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The SELF Steps: Step 3 – Focus

Carolyn Hobdey is back with step 3 of the self steps. Helping us all to find direction, purpose and happiness within our lives.

Once you’ve set your general Direction during Step 2 of the SELF Steps, then it’s time to get specific; this is so that your efforts and energy can now become targeted and why the next SELF Step is called Focus.

When you want to address the issues you might have in your life – whether a specific problem or a general unease that things just aren’t working out the way you want them to – then it is easy to get overwhelmed with the task ahead. You go round and round thinking about all the different facets of what might need to be done, who could be impacted and where to begin – so much so that very little actually happens. Rumination turns into inactivity. You suffer ‘analysis paralysis’. You grow more despondent and everything feels so much harder.

Sound familiar? Let’s do something else instead.

By breaking down the issues you have, you’ll cease to see them as an amorphous mass of ‘problems’ and it becomes much easier to see the individual things that need tackling. Once you know that, you can begin to do so systematically. Ok, so this might seem like tedious navel-gazing, but I believe that doing this work up front, asking ourselves some tough questions about what is really going on in our life (and our heads!), and facing the answers head-on is the only way that progress can be made. It’s temporary pain for extremely significant long-term gain. That’s what the Focus Step is all about.

What do you actually need to do to enact that change? Where do you start? Let’s face it, that’s usually the toughest part: getting some momentum so that you can get moving. Taking that first action in forging a new path, rather than staying stuck in the same place that you currently occupy and just gazing around with uncertainty. That’s when feelings of being overwhelmed kick in and we can all be guilty of pulling the duvet up over our head and hoping things will just get better by themselves. I’m not promising you’ll remove those feelings of overwhelm altogether, but small steps will feel more achievable. As you make each small step forward, you’ll feel the momentum for change start to gather and propel you.

How do you start to find that Focus?

You do it by asking yourself some questions, which may seem simple, but the trick is to keep asking them until you drill down to where the issues actually are in your life.

This is done in a structured way by looking across each area of your life and asking:

If you need help with assessing the different areas of your life in a methodical way, use the following categories as a guide:

  • who?
  • what?
  • where?
  • when?
  • how?

If you need help with assessing the different areas of your life in a methodical way, use the following categories as a guide:

  • Finance
  • Health & Fitness
  • Spiritual/Emotional Wellbeing
  • Personal Relationships
  • Career/Business
  • Family & Homelife
  • Education/Personal Development
  • Social & Recreation

As you go through each one asking yourself the above questions, you’ll also need to be asking yourself ‘why?’ so that you get to the root cause of the issue and identify the problem that you need to address. The one that will make the biggest difference. The one that, by changing it, will have a positive domino effect across other areas of your wellbeing and life.

Ask yourself: how good would that feel? Focus on that feeling. Take that next Step. .

Artwork by Erika Straub
Anxiety + Trauma Coach