To live the life you want, learn how to focus on yourself. Pretty simple, right?
Most of the success in life comes from doing things that are simple to understand but difficult to execute. That’s why most self-improvement articles sound exactly the same.
We all know exactly what to do with our lives but we need constant reminders as a way to try and will ourselves into doing it. Well, trying and at least thinking about changing your life is better than doing nothing, but nothing will change until you step up to the plate, learn how to focus on yourself, and execute the proper strategies to get what you want.
In this post, I’m going to cover some of the biggest distractions that keep you from focusing on yourself then give you a three-step method you can use to focus on yourself and get what you want at the same time.
It’ll be full of self-help cliches, but I have a unique way of spinning self-help cliches into something that’s useful or, at a minimum, interesting to think about.
Most people throw away all of their dreams because of what other people think. Sad, but true. It’s not enough to just tell people to stop caring about what other people think and just focus on yourself. Like we all haven’t thought of that already.
There’s something there, something deep, that gets in the way. When it comes to dealing with other people and your opinions, understand that you’re never going to totally stop caring about what others think.
Stop trying to not care and stop beating yourself up because you care. You can care what other people think, want to avoid rejection, and still do the things you’re supposed to do. I want people to like my writing and I want my products to succeed, but I know there’s a chance people will hate it and that my products will flop. I’ve accepted it upfront.
Try putting yourself through the worst-case scenario when it comes to rejection, embarrassment, and humiliation — an absurd scenario that will never happen — and understand that you’d be able to handle it. Life would go on. Fear of what other people think is a giant mental monster that disappears if you face it enough. You know that, but you don’t want to go through the massive initial pain of figuring it out for yourself. There’s no other way.
I use a similar technique when it comes to dealing with the fear of anything. I focus on what it’s costing me to be afraid. Even if it doesn’t change the right way, I never take the pressure. I think about what I’m missing out on constantly until I do something about the situation.
What is caring about the opinions others costing you in your life?
Another key aspect of learning how to focus on yourself is being very careful of the amount of time you spend focused on or talking about other people.
If you’re not careful, you can start to overidentify with the lives and achievements of other people to the point you get your personal satisfaction from the achievements of others, like sports fans who obsess over every little statistical detail and feel like they’re on the team when they’re just watching the team.
You can see this behavior in people who always have conversations about what’s popular in society instead of what’s going on in their lives, like people who always talk about the latest episode of their favorite series and talk about the characters like they’re real people.
You focus on others, especially prominent people like athletes and celebrities because it feels good to identify with that feeling of excellence. If you can’t conjure it up in your own life you’ll look to get it from idols and people you admire.
This can become a trap and a huge time suck because your lizard brain perceives these people as really being part of your life, even though you logically know they’re not.
Spend too much time fantasizing about the lives and accomplishments of others and you’ll never escape that fantasy,
Keeping on the theme of how to focus on yourself by focusing less on things outside of you, there’s one thing people do that almost always signals to me that they have a bunch of things they want to change but refuse to work on.
If you want to focus on yourself and get the outcomes you want, stop putting your focus and time into trying to solve complex Marco societal issues.
Yes, climate change is real. The planet will probably blow up at some point. But what are you going to personally do about it? How can you fix it? Vote for people who will make the initiatives you want, recycle, drive a Tesla. Not much else you can do.
Apparently, Russia is going to war with Ukraine, or us, or something, I have no clue and I don’t care. I used to follow foreign policy fanatically, trying to understand all the intricacies of the Middle Eastern conflicts. It was a total waste of time.
Not saying you can’t be informed, but some of you have an encyclopedic knowledge of geopolitics and the economy, yet you still haven’t figured out how to fix your own life, follow your dreams, make your situation better. People focus on complex topics because they’re unsolvable.
You can fixate on them and feel like you’re doing something important, even though you’re not. Focusing on these areas can keep you busy enough to avoid dealing with your own problems. Dealing with your own problems is hard. There is an obvious glaring answer staring you right in the face but it’s hard to pull off, so you ignore it. You ignore it at your own peril.
You’re not an expert, so let the experts handle all the big problems while you focus on yourself.
Now that we’ve gotten some of the things to avoid focusing on out of the way, it’s time to talk about the key components of learning how to focus on yourself. Before we dive into those, I want to talk about the attitude you should have going into this process.
Even if it’s not true, adopt that mentality that everything is your fault. It’ll teach you to stop finger-pointing. Even if it makes sense to point the finger at someone else, it’s usually a waste of time.
If someone wronged you somehow, is pointing the finger going to turn them into a good person? If something didn’t go your way because of someone in a position of power, are you going to make them less powerful? Even if the answer were yes, would it be worth the time and energy you’d have to spend?
I tend to speak about self-improvement in terms of efficiency instead of morality. Finger-pointing is an inefficient method of getting what you want that rarely works. So why bother? Learning how to focus on yourself gives you a much better shot at influencing behavior anyway.
If you want to be happier, figure out what you really want and get it. Success isn’t everything, of course, but you’re not going to be less happy when you get what you want, even if it’s not all you thought it would. There’s a spiritual journey that comes from scratching your itch and there’s no other way to replicate that feeling.
You’re not going to know exactly what you want, but you have a pretty damn good idea. Remove the opinions of others along with the possibility of rejection and embarrassment. All of a sudden you have these great ideas for things you want to do. Funny how that works, huh? Try answering questions about what you want in a totally unashamed, politically incorrect, and unapologetic way.
This is the hardest part. Most people will do almost anything other than be honest with themselves because being honest with yourself is painful. It’s painful to come to the ultimate conclusion that you’re managing the one life you have incorrectly.
The fact that you only get one spin on this rock should motivate you to live life to the fullest every single day, but it doesn’t. You’re trapped in your own behavioral loops, make the same mistakes over and over again, and are falling well short of the life you know you’re supposed to be living.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but you have to do it. Don’t just beat yourself up and wallow, but understand that the first step to fixing your problem is admitting you have one in the first place.
Admit and accept where you’re at without the cloud of rationalizations. If you don’t like what you see, if it disgusts you, sit in those feelings for a little while instead of trying to fight them.
Understand the truth of your situation. Some of the mistakes you made were really bad and set you back quite a ways. Things won’t just get better on their own eventually, they’ll probably get worse if you keep drifting. There is no redemption at the end of the road for you unless you make it so.
Be honest with yourself about all the mismatches between what you want and the way you behave. Remove all blame from anyone else and point it right back at you.
Is it the government or your employer’s fault that you’re broke? Or is it yours?
You’ve had the same pattern occur in your relationships with eight different partners. Is it a coincidence you’ve gone 8/8 or do you have toxic traits you’re unaware of?
You have bad luck or think the world is out to get you. Maybe you’re doing something that causes negative reactions from others like, you know, being a sad sack of shit?
If you’re brutally honest with yourself, the mismatches between who you are and what you want are glaring.
There’s a subtle difference between focusing on yourself to get the outcomes you want and trying to get what you want through tactics.
When you focus on working on yourself you’re making an honest attempt at getting what you want by being better. When you focus on tactics alone, you’re trying to use shortcuts or manipulation tactics to get what you want.
Dating is a perfect microcosm for this. A lot of guys who struggle with women focus on tactics to convince women to date them. They learn pick-up lines, techniques, and study strategies to get laid (I’ve read The Game before, guilty as charged).
Most guys try gimmicky tactics and fail miserably. A few actually learn to get better with women, not because of the tactics themselves, but that the tactic stopped being a crutch because they simply became more confident with practice. If you want to attract women, become a better, more confident, and attractive man. No gimmicks necessary.
The same goes for other goals. If you want to make money, the specific tactics or business models themselves don’t matter. You make money by working on skills that help you make money.
You study money and you behave in a way that attracts money. There are basic things you need to know like how to put together an offer, how to sell, how to build, how to market, how to research ideas, etc. Get really good at those things and money is an inevitability.
When it comes to attracting a better life in general, there are a bunch of things you know you can do to become more attractive to the world. Get in shape, read books, practice having an optimistic mindset, be helpful and generous, dress sharp, clean your room, all of the cliches about working on yourself are actually the bedrock of working on yourself. They work really well.
‘Success is something you attract by the person you become ‘ – Jim Rohn
If you’re too preoccupied with getting what you want, you’ll never get it. It’s counterintuitive, but you have to go after what you want indirectly. The outcomes you get have to be the byproduct of the type of person you are.
If you think about the outcomes in your life as based on the type of person you are, everything starts to make more sense.
Focus on yourself by adopting skills that make you a better version of yourself and good things will come to you. At the beginning of my writing career, I pitched all of these websites hoping they’d give me a shot. Most rejected me. In the future, when my writing was so good it couldn’t be ignored, those same publications reached out to me.
Learning how to focus on yourself is all about becoming the type of person capable of achieving an outcome without needing the outcome to happen in a certain way or at a certain time.
When it comes to getting what you want, neediness almost always keeps you from getting it. Someone who knows they’re capable doesn’t need something to happen, they know it’ll happen eventually.