Many years ago I learned a lesson in driver’s education class that would have application for the rest of my life. I was finally at the point where we were going out on the road to do in the car what we’d been learning in the classroom. I was both excited and afraid. I had visions of my independence — wheeling around town and driving my car (well, driving my parents’ car).
When the instructor and I hit the road the first time, it wasn’t long until I had to tackle the essential driving skill of approaching an oncoming car on a two lane highway. I white-knuckled the steering wheel and began to concentrate on avoiding that car coming at me. I wanted to be SURE I didn’t hit it!
My goal? My desired outcome? To avoid that oncoming car!
The more I focused, the more I began to veer closer and closer to the line dividing the lanes. Why was this happening?! I was trying SO hard to AVOID that car! The more I concentrated on avoiding what I feared most, the more it drew me in like a magnet.
I squeezed the steering wheel tighter and tighter, concentrated harder and harder and veered closer and closer.
The instructor waited until just the right time to tell me that the way to avoid that oncoming car was to keep my focus on MY lane and NOT on the other car. “Don’t look at it, because that will cause you to drive towards it. Look at your lane to stay in your lane!”
So I shifted my focus. Instead of my goal being “avoid that oncoming car,” it became “stay in my lane.” I got back on track and relaxed. The oncoming car whizzed past at a very safe distance and I learned a lesson about driving — and life — that would stay with me forever.
The desired outcome of “avoid that oncoming car” and “stay in my lane” was the same: safe passage on the highway. The difference was in my focus — my goal.
Take a look at your life, your work, and your priorities. What are your desired outcomes?
Work backwards from your stated desired outcome and evaluate HOW you have framed your goal statements. Is your mindset — “avoid the oncoming car?” (fear) or is it “stay in my lane?” (progress).
To make progress towards your desired outcomes: keep your eyes on your lane to achieve your goal!
Edi Sowers is a Certified Strengths Champion Coach who works with women to identify and develop their strengths in order to achieve excellence, joy, and fulfillment in all their most important roles. You can find out more about her and her work at https://www.edisowers.com.
Originally published at medium.com