Focus

July 20, 2015

I’d like to sit still and focus on focus.

Because here’s something I think you can relate to.

I want to do so much in my life. It’s like I have a thousand lives in me that I feel I need to live.

I want to do so much, yet if I don’t focus on one thing I’ll never get anything done. Seriously. 

We live in the most distracted time of our history. It’s a beautiful time to be alive and I really feel like we’re living in a new renaissance, but phew…this connected age has me distracted all the time.

I get messages from all over the place and it’s not like I can just ignore them. I mean, seriously, once my mother learned how to send a text message, forget it — my world of staying focused was over.

Because if your mother sends you a message you can’t ignore it, right? 

If I do, I’ll get five more messages by the next morning of her worrying whether or not I’m still alive. 

Text messages, tweets, Facebook, Instagram — and now, wait…Periscope? 

It’s never ending. And I don’t want to be unplugged because as much as being plugged in to the connected world makes it difficult to focus, it also allows for truly amazing connections to happen.

I get to talk to you, for instance.

I can speak with my mother who lives far away. I can literally tweet an Italian grandmother if I want a truly authentic Italian recipe. That’s amazing.

So, when it comes to focus and staying on your own path, here are a few thoughts:

1. Tune Into The Breath

Whether it is yoga or meditation, have some sort of daily practice that helps you tune into your breath and declutter the mind. 

In meditation, there’s a popular analogy that the mind is like a highway filled with cars flying by at Lamborghini-like speeds. Tuning in to the breath helps one become an observer and stand on the side of the highway and observe the thoughts as they whiz by instead of running into oncoming traffic.

As more thoughts whiz by, you just look at them, acknowledge them and say, “no, thank you.” And let that thought go on its way down the highway. 

I suggest checking out Headspace (not an affiliate link). It’s a pretty great app to keep consistent with a mediation practice. 

Side Note: whenever I feel myself getting stressed about wanting to do too much, I practice my handstands. I go up to wall and float into handstand.

Seriously, just the other day I was feeling stressed out at a doctor’s appointment for my wife’s lyme disease and when the doctor came into the room, there I was handstanding against the wall. I don’t suggest you ever do that, but go ahead if you want. 

2. Spirit Write

I’ll probably do a whole other post on this, but in short spirit writing is very fast writing that doesn’t allow your left-brain to take over your thought process. 

Here’s what you do: literally plop down in front of a blank screen (perhaps turn your computer on do not disturb) or a blank sheet of paper and start writing. A good starter prompt would be something like “I feel….”. Do not worry about grammar, separate all thoughts by a dash and don’t worry about jumping around. Be poetic if you want. The only rule is to continue writing. You have to force yourself to write. 

Sometimes you’ll write a beautiful piece of poetic prose and other times it might be mental throw up, but spirit writing can be extremely cathartic and help unblock the frenetic energy that causes you to be unfocused. Set a timer and stop after it goes off. Then get back to your day.

3. Talk to your Mentors and Accountability Partners 

This is one of the main reasons I included setting up accountability partners and mentors in the life plan template, Your Life on Purpose.The reason being is that these people will hold you to your word and help hash out your direction. When you complete the life plan template, you should come out with the confidence that you’re on the right path. Your mentors and accountability partners will help you stay on that path. 

4. Stick to Creating One Thing at a Time

Instead of studying more or doing more research, stick to creating something, but do one thing at a time.

This one is really hard for me, but I’ve learned that doing two or three things at once takes you 2-3 times as long to get anything completed. 

The quality of your work will most likely suffer and it will also take you longer to find out if you failed. 

If you are going to fail at something, do it as quick as possible. Go big, focus hard, and if you fail, you can move onto the next thing.

 

There’s nothing worse than working your butt off on something and have it fail after years of hard work. That’s actually why many college students who can’t find a job after they get their degree grow depressed. They spent years and a lot of tuition dollars to work their dream job and to not get it can be crushing. 

5. Complete a Life Plan

I really don’t like the term life plan because the term has been tainted somewhat over the years, but it works. And since I haven’t found another word to replace it, I’ll keep it. The thing is that so many people are just observers of their life. Completing a life plan helps you become an active participant. You can’t really plan out everything because life isn’t like that. We are all part of something that is far greater than ourselves. What a life plan does, however, is it allows us to be confident on the path we are on.

It helps us tune into our purpose, ears wide open, feet moving confidently in a direction. 

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says it well: 

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

After you complete a life plan, it helps you focus on your path, so when it comes down to choosing what to work on and where to put your focus, if the current focus relates to your life plan and deeper purpose, then onward you go. 

So, what about you? What are you focusing on?

The Traveling Cup © 2016