Facing Fears and Finding Focus

Easier said than done, right? To be totally honest, I had no idea where my thoughts on these “f-words” were going to take me, and whether or not these ramblings would actually make it into a post.

Apparently they did :)

As you know, I have been taking small steps toward living my passions and not just dreaming about them. As soon as that decision started coming to life, fears emerged and focus was nowhere to be found. Taking those passions, hobbies, and interests out of their dusty boxes and displaying them in front of me and in front of you has not been easy. Just a few months ago, I did what most of us do; I put most of my energy into my day job and saved little of it for me. I had no time to reevaluate, to think, and to learn more about myself. I had very little creative outlets, until this blog (which I love so much) came along. I was stuck.

I realized that I need to spend more time reflecting on what I want out of life. I knew I had a passion for health, movement, a deep devotion to nourishing our bodies from the inside out, and a desire to help others lead a healthy and fulfilling life, but I did not know what to do or where to start.

Now, I’m making progress. I’m taking small steps, but every step counts.

Facing Fears

I recently read an article by Phillip Moffitt, the founder of the Life Balance Institute, author of Dancing with Life, and former CEO and Editor-in-chief of Esquire. His article, Freedom from Fear, really resonated with me.  He uncovers the layers of fear and explains how often our fears hold us back and stop us from taking potentially beneficial risks.

Fear in itself is not a bad thing, but if we don’t deal with it, it can cause us to be complacent and content with routines and outcomes that don’t make us truly happy. On a positive note, once you recognize what you’re afraid of or what is holding you back, you learn something about yourself. As Phillip Moffitt says, “allowing fear to be your teacher” is a good thing. I found this to be a really interesting concept.

We can spend our entire life doing work we don’t love to do, out of fear that we will fail. I’m guilty of it; I’m constantly telling myself that I’m too old for this or that, that I don’t have a degree in this or in that. But now, I realize that I’m just afraid of failure. Of course there are probably things that I’m too old to do; I’m pretty sure I can’t become a famous ballerina at age 25, but I think I still have it in me to become the best pilates instructor I can be, if I devote myself to it.

Let’s take my first pilates evaluation for example, where I had to teach a group class while being evaluated. I was so nervous and afraid of making mistakes, that I lost all confidence in my abilities. It’s like I forgot that I have been doing pilates for 5 years. All of a sudden, my mind became clouded with fear. I was searching for words I thought sounded right, rather than speaking from the heart. And because fear causes a physical response, it caused my body to tense up. Not a good place to be for someone who is trying to show and talk through a movement sequence. After reflecting on the role of fear in my life, I gave myself a list of things to work on:

  • find the fears  – this will take time and will be a continuous process. Knowing what you’re afraid of takes self-refection and knowledge of who you are. What is holding me back from what I want? I found this to be a  good question because the answers often reveal  true insecurities.
  • question the fears– they are just emotions and usually not a reflection of actual danger
  • be confident in what you know
  • acknowledge fear and move on

Finding focus

Once you let yourself run free, there can be too many thoughts, projects, directions, and possibilities. Getting priorities in order is the first order of business. I’m still working on that. What is the most important thing I want to accomplish today? What is my ultimate goal and what am I doing today to get there? I found that I have to constantly ask myself these questions to stay focused.  Here is what I find myself doing to stay focused:

  • prioritize – let’s be honest with ourselves and realize that most of us spend a whole lot of time at work or thinking about work. When you devote such a large part of your time to anything, it better be what you absolutely love to do. One of the most important things in my life is my family and my relationships with people. I need to make sure that these very important people in my life know and feel that. What’s on your list?
  • make a to do list – I make about 2 a day. This is not everyone’s style, but I find that it helps me get organized. I make it short; not more than 5 items. This keeps me focused on the most important things, and keeps me from getting upset when I don’t accomplish tasks that are not all that significant.
  • take care of you – nourish yourself with whole food and exercise. I try to move throughout the day (even if it’s taking the stairs at work). I also remind myself to take deep breaths. Taking deep breaths keeps the oxygen flowing efficiently through the body, making  us alert and focused. Stress can take a toll on our bodies so having a physical outlet really helps. I hear pilates is a good one :)
  • early start – I’m an early bird. Getting up earlier and having time to myself before the day starts getting busy  allows me to regain focus and squeeze in some treasured alone time.

What do you do to stay focused? 

I found this quote at The Maven Circle. It’s on my desktop at work. It reminds me to live out the words.

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it”



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  1. Pilar
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Your suggestion about the 5 item to-do list is soooo insightful and useful. I’ve never really considered the fact that I feel guilty when I don’t get “everything” when everything really isn’t crucial. I’ll try this week!

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    My name is Maria and I live in California. I love teaching high-energy Pilates classes, going on long runs, and making connections with all of you! Hope you find a few useful articles, fitness tips, and recipes while you're here.

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