How to Focus Your Attention when You’re Not Sure Where to Start

Focus Your Attention

I wanted to cover something that I’ve come across a lot lately with my clients and even in my own business. 

How many times have you had so many good ideas that you have paralysis about what to do with all of them? *raises hand* Yep, that’s me too. This is a total trap that so many entrepreneurs get stuck in. Heck, you can even get stuck by having NO ideas. Either way, you’re very much halted in progress. 

When this happens, you need something to focus on. That’s the secret to forward momentum. When you’re not sure where to start, you need to focus your attention on a particular thing. I like to ask myself particular questions to get myself focused:

  • What would a successful CEO of a company do at a time like this?
  • What would I do if my client were experiencing this? 

These two questions really get my motivation going because they challenge me to step into that CEO role, and see my own situation like I would a client’s. In this, I’m able to disconnect from it emotionally and see the situation for what it really is. 

Our businesses are no different than our clients; we still need to prioritize for ourselves and carve out space to get those creative juices flowing. This allows me, and several of the individuals in my FB communities, to have room to create a plan and process to get back on track. 

Make a List

Beyond mindset shifting, I’d say the key next step is to WRITE IT DOWN. Don’t drag your feet about this. Write down your ideas, your thoughts, your musings, your aspirations, even your frustrations…whatever it is, put it on the page. This could manifest in a number of ways. Maybe you plug these ideas directly into your project management tool. Maybe you journal. Just like you may have endless ideas, there are endless ways to catalog those ideas. 

If you’re a visual person, you might consider mind mapping. I like to map things out via Google Slides! Whatever the method, digitally or physically, you write it down so you have something to work with. 

So, you’ve gotten them out of your head. Now what? Bucket them and prioritize. Realize and identify that the 3rd or 8th or 15th thing you wrote down may actually be something you push to the next quarter (or even next year!). While bucketing, be clear on why you’re ordering things in this particular way. Is it due to some recent feedback that MAKES YOU WANT TO BLOW UP YOUR WHOLE PROCESS? Are you ordering your priorities from a scarcity mindset instead of one of abundance? 

You know yourself better than anyone else. Are you shaping your goals based on your short-term emotions? Did you get worked up over that feedback?  Because in reality, the feedback may not even be accurate. It could be fueled by your client’s own short-term emotions. You have to clearly assess before you take action; otherwise, you’re flying by the seat of your pants. Hopefully, your CEO pants!

Bucket the Ideas, Make Measurables, & Research What’s Unclear

Now that the list exists, the thorough brain dump, what’s standing out? Are any of these ideas really ready to become a project? The way I determine if one of the items in my buckets is ready to become a project is something I learned while serving as an OBM (before coaching). What I did then, and now, is frame deliverables around the idea. Are there measurables to even be achieved? When we start asking the hard questions, we debunk the power of the idea or solidify the idea as actionable. 

Some questions I like to ask to shape those measurables are:

  • Do I have enough information to actually get going on this idea? 
  • Am I going to need a team? 
  • Am I going to need a budget for this? What’s the timeline?
  • What is the goal of doing this? 
  • Is it in alignment with my vision for my business? My 3 year, 5 year, or 10-year goals?
  • Can I actually get this off the ground? Is this something for the “Not Now” list? (P.S. I keep my Not Now list in an Asana project.)

I tend to write down the answers to these questions and get clarity. And that’s truthfully the quick and dirty way I combat my own quick-start tendencies. I step into my CEO role and have plans in place to tackle these new ideas. I have tools in my kit that I can pull out and say, here’s how I’m going to get through this. 

It can feel so overwhelming to have so many ideas and nowhere to put them – especially when you’re the type to start things immediately.

When I find that I write it down, and I’m still stuck – meaning the idea doesn’t have clarity or measurables – then I know that that idea isn’t ready. When the idea isn’t ready, it may be then time to research. 

Research can be useful or it can be paralytic. It can make us understand the impact of this idea or project. It can show us a competitive analysis on if it’s already being done and by whom. And you know what? That’s how a successful CEO would think. They would think strategically, not just taking action first. 

A Method of Embodying Your Idea

I stumbled across a particular method while reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits. In the book, Clear states, don’t decide on the habit as your primary motivation. Decide on if you want to be the person that embodies that habit. As an example, Clear states, I don’t tell myself I want to be healthier. Instead, I say, I am a healthy person. In this statement shift, you become the person, not just the goal-getter. So, if you’re the person who embodies the role of a successful CEO, consider the idea from that perspective. Ask:

  • Does this idea align with my goals? 
  • What is the goal of this specific project? 
  • Does it make sense financially? 
  • Does it fit in with my bigger picture? 

If you don’t have goals for your business, this would be the time to roughly put them together on another sheet of paper. Goals are the foundation, and without a foundation, these ideas have nothing to build upon. 

Next Steps

So, what are your next steps with this idea or project? Do you need to do more research or planning? Interview yourself or get your business bestie to be able to walk you through this or even ask your business coach. These are ideal questions to be discussing with your coach.  This asking of others, others you trust, will give more clarity around the idea. (When you have these interview questions created, be sure to save them for your next idea!)

These conversations may funnel the idea onto the Not Now list. That’s okay! Not every time you have an idea, does it need to be executed. It may even be an inspiration for another project that’s waiting in the wings, so to speak. 

When you revisit these lists you’ve made, they’re pretty indicative too of how far you’ve come. If you did this ideas list when you started your business, think about where you’re at now. Probably lightyears away, right? This reflecting actually helps shift you into a very strong mindset. Seeing how far you’ve come (and how far you can go) can solidify you feeling like the CEO of your business. 

When you step into the role of CEO of your business, limits don’t exist. There’s no limit to how much you can make each year, how many people you can help, etc. You take the lid off the boiling pot, and possibilities simmer out.  So many benefits come out of the CEO mindset. You’re able to step into leadership roles with your clients even stronger. You become their co-strategist. 

Final Notes on Focusing Your Attention

It is so important that we keep our idea trains on the process tracks. That metaphor is to say, keep things in line, keep working on them until you find the answers you need. And while making your list, make sure you’re in a place of calm. Don’t make these idea lists while amidst a frenzy in your house. Sit quietly. Think long and hard about these lists and the corresponding questions. By exploring them, even if you don’t pursue them, you’re giving those thoughts a place to live – outside of your head!

If we keep them in our head, they’ll clog our minds or become forgotten. And if it’s that next great idea, you don’t want to lose it. Give these ideas a home to rest until you’re ready. It can be hard to put ourselves and our ideas first, but it’s the path to success in your business and your goals, so insist on that time for yourself. 

When I coach my clients, we work through these ideas and these questions together. Entrepreneurs come to me with big, abstract ideas or even roadblocks that are preventing them from articulating the ideas that are in their mind.  Together we strip back the fog to see the clarity. Through 1:1 coaching, which is a combination of strategy and mindset work, I’m able to help others gain clarity, have success, and become authentically themselves. To do that for your own business, book a call with me here.  

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