One could say the number one determining factor to success is mindset. Take a homeless guy off the street and give him the mindset of a go-getter. By the end of the decade, that man will have clawed himself out of poverty and made it to the heights of someone like Les Brown.
In fact, that is exactly what happened to him. Most people who are successful had to grind to get to the top. Most started out dirt poor. But through sheer determination and willpower, they were able to pull themselves out of despair.
Les Brown’s message in life is you don’t get out of life what you want, you get out of life what you are. To become that person who is a go-getter, an achiever, someone who attracts good things into their lives takes a focused mindset. After all, great things are achieved by doing the small things day in day out.
Having a goal keeps you focused.
Take a person who is 300lbs. They didn’t wake up one day and become that size. They can reverse it by focusing one day at a time on achieving their goal of losing weight. He might say I need to lose 1 lb a day to get to a healthy weight. A goal has to be set to achieve this. He may have to cut out fatty foods and sugary drinks. He will have to become more active, he will have to eat better. All these are broadly what he will have to do to achieve his goal, but how does he stay focused? Here are some ways that he can develop and sustain a focused mindset.
Write down your goals
Everybody knows the human mind is fleeting, you might decide to do something then forget what you are planning to do five mins later. Especially in today’s world of distractions. The first order of business is to get a book and write down your goals. Make sure this is a dedicated book for goals and not a book you had been writing in before but repurposed.
Buy a separate book for your goals. This is important because it sends a subconscious message to your brain that you are serious about your goals.
Start by writing down the broad strokes of what you want to achieve for example I want to achieve X goal by X time. Ensure that you have a time component to your goals.
Have a schedule for your day
Everyone who is an achiever knows without a doubt that you should have a schedule for your day. After all small plans are the building blocks to greater plans. Take baking a cake for example it may take some time to gather the ingredients. You may want to bake the cake by the end of the week, so what do you do leading up to that time? You gather ingredients. Monday you might get sugar. Tuesday you might get flour. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday you get all the ingredients for your cake ready to start baking on the weekend.
A schedule for your day is a schedule for your week is a schedule for your month, year, and life. Break down your day into bite-size tasks that you can get done in a short amount of time. This will help you develop a focused mindset.
According to research, most people can only focus for 20-40 mins at a time on a task. But, you can optimize your ability to focus by doing several things that improve your brain health and mental acuity.
Sleep helps you to focus
Sleep is the number one tool in your arsenal to improve your focus. This is because research has shown that people who don’t get enough rest have similar brain scans to people who are drunk. If you have ever been drunk you know it is impossible to focus as alcohol dulls your senses. Sleep provides necessary therapy for the body and allows it to heal itself faster.
For the mind, it is an opportunity to sort through and process the clutter of information during the day clearing the mind. Have you ever had a headache before bed and then found it completely cleared by the morning? This is your body healing itself.
Hydrate your brain for a focused mind
Drinking enough water is also another tool to become more focused. The body in and of itself is 70% water so it stands to reason that your brain needs water. Water aids to hydrate the body and improve blood flow throughout the body. Improved blood flow to the brain equals a clearer mind.
Have you ever felt dehydrated? Then you know that this has detrimental effects on your ability to focus. Because all you are thinking about is quenching your own thirst and not the task at hand.
Water is essential to life. Just as it flows through the streams of the earth, it flows through the veins of the body. Allowing the improved circulation of nutrients throughout the body.
Temperature affects your ability to focus.
Temperature. There is a reason why every building in a major city is fitted with air conditioning. Some people could work in the heat using fans. But it has been shown that productivity plummets without proper temperature control.
The temperature of your space has a huge bearing on whether or not you will remain focused on what you need to do during the day. Not only is working in a hot space a distraction it dehydrates you making you less likely to focus.
Being organized. Having what you need when you need it can allow you to become more focused on your goals for the day. When you have all the tools you need it stops you from wasting precious time looking for what you need to do your job. Leaving you to focus on the work at hand. Where possible always try to plan your day a day in advance. This will also allow you more room for flexibility in case things do not work out exactly as you have planned them.
Stop worrying about things that are not in your control.
Letting go of things that you cannot control is another ingredient to having a focused mindset. After all, you cannot focus when there is worry involved. Worrying will end up causing you to feel frustrated and mentally exhausted. Because there is nothing you can do to change it. It is like going to the theater and watching a movie that’s already filmed and shouting at the screen for them to do something. The movie has already been filmed everything has happened exactly the way it was meant to happen.
Being worried also releases the stress hormone cortisol into your brain. Being stressed over long periods is not conducive to good brain health. Worrying is just another distraction for the mind because if there is nothing that you can do about it. The worry is just taking up space in your brain which you could use to achieve your goals.
Managing worry and stress
Managing worry and stress is very important if you want to become focused. If you find that you are constantly worried start this exercise of writing down exactly what you are worried about. Then write down the worse thing that could happen if this worry were to come true. Is there anything you can do to influence what you are worried about? If not cross it off your list.
Many times we develop frustrations in our lives because we spend too much energy on things that we cannot influence. Think of focus as the steering column in a car. If you have ever driven you know that if you don’t focus on the road ahead of you, you won’t be driving straight for long. In fact, the car will follow your line of sight, so if you start gazing out the side of the car the steering column will turn in that direction. This is a formula for never getting to where you are going. Having a focused mindset means paying attention to the path ahead.
Having the right mental map helps you to focus
When you clear out the clutter of your mind it helps you to focus. When you make a list of the things that you need to get done it sends a clear message to the brain on what to achieve. Avoid vagueness when writing your goals, the clearer the goal the less time your brain has to process what you have to do to get it done. The faster you get things done, the more efficient you will be.
This clarity can be in the form of a mental map. A mental map or mind map is a way of writing out your ideas so you can see the big picture but at the same time not skimp on the details. If you have ever used a tool such as an answer to the public you will understand a little of how it is supposed to look. First, you will write down your main goal. then ask yourself five questions on achieving this objective. The questions are: what, where, who, why & how.
What are you trying to achieve with your goal?
Where do you want to achieve your goal?
Who do you want to achieve the goal for?
Why do you want to achieve this goal?
And finally, how will you achieve this goal?
To give you a clearer idea of what I mean you can watch this YouTube video below from creator Sheng Huang about creating mind maps.
Your diet affects your mind
If you eat a lot of junk food you might notice that your mind feels sluggish and not as alert as to when you eat a balanced diet. You have to understand that your brain requires the proper nutrients to function. In fact, long-term consumption ingredients like transfats could compromise your brain health.
The brain needs nutrients such as omega 3 & omega 6 fatty acids. These can be found in foods like fish and nuts. Just as how drinking coffee can affect your brain’s alertness, it is affected in different ways from other foods. Our brains use up to 20% of the energy we put in our bodies so it is best to feed it the nutrients it deserves.
Choose foods that are good for your brain.
When you go to the supermarket make sure you are choosing foods that are rich in fiber and stay away from heavily processed food. It is my opinion that ingredients that you can’t pronounce like trimethylformaldehyde, (that’s a totally made-up word I think). Have a detrimental effect on the body and brain because they cannot process them.
This is why diet is so important. If your body cannot absorb the nutrients from your food effectively, you will not be able to perform at your peak. Whether that is physically or mentally. Choose foods wisely and stay away from alcohol or anything that alters the state of your mind (yes drugs are included in that list). Not only does alcohol kill your focus it dehydrates your body robbing it of the hydration that your body needs.
Listening to classical music helps you focus
Have you ever tried to study while listening to music? You may realize that when you listen to music with words it makes it harder for you to maintain focus on what you are doing. Contrast that with classical music of movie themes and you will find that you can think clearer.
This is because when you listen to music with words, your brain will try to process these words. This puts your brain in a state of listening and reading at the same time. Regardless of what you have heard human beings are horrible at multi-tasking.
You can study while listening to classical music to help you develop a focused mindset. In fact, where do you think the saying comes from that a baby who listens to Mozart at a young age end up smarter later in life.
A focused mindset is a successful mindset
Having a focused mindset is the key to success in anything you do. Nothing in this world was achieved without focus. To construct a building, the workers had to focus on the outcome. You too must focus on your outcome of what do you want from life.
You cannot live life on the surface, if you want to be fulfilled you will have to go deep. The world is full of people who did not focus on what they wanted. They became distracted, day in and day out until their time ran out. Now they are wishing they had not heeded to so many distractions in life.
Think of having a focused mindset like Aladdin entering the cave of wonders. To the right and to the left of him were mounds upon mounds of gold and fine jewels but his main focus what the lamp. Though everything was shiny and glistened, the most valuable thing in that cave was the lamp. This is because it could grant him any wish he would like.
Think of yourself as Aladdin in your own personal cave of wonders. Distractions will come both left and right but you have to focus on the lamp in the center of the cave because that’s the way to achieving your goal. I hope you enjoyed my analogy, share in the comments below what are some things you do to develop and focused mindset? In the meantime, you may also want to check out the blog post on how to develop patience-and-persistence