What you focus on not only creates your performance and results – it creates your experience too. Do you ever notice underlying feelings of stress and frustration that override the fun in your day? Jane was achieving and doing the right things while feeling continually under pressure. When I asked her whether she was experiencing work the way she wanted, it was a clear “No”.
You don’t see things as they are – you see them as you are
How we experience others, our environment, and ourselves is a function of the information we choose to filter in. We all have a unique way of interpreting what happens around us based on who we are: our values, attitudes, beliefs, our experiences, and our reference points. That’s why six people in a meeting can share different views on the dynamics and conversations had in the room. No two people create the same reality.
What you filter in creates your reality and experience
We are meaning creating machines – this allows us to function normally. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow, estimated we have 2 million pieces of information per second coming through our five senses. If you had to be aware of all of that information, your nervous system couldn’t cope. Instead, your nervous system chunks the information down in bite size manageable chunks – so you filter in the chunks that are relevant (based on your focus), and you leave out the rest by distorting, generalising and deleting your experience of it. You simply cannot recall accurately, everything you experience in your day – which is why your choice of focus is so important.
Are you choosing to see work life as hard where people don’t get it right and get in the way? Or are you choosing to hear everything as a gift – as an opportunity to grow and learn – about you and others?
Our ‘meanings’ often get in the way
The interpretations or meanings we create as the ‘truth’ can result in us overthinking and over-analysing things. For example, you don’t get an internal promotion and you make it mean you’re not valued or rated as highly as you should be. Your ego kicks in wanting to judge and be right keeping your inner critic ‘on alert’. Feeling frustrated and down, you look for evidence to support your view which shapes your experience of not being valued. The meaning you created was based on your self-doubt. However, you might have agreed with the decision not to appoint you, had you known the decision criteria and/or trade-offs made.
What you focus on is what you get
Changing your experience of something doesn’t rely on other things needing to be different – it’s relies on you changing your focus. For example:
- If you focus on what’s wrong, you’ll experience more of what’s wrong
- If you focus on why things are hard, then experience more things that are hard
- If you focus on being positive, then you’ll choose more perspectives that are positive, and you’ll feel more positive.
It’s not rocket science.
How can you start noticing the things that will give you moments and experiences to enjoy? What can you start to filter in that will help get even more of the results you want? When you focus on these opportunities you’ll have more fun, enjoy others around you more, and step into your potential sooner.