Get Focused: More of This, Less of That!

This post was shared by Maria van Hekken – faculty in Georgetown’s Executive Certificate in Leadership Coaching.

Tozi, one of my clients, called me today with a sense of sadness I have never heard from her before. “Maria, I feel like this year has been a total blur,” she told me. “I’ve missed out on so much that was important to me. Why is all this happening?”

As I listened closely, I silently thought of the three other clients who told me about their anxiety, therapy or medications this week. Yes, it seems we are all feeling the effects of this chaotic year in so many ways. This year is taking its toll on us collectively – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

While we would have NEVER asked for these circumstances, this pandemic can still be our teacher, if we let it.

Of course, we may have to pry ourselves open to any wisdom it may hold (not an easy task, I realize). And be willing to listen as it screeches its lessons on our likely unwilling ears.

If we are thoughtful, we can even dare to look for the gifts hidden deeply in this situation. And gifts abound (they always, always do).

Let Go of Missing Out
As I spoke with Tozi, we talked about the value of slowing down and going within. Instead of resisting what she was feeling, she agreed she wants to practice a process that helps her look more closely at what she has been doing, thinking, and feeling. She also decided she would identify what she wants to focus on in her life that she actually has influence over.

How I Approach It
That led Tozi to ask, “Is there anything special you do, Maria?” I described how I check in with myself at the end of every week. I make a list of what I want more of and less of in my life. And how it has made all the difference in the world. With this practice, I even discovered some real treasures from the simple to the profound.

Here’s a glimpse at what these lists have revealed to me over the last months:

  • More love (much, much, more to share)
  • More noticing (including grief for all we have lost)
  • More gratitude (for all we had before)
  • More deep conversations (from joyful to sad)
  • More time for family and friends (treasuring relationships)
  • Less taking things for granted (be thankful in the moment)
  • More home cooking from scratch (so much better than takeout)
  • Less clutter (how this frees the spirit)
  • More dog time and long walks (and a great way to be outdoors)
  • Less driving (much more stillness and quiet)

Check In with Yourself
These are such challenging times to navigate because everything changes and shifts so fast. I encourage you to look within yourself, too – to start making your own revelatory list. It’s such a simple way to allow you to sift through your experiences, to reflect on lessons you’ve learned, and to understand your frame of mind.

Willing to try it for one week? I promise you’ll be delighted and inspired at what you uncover.

This blog was originally posted on the website. 

Maria van Hekken is a leadership coach who helps executives and their teams become even more successful with a special approach that inspires positive vision, encourages positive action and delivers positive results. She has an established record of success supporting diverse leaders in corporations, the federal government, universities and nonprofits. Maria completed her coach training at Georgetown University and is on the faculty of the Georgetown Leadership Coaching program. She holds an International Coach Federation Professional Certified Coach credential, and has served as the president of the Philadelphia area chapter of the International Coach Federation.

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