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Episode 25 - What Are You Focusing On?

Welcome To Episode 25

We are goal-achieving machines... apparently?! We have this amazing tool we can use, our brain, to help us achieve whatever we want it to achieve, as long as tell it what to focus on. Our Reticular Activation System (or RAS) is the key to unlocking your potential and enabling you to focus on getting things done.

Stop procrastinating and start doing by bringing your awareness to what it is you're focusing on, getting distracted by and finding evidence to support. I'll also give you my short-cut to improvement in just 7 days :) 

In this podcast, you'll learn:
  • What your Reticular Activation System is

  • How to make your RAS work for you

  • How to stop your RAS working against you

  • The quickest and easiest way to make a change in just 7 days

Episode Transcript:


EP #25


“Do I need a life coach?” You’re listening to Episode 25, with Rhiannon Bush


Welcome to the Do I need a life coach? Podcast. We’re here to discuss the ins- and outs- of the life coaching industry and give you tools to use, to see for yourself. I’m your host, Rhiannon Bush. Mother, management consultant and a passionate, certified life coach.



Focus is a never-ending source of entertainment for me. Learning all about it, simply paying attention to where my focus wanders and what tends to break my focus – as in I go to reach for food unnecessarily, or I jump to social media for a distraction. It’s fascinating to me. And I can honestly say I didn’t understand the importance of focus until I became a mum. Mainly because as a mum, I wanted to prioritise my time being with my kids. And such as life right, we have commitments. We need to earn money to pay our bills, and to eat, and luckily for me, women of my generation are raised to have really fulfilled lives, where we are able to have a career, and achieve, and travel, and really do whatever we want to do, before making that commitment to have children… or not.


So I had this really fulfilling life, and I had known for a long time that I wanted to become a mum, but until I became a mum I had ample time… to achieve whatever it was that I wanted or needed to achieve. I could always pull late nights, I could always work on weekends, because my time was my own, and I could just do whatever I wanted around existing commitments. That is somewhat still the case now I have kids because I have a lot of family support around me, I’m very lucky in that way, but I do choose to spend my days where I can, being with my children and Damien as well. Our family time means a lot to me. And I also want and need to work. And sleep. Unfortunately, I have to sleep. I often think about how much more I’d get done if I didn’t need to sleep. But anyway.


So I can’t say I’ve ever really focused the way that I do now. And I’ve had some brilliant settings along the way to learn due to different working environments, organisations, and different clients when I’ve worked for myself. But in terms of doing really focused, dedicated work from start to finish, I find I have to be more organised. People commented on how amazing I am at being very organised and planning, and I’ve always really enjoyed planning, probably a little bit more so than actually doing anything  But I have found since being a mum that being organised is really important to maximise whatever time I have. All I mean by planning in this instance, is that when you have time to work, you know exactly what outcome you’re aiming for within that time block. It’s a game-changer.


So, whether you’re a parent or not, whether you are just highly ambitious and looking to achieve really great things in your life, or because you have a side business or because you aren’t wanting to limit yourself in anyway, I’ll tell you now, your focus in every moment, every day is vital… so no pressure 


The most important thing about your focus, is that it is directional. That it has an arrow head, or an outcome. What I mean by that, is that wherever you are focusing your attention, you know what your end game is for that period of time or where it is that you’re going – on both a macro and a micro level – your bigger, more difficult ambitions and in this time slot, right here, right now.


Hand on heart I still haven’t entirely worked this out for myself.  I’m going to take you through a little neuroscience today, because I think understanding how your brain works is highly beneficial for you achieving what you want to achieve by focusing your energy and your efforts. Also, when you have this understanding, you can stop fighting yourself, and work with the way our brains are designed to enhance your skills even more.


Before I do that, there are two sides to this. Firstly, the way your brain works from a neurological perspective. The second part of this is your ability to organise, plan and work out what it is you want in order to achieve goals that you’ve set for yourself. Whether that’s things you want to achieve, the person you want to become, or the way you want to feel on a daily basis doing that self-discovery work is important. Whether that’s in isolation, with a close friend or family member, or a life coach. And until you start to focus on doing that work, and working out how you want your life to be… not your parents, not your friends, and not society… It’s really hard to give yourself any direction to then focus your energy on achieving that thing.


In our brains, we have what is called our Reticular Activating System, or our RAS. And our RAS is an incredible part of our brain, that makes us humans goal achieving machines. Yes, even if you’ve set a thousand goals for yourself and wonder why you still haven’t achieved any of them, you can and you will when you have a direction, focus and understand how to work with your brain instead of against it. Cool huh?!


When we focus on something and we persist for the outcome because the outcome is ultimately what we want, we can achieve anything. And I completely believe that. After renovating our house, I have this complete new appreciation for builders and stonemasons, and people that work with raw materials to create the lifestyle that many of us are accustomed to, and things we take for granted because they’re so common in our life. A beautiful friend of mine who visited from overseas recently got me onto Ken Follett’s book The Pillars of the Earth. I really struggle to read it, maybe it was just where I was at in the time in my life, but this book she absolutely loved, it’s one of her favourites. And it was all about the stonemasons centuries ago, and how they built the big churches and cathedrals like Notre Dame, the Tower of London, the Duomo in Milan. There are so many and they’re huge and beautiful, and incredible architecturally. And they were built so long ago, without the technology we have today, and yet they’ve stood the test of time. They’re still standing today. It is astonishing and baffling.


You’ll also recall the very famous picture of the young guys smoking and sitting on that beam really high up during the build of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a very famous picture, it’s a picture I absolutely love and recognise wherever I see it, but it’s just incredible what people throughout our history have been able to achieve. Something I’m personally am very happy to have are light switches and electricity in light bulbs. Now, Edison invented the light bulb and I just think that invention is fascinating. Before that, it was candles, but imagine living in that time, which to us today, seems quite primitive, and someone thinking “well I don’t want to light a candle, I want to be able to flick a light switch”, or pull a rope, or, however it was first developed. Isn’t that amazing when you really think about it. They had to not only dream up the concept, something we use and have access to everyday, and then want it badly enough to actually create it. Same concept as the first aeroplane. Somebody had to dream about it and want it badly enough to make it happen.


I was thinking that in 2050 or 2080, if society lasts that long with global warming, we will seem, to the people of those days, like we live quite a primitive life. To us today right now, it doesn’t feel that way, but fast forward into a time when technology has continued to develop exponentially and has enabled so many more things to be created, who knows what’s possible? So when we think about our life today - what is it that we don’t have in our lives that, if we had, would seriously enhance not only our life but the lives of the masses? What problem are we looking to solve by doing what we’re doing? How does your vision and plan for your time on earth contribute?


Your RAS is what will help you achieve. By the way your RAS is also the thing that keeps you stuck. Because your RAS will search for and find evidence of whatever you ask it to find.


Have you ever bought a new car? Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted that specific car – the make and model, you suddenly saw them everywhere? It was like God or Allah, or whatever higher power you believe in suddenly said “oh, Rhiannon wants a Tesla Model X.  I’m going to put 10,000 extras on the road for her to see, to confirm for her that that’s what she should get.” That’s not what’s happening my friends. This is your RAS at work. The interesting point is that while you were busy noticing your Mercedes or Toyota, you didn’t notice all the Ford Falcons disappearing off the roads. You didn’t notice all the VW Tiguan’s that suddenly weren’t there. Incredible right?! Our brains are amazing and what you tell your brain to focus on it will find.


It’s the same if you’re someone that says you’re always late, that’s because you’re RAS finds evidence for and also make you late. If you are someone that says you never have any money, you’re RAS is looking for evidence of that all the time and will find it to confirm that that is true for you. If you are saying you need to lose weight, or you’re overweight again, your RAS will find the evidence to confirm that that is true for you. Whatever we tell our brain to focus on, is exactly what it will find. Whether we want it for good reasons, or for not-so-good reasons. Which is also linked to why people who achieve significant things in the world will often say you need to say goodbye to the person that you were to become the person that achieves that thing. It’s because where we currently are in our lives, we cannot fathom how things will look once we achieve the thing we want to achieve and to do that, we need to take risks, we need to stay focused, and we need to fail. Our RAS will find evidence for the things we want it to find evidence of.


This also ties into why affirmations, mantras, mirror work and shadow work, any type of therapy or self-talk are so valuable. Because this is us consciously and with a pre-considered approach, instructing and directing our reticular activating system to focus on what we want it to focus on to get rid of the old habits and thought processes we’ve ingrained that may make us feel unworthy or negative.


I’ll give you two examples for me personally, one where my RAS really served me, and another where I was directing my RAS to work against me.


When I first saw a life coach it was to lose weight.  I thought I was single and that I wouldn’t meet someone and like I was never going to find love and happiness, all because I was inverted commas.. “fat”. All of the reasons I didn’t have what I wanted in my life was because I was fat. All the reasons I ate terribly and binged, and felt terrible was because I was fat. So my brain would find evidence of that to support what I was asking it to, over and over again.  And that fed my lack of self-worth, the story I was telling myself, my beliefs about the results I had in my life… it affected everything. Through the course of seeing a coach, I was able to coach and train my self-talk and begin directing my RAS to focus on the wonderful comments friends, family, strangers had made about my appearance. To start appreciating the fun I was having with friends and also to recognise that actually… I wasn’t fat. And through this process, I started to value myself more, which actually made me healthier because I felt I was worth looking after.


When you become aware of your focus, the stories you’re telling yourself and the areas in which you’re directing your RAS to find evidence, you can consciously and strategically change it and make your RAS work for you instead of against. But awareness is the first step.


The second example I have is when I stepped into a brand new role with a multinational organisation. I was in 101 Collins, for those of you know that building, it’s quite iconic as it has its own tram stop, so you know… that was my Ivory Tower. And when I was negotiating my salary before being offered this role, I negotiated harder than I’ve ever negotiated before. I never disclose my existing salary, but I ended up with a significant pay jump. I was really happy with that, I definitely felt that I deserve it and was worth it, but when I stepped into the role, impostor syndrome kicked in hard and for the next six or seven months, I was second-guessing everything that I was doing. I was doubting myself, I become quite insecure, and it took a big toll on my confidence all because I’d started telling myself I was being paid more than I deserved.


Once I’d let that belief seed itself, my RAS caught on and that spiralled the erosion in my self-confidence, because as things started to happen, like if I received constructive feedback, or was taken off a project and put on another, or given a piece of work out of the blue that I wasn’t familiar with… My RAS would focus on all things I wasn’t doing, all the gaps that I wasn’t filling and provide evidence to confirm that I wasn’t worth being paid what I was being paid, and that I should’ve been there and that I didn’t belong.


This is how our RAS can work against us.  It was my own beliefs that seeded and that my RAS was then looking for evidence for. And it was all complete BS. I was absolutely worth paying that money, I was still fairly junior in my role and therefore I was, and should have expected to received mentoring, nurturing and support in my role, while also being stretched with longer-term goals of being able to deliver projects on my own and autonomously. Instead, I set way to higher expectations of myself, and the consequence of that was a degradation in self-esteem, confidence, and therefore an ability to do my role confidently and do it well.


Also, I stopped backing myself, which meant my reliance on my superiors for approval was a lot higher, which is not something that you can have in that environment. I was people-pleasing, seeking permission and asking others to double-check my work. In that environment, you need to be able to hold your own and back yourself, and to take risks to receive the feedback to then learn what you need to change for next time. And that when you have a more gung-ho attitude, where you try and you take risks, more often than not you will succeed and add value and delight, to your superiors, your team and your organisation, because they’re not expecting you to do what you’ve done. But you can’t do that when you have a lack of confidence and when you’re questioning whether you should or shouldn’t be there. Your two feet need to be firmly on the ground and not running around aimlessly.


So. On that note, let’s start by breaking down your day hour-by-hour. Where is your focus? Are you planned? Do you know what you need to do and when you need to do it, and what time you should (on the balance of probability) you should allocate to complete certain tasks?


When you can do this, you’ll start letting go of perfectionism – because you don’t have the time, and you’ll produce at a much higher volume because you’ll become efficient and less pedantic about the outcome. It’s a wonderful feeling.


If you are listening to this thinking “wow, I don’t have a plan” I can highly recommend Brendan Bouchard’s High Performance Planner. I love it and use it all the time. I’ve also printed myself a very simple excel spreadsheet with half-hour increments along one side, and the days of the week along the top – I’ll put a free download in the show notes for you to grab if you’d like (you’re welcome!)


When you have your goal, which I’ve recorded podcasts on, you can break that down into milestones and know what you need to achieve each week to attain your end-goal. Then you can schedule all of this into your calendar with very clean and clear outcomes to be achieved. Then, when that time comes for you to sit and focus, you can begin paying attention to what your self-talk is doing. Your self-talk will be most evident and loud when you’re about to, or you’re doing, something you don’t want to be doing. When you are putting it off or finding it difficult. In those moments, pay attention to what you are telling yourself. Then ask yourself, “what have I found that supports this belief”. See what comes up.


The next step is to see if you can recall any evidence for the contrary. What’s happened that discredits that non-serving belief? Whether you can find it or not, write down and start rehearsing a mantra. A new belief. A new sentence for your self-talk. Rehearse it. Put your body into it.


Keep going until you believe it to be true. See what evidence you begin to find after 7 days (that’s it). If you don’t find anything, feel free to never listen to me again. But I promise, if you design a new believe, one that you want, one that if it were true would make you feel amazing and you begin it with “I am….” And you rehearse it, day and night. I promise, after 7 days your RAS will be on fire and continuing to find evidence to support this belief and support you moving forward.


It’s that awesome, our brains are goal-achieving machines. We just have to learn how to work with our RAS to serve us. Have a great week my friends. See you soon.








Hey! Before you go, I always find reviews really helpful when looking for new information or insights…


I you’ve found this podcast valuable, please take a minute to write a quick review about what you’ve found most beneficial for you, so other people can benefit from your insights, and listen in too. I would LOVE that!

Also, if there are any topics you’d like me to cover specifically about life coaching or the life coaching industry, visit to contact me. Thanks for joining and I’ll see you in the next episode of Do I Need A Life Coach?!



Please note, this transcription may not be exact.

Questions? Topic Ideas?

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