Hocus Focus

our attention or focus is a significant deciding factor in terms of how to live our best lives. one of the main things that can hold us all back from achieving anything is a lack of focus. the realization of a goal becomes difficult when we are distracted from the process of obtaining it. we can have our mind geared towards completing a certain task or assignment but get pulled away by unrelated, unwarranted thoughts. and if you fall into a negative thought loop, good luck climbing your way out.

however, distractions aren’t always a bad thing- it all depends on how we perceive them. for instance, we can take our attention away from negativity by being resourceful. in essence, we are distracting ourselves from negative thoughts by allocating our attention to something more productive. in other words, distraction can also be viewed as another form of focus.

having something to focus on is not only good for your mental health and for being productive but also beneficial when it comes to how we perceive time itself and the use of it too. whenever our attention is fully invested in a given task, you will notice that time seems to ‘fly’ by. it is as if we teleported from the start time of the task to the end. this black hole effect, or flow, shows that we are using most, if not all, of our attention (energy) on the given action and, as a result, are bound to yield the best results in what seems to be no time.

so how do we achieve such razor sharp focus? also, how do we keep ourselves from breaking focus? and when we fall into one of those rabbit holes from negative internal chatter, how do we get ourselves out?

Presence

in today’s world, we find ourselves doing everything… all at once. technology is advancing at an alarming rate, making it easier to do more with less than ever before. well, isn’t this a good thing? in some regards, yes. but, for the most part, it is the cause of a lot of half-assed jobs. we are so concerned with getting as much done in as little time that we don’t pay much mind to the quality of work we’re actually producing. this is why presence is so vital. when we are ‘in the moment’ using our attention only towards one given task and, in effect, not worried about anything (or anyone) else, we use all of our energy towards one goal and work relentlessly until we realize it. this makes for better results. multi tasking is the devil.

Momma Said Waterboy GIF - MommaSaid Waterboy GIFs

how to be present: close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths, one count for each inhale and another when you exhale. when breathing part has completed, with your eyes closed, pay attention to: any noises, smells, and physical contact. if you get distracted by random thoughts, it’s okay. just go back to following your breath. open your eyes whenever you’re ready and begin the designated task.

Know your skill set

getting yourself to focus on something is one thing. then there’s not being able to maintain focus. whenever you are trying to complete a task which is difficult or requires a skill level much higher than the one you possess, it can be frustrating as well as discouraging to follow through with the necessary action(s) for completion. this causes most to give up or keep pushing tasks aside to be taken care of later on. the same can be true for when you’re skill level is well above what is required, making the task, well, boring. the key is to find the balance between these two scenarios. the formula is as follows:

high skill + challenging task = focus.

how to utilize your skill set: take some time to realize what you really excel in- things you do that seem easy or don’t require much conscious effort. then find challenging tasks that can only be done with those skills which you possess.

Discipline

putting yourself in a position to get things done is extremely vital if you’re one who seems to be ‘all over the place’. scheduling and planning when you want to perform an action is critical in this aspect. once you put something ‘down on paper’ it makes it valid and is a indication that this must be done. basically a to-do list. discipline is knowing you have something to do and following through with what’s required to get it done. you might not want to do it but you know you have to. so it gets done. in any period of time, if you don’t know what you should be doing, you’re probably not going to do anything or choose the path of least resistance (aka essentially nothing). discipline is what separates the amateurs from the pros.

how to be disciplined: show up everyday. put in the work. repeat.

The ‘Why?’

all of the previous points are sufficient for providing a guide on how to focus but this one is most important. without a strong ‘why’ or reason to do whatever you plan/want to do, you won’t do it! simple as that. it’s like if you were forced to do something as opposed to wanting to do it voluntarily purely out of self-interest. you’re not going to be as engaged (or engaged at all) if you’re told you have to do it but you’ll be excited as hell if you work on something out of passion. the ‘why’ is what drives people to accomplish and go above and beyond. it is the force behind the effort. without it, the will is weak.

how to utilize your ‘why’: write or keep a strong mental note as to why you want to do something. keep this close to you. anytime you see yourself struggling to move forward, remind yourself of your ‘why’.

Conclusion

one of the greatest assets we have been blessed with is our ability to focus. whether you realize it or not, we are always focused. we can have it directed towards something productive or towards something destructive but it’s always in play. the keys to utilizing your focus for the better is to remain present, understand your abilities and talents, staying disciplined and having a legitimate reason why you’re doing ‘it’. doing so will allow you to accomplish anything you set your mind to, even if that means spending less time on Instagram and more time tap dancing.


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