The Art of Focusing on What Matters Most
“Be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.” – Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
As you probably know through personal experience, owning your own business is a self-managed profession. If you own, or work in the real estate industry, or life coaching, maybe your industry is fitness or perhaps you’re in hospitality, whatever business you’re in, you are constantly required to set your own schedule, to work towards your own goals, and to keep yourself motivated.
To thrive as a small business owner, you must skillfully guide your emotions, so that you can perform at the highest level possible – even when you’re having the lousiest day. In fact, the degree of success you experience in small business is directly reflected in how effectively, efficiently, and powerfully you manage yourself.
So, what’s the ticket to consistently staying motivated and managing your emotions? How can you make smart choices that consistently catapult you to the next level? There’s a powerful technique that can springboard your success; a useful structure to support you in achieving our desired outcomes.
It is known as the 4 Critical Levels of Thinking.
Each level is made up of parts. Each level tells you something about what you are feeling and why. This way, you can deliberately choose the direction you want to head.
Levels 1 & 2
Where the Magic Happens
Level 1 and 2 experiences are gold. Ideally, you want to focus on these experiences – both in your professional and personal life.
Example: real estate agent putting the SOLD sign across the signboard
Your quality of life is determined by how many level 1 experiences you can collect. Level 1 experiences are those things that you love doing, that you thrive at, and that continue to perpetuate your success.
Level 1 experiences include things like making a great sale, or experiencing a rewarding and trusting relationship. But Level 1 experiences don’t come free. For level 1 experiences to be achieved, you must pay your dues with level 2 experiences.
Example: real estate agent prospecting!
Level 2 experiences are about living your dreams – they are never easy, but they help to get you where you want to be. Level 2 actions usually don’t feel good because they are unfamiliar, or you have never done them before.
Level 2 actions include going to a challenging workshop to improve your sales skills, or compromising with your spouse on a big decision. Level 2 experiences aren’t often fun, but they are important actions to take to further your life goals.
Every achievement in life comes from the dues you have paid to arrive where you are today. If you’re in a relationship that’s going well, or if you’re thriving in your profession, you’ve been putting in your time with Level 2 experiences.
Levels 3 & 4
When You Know it’s Time for a Change
When you’re having 3 and 4 Experiences, you know it’s time for an adjustment – either in your personal life, or your professional life.
Example: real estate agent sitting back, passing the time, becoming unproductive after reaching monthly target
Level 3 experiences are often characterized by actions that feel good, but aren’t necessarily getting you anywhere important. It may feel good to make a spreadsheet of all the important people you are going to call next month – but if you don’t take the critical Level 2 step of going through the difficult process of calling each of them, then the spreadsheet is a Level 3 experience.
Level 3 experiences are satisfying in the moment – but they don’t last. Level 3 experiences don’t demonstrate your mastery as in a Level 1 experience, or get you where you want to go, like in a Level 2 experience.
Example: real estate agent playing the blame game… my lack of achievement is because of … the recession, interest rates, competitors undercutting commission blah, blah, blah
Level 4 thinking is the quitter’s attitude. It’s what happens when you choose not to work forward, but accept a downward spiral. Level 4 experiences don’t feel good, because when you are acting in a Level 4 mindset, you can feel the destructive nature behind your decisions.
Using the 4 Levels – Achieving a Life in Balance
Successful people fill their lives with Level 1 and Level 2 experiences. It’s important to bounce between Level 1 and Level 2; working hard at things that don’t necessarily feel good yet in level 2 experiences, and then mastering those skills and thriving in your Level 1 experiences.
If you notice you are making choices that lead you to Level 3 or Level 4 experiences, gently reevaluate your goals, take time to look inside yourself, and set a new direction.
Use these four levels as a lens to see your actions through. Remember that life is a balancing act, and that to stay focused on Level 1 and Level 2 experiences, you’ll need to constantly refocus, energize, and motivate yourself.
And of course, remember that life and work are a journey, and enjoy the adventure along the way.