Once Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were both asked what the most important factor to success is.
They both answered: “Focus”
Our ability to stay focused on our goals is directly related to our ability to not get distracted while doing so.
The modern world is full of more distractions or all types than in any point in history. We have smart phones, the internet, music, television, emails, phone calls, text messages, advertisements, countless different forms of entertainment and other potential distractions. Many of these things are wonderful tools to save time and stay connected, but they are more often distractions from whatever your primary focus should be at any given time.
Our brains were not evolved for these things.
Without even any electronics in sight, our own minds can even distract us with conflicting and/or negative thoughts pulling us in different directions. Our emotion when unchecked can also distract us in unproductive ways.
It is important if we have goals that we keep ourselves from getting distracted and veering off of the path to their attainment.
What can we do to prevent this?
- Diet – A diet full of sugar, enriched flours, and low in nutrients is a diet that fogs the mind and makes it tough to focus. Avoid bad foods and simple carbohydrates when possible. Eat plenty of healthy fats and high quality protein. Supplements such as ginseng, fish oil, and several others that I will write about in more detail in the future also help with this. Green tea and drinking plenty of water are also great ideas.
- Exercise – Exercise also helps to clear the mind and your body run more efficiently. I’ve found that after working out, my mind is more ready to accomplish more involved tasks and on days that I don’t work out I am in more of a fog and easily distracted.
- Meditation – Meditation teaches one how to clear their mind and direct their own thoughts. Their are many types of meditation out there. One simple type is to close your eyes, slow down your breathing, focus on the inhalation and exhalation of breath, clear your mind, and whenever any thoughts enter it just focus on green grass and blue skies. You will find your self distracted a lot at first by all sorts of random thoughts. When this happens just think “green grass, blue skies.” Meditation gets easier over time. At least 10 to 15 minutes is a good amount of time to do this.
- Habit – Not allowing yourself to be distracted by your phone every three minutes or by surfing the internet is a habit all on its own. Get in the habit of being able to disconnect from these things and finish the task at hand. The more you focus on this the easier it gets over time. Just being aware of when you are distracted is a habit in itself and builds your sensitivity to distractions. Awareness is half the battle so don’t just mindlessly hop around between distractions. Realize when it happens and work on indulging in them less often.
- Turn them off – Turn the ringer off on your phone sometimes or keep it in another room. Don’t always have a web browser open when working on your computer. Don’t mindlessly watch television. Only watch a few specific shows at specific pre-planned times. Being distracted is a choice much of the time so don’t put yourself in situations where you mindlessly give in to them. The world rarely ends when not looking at your phone for half an hour.
The distractibility of our minds and focus is the main reason we don’t achieve most of our goals today. Imagine what would be possible if we could focus most of our brainpower towards accomplishing what we truly want in life. How much more interesting would our lives be? How much time would we save? How much more money would we make? What skills could we learn? We would have more resources, travel more, and focus our thoughts on things that truly excite us rather than just numb our attention.
The interesting person realizes this and also realizes that one of the greatest battles that we face in life is against distractions. Sharpen some of the tools listed above and find others that work for you. Your ability to win this battle will directly tie in to how rewarding and interesting your life will become.
Focus your mind, achieve your goals.