“I just don’t have time to be as responsive as I need to be to my clients.”
One of my own clients admitted this to me during a coaching session. She was in a pickle over her schedule, and felt as if she didn’t have time to do all the things she wanted to do to grow her business.
“I saw a position that’s perfect for me, I just need to do a bit of research on the company, tighten up my resume, and write a cover letter,” another client said. I followed up with her two weeks later, and she still hadn’t applied for the job.
As for me, I’ve committed to writing vulnerable and personally challenging articles. Yet, I can’t seem to find the focus to continue to dig deep enough to support my commitment to my writing in this way.
All of these examples have a common theme. Lack of attention and focus. We are always running around in a haze of distraction. We have phones, clients, bills, family, and our own insecurities that keep us running instead of focusing and doing.
Most of you are working moms, so I know you are extremely busy. The question, is what are you accomplishing? Are you doing the things that matter to you? The things that help you build the life you want to live?
Your attention is the most precious tool you have to build the life you want. I worked with a coach and she used to say, “What you focus on grows.”
What do you want to grow in your life? Whatever it is, you need to give it your full attention and act upon that thing. No exceptions, no excuses.
Here are three secrets to harnessing your attention. I encourage you to commit to doing at least one of them this week:
The first secret to focusing attention is to have time. Our culture is designed to take our time. Purposefully build in time in your week to focus on the work that is most important and fulfilling to your goals. In other words, prioritize your attention.
My client Lori is a single mother with a day job, yet, she really wants to build her own business. She needs time to focus on thought leadership around her dream work. She has to decide when she is going to focus on building her business.
There is nothing better to give to yourself and your family than a you that is fulfilled and passionate about her work.
Stop the Distractions
The biggest demand for our attention is other people’s priorities. Those emails stacking up in your inbox? Working with a client or colleague you don’t like? Organizing your family’s schedule? All of these are other people’s priorities.
I know you have competing demands on your time. However, the demands don’t own your time, you do. You have to decide how to spend it. Give your precious agenda to your own priorities first. Schedule time to focus on your to-do list, not the wishes of other people.
Check your email at designated times and opt out of useless email. Schedule meetings with clients and people in your office. Don’t let them just drop in and take your time. Say no to things that have nothing to do with what you want.
The only way to protect your precious attention is to stop giving it away to people and things that don’t deserve it.
I worry about publicly expressing my views of the challenges and biases faced by women and people of color in the corporate world. How will people respond to my articles? When I give my attention to those fears and uncertainties, my writing losses its power. My attention is not on the people I know clearly need to hear the message. It’s on the people about whom I’m uncertain.
The most insidious attention leech is uncertainty. We spend hours of our day and endless amounts of energy wondering about what might happen. We allow our attention to ruminate on stuff that doesn’t matter (most of which is promoted by our fear of failing or being perceived as a failure).
If you constantly ask yourself — “How will I explain it if I fail? What will they think if I say no? Will I get this job? Will this client hire me? Do they think I’m too fat?” — you are shifting your attention, your most valuable asset to your success, to something you can’t control.
Instead, focus your attention on accomplishing your goals. Lead your clients, rewrite your resume, reach out to your contacts, decide to act, and then take action.
Commit to the power of your attention. Your attention and what you decide to do with it will change what you currently think is possible.
So . . .
What is one thing you will do to harness the power of your attention? Leave a comment below and let me know. Hold yourself accountable to your success.