Maybe it's Okay to Focus Backwards
Comparison is a dream killer.
Not only that, but comparison is a thief of joy and steals momentum.
So often, we think we need to be an expert before we get started. We think we need a lot of experience before we get started. We look around at others who are following their dream, making an impact, or living fully and when we compare ourselves with them, we may feel diminished, frustrated, and lacking confidence.
And it’s hard to find your joy, to get started, or to live your aligned life when you feel this way.
“If everyone waited to become an expert before starting, no would become an expert. To become an expert, you must have experience. To get experience, you must experiment.” ~ Richie Norton
Instead of experimenting, we gather evidence about the gap between where we are and where we want to be, and find ourselves lacking:
- We listen to TED Talks (they are so smart)
- We subscribe to blogs (they sure know their stuff)
- We take classes and seminars (another class and I’ll be ready)
- We offer our services for free (how can I charge when I’m not an expert)
- We look at social media and see all the accomplishments of others (facebook envy, anyone?)
Maybe we need to shift our focus.
Years ago I was in a bowling tournament. I was a good bowler and was in two ‘scratch’ leagues (no handicap) and one mixed handicap league. I had two bowling balls: one for my first throw and the other one was for picking up my spare. So, when a teammate suggested entering the tournament I had the confidence to say ‘yes.’
But then my comparanoia set in. When I saw the hundred other people in the tournament, I quickly lost my confidence. I was so far behind the leader and noticed everyone who passed me in the standings: some were much older than me and some were much younger. I began to think I was a lousy bowler, I wasn’t ready, and I shouldn’t be in the tournament at all.
But then I started to wonder how many people were behind me, doing their best and not bowling as well as I was. I began to wonder if those people were struggling even more than I was. I began to wonder if they were thinking the same sort of defeating thoughts that I was (or maybe even more so).
And I also began to wonder if those behind me were looking ahead to me and wishing they could even be where I was in the standings. What a shift in my attitude and mindset that made for me. From shifting my focus to those ahead of me to those behind me. And I began to relax and enjoy myself. I began to appreciate my courage to sign up for the tournament. I began to acknowledge that I was ‘dressing up and showing up’ and re-defined my idea of success.
We are told over and over again (even by me) that we need to keep our eyes (and mind) on what we want and where we want to go. And yet, I find value in looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. This ‘focusing backwards’ helps me appreciate my stamina, my courage, and my strength. And this helps me increase my self-confidence and my self-love.
Do you need to shift your focus?
What if those people who are behind you need your special blend and brand of expertise? Can you see how far you’ve come already? How can you begin to implement some of the ideas that are busting to come out? What if all of the degrees, diplomas, certificates don’t equal expertise? What if they just equal education? What if expertise comes after you take action? Are you willing to experiment?
Here are a few things to try out
- List some of your existing skills that you take for granted. Are you an incredible listener? Are you an amazing story teller? Are you skillful at resolving conflict? Are you organized and detailed? Are you a superb cook? Is it easy for you to explain the complex and make it simple? So often we don’t see our own super powers because they come naturally to us.
- If you don’t see your existing skills, ask those close to you - family, friends, and colleagues – “What am I really good at?”
- Begin to acknowledge that you are an expert in these things. Even better, begin to experiment in ways to display this expertise. How can others benefit from this? To put it another way: take imperfect action.
Say “YES” to yourself by shifting your focus.
Janet is a transformational coach who helps women move beyond the negative voices in their head so they can unleash their purpose, unmask their self-confidence, and uncover possibilities that they have been blind to. Bottom line: she helps them to stop settling, start experiencing the magic of their dreams again, and live their aligned life.