Focus OutwardJuly 14, 2020
We’ve all been touched by the pain and loss of these last four months. The pandemic and the ongoing struggle for racial justice have changed our lives forever, and it’s hard to know how to move forward. But as devastating as it’s been, I believe in the power of hope: hope that we can learn from this, that we can pull together, and that our collective effort will create long-standing positive change.
Back in February when I began writing this two-part newsletter series about focus, I couldn’t have imagined how much a balanced inward and outward view of our families, homes, schools, work, and local and global communities would help us through this crisis.
In part one I shared the value of focusing inward; today, let’s explore focusing outward for a healthy spirit and personal and professional success.
“It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.” ~ Carl Jung
“It is a startling truth that how you see and what you see determines who and how you will be.” ~ John O’Donohue
Maintaining an outward focus is valuable when life is normal, but in times of global and national crisis, it’s critical. Focusing outward leads to insight, progress, and innovation.
Make A Move
Focusing outward has many benefits, and perhaps the greatest is its emphasis on action. While our internal world can feel small and stagnant, there’s something about moving into action (whether that’s taking a walk, asking for a promotion, or baking cookies) that brings its own reward. It’s empowering to take ownership of your situation and life and start moving forward.
In these turbulent times, instead of taking action and moving forward, you may want to do just the opposite: to slow down, shut out the world, and focus on yourself and your own problems. Over these last few months, I’ve paused many times to examine my own biases, fears, and values. I urge you to take some time to focus inward and do the same. But once you’ve done that, make a committed effort to shift your focus from inward to outward.
Get Beyond Yourself to Connect with Others
Making an effort to get beyond your own feelings and views and engage with others with different experiences and perspectives will help open your heart and mind. Shifting from a “me” or internal focus to a “we” or external focus provides a sense of belonging and connectedness. A collective outward focus also improves emotional resilience and physical health and increases self-confidence and happiness.
It seems counterintuitive that tuning in to others can improve your own personal health and well-being. But humans are social beings. When you focus on and connect with others you feel greater fulfillment and a sense of purpose. Despite feeling bruised and battered by this fierce storm, if we pull together and focus outward, we will see beyond the current obstacles to what is possible — and turn this crisis into opportunity.
Tips to Turn Your Focus Outward
- Tune in to nature. Nature is a powerful source to ease your mind and renew your spirit. Focus on the clouds as they move across the sky, listen to the birds chirping, smell the damp ground, and feel the wind on your skin.
- Reach out to others. There’s a saying that “what we share multiplies.” In times of trouble, reach out to your friends and family for support — and in happy times, reach out to magnify moments of joy.
- Ask questions. It’s easy to “get stuck in your own head” when dealing with other people. Instead of second-guessing their reactions or hyper-analyzing their responses, focus outward for greater understanding by asking questions: “What are your thoughts?” “What options do you see?” “What’s possible given this situation?”
- Stay active. Moving your body — around the block, on a yoga mat, or up a mountain — helps pull your attention away from your own problems and internal workings. As a bonus, it allows your brain a rest so you can return to your problems with greater perspective and clarity.
- Change your focus. Brain research suggests that what you attune to or focus on is what you will experience. Practice intentionally putting your focus on the positive aspect of people, places, and things and notice the joy it brings.
As your coach I am dedicated to helping you reach your fullest potential and live the life you love. I offer you a proven process and life-changing experience to be intentional about your personal and professional growth — including focusing outward to center yourself and find connection and purpose.