You might be wondering what construction sites have to do with the mind. First, I should let you know that previous to a year or so ago, I knew nothing about construction equipment. I also couldn’t pick an excavator out of a construction site lineup. Suddenly, about a year ago, I began to notice every construction site in Los Angeles. And there are a lot. Why did I begin to notice them? Because I was focused on them. Let me explain.
Noticing Los Angeles Construction
When my son reached the age of two, he became obsessed with all things construction. This obsession was perpetuated by the fact that his school was next to a large active construction site. Every time we passed it, he would squeal and point to the big trucks and machines. Little by little, we began to collect books about cement mixers, bulldozers, something called a skid steer, and yes, excavators.
We learned together about what each machine did and I began to identify them as I drove — scraper, roller, backhoe loader. And, the more I identified each of these machines, the more of them I saw.
Suddenly, there was construction everywhere. Basket trucks lined the streets of Los Angeles, car transporters barreled down the interstates, and garbage trucks were around every corner.
Obviously, there weren’t suddenly more big vehicles on the road in 2021. The fact is, I just saw more of them. Before I learned about excavators and backhoe loaders, I didn’t notice them unless they were in my way or they were directly involved in some kind of activity in which I was participating. After I was aware of them, they were everywhere.
How Los Angeles excavators relate to goal setting
I recently chatted with a friend who sheepishly admitted to creating a vision board. I nodded and smiled while thinking, Here we go with the useless self-help activities.
He shared that he understood most people viewed vision boards as silly, but he reasoned that if he looked at what he wanted to achieve every day, he could potentially recognize otherwise hidden opportunities that might get him a little closer to his goal.
Something clicked. Excavators. When I filled my brain with excavator information, I began to see them everywhere. If I filled my brain with images of my goals, I just might start to identify ways to achieve them just a little more quickly.
Our brains process an overwhelming amount of information. We see, taste, feel, hear, and smell tens of thousands of things every day. A fraction of this information, though, makes it through to the things we actively notice. For instance, we can pick a friend or loved one out of a mass of people, but if asked, we most likely wouldn’t be able to describe the rest of the folks in the crowd.
Our brains pick and choose what is important to notice. This is key in so many situations, whether you're looking at construction sites in Los Angeles or anywhere else in the world. If you choose to focus on negative things, your brain will most likely flag more negative things. Similarly, when you are looking for, say, a new car, you will probably begin seeing the car you plan to buy in more places. This, I realized, was the exact reason my friend made his vision board.
Vision boards give your brain something to focus on in the endless deluge of information. In spite of myself, my mind began sniffing out construction equipment. Surely, if I can inadvertently funnel my brain’s attention to something I don’t care that much about (excavators), I can also narrow my focus to pick up the things that will help me get to my personal goals.
What we focus on becomes…what we focus on. And if clipping pictures from newspapers and magazines help you keep your eye on the prize, bust a move, readers. My very smart friend and every other vision board assembler are on to something that, when paired with action, could be very impactful.
As I took off on a cross-country flight today, I peered out the window. Oh, look! Another excavator. I smiled. Maybe I’ll make a vision board after all.