Dream or details: where’s your focus?

- July 12, 2011 2 MIN READ

Personally, I’m an extreme big picture thinking type of person. I know exactly where I want to be in five, 10 and 20 years, and that vision gets me very motivated. However it can be to the detriment of my daily productivity at times, which is when I need to force myself to remember to take things step-by-step.

Don’t let the dream overwhelm you

The downside of big picture thinking is that it can sometimes be overwhelming. You find yourself wondering how the hell you’re ever going to get there, and you could become intimidated or de-motivated by those who’ve already achieved what you’re aiming for.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, decide on a period of time in which you’ll avoid comparing yourself with others. Instead, focus on what you’re achieving and have achieved. (You might even decide to write an email to your younger business self with advice on how to get to where you are now).

This doesn’t mean you can’t keep a close watch on what your competitors are doing, just don’t compare. Why? Because it tends to create motivating factors we want to move away from, which aren’t as empowering as those that pull us towards them.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Small steps are vital to maintaining perspective on where you’re going, how you’re going to get there and what you’ve already achieved. Anniversaries (be it weekly, monthly, or annual) are good tonics for that very reason; they celebrate your achievements and remind you to reflect on what you’ve done and how far you’ve come. However, too much focus on the steps immediately in front of you can be de-motivating and lead to frustration.

To help your mind entertain a bigger picture and get away from the tunnel vision of focusing on the immediate steps, practice using your peripheral vision. This is a technique taught in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to expand your awareness. Pick a spot on the wall just above eye level, and focus on it for up to 2 minutes while allowing your awareness to expand around you. It’s a great exercise to calm your mind and eliminate any negative thoughts or emotions.

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Stop worrying

Eliminate any anxiety that may be linked to the bigger picture, or to the future generally. Anxiety is very energy draining. It’s also pretty pointless given that it is about something that hasn’t actually happened yet. In fact, it’s a warning from your unconscious mind to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

How do you balance your big picture and your step-by-step process? Do you have any tips to share?