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Home » Decision Making, Featured, Headline, Learning, Life, Motivation, Problem Solving, Success, Uncategorized

Learning How to Focus

Submitted by on September 15, 2013 – 11:23 pmNo Comment

focusimagesArticle #547

Author: Willie Horton

Copyright (c) 2011 Willie Horton

Focus is the hallmark of success ‘ and, indeed, happiness. We read all the time about highly successful people who are single-minded ‘ or focused ‘ to a degree that has enabled them rise head and shoulders above everyone else in their field ‘ be they sports stars, business people, politicians, writers ‘ you name it! Now, I’m not suggesting that we all need to be world-renowned for what we do ‘ but wouldn’t you like a little more success in your life, wouldn’t you like to live a stress-free and happy life, wouldn’t you like things to go your way or a regular basis? Well, it’s all down to focus. So, you need to know what focus is, how to learn to focus your mind and, having learned that skill, what you should be focused on.

What is focus? Because, lots of people talk about it without knowing what it means. Focus simply means paying attention. If I am focused on what I am doing, it means that I am giving it more than a normal amount of attention. Sadly, the normal mind pays little or no attention to anything – this is a scientific fact. Psychology tells us that the normal mind uses the twin faculties of ‘automaticity’ and ‘habituation’ to do all the things that we routinely do without having to pay them attention. Evolutionary psychologists claim that we developed in this way to enable us preserve our attention or focus for those major life-threatening events that demand all of our focus – like a man-eating tiger jumping out of the bushes to eat us. But, in 2011, there aren’t that many man-eating tigers around!

Obviously, doing routine things automatically is a good thing – otherwise, think of the focus that would be required to simply put one foot in front of another just to walk to the bathroom each morning! But, sooner or later, everything and everyone becomes routine – even the novelty wears off of the man or woman that you first fell head-over-heels in love with. However, because everything and everyone becomes routine, you must understand that, in the end, we don’t pay any attention to anything. We end up not knowing how to focus.

Now that we know what focus means, we need to explore how we can focus and what we should be focused on. Let’s deal with the second one first! You could be forgiven for thinking that high achievers are focused all the time on their goals. That’s how their success stories are told. That’s the way many goal-setting gurus say you should use your mind. Focus on your goals and you’ll achieve them. But that is not what focus is. OK, you’ve got to have some concept of what you want to achieve. However, what you’ve also got to have is an understanding that, in fact, life is only lived right now, in this moment. Do you believe for one minute that a world-class sprinter is focused on the top-of-the-range condo that they’ll buy when they’ve won that Olympic Medal while they’re limbering up for an important race? Or do you think that they’re focused on loosening up their legs, making sure their feet are in the right place, focusing on their breathing?

Focus – just like living – is a now thing. Paying attention to the experience of the present moment is what focus is all about. Which attitude will get whatever you’re doing now done best? Day-dreaming about some future Caribbean paradise or actually listening to and hearing that boring client who, if listened to properly, could give you the kind of break that will enable you end up in that Caribbean paradise? Remember, you think the client is boring because the novelty of the client has worn off. You’ve stopped paying attention, you’ve lost focus and, as a result, you’ll never be much good at what you’re doing. Same if you’re picking the kids up from school. Same if you’re digging a hole in the road. Same if you’re sitting in a board room. Same if you’re manning a supermarket checkout. All these people that you see in all these places are actually not there – their bodies are there but their minds are somewhere else. They lack focus. So do most of us – it’s just the way we are.

So we now know what focus is – paying attention. We now know what we should be paying attention to – what’s going on now. The key question is: if we’re built to be not able to focus, how are we going to learn how to focus? Well, you don’t have to learn – you have to remember. Up to the age of five or six, you were the world’s leading expert on focus. If you have or know young children, you’ll know what I mean. Everything is a new experience for them and every new experience is fully experienced using as many of their five senses as possible. Think of a two-year-old opening a present on Christmas morning. The toy, the wrapping, the ribbon – everything is tasted, licked, felt, visually examined upside down, inside out and backwards. When we were young we used all our senses to pay full attention to the moment. We’ve got to come to our senses again.

You’ve got five senses – you need to remember how to start using them again. Your five senses are the only five tools that you will need to become an expert at focusing – to become so focused that you’ll be the very best at what you’re doing, when you’re doing it. And, when you’re the very best at what you’re doing, you really have no idea how far that can get you in life. You need to re-train your mind to focus on what your senses are actually telling you, right here, right now. You need to actually pay attention to what you see, feel, hear, smell and taste. I would suggest that you set aside five or ten minutes every morning – yes, every single day – and work on one sense at a time each morning. Here’s a suggestion. Why not take a few minutes right now. Find somewhere to sit where you won’t be disturbed and close your eyes. For the next few minutes do nothin except listen. Listen until you hear. Next morning, you could close your eyes and focus on what it feels like to breathe. And so on.

Psychology tells us that happiness and success are correlated to our ability to pay attention. Little wonder that few are truly successful and even fewer unconditionally happy. Yet you, yourself, hold the keys to your own happiness and success. Your five senses – and paying attention to them – will unlock your innate ability to focus – and to change your life.

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About the Author

Willie Horton launched his now acclaimed Personal Development Seminars in 1996. His clients include Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, KPMG, G4S & Allergan. His Personal Development Workshops are now online, together with hundreds or ‘quick tip’ articles and videos, at Gurdy.Net, Willie’s Personal Development Website.

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