What You Focus On Expands…

The other day I was in the gym and my mind started to wander, as it tends to do. This time I began to regard each of the persons, male and female, who were in the gym with me on that day, and it occurred to me that each and every one of them (self included) had some area of their bodies with which they were unhappy.

 

Whether it be a missing six-pack, derriere too small, arms too big, back not defined enough, generally overweight…whatever it was, we were all in there for the common purpose of improving something physical which we felt needed to be improved upon.

 

Soon after that realization, as I continued my people-watching (and my workout of course!), and making mental comparisons of my own body to my gym peers’ bodies, and as I thought about whose legs are exactly the size and shape that I want for my own, and whose arms are nice and toned, I realized that even the persons with the near-“perfect” bodies have their own hang-ups. Lisa, who is super-toned and perfectly proportioned? She thinks her butt is too little. Marlon, with the uber-defined eight-pack of abs? He thinks his chest and calves are too small. On top of that, Jim is over there in the corner wishing that he had calves the size of Marlon’s! What’s more, each of these persons is so busy focusing on what they are dissatisfied with about their appearances, that they can’t even take a compliment about the other “good” areas about which they are satisfied!

 

Coming out of that realization, came yet another (forgive me, I was on a roll): it is very unlikely that any of these persons would have come in here at the stage of fitness and appearance they were currently at. That is to say, that they have since improved. Which suggests that despite improvements in certain areas, we always find another area to bellyache or harp on about.

 

So despite the fact that I have used a feature image telling you that you’re beautiful (because you are and I liked it!), I want to take this scenario away from the gym and physical appearances, and into the other areas of our lives, for example our workplaces, our careers, even our relationships.

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to constantly improve yourself.

 

Let me repeat that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to constantly improve yourself.

 

Where you begin to trip yourself up, is when you are so focused on what’s not “perfect” that you neglect the areas that are pretty darned great, including those areas in which you have made huge strides, or “come a long way.” You do yourself such a disservice when you have worked hard to achieve a particular goal or to make a dream a reality, then as soon as it’s been done you quickly forget about it and focus only on the next thing that’s “wrong” in your life.

 

Recently while watching one of my guilty pleasure reality television shows, it was said that “…what you focus on expands.” This was said in reference to one of the characters focusing on his own successful ventures. As soon as I heard it, it hit home. So I’m throwing it out there to you.

 

What you focus on expands.

 

Focus on what’s good in your life, and use that as fuel and motivation in correcting the other things that you want to be better. Not the other way around. Don’t focus on what’s wrong, what’s not working out, what doesn’t look right… Of course it’s important to be aware of those things, I’m not suggesting that you ignore them; obviously in order to correct and improve you need to give them some attention. But when you completely focus on the negatives, you encourage feelings of despair, disappointment, hopelessness, frustration…the list goes on. Those are not feelings that will motivate you to affirmative action. For me personally, those types of feelings make me go to bed and wish that when I wake up all that’s wrong will be magically made right. (*Spoiler alert*: nothing has ever changed when I re-emerge from the bed, except that I now have a puffy face and bedhead).

 

Focus on what is good. While you’re looking, think about how it became good. What did you do that was successful? What did you do that didn’t quite work out, and, what did you learn from that experience which eventually led to everything working out in the end?

Quite importantly, how can you apply those same principles to the other areas that could do with some improvement?

 

Got it? Great!

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Fear Breeds Failure

We all can think of at least one instance in our lives when we have allowed the fear of failure to prevent us from attempting something, or pursuing a goal or dream. Some of us can think of many, many such instances. Well, let’s try to stop that fear in its tracks, starting today!

 

Remember back in your first year of college? When you never quite built the courage up to ask that super smart, super cute girl in the third row out for a drink? Or, that time you just happened to miss the deadline to apply for that senior position at work? Yea, the one that you were more than qualified for, that all your co-workers agreed you’d be great at, but every time you thought of the interview process it completely scared you.

 

I could give many more examples, but I bet you that no matter the scenario, every, single time that you have neglected to do something because of a fear of failure, you also regretted not at least trying, and you have beat yourself up about what “could have happened…” for some time after. I would even dare to say that some of you are still beating yourselves up about things that you shied away from doing, simply because you were fearful.

 

Stop to consider this: When you don’t attempt something because of your fear of failure, you’ve already failed. The minute that you decided that you aren’t even going to try, well already you’ve failed. Wouldn’t it be better to at least make the attempt? Whether we are talking about your career, your love life, your family dynamic, a hobby…whatever! When you don’t even try, you’ve failed already.

 

On the other hand, when you make an attempt, one of two things happens:

  1. You try, you’re successful, yay!
  2. You try, it doesn’t quite work out, but you can examine the process and the situation to find out where things went wrong, and use that information to improve the next time around.

I don’t know how you see it, but for me, neither of those possibilities is an outright failure.

 

Not doing anything at all though? That guarantees only one result: Nothing. This post is entitled, “Fear Breeds Failure.” But, does it really have to? Of course not! Use your fear of failure to propel you forward, not hold you back. Perhaps look at it this way:

 

Forget Everything And Run?

Or, Face Everything And Rise? The choice is yours!

What’s Missing From Your “To-Do”?

When we think of our daily tasks, we tend to focus only on the things we have to do, but in so doing, we tend also to ignore the things that we should do.

So you may have to take the children to school, go into the office, feed the dog, pick up the dry-cleaning by 4 pm…

But what about the things that you should do? A little thing like researching the cost of that online course that you have been thinking of doing for ages… Or something a bit bigger, such as completing the executive summary of that business plan which you’ve been working on for eons now…

To illustrate my point, here’s a story about Jen.

Jen owns a dance studio. For months, Jen toyed with the idea of investing in a display chiller at her studio, so that her students could purchase cold refreshments after their dance sessions. While the studio was doing fairly well for itself, there wasn’t tons of extra money to play with, so the purchase of the chiller would have been a significant one. For months, Jen should have checked out the price of a display chiller; and for months, Jen should have done an informal market research survey, simply by asking her students about their level of interest in possibly purchasing cold beverages when their sessions are over.

Eventually Jen did what she should have done. She made inquiries with her students; she shopped around for a display chiller; and, she finally purchased and stocked the chiller. Every week since then, Jen has made an average of $250 extra per week, on the sale of chilled beverages alone. That’s about $1,000 per month. That’s $12K per year. Who couldn’t do with an extra $12K per year?

What is it that you should be doing, that you aren’t?

How much more value could you be adding to your life, monetary or otherwise?

So… Why aren’t you?

See more great posts like this on LifeByLesleyyour content creation solution!

Don’t Let PERFECTIONISM Stop You from Ever Starting…

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I consider myself to be somewhat of a perfectionist, and this trait is often manifested in my writing. Maybe not so much in the finished product, as much as the actual process. I came across tips for writing an e-book recently, and one of the tips was to just write, paying no attention to how it sounds, and tweak or make corrections after. But I find it very difficult to just write and tweak afterwards. I write a sentence, then I mull it over in my head. Does it sound right? Does it really communicate what I want to say? How is my syntax? Those questions and many more pop into my head literally after I write each sentence, forcing me to go back and review, tweak, ask those questions over, review again, and so on…

As a result, a blog post such as this which could probably reasonably take me just 5 to 10 mins to jot down with 5 to 7 mins of tweaking before publishing, will instead cost me 25 to 30 mins; and I am still going to go over it, tweaking here and there before I finally hit that “publish” button.

In some instances, nothing sounds quite “perfect” enough and I end up ditching the entire post, either never to return to it again, or in a few cases attempting to write it when I feel as though I am in a different headspace. (Confession: I started this post, wrote the first sentence, then deleted it and closed the program. Then I reminded myself about what the subject matter was and thought I should probably give it a shot again *grin*)

The scenario I described above is a prime example of me *almost* allowing perfectionism to stop me from ever starting; and that’s just in my writing.
I am sure I do not have enough fingers to count how many times I have avoided pursuing something because of perfectionism. The whole idea of it possibly failing, or just even not working out as perfectly as I imagined, has been enough in the past for me to talk myself out of doing it at all. And upon reflection, not trying at all disappoints me more than if I had tried and failed. Brings to mind the following: it is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.

Oh, how I wish I could go back and just start, correcting course as I went along. Of course I can’t, neither can you; however, we can resolve to set aside perfectionism for just long enough to at least get started.

What are you hesitating to do because of your perfectionist nature?

Lesley Reece is an entrepreneur, content creator, writer and MD. She is a firm believer that one size does not fit all in any aspect of life, and that you should therefore always seek the formula that works best for YOU.

Good Hustle vs. Bad Hustle

In this entrepreneurial age in which we live, where we hear so much about the “grind” and the “hustle”, we also tend to hear a lot of what it means to hustle, as defined by various sources. It isn’t unusual for me to come across quotes like, “if you’re up-to-date with all your favourite TV shows, then you aren’t hustling hard enough…” or some similar-sounding quip, and think to myself, “Oh really?

Because, well, I think I grind pretty hard; I think my hustle game is up to scratch…but guess what? I’m up-to-date with *most* of my favourite TV shows, AND I average 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. I guess the “hardcore hustlers” would scoff at me, but the truth is that I am able to enjoy those aspects of my life because being organized and making sure that I use my time efficiently are at the core of everything that I do. So, as a part of my organizational skills, I DVR my favourite shows during the week, then binge watch them on Sundays, which is a day on which I refuse to do any work, as much as it can be helped. My 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night? I can’t function on any less than that, so I go hard during the day after waking in the morning from a restful night’s sleep, being as productive and efficient as I can be, so that there is no guilt when I put my head on my pillow at night. Really, what’s the point of staying up all and day and all night, just to feel like I am doing something when all I’m really doing is being non-productive and fooling myself in the process?

Granted, there are some night owls out there who work better late at night, their brains seem to function better, etc…that’s all well and good; by all means do what works best for you. But don’t be the type to limit yourself to 4 hours per night, surviving off caffeine and sugar rushes, snapping at every single soul and muddling through mental blocks, simply because you read a meme on Instagram that said that you’re not a real hustler, or you can’t be a successful entrepreneur if you aren’t burning the candle from both ends.

Then I saw this image on a social media feed recently:

goodhustlebadhustle

…and I got ecstatic, because I felt like FINALLY someone understands, someone gets it, and they’re sharing it with the world! Take a minute to look at the image…what areas under the “good hustle” column are you struggling with, or need to improve upon? And, what areas under the “bad hustle” column are you guilty of? What improvements can you make, without sacrificing success? The answers may surprise you!

Lesley Reece is an entrepreneur, content creator, writer and MD. She averaged 7 hours of sleep last night and looks forward to this week’s episode of The Catch. She is a firm believer that one size does not fit all in any aspect of life, and that you should therefore always seek the formula that works best for YOU.

Positive Focus and Gratitude

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The other day I had a whopper of a day. It was long. It was hectic. And it felt as though every person I came into contact with was sent on a mission to try my patience. So at the end of that day, all I felt was exhaustion. Then for some reason, I really don’t know what sparked it, I thought to myself, “There must have been something good about today.” So I forced myself to sit and reflect on the activities and interactions from the day, in the hopes of finding aspects that would make me smile. And I did. I actually was able to think of three pretty awesome things that happened during the course of the day, as well as a number of other smaller, maybe less impactful, but good nonetheless, occurrences which had been interspersed throughout that day.

Once I identified those positives in my day, I immediately decided to focus on those, rather than on all the things that I was previously thinking had made it a “bad day.” Then I expressed gratitude for them. The realization that I had in fact had a pretty good day put me in fairly high spirits which stayed with me as the evening progressed. Because I was now in a better mood, I found that I was more energized and motivated to work on other tasks, which after a “bad day” like I had had, would usually have made me feel overwhelmed and reluctant to do them. To be honest, I may have called it a day and gone to bed early, frustrated and determined to “start over” the following day.

Based on the experience of that day I decided to create a challenge. Every single day, I must find aspects of my day which can be classified as good, whether large or small, significant or minor. What’s important to realize, is that sometimes we think something is bad, but if we look at the situation differently, we would see the good in it.

How willing are you to take on my challenge? At the end of every day, either before you rush out of the office in the evening, or when you’re winding down before bed, make a list – written or mental, your choice – of all the good parts of your day. Then express gratitude for them. Doing so will motivate you, it will encourage you, it may even make you more optimistic about something you had doubts about.

Enjoy and good luck!

Focus on Impact

“Focus on the impact you want to make. After that, success will follow.”

~ Lesley Reece

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Very often when we embark upon a new entrepreneurial pursuit, we are so filled with optimism and excitement about the anticipated success of the venture that we sometimes lose focus on the original purpose and the impact that we want to make. Unfortunately, in some cases, no thought is even given to making an impact, and the entire focus is just on how lucrative the venture could be.

In this article I am going to challenge to you start by focusing first, and foremost, on the impact you want to make. Do you want your venture to make life easier for a certain group of persons, either in a small or large way? Do you want to make a particular service or commodity more accessible to a certain group of individuals? Do you want to empower others to be able to function at a greater level in some area of their lives? Those are very broad questions, but ones which you can surely apply to whatever service or product you offer (or plan to offer) to help you determine the impact you are seeking to make…if you haven’t already done so.

Determining your intended impact, and keeping it at the forefront of your mind, helps to fuel your venture in the following ways:

  • It helps you to fine tune your innate talents which you intend to use in the development and execution of your business venture, as well as to help you discover areas in which you may need assistance.
  • It fuels the passion that should go along with the talents you possess. In any venture, business or otherwise, talent is useless without the passion to put that talent to use, and passion without talent is just as useless. Popular comedian and television host, Steve Harvey has often said that too many persons chase their passions, when really we should be aligning our passions with the talents we possess. You can view the clip here.
  • It serves as motivation, especially on the difficult days encountered by every entrepreneur at some point or the other. Those days when you question why you are even doing what you’re doing, and whether you should carry on.
  • It keeps you happy, especially on the difficult days mentioned above. Just thinking about the impact you intend to make, and the lives that will be made better as a result of something good that you are doing, should be enough to turn any frown upside down.
  • It gains you support. Not everyone has to know what your ultimate goals or intentions are for your business, but when you share the impact that you wish to make with key persons, chances are that they will be more willing to help you realize success. Just think, as a consumer you’re more likely to purchase the yogurt with the pink cover that promises to donate a few cents of your purchase to a charity, than the one that offers no such promise. People like to know that they’ve contributed in some small way to making a great thing happen.

It is important to know, and remember, that the impact that you are seeking to make may not be a direct outcome of the product or service you offer. For instance, your business may be offering financial management solutions, and while that alone will impact and help everyone who uses your services, the impact that you really want to make may be the result of you donating a portion of your profits to a specific charity, or even forming your own charity for which you are the sole, or major, benefactor.

So I challenge you to think about the impact that you want to make, make it your primary focus, and work towards making it a reality. The success will follow…that’s a promise.

Never Too Late…

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“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Elliott

Everywhere we turn, on practically every blog post, every social media platform, and via traditional media outlets, we are regaled with stories of young, brilliant entrepreneurs who have achieved the “next big thing.” And these youngsters seem to be getting younger and younger with every passing year. A decade, or so, ago, the young, brilliant innovators were in their 30s, at least. These days, we’re seeing stories of 20-somethings, and even some in their late teens who’ve already made their first million! Sometimes it makes me wonder what in the world I was doing when I was a teenager. Oh right… I remember now, I was doing “teenage stuff” interspersed with a bit of filling out college applications!

While I am thrilled that youngsters are putting their brains and talents to good use and getting a head-start on reaping the benefits of hard work, I worry about those of us approaching the second half of our thirties, or my peers who are well into their fourth and fifth decades. What exactly do I worry about? Discouragement. I can easily see how someone my age, or older, could feel as though their “prime” has long passed,  never to return. It is not to say that great strides aren’t being made by mature business persons, but the fact is that in this sensational world in which we live, the story about the 17 year old who made her first million selling an app she developed wins over the one about the 42 year old developer who just sold one for $3.7 million. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles, but don’t let your hopes, dreams and aspirations crumble along with it.

So here’s a little bit of inspiration to keep you motivated and fighting the good fight:

– James Sinegal founded Costco at age 47
– Gordon Bowker founded Starbucks at age 51
– Ray Kroc started Mcdonalds at 52
– Ferdinand Porsche founded Porsche at 56
– Charles Flint founded IBM at age 61
– Colonel Sanders founded the KFC franchise at 62.

Yes, we may live in a more technologically advanced age, but no matter the age you live in, there is always something “more” to be discovered, something “better” that can be developed, and something needed but not yet existing that can be invented. It’s just up to one brilliant mind, whether young, or not-so-young, to conceptualize it and see it to fruition. Challenge yourselves, stay motivated, harness your talents, mix in some passion and see your dream to reality.

Oh wait, I forgot one more founder:

– [Insert your name here] founded [your amazing business idea here] at [your age here]

What are you waiting for?

Originally posted on http://barbados.smartoffice.io/blog/never-too-late

To Sleep, or Not to Sleep…

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We all have read blogs and articles highlighting successful entrepreneurs, and we all have excitedly skimmed the paragraphs looking for their “secrets to success” and tidbits on how to make the most of the day. While it’s great to aspire to be like our more successful entrepreneurial counterparts, and while it’s perfectly okay to take some of their tips and tricks and see how we can best apply them to our own situations, there is one aspect that I boldly challenge: how much sleep does an entrepreneur need?

Over and over, I see young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs boasting about averaging 3 to 5 hours of sleep, per 24 hour period. I will unapologetically say to you and to them (if they’re reading this *hi!*) that is absolute madness.

There seems to be this idea floating around out there that you cannot expect to realize success if you clock 7 or (heaven-forbid!) 8 hours of sleep a night. My immediate response to that is two-fold:

1. What is your definition of success? Yours. Not the definition that you read on that Instagram meme last week.

2. “Work smarter, not harder” is one mantra that I absolutely try to live by, and I think it absolutely applies where getting adequate sleep is concerned. Indeed, working smarter should leave you with adequate hours of sleep each night, agreed?

Multiple medical sources will confirm the adverse effects which stem from a lack of sleep, namely moodiness, weight gain, lowered immune resistance, frequent illness, inability to cope with stress, sexual dysfunction and even early death. Essentially, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Here are some of the other negative changes you can expect to see when you don’t average 7 to 9 hours a night.

That brain fog you’re experiencing? That’s your brain cells napping! When you lack sleep, during periods of wakefulness your brain cells (called neurons) may randomly take “naps” and quit firing, causing you to experience lapses in attention, exhibit poor judgment, be more irritable and/or make more mistakes than when you are well rested; even if you don’t feel tired.

Lack of sleep prematurely ages your brain. Too little sleep can cause cognitive deficits that cause your brain to function at an age equivalent to 4 to 7 years older than your actual age. It also diminishes your reasoning skills…not a good trait for any budding entrepreneur.

Your decision-making becomes riskier (read: worse). The areas of the brain that are known to be linked to positive rewards are more active in sleep-deprived people; so they tend to be more deluded about decision-making abilities and expected outcomes of those decisions than well-rested people.

Think you’re doing well averaging 6 hours a night? Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to do well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.

So? What’s so great about getting enough sleep?

Repair and rejuvenation of the body occurs during deep sleep. It’s not just about getting adequate hours of sleep, but you should aim for enough hours of deep sleep. Deep sleep is a time when the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead. It plays a major role in maintaining your health, stimulating growth and development, repairing muscles and tissues, and boosting your immune system. In order to wake up energized and refreshed, getting quality deep sleep is essential.

There’s some value to the term “sleep on it.” Better, more rational decisions are made by persons who sleep on their decisions, than by those who decide in the moment. The idea is that by sleeping on it, you allow your unconscious processes to take over and evaluate the issue.

Sleep solidifies memories. I learnt this while I was in university and used it to my advantage! Sleep boosts learning by consolidating memories as connections between brain cells responsible for memories are solidified, and useless memories or bits of information are pruned away.

Aim for natural sleep, and avoid using sleep aids such as benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax) or non-benzodiazepines (e.g. Ambien). If a sleep aid is needed, a natural one such as melatonin, which is a sleep inducing hormone naturally produced by the body, is a safer, better option.

So, how many hours do you average a night?sleeping man

2016 Thought Guide

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’m not much of the new year resolution-making type, but I DO have some ideas on how I want to approach life this year, and of course it starts with the mindset. So here goes (I hope you find them helpful!):

1. Practice gratitude daily! No matter your situation there is SOMETHING for which you ought to be thankful. Even the most disastrous situations carry within them small mercies, you just need to find them and show gratitude.

2. Remember that tomorrow is  new day. Instead of beating yourself up about the failures of today, decide to do better tomorrow.

3. You have the power to make a difference. No matter how small, make a difference in some way, or to someone.

4. Forgive! It makes you happier. Remind yourself that forgiveness is for you, not the other person. Also be reminded that forgiveness is an attitude more than it is an act. It is something that you sometimes have to remind yourself to BE and not so much to DO.

5. Believe that good things are going to happen. You attract what you think. Think pleasant, optimistic thoughts.

6. Have no expectations. They lead to disappointment. Do the best you can with what you have. Allow others to do the same.

That’s it. Short and sweet. I wish you an excellent 2016, filled with love, hope, gratitude, grace and peace.

Lesley
xo.