There was never a class that taught me how to focus. Honestly, it wasn’t a skill I highly valued. When I could have used it the most, I was too busy feeling emotions like dread, anxiety, boredom, or fear.
Sugar I am a big picture kinda gal. When I start any project I have the wonderment and body language of a child. I can even clap my hands and jump up and down. I hope you are getting a visual. It’s ridiculous. I can’t help it and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I am excitable. What I did have to develop was the ability to reject multitasking and learn to focus.
In my business, I teach women over 40 years of age how to form simple, healthy habits. Then I teach them to stick with it. Once I learned how to override the ramblings of my own mind and focus on my goals, I began to live my dream life.
When my entrepreneurial journey started I didn’t know how to stay focused or what to focus on.
I started my first blog in 2012. Having no idea what I was doing. Just writing my story. A few people were reading and some were active enough to leave comments. There was no clear-cut direction though. Cultivating it into a business wasn’t even a consideration. I started my yoga business in 2015. All I knew was I wanted to work primarily with women in my age group. I felt that opening my own studio was the best path. The truth was, I didn’t know any other path. I had just come from an ashram in rural India, I had spent $15,000 to get a yoga certification, and I knew I wanted to own my own business.
Finding a commercial space on a shoestring budget was difficult, actually, it proved impossible. Luckily I found a community cooperative that had a perfect yoga space. It was almost affordable, so I took it. There was the yummy task of ordering the yoga props and setting up my scheduling software. I thought I was ready. What I really was, was arrogant, naive, green, a newbie.
My first class was on a Thursday evening. I had candles lit and was burning my lavender incense from India. My favorite kirtan artist, Krishna Das, was setting the vibe. The room was packed. Everyone congratulated me on a job well done and promised to come back for the next class. When no one showed for my next class, I blew it off. Then when only 3 people showed up the whole next week, I got worried. Frustration sat in and I felt a bit desperate. When I realized it was going to take more than a few email blasts to fill my classes, I panicked. Let’s just say I’m not the poster child for patience nor maturity.
So I did what any sane, middle-aged woman who had never owned a business before would do. Invested more money in another business.
After I had been poking around on the internet. My feeling was that if the yoga business was going to take a while to build, then I would start another blog. I had read about people who sold programs on the internet and made loads of cash. How hard could it be?
I learned how to build a simple website. Well, they say it’s simple and it can be up and running in less than an hour. If anyone ever says that to me again, I know it’s not very yoga, but I think I’ll just go ahead and punch them in the throat. Two weeks and a river of tears later, I had something that resembled a website. I had no idea what to do next. How do they even get those programs delivering to you? They make fancy videos and a PDF to download. I am a yoga teacher who loves to write. I am not a website designer. So what did I do? I bought every program I could get my hands on.
Let’s recap. I already own one business that is not making money and now is investing in another business that I know nothing about.
While teaching yoga and trying to write blog posts, increasing my income became vitally important. Private yoga sessions became the solution. Finally, a solid business decision. There were people that knew I was teaching yoga yet did not want to come to class. They felt they weren’t skilled enough and yoga can be intimidating. Especially if you have physical limitations. I immediately got 27 high-paying private students. This helped my financial situation immensely. However, I was stressed. I was teaching 7 group classes per week, with maybe 1-5 students, teaching private sessions every other hour of the day, trying to find time to work on my blog, and I have two children to raise. Are you kidding me? This was impossible. I was dragging in my group classes, I was spread too thin to give my private students the time and instruction that they deserved and I had all but given up on my hopes of being a successful blogger.
This was my breaking point.
I stopped all ventures that were not making money. I was left with my private yoga students. After about 2 weeks I began to feel sane again. I was giving my private students proper attention and I was delighted to spend some time with my kids where I wasn’t completely exhausted and irritable.
I am in a 12 step program of recovery and it is suggested that I keep a journal. The 12 steps saved my life so anything my sponsor or anyone else suggests, I do it. It had become a habit of mine to write down my goals. I made a little game of it. I would write down my 10-year goals and work backward. Never thinking anything of it. I just thought it was fun. If it worked in my personal life and recovery maybe it would work in my business as well.
So I began to write what I desired from my business. At this point, I wasn’t even sure at this point what business I wanted to be in. That didn’t really matter.
The only thing I knew is what I wanted the outcome to be.
- Work with women over 40 who had experienced conditions that had kept them from a healthy lifestyle.
- Teach them to live a healthy lifestyle creating one healthy habit at a time
- Travel by myself and with my family
- No longer have a brick and mortar business. I want to be able to increase my following via the internet.
- Hold retreats and workshops in cool places that I want to visit
- Passive income
- Continue to be a student of yoga, nutrition, and fitness
- Sell other people’s products on my website.
- Incorporate poetry and art as a method of healing into my teaching
- My first income goal is $7,000 per month
When I finished this list I felt so much lighter. I felt authentic. All I had known when I started this journey for sure was that I had the spirit of an entrepreneur. I was a yoga teacher so I thought owning a studio was the logical next step.
I was still doing my day to day work. It had become a bit more manageable.
This gave me time for what I didn’t know was becoming my most valuable skill.
I had begun to schedule all my activities. Listing them in order of importance and schedule them accordingly. Deep down I had always known that my healthy lifestyle had to take precedence over everything. Being committed to practicing what I was preaching was my priority. I was learning to stay focused. Gary Vaynerchuck calls it micro focus and macro patience. Microfocus is focusing all of your work and effort on the next task at hand (not the ten tasks from now), while macro patience is about allowing time to give you the results because they will not often happen right away.
I am a daily meditator. It took some time, but I developed the discipline to sit in meditation twice a day for 20 minutes each session. Since I was doing this in my meditation, why not do it in every part of my life.
I focused on my list. Travel and my family are two of my greatest passions. I also knew I didn’t want employees, I wanted mentors and consultants. Knowing this meant a brick and mortar business was out of the question. I loved the idea of helping as many women as I could form the habits it would take to sustain a healthy lifestyle. The blog was shaping up to be my priority.
2017 has been a year of intense transformation for me. I have experienced deep love and loss. There have been beautiful opportunities for deeper compassion, understanding, and forming greater bonds with those I love. It has been amazing and painful and I am deeply grateful for learning that focusing on the task at hand is not optional, if I want to succeed in all areas of my life.
Whether you are starting a business, embarking on healthier eating habits, or learning the tango…the following steps will help you focus your way to your goal.
Decide what you want and why you want it.
Humans are so fickle and easily distracted. What we want changes and grows constantly. If you write down why you want something and you continue to dig deeper, you will get to the truth and are more likely to stick with it based on your “why.” I want to help women over 40 live a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. The reason I want to is that I know how it feels to be a prisoner in my own body. I know how it feels to be 35 and feel and look 65. I know how it feels to be in chronic pain and not have the discipline or the willingness to do it because I feel so hopeless. Because I can relate I believe I can help. That is my why . What is yours?
Start with the end in mind and work backward.
Once you know the end goal, it makes it a whole lot more attainable to break it down step by step I have a method for this process. Let’s use running a marathon as a for instance here. What tools of the trade are needed? Special shoes, special socks, an app for running (shows distance and pace), running clothes, supplements, what foods are optimum for the body while running long distances. Consult a publication, website, or local running shop and pick their brain for what else may be needed. Understand every, possible asset that you can acquire that would allow you to finish a marathon successfully. Now make this smaller. What do you need to finish a half marathon, how about a 10k, how about a 5k. Which tools, what mindset, and what conditioning would it take for you to be able to run one mile. Find the average time that it would take to run it? Now we’re talking.
Take the smallest component of the goal and focus on nothing but that for 30 days.
This creates maturity and discipline and after this amount of time, this task becomes what we call a “lifestyle.”
On day 31 commit to getting comfortable being uncomfortable.
In yoga, we call it pushing your edge. If you have been practicing your task for 30 days you are ready to push your edge and you have the discipline to push it every day. Do something toward your goal that makes you uncomfortable every day. It is like working a muscle. The more you do it the stronger you get. Notice I said pushing your edge, not rolling over it with an eighteen wheeler. If you have been running a mile, run 3. One of my favorite quotes is “There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone.” unknown
Life is busy. Don’t leave your success up to the whims of the distractions we all face every day. I schedule everything that is important to me and not arbitrary. Then schedule it in order of importance. Every Sunday I do this for the week ahead.
- My spiritual practice (meditation and prayer)
- Physical practice (yoga and workout)
- My family
- Work (I schedule my private students, I schedule time to work on my blog and what the nature of that work is to be…writing content, marketing, designing and executing my programs, building my email list,
- Rest (I schedule time to chill and read, study yoga philosophy, nap, or watch movies)
When your thoughts are scattered, it is tough to produce inspired action. Slow and steady really does win the race. If you are interested in transforming your life and your health in manageable increments that will become your lifestyle, leave me your best email. I may get a bit sassy from time to time but it’s because complete change is an ass-whippin‘ from the inside out. I will help keep you honest and moving forward.
Written by: Suzie Wheeler of 4everhealthyyou.com