When we set intentions for ourselves, we also direct our actions. And actions influence results, whether in the growth of our businesses, the health of our relationships, or simply the course of our day-to-day lives. It’s quite simple, really — our focus is our life’s road map.
Often, we find ourselves hyper-focused on all the things we don’t want — “I don’t want to fail,” “I don’t want this to go badly,” or “I don’t want to make a fool of myself.” Yet, doing this unwittingly steers us down the very paths we’d prefer to avoid. Why?
Because we aren’t widening our perspectives to see new possibilities of what we actually do want. The difference is this: “Don’t wants” focus our energy on driving us away from the things we don’t like, while “do wants” actually steer us toward the things that excite and motivate us.
Goals that start with “I don’t want ...” are draining and cause struggle. In fact, when we are too focused on the don’ts, attempting a goal can feel like driving an old, beat-up car on gas fumes. Meanwhile, “do wants” are always accessible to guide and motivate us. Sometimes we just need to spend more time looking for them. When we do, actions become more powerful and purposeful as we begin to pave a path toward the lives we desire. Goals that lead with “do want” stimulate creativity and resourcefulness, while keeping actions focused on achievement. And, when this happens, we really can expect more of what we do want.
Let’s put this idea into practice. Close your eyes and think about an area of your business or life that drains you. This could be an aspect of your job that you don’t particularly like, a conversation you dread, or a big fear you’ve yet to overcome. Whatever it is, when you focus on this thing, what does the picture look like? Are you starting to see the details of what’s draining you? Do they validate precisely why you “don’t want” this to happen?
Where do you go from here? Not surprisingly, the focus on what you “don’t want” stimulates very few problem-solving skills to shift the situation. This happens because few creative solutions are accessible from a space of feeling drained. We end up becoming blinded by the very problems that are holding us back.
Now, try this. Think about this same challenge from the perspective of what you “do want.” Allow your imagination to develop an ideal image of what you’d love to see happen. How does this picture make you feel? Are you now thinking about steps to making it happen? Observe how this shift of attention guides you with a whole new set of approaches. What is your role in creating this picture? What might you do differently? From this perspective, your creativity expands. Now, your mind is free to generate solutions that have potential to create lasting changes.
Make no mistake about it: Whatever we focus on expands. When we spend our time thinking about everything we find scary, draining, or undesirable, these very ideas influence our actions. Much like the sun’s gravitational pull keeps the planets rotating around it, “don’t wants” pull our emphasis toward them and away from success and happiness. This keeps us running from the very things that bother us, which makes for a defensive and exhausting existence.
We don’t want our businesses or projects to fail? How about taking the time, instead, to think about what success looks like and how we can impact this picture? We don’t want to lose a new business pitch? What will it take to win it? We don’t want to stay in our current jobs or positions? What jobs or positions do we want, and how can we take active steps toward landing them? We don’t think something is going to work out? What will make it work and how can we impact it? These are simple shifts in thinking, no doubt, yet when we take a quick moment to actually make them, we create openings for big things to happen. Hey, nobody ever said that manifesting success had to be complicated!
So, if you can think of a few “don’t wants” that are constantly occupying your mind (and let’s face it, I think most of us can), how long are you willing to allow them to keep you from everything you do desire? We cannot expect more from our lives, our families, our careers, our friendships, and our experiences when we stay fixated on negating everything we do want.
Yet, to catch ourselves preoccupied by “don’t wants” presents us with an initial spark to drive change. Here is where we can remind ourselves that new approaches are accessible to any of us, most easily by taking a moment to think about what we do want. “Do wants” are where new outlooks are born — they present new pathways with the best chance to carry our time, energy, and peace of mind forward. We have a choice. Which one do you want?
Nina Cashman is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.