Updated: Jul 15, 2020
As high achievers, we often carry massive loads. The to-do lists are long, our expectations are high, and the days – and weekends – often seem too short. We outline goals for ourselves that quickly get pushed to the wayside in order to meet another need. We identify keywords that represent how we want to feel, like “calm”, “at ease”, or “peaceful”, and that board gets wiped clean and replaced with “stressed”, “overextended”, or “anxious”. Particularly in times of increased stress or upheaval, it is easy to lose our footing and begin to feel like we are making no forward progress. I have struggled with this in recent weeks. (If I’m being boldly honest, it’s not just recent weeks. It’s a recurring theme throughout my adult life up until this point!)
We’ve had our fair share of Groundhog Day moments here in the Lance household lately. We’ve had some outbursts, fits have been thrown, and there have been some temper tantrums, too. And I’m not just talking about my toddler!
One of my strategies for defeating the overwhelm or frustration that sets in and to ensure I am moving forward is to “focus my frequency”. Intentionally setting a frequency of where my attention is tuned alters how I respond to what I encounter throughout the day and brings me more of the good stuff I’m looking for. Think of it like tuning in to a radio station. You think of the type of music or news or conversation you’d like to hear, and then you seek out a station that plays that. And for the entire time you have your tuner set to that station, that’s what you get. Sure, there might be commercials thrown in there, DJs that aren’t your favorite, or even songs that you’re not a fan of, but for the most part, you’re enjoying exactly what you tuned in for. I think of our emotional focus as working the same way. Ever noticed how, if you have a crummy morning, there’s a likelihood the rest of the day goes downhill, too? Now try the opposite.
What if, despite the frustrations or chaos that can creep in as the day gets going, you intentionally looked for and actually recognized GOOD things. Dare I say, even things that bring you DELIGHT! Speaking from my own experience, when I set my frequency to look for good things, I notice a whole heck of a lot more of them. Sure, some mornings it means focusing on how amazingly delicious my cup of coffee is while practicing the art of ignoring the dirty dishes that are piled in the sink, choosing to remain calm when my toddler tells me “NO!” for the 750th time, and telling myself that - despite the coming day of back-to-back meetings and an overflowing inbox – it really will all get done. Other mornings it means laughing and clapping along with my daughter while she bounces in her bed when I go in to get her in the morning or enjoying the sunrise and waving to neighbors while I’m out walking my dog. Regardless of how seemingly small or seemingly significant it is, when I tune in to the good things around me, I find that I am much more likely to recognize them for the remainder of the day.
Beyond the intrinsic benefits of feeling good or adding a little extra joy to your day, there’s a very important benefit of focusing your frequency: you are more likely to notice the positive opportunities that come your way. It’s easy to get buried in the details and pressures of everyday life. Keeping our heads down and noses to the proverbial grindstone with a singular focus on productivity and execution can sometimes mean we miss out on chances to move closer to our dreams or to incorporate new ways of living that are more in line with what we want. Focusing on a positive frequency will help keep your attention open to opportunities aligned with your goals and desires. Over time, you’ll find you naturally start to incorporate this into how you approach your days and navigate challenges.
If you want to play with focusing your frequency – choose something in the morning that you are going to try and keep an eye out for throughout the day: unexpected joy, things that make you smile or laugh, experiences that feel good, moments of peace. Feel free to write your area of focus on a sticky note and put it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day to help keep your frequency tuned in. Before you go to bed that evening, jot down the experiences of the day and notice what you’ve noticed!
Pro tip: it’s fun to experiment with this with a partner or group of friends. Just select a common “frequency” you all want to tune into and then share your experiences. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Nicole Lance is a women’s leadership development expert, facilitator, executive coach, speaker, strategic planner, and promoter of self-care. She is passionately committed to helping organizations and individuals succeed in reaching - and reaching beyond - their goals.