Successful people maintain a positive focus in life, no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures. They focus on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to fulfilling their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents. They are proactive in pursuing their chosen objectives.
An important part of any focusing regimen is to set aside time just before going to sleep. This time is to acknowledge your successes, review your goals, focus on your successful future, and make specific plans for what you want to accomplish the next day.
Why do I suggest the end of the day? Because whatever you read, see, listen to, talk about and experience during the last 45 minutes of the day has a tremendous influence on your sleep and your next day. During the night, your unconscious mind replays and processes this late-night input up to six times more often than anything else you experienced during the day. That’s why cramming for school exams late at night can work and why watching a scary movie before bed will give you nightmares. This is also why reading good bedtime stories is so important for children—not just to get them to fall asleep, but because the repeated messages, lessons and morals of the story become part of the fabric of the child’s consciousness.
As you drift off to sleep, you enter the alpha brainwave state of consciousness—a state in which you are very suggestible. If you drift off to sleep while watching the 11 p.m. news, that is what you’ll be imprinting into your consciousness—war, crime, automobile accidents, rape, murder, executions, gang wars, drive-by shootings, kidnappings, and scandals in the boardroom and on Wall Street.
Think how much better it would be to read an inspirational autobiography or a self-improvement book instead. Imagine the power of meditating, listening to a self-help audio program, or taking the time to plan the next day right before you go to sleep. In addition, here are a few exercises that will keep you focused and moving forward at the end of the day.
Sit with your eyes closed, breathe deeply, and give yourself one of the following directions
• Show me where I could have been more effective today.
• Show me where I could have been more conscious today.
• Show me where I could have been a better (fill in your profession—manager, teacher, etc.) today.
• Show me where I could have been more loving today.
• Show me where I could have been more assertive today.
• Show me where I could have been more (fill in any characteristic) today.
As you sit calmly in a state of quiet receptivity, you’ll see that a number of events from the day will come to mind. Just observe them without any kind of judgment or self-criticism. When no more events come to mind, take each incident and replay it in your mind the way you would have preferred to have done it had you been more conscious and intentional. This creates a subconscious image that will help form the desired behavior the next time a similar situation occurs.
Another powerful tool to keep yourself focused on the positive and your eye on the prize is through journaling If you do this exercise every day for a month, you’ll increase your self-confidence as well as improve your performance in all areas of your life.
At the end of every day, simply identify five things that you accomplished during the day. These can be in eight areas of your life—work, school, family, spirituality, finances, health, personal development or community service.
Next, consider why that accomplishment is important to you and write that reason next to the related area. Then, identify how you can make further progress in this same area.
Last, write down a specific action step that will lead to this progress and jot that down in the final column. For example, the first success is “I conducted a great staff meeting.” The reason that is important is that “it created the team spirit we were lacking.” Further progress needs to be something else I could do to create more team spirit, which in this case is to plan and execute an off-site staff development day. The next action I could take is to form a committee with specific team members to plan the day. This quick and simple process keeps me constantly moving forward in the arena of building team spirit.
Once completed, transfer the action items into your calendar or planner. Schedule a specific time to do each item so you actually get them done. Put them onto your calendar or to-do list. Can you see how much forward momentum this exercise would create in your life? If you are a leader or manager, consider having your whole staff do this 30-day exercise with you. It will keep them focused and will build up their confidence.
Another powerful tool to keep you focused on creating your life exactly as you want it to be is to take a few minutes after you have planned your next day’s schedule and visualize the entire day going exactly as you want it. Visualize everyone being there when you call them, every meeting starting and ending on time, all your priorities being handled, all of your errands being completed with ease, making every sale and so on. See yourself performing at your best in every situation you will encounter during the next day. This will give your subconscious all night to work on creating ways to make it all happen, just as you visualized it.
Get into the habit now of visualizing your ideal next day the night before. It will make a vast difference in your life.