If you aren’t where you want to be in life, you could probably come up with more than a few reasons why. Maybe other people are just luckier than you are. Maybe you haven’t found the right opportunities. Or maybe you’ve just made some bad choices.
What most people never consider is the fact that what they choose to focus on all day, every day has a lot to do with where they are in life. There are four universal areas where we focus our attention. Psychologists call these psychological motivators.
Focusing in this area means we focus on material things, large and small. Our focus is on acquiring new things – homes, cars, electronics, handbags, clothing etc. We compare the things we have to the things that the people around us have and keep score about where we are. This is often referred to as keeping up with the Jones’.
Another area that people focus a lot of attention on is the people around them. Their conversations might include gossip or harsh judgments about what someone else is doing. People love to delve into the details of other people’s lives, even if those details aren’t relevant to their own lives. It’s another way we compare our lives to others to make sure we come out on top. This is also one of the reasons that the tabloids are so popular. People love to read about how the lives of celebrities compare with their own.
3. Thoughts / Feelings
Many people spend their days focused on their own thoughts and feelings. If something makes them angry, they can spend the entire day stewing about it. In fact, their internal reactions, good or bad, tend to dominate their days and determine how they perform at their job, get along with their families or interact with other people.
Those who focus on growth are on a mission to improve themselves. They see endless possibilities on the road ahead and are always looking for new things to learn, new risks to take or new ways to challenge themselves. They see life as an adventure. They often read inspiring books, listen to audio books in their cars or start their days by meditating or setting specific goals or intentions.
So where is your day to day focus?
Would it surprise you to learn that most people spend their days focused on the first three areas of psychological motivation, while successful people tend to focus more on number four?
The fact is, focusing on growth – goals, aspirations for the future and self-improvement – often help people develop the skills they need to lead successful lives. For example, when you’re committed to learning new things, your prospects for employment are better because you have more skills.
Focusing on growth also helps people to cultivate greater self-confidence which is an integral component to many leadership roles or running a business.
Did you recognize yourself in any of the areas above? If you’re not where you want to be in life, it might be time to make some changes.
To get started, try observing yourself over the next week.
- What do you talk about with your family, friends and coworkers?
- What do you tend to think about when you’re by yourself?
- What do the people you know talk about most?
- Do your thoughts and feelings tend to set the tone for your day?
After you’ve had time to take notice of your daily focus, can you think of ways that you can switch that focus to growth, even a little bit each day?
Small changes can make a big difference over time. Just being aware of your focus and working to change it throughout the day can pay big dividends over the course of a month, a year or a decade. Give it a try and see the results for yourself!