The deeper I go into the area of personal development – and perhaps as I become older – I realize more and more how limited time and focus are. And a form of ruthlessness becomes stronger and stronger. A ruthlessness to cut out the pointless stuff so that I can spend my precious time and focus on what’s important, cool and fun.
Your focus and energy each day is limited. If you use it on the wrong stuff you will never have enough to tackle to important and positive stuff you want to do. You may not see it now but doing some of the things below a lot can really suck the energy right out of you and place your focus in places that won’t help you.
I’m not saying that anyone has to be perfect and not ever do any of these things again. But that you can aim to reduce these things as much as you can and fill up your time and focus with more interesting and positive stuff instead.
Make a habit of being a bit ruthless with your focus and time. Don’t waste them on things just because you think it is “normal” and what other people do. Or because you are used to it.
Now, here are a five of my suggestions for how you can waste your life. And how you can use your time, focus and energy in a better way.
Do you create drama in your life to liven it up? Do you have a lot of conflict in your life? Is a lot of people mean to you or out to get you in some way?
You may be in a rough spot right now. But you may also create quite a bit of the drama and conflict you experience by how you think and behave. A lot of these things are often avoidable.
Yes, the drama can be emotionally addictive and in a way feel comfortable and safe because it is what you know. But life becomes so much smoother and easier if you let that stuff go as best you can. Do it for your own sake, for the people around you and for your relationship with them.
What to do instead: Don’t taking everything so seriously. Realize that you say stop to yourself and choose your emotional responses and that you can for example walk away instead of turning situations into big conflicts or fights. Stop making mountains out of molehills to get attention and sympathy from other people. Examine your own life and see if you are perhaps understimulated. Does nothing much fun happen in the daily life? If not, don’t fill your life with drama. Start filling it with goals and things that you are really excited to work towards.
If you don’t have enough energy then you won’t have the energy to do what you may really want to do. Or to keep your focus sharply on the right things.
Instead you may take the easy way out because you feel tired all the time.
What to do instead: Eating and sleeping right and working out several times a week are three great fundamentals that will improve your energy levels. Keeping your focus in the right places – on the positive, on what you want instead of what you don’t want, on what you actions you can take rather than what you lack control over – can also help greatly with keeping the energy up.
Obvious? Yeah. But so is much of the most useful advice. The trick is to actually use the advice consistently in your own life.
Be judgmental and gossipy.
Being judgmental and gossiping about people can make you feel good. Or it’s just fun to share the latest news about someone. But what does it do to you?
Being judgmental makes you less attractive to most people since openness and positivity are two things that people like. Being judgmental also reinforces your own self-image of a person who needs to put others down and judge them to feel good about yourself. It’s a great way to never be able to raise your own self-esteem. It’s a temporary high with a hangover of negativity that can take over large parts of your everyday life.
What to do instead: One tip to help yourself slip out of such behavior is to focus on the positive in people a bit more and discuss that instead. You can also focus on being kinder and on giving people genuine compliments. This will make both you and the people around you feel good without those negative effects that I mentioned above. And again, focus your time on doing and working towards what excites you and you’ll simply have less interest and time to go around being gossipy and less need to make yourself feel better through judgments.
Think that people care very much about what you do.
This can be a huge time waster. It can keep people trapped for years in their own minds, unable to take action and do what they really want.
What to do instead: Realize that people have their own lives. The world doesn’t revolve around you and the real challenges and imagined drama in your life. People have their own lives and challenges and drama to worry about. So don’t spend too much time thinking and worrying about what people may say or think if you try something. Just try it instead. You may be surprised by the positive or just indifferent response you get from the people around you.
Have endless discussions that just go around and around in your head.
People often replay old arguments over and over in their heads and get hooked on these mental reruns. I have certainly done so.
A few other popular ways to have endless discussions in your head are:
- “Should I do it? Or not do it? And what may happen if I do it?”. This is often caused by thinking that people care very much about what you do. Or that thinking that overthinking will somehow reveal a solution where there is very little or no risk of pain and failure.
- Beating yourself up. Instead of moving on.
What to do instead: Realize that the past is the past and that you cannot change it by replaying it in your mind over and over. When an old argument pops up in your mind accept that it is in the past and let go of it.
Be kind to yourself, be smart about things and learn what you can instead of beating yourself up. No one will reward you for beating yourself up and you aren’t helping yourself. Realize that overthinking does seldom helps you find superb solutions, but instead traps you in analysis paralysis and just pumps up your fear and negative expectations so that taking action becomes even harder. Use your mind to find a solution but when that is done take action instead doing some more thinking.
Another of own favourite tips for snapping out of such endless discussions in my mind is to step into the now again by for example focusing my senses – what I see, hear, feel, smell and so on – just on what is in front of me and around me. And then to focus on doing something, whatever it may be and just do that. This places me in the now and now my mind is focused on something outside of myself that I am doing.
To avoid several the pitfalls described in this article I’d say that it certainly helps to live consciously by living in the present moment as much as you can. This stops a lot of the thought loops and negativity from showing up at all.
And if they do show up you are now conscious of your thoughts and can say to yourself “no, no, no, stop, we are not going down this pointless path again…”. This helps you to avoid getting stuck in old conditioned and unconscious patterns of thought and behavior that doesn’t help you.
I hope that this email will help and inspire you to make better use of your time, focus and life,