By Michael Van Deren, FOCUS Graduate, Mentor

As FOCUS graduates, we all remember getting on the buses Saturday morning on that last day of FOCUS fired up about life and excited to get home to work on our relationships, our anger and anxiety issues, get back in shape, or square our lives away. We leave FOCUS feeling empowered with new tools and a mindset that nothing is out of reach.

The question now is. “… do you still have that feeling today and how do you keep it present in everything you do?” For those of you that can recall, SgtMaj Fogarty asks each class “…what are you doing to stay green?” what’s the one thing you carry to remind you to stay true to our core values – a pin, a USMC hat, a challenge coin, etc. That same principle applies to the FOCUS mindset. It is a choice you have to make daily. If you want to maintain that feeling you had on that Saturday morning leaving FOCUS you need to do something to keep it present in your life.

For me personally, it starts with the picture of the circle and an arrow pointing to a blue star hanging on the back of my door with the question below. “What are you doing to live outside your comfort zone today?” Dan Dorr talks about growth and decay. If you’re not growing, if you’re just marking time and standing still, then you are decaying. Remember the example of the wooden stool on stage? With that in mind I choose to start my day not only to do something new and outside of my comfort zone, but also to make choices that allow me to grow.

Then when I’m at work, with family, running errands, or whatever my day has in store for me I consciously ask myself… “am I handling this situation with a responsible or victim mindset?” It is far too easy to fall back into bad habits and allow ourselves to do so with a victim mindset. If necessary set a reminder or a note on your desk to keep the question in the front of your mind.

Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, maintain contact with your FOCUS family. You connected with brothers/sisters, team leaders, mentors, and more at FOCUS. You will be amazed at the opportunities if you continue to build upon those relationships. Allow them to hold you accountable to the FOCUS mindset and encourage you with new goals or challenges.

For several months now I have been working with one of the Corpsman that came through FOCUS, and have almost daily conversation with him. I’ve been called out on several occasions and heard him say “you’re being a victim right now” or “have you thought about this from your co-workers viewpoint?” WE need consistent contact with someone that can remind us of all the lessons learned at FOCUS. We should challenge each other with tasks or short goals to use the skills learned. My recommendation is to call someone you connected with at FOCUS, not next week, not tomorrow, but right now. Check in on them and see how you can help each other continue to grow and push for that next “Big Blue Star” goal. S/F!