Wednesday, we actually stick to our plan! Yay!
However, instead of stopping and celebrating, we’ll tell ourselves things along the lines of, well, it’s only one lunch. What does that even matter?
It matters. It matters because something different took place in your brain that day.
And if you can stop and take a look at what happened, you can make it happen again.
The Power of Looking at What You Do Right
As I said, everyone is an expert at what they do wrong. But very few people have the skill of examining and understanding what they do right.
And by right, I mean, that thing you want to do or planned to do.
The process that creates doing the thing you want is totally different than the process that creates doing what you don’t want to do.
It’s funny, we often feel like we are actually acting against our own free will. It feels like there is something making us do this other thing.
Let me introduce you to your amygdala, that part of your brain that makes you want to slap yourself sometimes. Your brain has a reward circuit that is out of whack because of modern day food and other pleasures.
Our primitive brain, looks at fast food, junk food, alcohol, shopping, and even social media as pleasurable and even important.
When we indulge in these activities we temporarily feel good. Every time we reward ourselves with one of these types of things, we strengthen the circuits in our brain that says we need this stuff.
It really does feel like this part of our brain is way stronger than our prefrontal cortex, our planning center.
Yet, those urges and desires, as strong as they are, are not all-powerful.
You can interrupt these circuits and create new ones.
In theory, it’s really easy. When you feel that desire, just don’t do that thing. Eventually the cravings and desires will lesson and may even disappear.
Yet, we all know, it’s a little trickier than that.
Focusing on What You Do Right Creates Balance
One of the reasons that I’ve written so much about losing weight, is because the way I did it and the way I recommend is by making real food the bulk of what you eat.
This was such a huge deal for me, eating right and creating a body that I was proud to walk around in. I focused on what I did right and I wrote a lot about it!
I still write about how to lose weight because it’s something that can teach you to become self-confident and improves your life from the inside out.
This is important because when you eat real food—you interrupt this crazy cycle of eating foods that cause more cravings and you also repair your hormone system.
By doing this, you are able to experience true hunger and also feeling appropriate fullness. You start to trust your body and your brain to take care of you.
For maybe the first time in your life, you aren’t at the mercy of terrible cravings.
When food isn’t messing up your brain, you can finally start managing your brain around other things that are important.
So, while you might want to start with food, you really can start with anything that you are overdoing and want to change.
While many activities are not harmful in themselves, when we do then instead of doing meaningful activities they can cause a problem.
Sitting here writing this blog post, may not light up my dopamine receptors like watching Tik Tok, but I guarantee you, that I will feel 100% better about myself later today because I am doing the activity that I planned for this afternoon.
Scrolling on Facebook or eating some junk food might be tempting at the moment. Those are MUCH easier than having to use my brain for a meaningful activity.
Why Focusing on What You Do Right is so Important
So, why am I sitting here, doing exactly what I put on my calendar today?
You might say, willpower. And to some extent, I did have to follow through on my plan.
But I also used my past experience of how I have felt in the past to stick to my plan today.
For one, I made a plan and I put it on my calendar. If you are working on eating, it would be what you planned to eat and what ideally you wrote down.
That sets the tone. It’s there in black and white. I know to stick to my work plan or eating plan, I need to feel something along the lines of committed.
What creates committed?
Our thoughts. So, I practice telling myself things that create that feeling of committed.
One is what I said above, “I will feel so much better if I write this post than if I play on my computer.”
Another thought. “This could help someone else.”
I didn’t aim for feelings like motivated or excited.
With food, it’s similar. I like to start with a plan. Then aim for a feeling that will help me stick to my plan.
I create that feeling with my thoughts.
And I do this all day, every day.
You can do this too!
Your Focus Can Change Your Life
As a human, you are the only being that has this capability. You truly have the ability to use your brain in ways that are in your best interest.
When you start using your planning function and begin following through, you literally change your brain.
I’m telling you this as a person with ADHA, who was horrible at planning and following through! As in I wondered what the heck was wrong with me all my life.
I didn’t change overnight. For me, my first experience with feeling some control over something was with food. I radically changed how I ate about seven years ago and I’ve never looked back.
These days, I don’t have any 100% off-limits food but I eat real food most of the time and it makes all the difference.
Once I understood food and its effect on my body, I began to believe that anything was possible.
I remember thinking I could never live without bread or pasta on a regular basis. Yet, I did and went from someone that was a size 14 for 10 years to someone that has worn a size 8-10 for the past 6 years.
And my size is only the cherry on top. I absolutely LOVE not being at the mercy of food.
Changing my brain around food, removed one of the huge stressors in my life.
We think food helps us deal with stress but it actually causes way more stress.
The next thing I tackled, and continue to work on is managing my time. I have created more in the past three years than I did in the past 50 years. I truly feel like I have shown up and contributed to the world in a positive way.
That feels way more amazing than scrolling on Facebook. (But I do plenty of that too!)
At 58, I still have lots that I look forward to doing. One thing I understand is that I don’t have to be perfect, as if that is even possible.
But I have learned that I can do, be, and have, more than I ever believed possible.
And it all started with building on the things I was doing right and doing more of that.
What You Can Do to Change Your Focus
Start by looking at something you are already doing right in your opinion. It can be anything. I thought I was an awesome grandmother and I began writing about that. I felt really good about how I did that, and it helped me feel better about being good at other things.
What are the things you tell yourself when you do something you planned to do? When you stuck to your plan? When you did something even though you didn’t feel like doing it in the moment?
This is helpful so you can recreate that thought process for other things!
If you want to take this further, I also recommend life coaching. Life coaching continues to help me identify the things holding me back but also where I am already doing well. When I said I had done more in the past three years, than in the past 50, I wasn’t kidding!
And I don’t mean working harder. I mean living a meaningful life that is uniquely mine. If you met me somewhere, you’d meet someone who is smiling and generally upbeat. That’s my vibe.
If you want to meet me and talk about getting some coaching, so you can move forward in some area of your life, then definitely schedule a free 45-minute zoom session. The best way to see if coaching is right, is to give it a try.
The shifts you can make with a coach happen 10 times faster than trying it on your own. We uncover your blindspots so you can move on more quickly.
Remember the brain that loves its tried and true circuits? Even though you might want to change, your brain is also just as invested in keeping you just the way you are. That’s why it is so hard to change without help.
Change can actually be fun when you are doing it me. Instead of feeling impossible, it all becomes possible. That my friend is an amazing thing!
Hi, I'm Sara and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 30-minute coaching session.