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CwL Ep68: Purpose Friday

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As business women, entrepreneurs, coaches, creatives – choosing where we focus our attention is always so important. But amongst a week of terrible news, amongst lockdowns and restrictions – it’s even more important AND it can feel even harder. In this short Purpose Friday episode I pose a simple but powerful question that you can ask yourself any time of the day to feel more connected, more motivated, and more productive in your work.


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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here

Hey. So I just wanted to come in and record another one of our Purpose Friday podcast episodes. A short and a sharp for the women out there who are running their own business. They are contractors, freelancers, creatives, coaches, experts, authors. It’s been really challenging in 2021 to create and maintain momentum amongst lockdowns, uncertainty, all the things. So consider this just a weekly dose of reminders about how to keep yourself on track, because it’s possible. It’s just that we have to work a little harder at it right now. So today I wanted to talk to you about something that, and I’m recording this on a Wednesday. It’ll go live on Friday and it has been a big, big week here in Melbourne. Our lockdown got tighter, restrictions got tighter, and it’s been extended again. I know New Zealand’s gone into a lockdown. Sydney having record numbers of COVID.

There was an earthquake in Haiti, just hundreds of people have died. So many misplaced and there’s a storm on the way. The situation in Afghanistan is heartbreaking on so many different levels and it’s hitting us. There are these waves. There are floods in Europe. It just feels like it’s been wave after wave of bad news. And for those of us who feel and we see things and we take it on, it’s distracting, it’s overwhelming, the amount of things that we’re being asked to cope with. I remember feeling the same way when we were having the bush fires. The start of 2020 felt like roll after roll of really big events that were heavy and asking us to look at ourselves.

If you think about the last two years, that’s really what we’ve been a part of. And yet we have to show up for work, to feed our families, to have conversations, to do the normal life things. And I just wanted to share with you something that I learned a few years ago. It’s not original or new. Anyone involved in mindfulness or stuff like that will be able to share this with you. But sometimes we need to be reminded that where we place our attention really dictates so much about how we feel. And I’m not talking about heads in the sand, “I can’t hear you, nothing’s happening here, I’m not seeing or hearing this.” It’s not about that. The years that I found really particularly tough, I couldn’t switch on the news anymore. ABC News was the thing that would go on once the kids were asleep at seven o’clock and then that would roll into 7:30.

So for all these non-Australian people, this was just your nightly news and current affairs. I used to watch Four Corners and I was engaged in the world, in life, in conversations that were much bigger than my immediate reality. But when my immediate reality became so overwhelming and so huge, I had zero capacity for all the other things. And I was absolutely well within my rights to go, “Ah, can’t deal. Just need something a little bit lighter. I need something to distract myself right now.” Because what I’m dealing with here on a daily basis is more than enough for my heart and my mind, my body, all of those sorts of things. And you know what? I have a friend who’s a producer at the ABC and she said they kind of lose people in their 30s when they become parents or things are getting a bit full-on in their homes.

There’s like this gap where people kind of disconnect from the ABC and then they come back in and I found that absolutely fascinating. And I feel like a lot of us right now, waking up every morning and choosing where we place our attention, choosing when we’ve had enough of the news when it’s not healthy to tune into the presses when we’re feeling all the feels about stuff that’s going on in our own lives, and sometimes we just need to shut some channels, literally shut it off to protect our energy. It’s okay to do that. Doesn’t make you a bad person if the events of the world that you have no control over are spinning you out and are a bit much. I want to talk about this. I wanted to sort of genuinely generally contextualise this whole attention thing in really simple terms, but then actually now drill into how this plays out when it comes to running your own business. So, each day, each moment we can be thinking about whatever we want.

We could place our attention on the fact that we lost a netball grand final when we were in grade five and we didn’t shoot the winning goal we missed, and therefore that was bad. We could be thinking about that. We could be thinking about the bird in the tree out there. We could be thinking about the future and something to do with something that we’ve got no control over. We could be dreaming about our future house. We could be thinking about everything that we’re missing out on at the moment. We could be ruminating in inverted commas. If you’re not watching the video, I’m just putting my hands up in inverted commas, failures that we’ve had in our business, things that haven’t worked out well. We could be thinking about the stuff that we had planned that we can’t do, or we can choose different things to focus on … Hang on. Three kids downstairs. Hold on one minute. Have a drink of water, please. Drink water. Can you hear that coughing in the background? Just needs a drink of water.

So at the moment, it’s like, where are you choosing to place your attention? And a really simple example of this is also the way that my kids and I decided to call this the lockdown of fun when we thought it was a snap lockdown for a week. We are still calling it the lockdown of fun. We have kept our attention on fun things to do this lockdown. We named it. We called it in. We kept our attention on fun things. And so this lockdown feels more fun. And it’s no surprise. Think about words that you say. Think about where your attention is in your business right now. Is it, “There’s no clarity for me. I have no clarity”? Your attention is on no clarity. “Don’t know how to move forward. I can’t get clear.” I felt like that for a lot of 2020 actually.

And then I realised that’s where my attention was on having no clarity. So when I decided to put my attention on gaining clarity, see just a really small shift, “Oh, I’m welcoming the clarity. I am gaining clarity.” It completely shifted everything for me. It was like a slight tweak of words and then suddenly I’m just seeking out opportunities to create little pockets of space. I’m keeping a pen and paper handy to get ideas down on paper because I’m gaining clarity. So you stay unclear until you decide and focus your attention somewhere different. I think about the same thing in terms of overwhelm. A lot of the time I’m so overwhelmed. I’m so overwhelmed. There’s too much to do. And all our attention is on that instead of the exact opposite. So if I don’t want to be overwhelmed, what’s the opposite of overwhelm?

Is it feeling peaceful? Is it feeling organised? Is it feeling spacious? So I focus my attention on reducing the overwhelm. “I’m feeling more spacious.” “I’m feeling more organised.” Instead of, “I feel overwhelmed.” Because then we’ll just keep recreating that reality for ourselves. But if we want to create something different, put our attention on something else. So, “I can’t do this event.” “This is just so messed up.” “All I wanted in 2021 was this and now it can’t happen.” We have to allow ourselves to feel all the disappointment, all of the fatigue that comes off the back of putting in energy and effort into things that won’t materialise. It’s disappointing, sad, draining, it’s all those things. We feel that stuff. And then it’s like, “Well, what helps my business most right now?” What helps me is keeping my attention on everything that’s lost.

The best thing for my business. Probably not. It’s probably going to be shifting it to, what options do I have available right now? What feels light and easy and fun to create? And always the thing that I come back to is how can I serve right now? I’m obviously active on social media. It’s where a lot of people find me. I don’t talk about the products that I offer all the time. But I create a connection there. I create connections. And sometimes I think these women who are a part of this community, some buy from me, some don’t, whatever, I’m showing up anyway. What might help them right now? And sometimes it’s just sharing something funny, sharing something that didn’t work, showing up, not looking picture perfect. What would be an act of service to people right now? Because it gets you out of your own head and into thinking about other people, which is a really clear path to shifting your attention. When it feels like time and space is limited in lockdown especially, or I used to feel like this with kids.

I started my business. I launched my first e-course when I had a three-month-old, a two-year-old and a three-year-old. And I’d build out pockets of time to work on stuff. I actually think it’s our superpower as women to find and be productive in small pockets of time. And it’s standing me in very good stead at the moment. So I don’t look for how much time I’m spending with the children. I look for the pockets of time I can create for myself. And it’s literally a shift in my attention. So even in the mornings, we’ve made a bit of a shift and we’re starting school at eight o’clock when their tasks get uploaded into Seesaw is the app that the school that they go to is using. So we’re ready to go by eight o’clock. But for me, what I was finding was if I didn’t get up and get out because often I’d go and get my coffee and we’d be ready to go by nine.

So I’m just shifting my attention to, “Okay, how can I still get that moment?” “All right, I need to just be up a little bit earlier and ready a little bit earlier.” And now I just walk five minutes down the road, five minutes back, put on my sneakers, go and get my coffee while the kids are making their own lunch box because I’m looking for space in my day. So space means not feeding them every two seconds. Space is literally getting outside and we can do that. As entrepreneurs, as people doing their own thing, as people not bound to specific working hours for a boss, we actually are so privileged. We are so lucky that we get to craft this for ourselves. If that’s where our attention is sitting. The choice is ours to focus our attention in that space. So in saying that, I’ve literally got a meeting in one minute. I’ve been homeschooling this morning, but I really wanted to get this done.

I’m like, it’s just going to take up the amount of time that I’ve got to talk. And so now we’re out and that’s okay. You guys, on Monday, I’m running a momentum session. If you are struggling to create your own momentum, come along. Come along. Spend an hour with me. I’ve got so much to share with you that could make a really big difference to your week and how you show up for it. And there is an opportunity to work with me and my team through September, October, November to actually get some things done. I know it’s been challenging for so many of us and 2021 is feeling like it’s disappearing. Like, what’s happening here? But we have to bring intention and momentum to our business. Where are you going to place your attention next week? Where are you going to place it today? Ask yourself that question. I know it can feel harder than usual at the moment to use these tools, especially if you’re in lockdown, but I just challenge you to do it. Give it a crack. See you soon.

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