Learning to Focus on the Things that Matter and Ignore the Things that Don't

Channeling My Focus: The Struggle is Real

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We all know Gym Girl. We’ve encountered her—and hopefully haven’t been her—she’s gotten under our skin, and she’s slowly driven us mad, nearly to our breaking point.

You know who I’m talking about. Gym Girl is very different from Gym Rat, the avid fitness fanatic with 8 percent body fat whose sole purpose and existence is to sweat it out two hours every day and serve as the motivating kick in the pants you need in hopes you will someday look just like him/her if only you continue to up your fitness game.

But Gym Girl, well, let’s just say she’s the polar opposite of that. She’s got all the unbridled confidence of Gym Rat but without the chops to back it up. She’s rude without a thought at how her actions affect others. She’s the uncoordinated one who takes up that prime spot in the front row of every fitness class even when she doesn’t even possess a smidge of rhythm, throws the other 25 attendees completely off every song, and tries to overshadow the gym’s wellness director by shouting “1! 2! 3! 4!” (not on the beat, need I even add) despite the fact she’s not actually a teacher, but rather a cashier at a big-box store.

I almost punched Gym Girl in the throat recently. And then I took a deep breath, took a step back and reevaluated what it was that was making me so angry.

Learning to Focus on the Things that Matter and Ignore the Things that Don't

Gym Girl is awful, true, but at the core, she’s a metaphor for everything in our lives that’s diverting focus from the things that matter and channeling our energy into the things that don’t. It happens to me daily, particularly this last week alone. Without getting into politics—because who wants that?—the news is a complete mess, and yet, I can’t look away.

But I won’t let Gym Girl get to me anymore.

After nearly having it out last week when she literally stepped in front of (and almost on) me to try and claim her prized spot, I simply moved my mat to the other side of the room. I’m not going to do this square dance with her every morning, nor am I going to start my day off feeling annoyed and stabby (to the contrary, isn’t exercise supposed to up those endorphins?). And I’m going to start applying this simple logic to every aspect of my life.

I’ve never been great at focusing. As a freelancer, I’ve always got a dozen or so balls I’m juggling at any one point and it can be hard to stay on task. Working in the digital media realm, I’m also subject to a whole lot of noise—and it’s hard to just say “stay off social media” when that is, in fact, where your job lies. So I’ve simply adopted a new mantra: “radiate positivity; focus on the things that matter.”

If my head’s a mess? I’ll go on a run to clear my head, go to the store, go to the gym—do anything to break the routine. Someone posts an unsavory political rant on Facebook that doesn’t necessarily align with my beliefs? I unfollow (not necessarily unfriend) them. They have every right to say that—freedom of speech is one of the pillars of this fine country, after all—just like I have every right to ignore it. When it’s all too overwhelming or I simply can’t look away, as hard as I try? I implement an app like StayFocusd to block certain sites so I physically can’t log on anymore.

And Gym Girl, though a brat she may be, has every right to be in that class, and I have every right to ignore her attempts to get under my skin and move to the other side of the room.

Learning to Focus on the Things that Matter and Ignore the Things that Don't

Focus. Edit. Ignore. Move on. Those are going to be the cornerstones of my personal and business philosophy this year—at least, I’m sure as Hell going to try.

What are you going to do to drown out all the unwanted noise?


 

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Learning to Focus on the Things that Matter and Ignore the Things that Don't
Learning to Focus on the Things that Matter and Ignore the Things that Don't
Learning to Focus on the Things that Matter and Ignore the Things that Don't
COMMENTS
  • January 27, 2017

    Great post, I love this and feel so the same – I’m really trying to implement more self care into my life this year, by like you said, limiting social media and trying to be positive.

    • February 6, 2017

      Noelle, I actually practiced what I preached last week and did a semi-digital detox while in Grenada, and it was awesome! Hope your efforts are similarly productive 😉

  • January 27, 2017

    Amen. I must be feeling in the same space because this week I downloaded (and paid for a year’s subscription…which I never do) Headspace AND have started doing Yoga with Adriene (also never done). Obviously looking for a little zen. Hope you have a fab weekend ‘staying off social media!’

    • February 6, 2017

      Oooh, I don’t even know what Headspace is but I’m definitely going to investigate! How did your first month of Zen go, Julie?

  • January 27, 2017

    What a lovely post. I often visit your blog and read your every post. Your Writing is Awesome. Another exceptional work. Thank you, Kristine:)

    • February 6, 2017

      That’s so kind of you to say, Matthew!

  • January 27, 2017

    I am totally feeling you on this. It was especially easy this week to get sucked into the internet vortex and I had to step back and focus not only for my productivity but my sanity.

    • February 6, 2017

      I will say that going to the Caribbean and not having WiFi was kind of the best thing ever!

  • January 27, 2017
    Sian

    This is so my jam right now. I’m six months pregnant and life my anxiety was maxing out. Not good for the baby, not good for me so my mantras are, “Let go. Do the work.” On repeat. I’m finding Jess Lively’s new direction on her pdocast The Lively Show talking about flow and intention to be helpful, as well as the already mentioned Yoga with Adriene and meditation. But really, I’m taking advantage of all the noise to really double down on self-care and self-discovery. WAY more valuable than obsessively checking Twitter.

    • February 6, 2017

      Oh, Sian, being that far along and being that anxious does not sound like a good combo at all! I’ll check out this podcast. I need something to listen to as my runs get longer =)

      Here’s to self-care in 2017!

  • January 27, 2017

    This past year on the road has been a blessing and a curse – I’ve been able to watch the whole election and post-election – debates, press conferences, townhalls, press conferences, tweets – in a way that I have never been able to before. But my goodness you could drive yourself mad. And you really see the nastiness of others come out. Given that I work professionally in social media and brand marketing, I don’t actively share my own opinion, as that’s not good practice, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to scribble up a tweet or comment in response to something I see, I just use the delete button a lot. Growing up living all over the world, I’ve learned to respect others opinions on culture, politics, etc. but sometimes you do want to scream inside. I made a choice over a decade ago to choose happiness so I just go back to that – these days on a daily basis!

    • February 6, 2017

      You’re so wise, and that’s why I’ve been reading your writing for so many years(/a decade?), Andi. I try not to share my own opinion, but sometimes my extreme stubbornness wins, sigh. But I definitely don’t engage in online arguments because *no one* ever wins those!

  • January 27, 2017
    Giselle

    Agree about noise and focus. I am taking knitting classes so I knit instead of surfing my phone while watching tv. It is way harder than statistics but I figure making hats and scarves and mittens for the homeless is a better use if my time than hanging out on social media so uch!

    • February 6, 2017

      I used to knit a lot in my early 20s before social media consumed all my time, and I loved it! It was so therapeutic. Maybe next winter I’ll also start knitting again. Good idea, Giselle, and so kind-hearted of you, too =)

  • January 28, 2017

    Preach, girl. Preach.

    • February 6, 2017

      Maybe I should just have a baby as you’ve done and introduce a permanent distraction from social media 😉

      • February 6, 2017

        It’s not a bad idea. 😉

  • January 28, 2017
    Lina

    Now that I’m mostly off social media (with the exception of instagram), I will be browsing through your blog for inspiration, fun ideas, and a little pick me up here and there! I really love this post. Thank you!!!

    • February 6, 2017

      Booo, you left Facebook? That makes me sad. But I understand =)

  • January 29, 2017

    Believe it or not, this is a very Burning Man ethos you are sharing! The whole “the crazy person driving me nuts has just as much right to be here as I do” is something I always walk away with after time on The Playa.

    • February 6, 2017

      Well, then maybe Burning Man and I are compatible after all! Give me a couple more years to warm to the idea 😉

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