This is the fifth in the series on Happiness and how soft skills can ‘up’ your happiness level.
Today we’re go to tackle the barrier that blocks the soft skills that give our life structure.
Now maybe you’re really organised and on top of all things admin, in which case this barrier probably isn’t a major problem for you.
Or perhaps you thrive on chaos, in which case this barrier will make you incredibly happy!
But probably you’re somewhere between the two…
If you’d like to catch up first with the previous episodes you’ll find them here:
The barrier of Right Focus appears relatively harmless, as it’s caused when our imagination is dominating our behaviour, which sounds sort of okay, right.
If our imagination is in totally control we can’t organise anything, we waste loads of time, do a lot less than we’re capable of, and drive people crazy…including ourself!
“Do we not find freedom
Along the guiding lines of discipline?”
So today let’s:
- consider how to dissolve this deceptive barrier
- look at the impact this will have on our happiness
- learn a simple happiness-habit
Right Focus is Cool-ish
Right Focus has a pretty cool image. After all, it’s about using our imagination, about being creative.
It’s the non-linear, the abstract, the intuitive.
It’s about having ideas.
So that’s a good thing isn’t it?
Well, yes it is. And Right Focus is extremely valuable, when it’s in balance with the other Focuses.
But when it starts to dominate, Right Focus turns into a barrier.
“The value of an idea lies in
the using of it.”
Having ideas is easy.
Everyone has them…
Lots of them.
Ideas are cheap.
“Ideas are a dime a dozen.
People who implement them are priceless.”
Mary Kay Ash
Often we believe that we’re special for having an idea.
We get all puffed up thinking our idea is a big deal.
But an idea is just a thought.
It only exists in our imagination, in our mind.
And that’s where the idea will stay, if the barrier of Right Focus is dominating our life.
How much value does an idea have, if it doesn’t get turned into form?
“An idea that is developed and put into action
is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”
Being organised, having efficient systems, building a framework – these things just aren’t very ‘sexy’ are they! They’re not what people generally aspire to or get excited about.
Still, imagine that you’re responsible for a huge building’s foundations…
Nobody can see your work.
You can’t show it off to anyone.
You won’t impress or amuse party guests, who only want to hear about the magnificent building they can see.
But you know what the most important part of that building is.
You know what will happen if your foundation’s shaky…
The big shiny building will come tumbling down.
It might be more interesting to talk about a shiny idea, even if it’s yet to be constructed.
And the functional skills and effort needed to actually build it may not seem as appealing.
But unless you have the right tools to build a strong foundation and structure, the idea will never even become a reality.
And there’s nothing sexy about that.
“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea.
It’s the person who gets out of the shower,
dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.”
Right Focus Chatter
When Right Focus turns into a barrier it convinces us that structure is unnecessary.
It reckons that doing all that admin work is way too dull. “Oh must I”, it will groan, “It’s soooo bore-ring.”
It will drag its heels, and remind us that “you’re really not any good at being organised”, because “you’re too creative.”
It will tell us that we’re “not very efficient” because we’re “a free spirit.”
And that being late is, well, “fashionable.”
And keeping to a schedule is “just so square.”
It will persuade us that it’s “not in our nature”, for whatever reason, to have structure in our life.
But none of that is true.
“I don’t think that scheduling is uncreative.
Structure is required for creativity.”
With all its chattering, Right Focus keeps us looking busy, while we’re…
- faffing around
- showing up late
- being unreliable
- eschewing plans
- getting sucked into unnecessary activities
- ever-changing our goals
Meanwhile, our ideas loll about as fantasies, waiting to be transformed into form.
Right Focus is the reason we get to the end of a day, a week, a year, a life, and wonder, “Where the heck did that go? I didn’t do what I wanted to do, yet I’ve been really busy.”
Right Focus keeps us going around in circles, like a goldfish in its bowl, a hamster on a wheel, or my cat Bill chasing his tail.
This barrier eats our time…the most precious thing we have.
“One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well
That need not to be done at all.”
Breaking The Barrier
Each barrier presents it’s own challenge when it comes to breaking through it. Whereas it’s hard to spot Downward Focus, for example, and therefore a challenge to tackle it head on, Right Focus is usually easy to see.
So if we’re always late, or lose things, or live in a perpetual muddle, or don’t achieve our goals, we’ll be aware of it…even if we don’t recognise it as a barrier.
But we’ll have been living with these Right Focus behaviours, and trying to deal with them, change them, adapt them, justify them, or give in to them.
If Right Focus is in our life it’s likely that:
- We’ve beaten ourselves up about it – and others will have too!
- We believe it’s part of our personality, and something we can’t alter
- We become attached to it because:
- We can get others to do things for us (”you’re so much better at it than me”)
- We use it as an excuse for not taking risks (”I’ve got a brilliant idea for a book, but I just can’t get it together to write it”)
- We identify with it (”ah, it’s the Italian / artist / Pisces in me”)
- We’ve tried to rectify it, buying time management books (that we don’t have time to read), setting goals (that we promptly forget), making plans (pretty on paper…never make it off the page)
- We’ve found ourselves back at Square One…with an added dollop of feeling lousy about ourselves
When we break through this barrier we make more of our time, our ideas, and our energy.
Improving our time management, streamlining our systems, and de-cluttering our life reduces our stress…and increases our happiness.
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity
but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”
Happiness Habit: Getting Structure
Perhaps more than any of the other barriers, Right Focus is shifted by a change in our mindset. So rather than suggesting a specific happiness-habit, I’d like to offer some ‘mindset-shifting’ thoughts, which will spur you on to take action and break through this time-wasting barrier.
Contemplate the following ideas about Right Focus, see how they apply to your life, and use them as the basis for change:
- It’s not an inherent personality defect that causes our Right Focus behaviours – it’s a barrier
- As the barrier is removed the smorgasbord of time-wasting behaviours will change as one
- The barrier of Right Focus is full of excuses – but once we’re aware of them we can choose whether or not to buy into them
- We are ill-prepared to organise ourselves – throughout our formative years others were in control of our schedule. We need to learn these skills for ourself
- We must find what structures work for us as individuals, rather than struggling to make ourselves fit into any structure. We can experiment and see what sticks
- There are great benefits to doing this work, particularly in terms of our most precious resource…time
- Developing our structures is not a boring chore, but an essential part of the creative process
“In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game.”
Next time we’ll be looking at the fifth and final barrier, Left Focus. This is the one to break through for maximum creativity and all the good things that brings :)
Meanwhile, if you’d like some additional reading to help you on your barrier-breaking way, pick up a copy of How To BreakThru the 5 Barriers To Happiness.
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