This Year’s Magic Word… Focus

Hi Y’all! I’m back writing after taking two weeks off, although I did write one blog post about a local restaurant that irked me; hey, when you’re irked, write about it.

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Star Wars, 1/1/16 w/2nd family

For those of you who missed it (which I don’t know how you could have), when I wrote my last post of 2015, I said that I was going to rest, then plan how I was going to proceed in working on my business and career in 2016. You know what? Things don’t quite work out that way just because you say them.

Although I didn’t really write, my mind was on writing most of the time. Thus, I have a lot of topics to write on because I saved them in Evernote. I tried meditation some more but my mind kept resisting; gotta overcome that. I spent 3 days with Mom and… well, let me just say that I know more about NCIS than I ever wanted to know. lol

I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about business, which is a shame. I did spend more time thinking about how to forgive myself for not being perfect and great; isn’t that a shame? I’m not big on the term “forgiveness” when things seem or feel extreme, so I’ve retained some major gripes over the years with people I feel have wronged me or others in some way. It’s one reason why there are a lot of people I dropped in 2008 on social media during the presidential season that was Barack Obama elected and never given them a second chance; bad behavior rarely goes away.

I’m harder on myself than others, and there was a lot of things I don’t forgive myself for. It doesn’t mean I haven’t moved on and that I’ve stopped trying to do things, but it does mean that, when I’m trying to shut down and calm down that sometimes those things pop back into my mind, some of them going back decades.

Here’s a more recent example to show you the type of thing I go through and why I’m working on changes.

Mom & I 1302

When I went to visit Mom I turned my computer off. I hadn’t turned my computer off for longer than 5 minutes in a year, since last Christmas when I went to visit Mom, because it wouldn’t turn back on when I got home. In this case, my belief was the computer had been running great, I’d upgraded to Windows 10, added more memory… what could go wrong?

Got back home, turned the computer on… it didn’t come on. I was really upset with myself for my arrogance and stupidity, but I was going to remain calm. After trying all my tricks (I’m not bad when it comes to technology but I do have limits) and not having it come on, I decided to pop my hard drive into my wife’s computer so I could access some things before heading to the laptop.

Only… not only were there issues because, it seems, Win 10 integrates itself with whatever hardware it’s playing with and thus things wouldn’t work properly, but my wife’s computer wasn’t really powerful enough for me to do much. At that point I started hating myself once again because I’d bought her that computer a few years ago, knowing it wasn’t as expensive as mine but the specs seemed to indicate it would run better than it was. I realized that explained why her computer seemed sluggish to her… because it was.

After a long weekend I called a guy I know because I knew I needed to get my computer fixed. He was out of the office so I left a message. About 20 minutes later one of his representatives called and I outlined the problem. He said he’d call the other guy and see what they wanted to do. I came back to my office, decided to try the start button one more time… and the computer booted up; whew! I have no idea why it finally decided to play with me again but I’m a relatively happy guy once more.

At least I was trying to be. That Sunday night I had stopped at my friend Kelvin’s house because he’d brought some sweet potato pie back with him from visiting his family in Maryland. I was telling him more about my computer issues and how my wife’s computer wasn’t up to standard and how I hated myself for that. He said that I should cut myself a break because I did buy her a brand new computer that, at the time, was probably pretty good based on the standards at that time, and that I didn’t intentionally short change her to hurt her.

Until my computer came back on, I hadn’t really taken in those words. Once it did, and after I spent time making sure everything was back to normal, I thought back on those words and realized that I do beat myself up about a lot of stuff that had good intentions, whether they worked out perfectly or not. It reminded me of a post I’d recently read by a young lady named Anna who had recently turned 22 (gasp! lol) and, in talking about 22 things she’d learned by 22, her very first lesson was “Excellence is different from perfection” and her second “I don’t have to be perfect“. I wish I’d learned those lessons at 22! 🙂

Scrabbled
Paul via Compfight

It was in thinking about my computer, my wife’s computer, reading that post and a few other things that told me that I needed to decide on a direction for the year, something that would not only bring me what I’ve been shooting for but put me in a healthier mindset and lifestyle. I came up with one word that was going to be my word for the year, which oddly enough was a major topic of Kelvin’s just a couple of days later in his newsletter: focus.

That’s a lot of preamble just to get to such a small word isn’t it? If you’ve stuck with me this long, stick around just a little longer because the things I’m going to focus on might mean something to you and your life/businesses as well.

For me, focus means it’s time to pay attention to a few more things, be more conscious of others, and take more chances after thinking logically about them. Here are my points of focus for the year.

First, my health. This year my main goal is to actually sleep at least 5 hours in one night once a month. I got 5 hours of sleep in a night only 4 times in 2015 (per Fitbit) and that’s not going to get it done. It’s hard to concentrate, or focus, with so little sleep.

My secondary health goal is to lose 10 pounds, which should be small potatoes, but it comes with a catch. I actually have to lose 13 pounds, which includes the 3 pounds I gained during the holiday season. For me this actually means watching “how” I eat more than “what I eat”. My first two experiments of 2016 in my quest for this have had mixed reviews, but one will stay and the other I’ll need to figure out how to modify. When I actually fix this I’ll talk about it again… maybe. In any case, I’ve lost 40 pounds in 4 years, but lost 25 of those the first year, and I want to be better than that.

Second, I need to focus more on what social media outlets are working for me and put more time and effort into them.

Blogging is solid. Twitter has worked wonders and proven to me why I like it so much.

LinkedIn… I was going to shoot for 101 articles there to see if LinkedIn would start sharing more of my content, which had been dwindling drastically in numbers. However, after my last post there got only 19 views, I decided it’s time to leave it alone as far as a promotional vehicle. No more articles there, no more participation in groups… marketing and networking only from this point on. That will save me a lot of time.

Google Plus… it’s close to pulling the plug on my community there because no one seems to care. I may delete one of my accounts there also, since I have my personal account and my business account, although I need to make sure that doing so won’t shut down my business YouTube channel. Yes, I’d be keeping the personal one because the business account only has 7 or 8 connections after 3 years; that’s certainly not worth my time.

Facebook… well, after the posts that are already planned for it in January, I’m not posting anything for the rest of January just to see if anyone actually misses it. If not, I will probably finally shut that page down. I may also shut down my diabetes page, but that one’s up in the air. I administer a music page and I’m definitely going to back away from that.

Photography 101
Ninja M. via Compfight

Third, I want to improve my writing in one major way; I want to stop writing passively. It turns out that my favorite 3 words to begin sentences with when writing are “So, Well, and Thus”. I also begin a lot of sentences with maybe one or two words, followed by a comma, and then proceed with my thought. That’s passive writing, and though that kind of speech serves a great purpose when talking to people, it doesn’t make as much sense when writing. If I write a sentence like “supposedly eating spinach is healthy”, it carries a lot less weight than “eating spinach is healthy”. Writing the first way absolves me of responsibility for my words because I’m not being definitive… that’s just not going to work anymore. It’s not going to be easy… hence, “focus”. 🙂

Fourth, I need to get over this business rejection thing. I’ve been in business 14 1/2 years, yet I have long periods of time where I won’t send an email or pick up the phone to make a call because I don’t want to be rejected or ignored. That’s business; you keep plugging away and eventually you find those folk who want to work with you. I know this yet it can be discouraging pounding your head like that. I also know it’s not personal; how could it be since these people don’t even know me?

Since it’s the only way to get ahead and achieve what I want (and what you might want if you’re trying to earn money on your own), I was happy to read this little ditty about going for 100 rejections written by a lady named Susan Hyatt. My initial goal will be to see if I can get those 100 rejections within my first 2 months, then reaching for 100 rejections in a month and… well, I hope I’ll have contracts and such so I never have to go for 100 rejections a week. 🙂

To this end, I expect this will be the year that I work on creating email mailing lists. What I’ll do with them is another thing, but it’s time to really explore it further. I’ll also be putting together lists of potential clients for all the things I do and I’m going to work on getting comfortable with the phones and better at online research, where I’m actually pretty good already but, as it pertains to health care, is a bit harder to do for the information I need.

Fifth, and final for now, I’m going to look at criteria a bit better, figure out what I consider is really important, and spend more time on that, wasting less time on non-productive things unless they’re geared towards my health. Long term this should mean more production, better production, less time visiting sites with little to no value, more learning, more networking, and less to beat myself up over.

Right now this means more consistent videos, write or put together another book, look to doing a webinar or two, at least one local live presentation, a few speaking engagements, and fewer things to irritate me to the point where I’m not focusing on my own thing. It will probably mean writing more often here and in other places, and to highlight this there will be a post on Thursday as well this week where I’m going to talk about something I’ve recently done on Facebook to help my personal stream treat me better. One of my thoughts is that for some of my blogs I want to write articles ahead of time that will take care of the entire year first, and then if I come up with other things I want to say it’s extra content. If you remember, I wrote over 350 articles total in 2015. I’m planning on more in 2016; somebody stop me! lol

Time to stop; time to focus. Time to focus more on me, and time to focus more on you. If I’m feeling good, I’ll be better and that only means better things for y’all. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. A good year to everyone and let’s all be awesome!

MakeItSo
 

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The First Story Of The Year Is About… Dessert!

Welcome to the first post of 2014. I know it’s going to seem strange having the first post come one day after the last post of 2013, and yet I felt I had to create this particular article because, even though it doesn’t have anything to do with blogging or writing or SEO or anything else regarding social media, it does have a little bit to do with the article I wrote about focus some days ago. Truthfully this is a story, a true story that probably took less than 10 minutes of my life, but I thought it was a tale worth telling because you either identify with me, laugh at me, or sit there scratching your head wondering why the heck I wrote it to begin with. With that as the preamble let’s begin.

Rice Krispies Treats

As I was leaving Barnes & Noble, where I had gone to buy the DVD of Despicable Me 2, I decided that I wanted some fudge. I wanted fudge because the last video I watched before I left home was one of my online friends Tomeka Haywood making some homemade fudge. Part of me thought about trying that, and another part of me said it would be better if I could just buy some.

One of the problems I have is that, oddly enough, where I live you can’t just find fudge anywhere. Sure, there are a couple of the large candy companies that have fudge, but in my mind that stuff never quite qualifies as fudge. If it was a Saturday I would go to what we call the Farmers Market around here, but it’s Wednesday, New Year’s Day. I decided to check out my favorite grocery store, Wegmans, to see if maybe they had some fudge.

Truth be told, I knew they wouldn’t have fudge because it’s not something they normally carry. However, somewhere in the recesses of my mind I thought that maybe because it was a holiday they would have some on hand. They didn’t, but it wasn’t going to be a wasted trip because I needed more soda anyway.

As I got close to the soda area, I noticed Rice Krispies were on sale, and I thought about making some rice krispy treats. I really love these things, and they’re very easy to make, but I usually don’t have enough discretion to know how to space them out over the course of a couple of days. As a matter of fact, if I start in the morning you can pretty much be sure they’re going to be gone by the end of the day. I decided to wait for a couple of minutes and go get the soda, walk around to see what else there might be, and if I found nothing else then I might go back and get it.

As I walked around, at some point I found myself near the cookies. I took a quick look and found that they had coconut chocolate chip cookies from Keebler. I don’t eat a lot of these cookies, but it sparked a memory in my mind of how much I used to always love making a big cup of hot chocolate, and then taking my bag of cookies and seeing how many of them I could dunk and eat in one sitting. I love the flavor drastically, and you can imagine the smell of the hot chocolate and coconut cookie together, and my mouth was salivating again.

Now I had a mental dilemma. I think I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I have sugar cravings, and they were very strong at this moment. I knew that I needed some time to think about things, so I went into the frozen section where they have a bench, sat down on the bench and started to think. I had planned on calling one of two people, neither one of which was my wife, but the deep recesses of my mind said that would be pretty stupid.

Why did this take so much thought? Because I knew that either direction I went was going to cause some grief to my body. There is no secret that I’m diabetic, but I’m thinking the load of sugar that either one of these would’ve pumped into my body would probably bother anyone my age, or within 20 years of my age. Yet my mind didn’t really care for a while. And often, when I shop by myself, I just grabbed the first thing that comes to my mind, come home and eat it, and then feel both guilty and occasionally sick. I’m not one of those people who only eats two or three cookies and then puts it away, I eat as many as I want to until my body says please stop.

My wife thinks I’m crazy and that this shouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m pretty much of the opinion that anybody who goes through any kind of addiction and is trying not to do something probably goes through the same process, only probably not as long as I did. Knowing that one of the focus points for this year is to be more cautious with my health, I thought through the ramifications of the decision I was trying to make against what I felt was my immediate need for satisfaction. It sounds funny comparing suites to drugs or alcohol or cigarettes, but in my mind the decision I made was going to be very important.

The funny thing about time, when you have enough so that you can think things through quite often you will end up making a better decision than you were ready to make. I decided that I did not want to spend New Year’s Day feeling sick, so I immediately through out the coconut chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate idea. I then decided that even though I would be starting the treats later than early morning, the process of making them and then eating them while having to clean more things in the kitchen wasn’t quite as appealing as it had initially been. So, instead of either one of those two things, I decided to buy a bag of M&M’s. True, it’s still chocolate, but it doesn’t come close to the hurt I would put on myself with the other two options, and I’m not one to sit and eat an entire bag of that in one sitting.

chocolate cake

After I made my decision, my mind felt light and free. I went to the candy section and picked up the bag of M&Ms I wanted, this time the milk chocolate instead of the peanut butter. As I go to put it in my basket, my eyes got wide as I realized that I had picked up a 6 inch chocolate fudge cake and put it in my basket at some point; I wonder when the heck I did that? 😀 This means I would’ve had a lot of dessert and felt like I had to eat it all before I left town again on Sunday.

Here’s the rub. I’m of the opinion that if one of my goals wasn’t focus for 2014, as well as a goal of trying to be healthier, I would have bought one of those things without a moment’s notice, including the cake, brought it home and ate it without a second thought until I didn’t feel well. That wouldn’t have brought me any type of benefit, although my taste buds would’ve probably loved me.

The decisions we make and the reasons behind the decisions we make can be interesting. In a way, I could make this a topic about blogging because so many people start blogging without thinking all that much about what their intentions are for their blog. Heck, I certainly did it with this blog back in 2007. And our buddy Jeevan is starting his new blog today called Daring Blogger, and he seems focused on what his goals are as he tells us in the first post which I just linked to.

I hope you enjoyed this story, and in a weird way hope you learned something from it, not about me but about yourselves. One of the best things about stories is that often we can see something of ourselves in a story, and stories are sometimes enough to help us decide to make even the smallest of changes.

To close this post I’m going to add a video below that I created talking about how little changes can bring great growth in so many ways; I didn’t know I was going to do this, but I think it’s a good time to unveil it here on the blog. To everyone, let’s have a great 2014, and I hope to have good stuff for you throughout the year.
 


 

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It’s All About Focus – Goal Setting For 2014

A couple of days ago I did a video about my goals for 2014, which is embedded below. In essence, I talked about 7 goals I have for the new year, and there’s one in particular I want to address in this article because I think it’s probably the most important one for me and for all of you; yes, I said that.

I so need to FOCUS a bit more on the simple things in life~EXPLORED
Creative Commons License Nina Matthews via Compfight

I haven’t written all that often about the term “focus” on this blog. I’ve certainly addressed it a few times on my business blog, mainly because that blog talks about leadership and behavior more often, thus it’s a good thing to address over there. So, in a slightly different vein, here are a couple of links to that blog to articles on “focus” that I think connect to this topic very well:

6 Ways Focus Can Help You

Lack Of Focus Will Mess You Up

The reason I think focus is going to be my biggest goal this year is because I’ve noticed as I’ve reached my middle 50’s that I really don’t focus on things as well as I used to. I’m not sure if it’s age or diabetes or diabetes medication or lack of sleep but focus is lacking across the board. I have found that when I write things down that I actually get more things done, and that’s good. However, I don’t write things down enough and that’s bad.

What will focus do for me, and for you? Focus allows us to complete things we start. Actually, focus allows us to evaluate those things to see if we should even do them. I don’t know how many blogs I’ve read where the writer talks about a project they started, got to a certain point and realized that their heart wasn’t in it any longer, or that they realized they might not get out of it what they had hoped for.

In my case, I started the SEO part of my business in 2007 with the working goal of building websites, optimizing them to that they would rank well and give business owners a chance to compete with others in their industry. Six years later I realize that I really don’t like sitting down and creating websites all that much now, that more people love templates and want something simple that they can change on their own, and they all want “pretty”, which won’t get most of them any traffic at all but it’s hard to convince them of that.

paco de lucia:entre dos aguas
Creative Commons License Lali Masriera via Compfight

Instead, I’ve changed the focus of that blog to talking more about SEO and social media interactions and website evaluation. And yet, though the focus of that site has changed, I haven’t fully embraced it, probably because the health care side of my business still drives the overwhelming majority of my income, and even though SEO and the like is way more fun, including blogging, when all is said and done the bills have to be paid and there’s stuff I want and need to buy. I talk about some of that in the video.

As I talk about my goals in the video, including focus, I also ask people if they set goals, if they’re willing to share any of the big goals, if they want help in reaching and focusing on their goals, and a whole lot of other stuff. I missed talking about the 6th year anniversary of this blog, which was on December 12th, because I was still out of town on my consulting assignment and I wasn’t focused on the milestone; sigh… I’m also realizing now that after this one I’m 20 posts away from 1,500, another milestone that, this time around, I want to make sure I don’t forget.

Meanwhile, I want to share this with you. I’ve never talked about it on this blog, but I have shared it a few times on my business blog. This link leads you to a PDF called the Reserve Index. It’s a self evaluation of where you are now and where you want to be, and there are 100 points to see where you are on the list and to determine where you might want to be. I’ve done it periodically and I’ve scored as high as 26 and as low as 7; no, those aren’t great scores.

If you’re honest you’ll see there are some things you’ll never do because you don’t want to, but a lot of things you probably do want but aren’t really working towards. I’m going to do it again within the next couple of days and use that to help me focus on things over the course of the year. And I mention something in the video that I think would be well worth your time, effort and dollars as well, and I’m getting no money from it. lol

With all of that said it’s time to let this post go to the video, and I hope that some of you watch it. If not, I hope some of you got enough from this post to comment on it; let’s find out.
 


 

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How To Focus Better – A Review

I get free stuff all the time, both through regular mail and email. I received this manual titled “How To Focus Better” by Hulbert Lee and debated where the best place might be to post a review on it. I also debated how to review it. In the end, I’m going to play it straight forward, which usually is what I do anyway.

Hulbert Lee Focus

It’s a very short manual, which is why I’m calling it that instead of a book. At 44 pages, which includes the cover page and table of contents, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting, but it looked good. And when I read the first part of it, which was talking about what focus was and talking about the brain, I started to believe I wasn’t going to like anything about it.

Then it started getting better. The overall truth about the manual is that if you’ve ever spent any time reading books on how to live a better life, then you’ll have seen a lot of this, with some variations on the theme. Within chapter titles like Energy, Clarity and Accuracy, Lee gives short and peppy advice on what you can do to move towards these things. Taking energy as an example, advice like get more sleep and exercise more is something you’ve heard before, and he gives you ideas on how to try to achieve these things.

The last part of the manual has more to do with changing your mind to try to achieve some of the things you want in life, things that might help you focus on your goals. Something that I found interesting is when he talked about identifying your values and the possibility of having to shift your values if you’re concentrating on the wrong thing. For instance, instead of dreaming about buying a new car change your value to something like wanting to achieve success, being more patient, or even focusing on what you need to do to move in a positive direction.

My overall impression is that some of you might have read this stuff before, but it’s a good manual to have because it’s short and punchy. Once you get past the very early part of the book everything else is kind of uplifting and will get you going if you need a boost.

It’s easy to refer back to if you ever need to do such a thing, which you probably will. I say this because I actually read this back in February after he sent it to me and I’m just getting around to writing the review, which might make it seem like my focus wasn’t that good. However, as I think about where I am right now, I can honestly say that I put a few of these things into practice and many things in my life have improved since then. So, maybe in its own way it got through to me without knowing it.

Check out the link above, which will take you to his site where you can get this manual. I think it’s worth your time to check it out.
 

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