What Attracts You?

Posted on April 17, 2012

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This is a rather long post, so I made an audio for some of you that might prefer to hear it instead:

What Attracts You – Audio Version

If you have heard or read anything about the law of attraction, which many of us have, the focus in that approach to transformation tends to be on how to attract more good things to us.

Today, I’d like to focus on the other side of attraction.  What attracts you?

On any given day, you are probably attracted to many things that are good for you, and many things that are not so good.  Your house may be filled with things that attracted you at some point in your life.

Sometimes these things play into the law of distraction, which can sometimes keep you from focusing on the things that are good for you but may be daunting to do or be.

In modern life, especially if you’re a parent or a boss or business owner, you have many tasks that  have to get done for other people.  Most of us have a series of tasks we need to do every day just to maintain our bodies.  Your personal list of tasks that must be done may be long, even if you’re trying to be as minimalist as possible.  Some of these things are attractive, some of them are not.

So, how do we manage our attractions and our distractions?  For if we don’t manage our attractions and distractions, we don’t lead our life, our attractions and distractions lead us instead.

If we only go through life doing what is necessary from a societal point of view, we can become very busy and completely miss out on our God given ability to sculpt and shape our life into a masterpiece of our soul.

To craft our life, we need to become much more conscious on a constant basis to what attracts us and distracts us.  We also need to make course corrections to our goals based on the interplay between attraction and reality.

If you’ve worked for any business, you have probably had to deal with certain somewhat arbitrary goals, especially around revenue and profitability.  When I was in sales at IBM, I would wonder how corporate management set their targets for sales growth — they always went up every year regardless of the economic situation of the country.  As I moved into higher positions at other organizations, I started being the one settings goals based on what was needed to keep an organization or program going and growing.  I can tell you for a fact that management expects to adjust goals, but enforces them as if they were created by God.  It can be a bit of a ruse, which is one of the fundamental problems of capitalism.

In our personal lives, we sometimes forget that we can and need to adjust our short-term and long-term goals.  Sometimes we set goals that are simply not attainable in a certain time frame.

In my own life, writing a novel that I could be proud of has taken me much longer than I expected.  I thought that I should be able to write a classic like Frank Herbert’s Dune or Ursula Le Guin’s Earth Sea Trilogy quickly and easily.  That has certainly not been the case at all.

At the same time, I’m running a business, honoring a spiritual calling, spending time with friends and family, raising two kids and traveling on new adventures to exotic locales when it’s possible.  There is only so much time in a given day or life.   It’s impossible to be excellent at everything simultaneously.  You probably have many competing priorities in your life as well.

Distractions and detours can be good, like taking a video of butterflies in my lilacs on a Sunday afternoon.  Some distractions make life worth living.  Yet, we have to choose how much time will we devote to distractions.  And we have to ask ourself:  do our goals become distractions from being a presence of love in the world?

Today, I’m looking at my business and doing some course corrections on my goals.  I’m feeling into what is attractive to me now. In the last few years I haven’t had the internal urge to work in the way that I used to work.  I used to meet hundreds of new people every week running a green business network.  There came a time when I needed a break from that.

I’ve noticed many people don’t honor their own internal need for rest or slowing down for a time because society doesn’t encourage following our own rhythm. At this point, we haven’t created a societal honoring of the need to take breaks in every decade of our lives, not just at retirement.

Before the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss came out, I had already found ways to take mini-retirements in my twenties, thirties and forties, much to the chagrin of some of the people around me.  The fact that Ferriss’ book did so well encouraged me that I’m not alone in wanting to create a different kind of life than our ancestors had to live.  Or even America’s founding fathers and pilgrims.  We don’t have to live in a constant state of struggle and competition.  Life is more than Darwinian. You wouldn’t know that based on the way some pundits talk about the options for America’s or humanity’s future.

Interestingly, the changing economic conditions of the world are almost demanding that many of us take mini-retirements during the course of our lives.  This is a riskier, scarier way of living, especially if you didn’t choose it. For those of you who didn’t choose self employment, it might be helpful to know that learning how to run your own business may be the wisest thing you can do for yourself.  Of course, much of writing is an entrepreneurial activity too.

Here are a few questions to help you uncover and honor what is attracting you now:

  1. Are you attracted to working long hours or gently pursuing your goals?
  2. Are you pursuing linear goals or circular ones? Hint: Write/Edit/Write Again is circular.
  3. Are you attracted to serving lots of people or just a few people?
  4. What kind of writing or business is attractive to your heart? your mind? your gut?
  5. Do any of your attractions distract you from your most important work at this time in your life?
  6. Is your work space attractive to you?  What can you do to make it more attractive?

It is normal and probably good if your answers to these questions are different from what they were a few years ago or might be in the future.

Honor your heart, your soul, and wherever life has brought you now, even if it seems like a place you didn’t plan to be.  Course corrections are natural.  Sometimes they are filled with joy and anticipation, sometimes with fear and sorrow.  Life is continuous adjustment.

Fortunately, we have our deepest attractions to serve as the beacons of our soul showing us the direction of where our next steps must be. Tomorrow, I’ll explore with you the challenge of discerning between shallow attractions that distract us and deep attractions that help us to create a great life.

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