How much of our lives do we waste focusing on what we don’t want instead of embracing what we do?

I have noticed when I spend time focused on what I do want in my life, I tend to think new thoughts and make choices that lead me to experiences that feel good.

When I ask myself: What do I really want here? The answer is always something that is related to abundance, never to lack. It might be a feeling of lightness, happiness or love. Sometimes it is connection, adventure or fun.

When I direct my focus toward the things I want in my life, whether it is a feeling, relationship, experience, etc., I feel compelled to begin shifting my perspective to create more of that in my life. I can’t help but get in the driver’s seat and begin doing what is within my control to move towards that vision.

The same is true for when I focus on everything that isn’t going well, all of the things I don’t want and everything that is wrong in the world. If I am not careful, this perspective also grows quickly. I begin to see and find new evidence for why things are hard, why my relationships are difficult or why I won’t reach my goals.

For better or worse, I believe each of us is extremely powerful in creating the next steps we take in our lives, the next thoughts we think and the stories we spin. We are very clever at finding the evidence to support the lens we are currently viewing life through.

In an effort to tip the scales in the direction of what I want to see more of in my life, I made this list of three easy reminders to help re-direct my focus when I get stuck. Perhaps these simple reminders may resonate with where you are in your life.

1) Ask the Question

What do I want here? Try it, I dare you. Next time you are in a funk or focused on everything that feels hard and wrong, take a minute to slow down and listen. Do whatever it is you do to quiet the chatter in your mind, and then ask yourself: What do I want? It has been my experience that when I give myself the space to ask this question, the first answer that comes is aligned with my truth. When you know what it is you are truly after, ask yourself: What is within my control to have that feeling or experience? Then move towards that. If it helps, write down three steps of action that are realistic, proactive, within your control, and will support you to move toward your desired direction. See what happens when you shift your energy and story with this new focus in mind.

2) Be Mindful of Your Words and Attitude

The next time you are in a conversation and you have the opportunity to add to it, see what happens when your words and tone are delivered in a way that is helpful, hopeful and happy. Practice what it feels like to refrain from gossiping or being judgmental of yourself or others around you. Our thoughts and words are powerful, persuasive and often contagious. Experiment with what happens when you are mindful of the thoughts and words you give life to. Choose the ones that will support you in seeing and experiencing life in a way that is open and joyful. If you are in a funk, practice for even just a minute, an hour, or the day to not complain about how terrible things are. Give yourself a little reprieve. If it helps, focus on three things you are grateful for (it can be at a very basic level), and be gentle with yourself.

3) One Step Forward

When we shine a light on what we do want, we begin illuminating the path in the direction of our joy. All it takes is one step forward in the direction of what we do want to begin tipping the scale in our favor.

With each step, your faith in yourself begins to increase. It becomes easier and more natural to maintain your focus on seeing life and living life in a way that sits well with who you really are.

I don’t believe we have to take giant leaps in life to make change and create more joyful habits. It can be a one step at a time kind of process. The beauty in this approach is that it won’t take long before all of the steps add up, and you end up somewhere different and brighter than where you started.

If you get derailed, go back to what you do want. Write or think about three reasons why you want to feel brighter and how things might change for you if you were to be proactive and take a step forward.

Life happens while we are in it, so enjoy the steps along your journey. Focus on everything that is already so amazing in your life and use your incredible creative power to embrace the gift of being alive.

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Originally published at on January 4, 2017.

Originally published at


  • Emily Madill is an author and certified professional coach, ACC with a BA in business and psychology. Emily is one of Thrive Global's Editors-at-large and a coach at BetterUp. She has published 11 titles in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. You can find her writing in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Think Positive for Kids; Thrive Global; The Huffington Post; TUT. com; Best Self Magazine; MindBodyGreen; The Muse;; TinyBuddha; Aspire Magazine and others. Emily has a private coaching practice and an online program offering courses that support others to create lasting habits around self-love, well-being and all things related to time and weekly planning. She lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with her husband, two sons and their sweet rescue dog Annie. Learn more at: