I've been listening to Stephen Covey's audiobook 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' this last few weeks (which I totally recommend you pick up if you've never read or listened to it before, so much amazing wisdom in this book) and I am on Habit #3- 'Put First Things First' which is all about walking our talk and getting after the things that really matter to you and me.
This chapter and habit of putting first things first totally inspired me to write a blog about Focusing. Specifically on how to stay focused on the things that are most important to us, because one of the biggest things I hear as a coach is someone feeling frustrated that they don't understand why they can't stay focused or stay consistent towards nutrition or exercising (when they have all the tools and know exactly what to do but have trouble following through) or they get ahead for a few weeks only to fall back into an old habit, end up frustrated, beating themselves up with negative self-talk and end up stress / emotional eating to comfort and end right back up in this negative cycle. Now I know this is completely individual and we are mostly dealing with a mindset issue here, but you can see where this can head if we don't spend time investing and introspecting ourselves a little closer.
This doesn't have to just apply to our health but how about our relationships or pursuing a goal or dream? I really wanted to share some awesome insights to help you see just what might be happening and where you can shift your mindset and focus on the things that matter most to you, because we all know we would be taking a whole lot more action in our lives and see so much growth and success in those areas if we just had a little more focus and less distraction.
I love Jim Rohn's perspective on success in his quote, "Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day"
The first thing to realize is our focus is a huge driving force in our lives. If we allow distraction and saying YES to everything without realizing what our priorities even are before we say yes, the quality of our lives, our relationships with ourselves, others and our goals and dreams are completely effected.
So How do we stay focused on our priorities and what is most important to us?
1) Stop Browsing!- I was watching a great Youtube video that Brendon Burchard had created on Focusing and he mentioned how neuroscience is actually showing how the more decisions we make the more our brains become fatigued. We use more glucose which drains our willpower and we are in turn less effective over the long term to stay focused on one task at a time. A perfect example he used to stop browsing was to stop reading the Feeds on Social Media- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, because every time we do this our brain has to make a decision. Do I like this post? Or not? Comment or not? Which fatigues our brain and leaves us with less focal power to focus on the things that matter most to us and the things we actually wanted to get done today as well as move us forward. Am I saying to stop reading social media all together? No, of course not - You're probably reading this very blog on Facebook right now, lol! I'm suggesting to choose to do it after you've focused and taken action on your priorities first.
2) Define Your Mission- This is the big picture stuff. What is most important to you? Define it, get wicked clear here and I always like to remind people to ask themselves WHY? What is your purpose behind it? Because purpose drives change! These are your core values, your high priorities that you truly want to be investing in -yourself, your health, family, relationships, your work, goals, dreams, community.
I mentioned I was listening to 'The 7 habits of highly effective people' above. I had to share Covey's awesome chart to help you understand just what might be happening or where our focus might be directed to other than our mission and purpose.
I love this 4 Quadrant chart because we have the ability every moment of everyday to choose what we want to focus on but that doesn't mean there might not be some distractions that can occur. Here's a break down of this chart:
- Quadrant 1 -The quadrant of Necessity - Which is where these are urgent and important crisis or problems that arise in our lives that we at times have to all attend to, pressing problems, deadlines, meetings.
- Quadrant 2- The quadrant of Productivity & Balance- Which are important but not urgent. This is one of the places we want to hang out most of the time, with this quadrant being a place that is setting our values and priorities in full focus and at the forefront of our lives, prepping to prevent future problems, investing in our relationships, creating, empowering ourselves. This is a very pro-active quadrant but worth the investment for the overall quality of your life.
- Quadrant 3- The quadrant of Deception- Which is not important but urgent, like constantly being distracted with emails, text messages, people's minor issues, needless interruptions. Steven Covey described in the audio that if we get stuck in this quadrant it literally can bankrupt individuals and companies because they are constantly responding to everything in front of them that may not be benefiting their ultimate goals in moving forward in the areas they actually want to focus on.
- Quadrant 4- The quadrant of Waste and Excess- Which is not important and not urgent. This is the official "Burned Out" / Checked out / escaping or what I like to call the numbing ourselves quadrant" Where we are wasting time with busywork, watching excess T.V., escaping our lives by hanging on the internet for hours, social media and playing video games. We usually end up in this quadrant if we spend too much or all of our time in Quadrant 1 & 3 Covey mentioned.
So hopefully this chart can help you gain some greater perspective and is a fantastic way to spot check if you are spending too much time in one or more quadrants that is continuously distracting you from focusing on your mission and what is most important to you.
3) Focus on the big rocks - Ok so now that we've got your mission clear and you know what you'd like to focus on, narrow down what major 1-2 things you'd like to focus on for the next 4 weeks. We're gonna break this down even further but why am I giving you just two things max to focus on? Because studies have shown the brain is not a good multi-tasker, hence what I mentioned about neuroscience showing our brain tapping out after all the decisions we make that burn it out and we lose focus. However studies do show that you can shift a habit to a behavior and make it part of your lifestyle by of course cultivating a new habit for 3- 4 weeks. This is always a great jump start and we can go longer if we need to until we have made it part of our lives. For sake of balance let's focus on one area of your personal life and one area of your professional life you would like to shift.
4) Plan and schedule executing the big rocks weekly and daily- Take 20-30 minutes a week to plan executing the big rocks this week. I like to do this on Sundays before the week starts personally but find what works best for you. This will not only help you stay focused on your priority for the next 4 weeks but it will force you to keep yourself accountable weekly and daily and prevent distraction and burn out since we are in full awareness and focused with adding it into our daily and weekly schedule. The two most important questions on your mind when planning this are:
- What is one thing that I can do to focus on this week that would make the greatest difference in my personal life?
- What is one thing that I can do to focus on this week that would make the greatest difference in my professional life?
Now once you have those questions answered and that one thing for each of them, break it down to:
What is just one thing I can do TODAY to get closer to accomplishing this weeks goal?
5) Complete one task at a time from start to finish- Now that you've chosen what it is you are going to focus on TODAY, now your goal is to set away the designated time you are going to dedicate to it, avoid multitasking and distractions. Start and finish it to completion.
I truly hope this helped and added some value to your life with taking a closer look inside, shifting your mindset towards what you are focusing on / want to be focusing on, breaking it down into smaller steps to accomplish it. If you have more suggestions leave them down at the bottom in the comments for me or on my Anacapa Fitness Facebook page. I always love hearing from you.
Love and blessings,