Focus is Good But Awareness is Better
While doing one thing at a time, and being extremely focused will help you achieve goals, don’t rule out the importance of being aware of your surroundings.
Opportunities are whizzing by all the time, but only available if we are open to receiving them. That means paying attention. Opportunities may be in the form of a beautiful view, meeting someone new, or the simple goodness of a vegan, Mexican restaurant.
I thought about this quite a bit walking the streets of San Francisco last weekend. There is so much to see every day, where ever we are, but we often miss it, because we are thinking about where we are going, instead of where we are. I found great joy in walking around without a destination.
In our day to day routines, we are so consumed with going through the motions, that we often forget to look around. The world continues to move above us, below us and all around us, even if we don’t notice.
It’s understandable. After all, with all that you try to cram into a day, it’s only natural that you would go into survival mode. If you ever think, “all I have to do is get through this day”, it might be time for a change. Between making meals, carpooling, working, exercising, errand running, volunteer commitments, taking care of children, pets and a house, medical appointments, and whatever else fills your day, when do you get to enjoy? When do you get to look up?
You created the life you have and are free to re-create it anytime you want. If you are feeling stuck, rejoice! That frustrating stuck feeling means you are aware that something isn’t right. You are aware that you want something different. With awareness comes responsibility to act. Acting may be in the form of appreciation, participation, or big change.
So, how do you juggle focus and awareness? Living with less will make you naturally more focused AND more aware. There will be times, where you need to be single-focused and embrace that ability to really zero in on the meaningful work that you are doing. There are other times when your focus is misdirected and you will need to open up to more awareness.
Be aware for…
Family - You are driving your child somewhere and instead of listening, you are focused on your next obligation, household chores, or your phone call. You’ve completely missed an opportunity to connect. When I became aware that I was doing this, I took action. Stay present especially while driving, especially with children. Your attention matters.
Business – You are taking a business trip and forget to see the city you are visiting because you are so focused on your scheduled meeting. When you are planning your trip, research the city you are visiting. Google “how to see -insert city- like a local” and build a few things into your trip. Avoid tourist traps and really see what the city has to offer. If at all possible, add an extra day to your trip and walk around with no particular place to go.
Competition – You are competing. Perhaps you are running a marathon, cycling in a criterium series or playing in a tennis match. You are so focused on winning or losing that you miss all of the stuff that happened in between. Holding on to the win or lose, so tightly, increases your heart rate and adds stress to your performance. If competitive sports are important to you, train well, love your sport and let your hard work pay off.
Awareness will bring you appreciation, participation, or big change. Add these things to your life, along with beauty and great joy by simply…
and don’t forget to look up…
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