Mindset Challenge: Staying Focused


Staying focused is a major part of cultivating a winning mindset. It is also one of people’s biggest struggles.

A recent study of over 2,000 people found that 47% of our time is spent thinking about what isn’t going on. The researchers concluded that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. When our mind wanders off from the task at hand, we often want to get away from the unpleasant thoughts and feelings we associate with what we want to get done.

Let’s look at an example from my own life. My focus at this moment is to write this blog post and come up with three strategies anyone can use to stay focused. While I’m writing, I get a text message from a client, a Facebook notification about a comment I made, and then an email pops up from an employee who needs a quick reply. All of these distractions look easier than the challenge of creating the three strategies. I have to make a decision: give in to the distractions that feel urgent, or get the job done that I want to finish. Here is what I do.

  1. I wake up my “Inner CEO” the executive function of the brain. I say, “Hey, your job is to focus on this important task; you made it your priority and you need to stick with it and get it out of the way before you do anything else. Why? Because if you get distracted now, you will procrastinate this job and you’ll never get it done.”
  2. I take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On the left side, I write: “What.” (Answer: “Write that blog post.”) On the right side, I write: “Why?” (Answer: “Because it will help people focus and become more productive.”) In other words, I am selling myself on the benefits of staying focused and eliminating getting sidetracked. The bigger the why, the bigger the try.
  3. I remind myself that positive affirmations lead to positive actions. Here is an affirmation you can use. Today I will stay focused until I get everything done that I set out to do. I will not procrastinate; I will not get sidetracked, because I enjoy getting things done!”

We could analyze the situation at a deeper level. What stops us in our tracks more than anything else is fear. We don’t move towards the things we fear, we run away from them.

If you want to take a deeper dive, learn from these two Mindset gurus.

  1. Learn about the concept of the “instructor’s awareness” which is an idea described in Thomas Sterner’s book The Practicing Mind, and in this short video: https://youtu.be/R2bA6b5U_yg
  2. Listen to the Daniel Goleman’s lecture,“Focus: The secret to high performance and fulfillment”: https://youtu.be/HTfYv3IEOqM. You may also enjoy his book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.

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