Your Attention, Please

Looking for a fast way to improve your life? Take a moment to focus intently on what’s working, what’s not — and why.

When Pilar told me about the theme for this issue  — “Upgrade Your Life” — I spent a day or two thinking about that concept, and exploring the aspects of my own life that might be eligible for an upgrade. It turned out to be a very worthwhile exercise.

I started by surveying the key sectors of my life (work, family, friends, personal projects, health and fitness, etc.) and evaluating my level of satisfaction with each one. I looked at where my energy and focus were flowing, and where they were being drained or blunted.

One of the nicest payoffs of this endeavor was realizing that I’m pretty happy with my life overall. I did find a few spots ripe for tweaking, though. Mostly they were places I hadn’t taken stock of for a while, largely because they’ve been going relatively smoothly.

Given the busyness of our lives, it’s only natural that when something is working reasonably well, we are inclined to let it ride. After all, there’s wisdom in that adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But there’s also real value in pausing to notice and appreciate what’s going right in our lives. I think it’s also worth noticing why.

Here’s one way to do that: Once a season (this summer is a great time to start), take out a piece of paper and spend an hour or so making a list of the key roles and sectors in your life. Think about your relationships (with your partner, family, friends, colleagues); your physical health and fitness; your career projects or major areas of effort; your financial well-being; your sense of purpose and spirituality; your time for play and relaxation; your connection to your community and good causes.

Begin by rating your satisfaction in each area on a scale from 1 to 10. Put anything that gets a low score (say 1–4) on your upgrade list, and put a star next to those things that feel like they need urgent attention or are due for a serious overhaul.

Next, look at your middle scores (5–7) and take note of where some simple adjustments could move you from underperforming to exceptional.

Finally, assess those things with high scores (8–10). Take a moment to feel your gratitude for them, and then ask yourself: “What is the reason these areas are working so well?”

Very often, the high-scoring areas are the ones we’ve been taking for granted. And that’s a mistake. First, because within each of these areas lie powerful success stories we would do well to learn from and repeat — perhaps translating some of those lessons to other parts of our lives. Second, because in many cases, the sectors of our lives that are flourishing are benefiting not just from our attention and energy, but from the energy and attention of others. In which case, some appreciation is due.

This, I realize, is the case with Experience Life. For more than a decade now, this magazine has been produced by a terrific, well-coordinated team with an unwavering commitment to a singular mission — a mission tirelessly articulated and advocated for by its founding editor, Pilar Gerasimo. The results have been nothing less than phenomenal.

I am reminded so often by grateful readers of Experience Life just how exceptional the magazine is that I don’t think I could possibly ever take the success of this project for granted. But now, with Pilar moving into a new role (see her column on page 7) and with the magazine entering its next phase of maturity, it is now especially clear to me that this is one success story that must continue to play out. There are flourishing patterns at work here that deserve ongoing appreciation, repetition and celebration.

I am both happy and proud that Pilar, a visionary leader who created something extraordinary from scratch, is now ready to step into a more strategic role with the magazine and, at the same time, bring her vision, discernment and healthy-living wisdom onto an even bigger media platform at the Huffington Post.

I’m also gratified that Experience Life will continue to benefit from Pilar’s high-level guidance, and that the magazine will continue to be produced by its skilled and seasoned team, all of whom share the commitment to the revolutionary mission and vision that have guided it from the very beginning.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Pilar, and from Experience Life, it’s that a healthy life is forever expanding and evolving in the direction of our dreams. So here’s to that evolution, and to the heartfelt appreciations that ensue along the way.

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Bahram Akradi is the founder and CEO of Life Time Fitness.

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