There’s no time to think
The tools and lessons that once espoused success are quickly being washed away by the surge of innovation within the sectors of the internet, media and mobile devices. If famous success writers like Napoleon Hill took his own advice today from Think and Grow Rich, he’d lose himself at page 6 because he’d be distracted by a tweet, wall post or TMZ’s latest breaking scandal.
I’m dead serious, folks. It’s time to get focused. And the tools handed down to you by your mommy and daddy are inferior. So how do you set yourself up for success in this new age? Well, the first thing you’ve got to do, is do.
The first step in becoming a focused person in this new information age centers on establishing a focused foundation. A focused foundation is a daily routine that breaks itself off from distraction. It allows you to win before you even start the day. It allows you to break away from the distraction that kills your focus in everyday life.
If a football team wants to become successful, winning doesn’t start on the day of the game; it starts on the prior Monday morning at 5:30am when players and coaches meet to lift, watch film and study before anyone else is up. You think and learn before the game because you don’t have time to think during the game.
It’s the same thing at the office. Becoming a focused person is not a skill you develop at the office. It’s a skill you hone before you step into the office. You must go to work before you go to work.
In order to become a more focused person, it all starts with your daily foundation.
Creating the daily foundation
The objective of your daily foundation is to break away from the typical routine. You’ve lived it for many years.
Here’s an example of an old–but common–lifestyle habit:
- Roll out of bed
- Stumble like a drunk to the kitchen
- Turn on the lights
- “Eyes burn. Light hurts eyes,” you think.
- Wife asks questions, you get distracted.
- Coffee. “Yes, coffee will solve my problems.”
- How do you take your coffee? With Good morning America. Yes, that’ll help me forget the shit I’m about to experience at work.
- Stay under the radar at work, getting only what you need to done. Why would I need to get more done than required? “The organization reeks with politics,” you tell yourself.
- Drive home in a vehicle filled with sports talk and Metallica
- Watch a few reality shows, shovel down dinner and gossip about other people
- Stalk people on Facebook and Twitter for two and a half hours
- Go to bed
- Start over
There’s got to be more to life than this, right? There isn’t if that’s the way you start your day.
A full day is one filled with thought
So how do you create your daily foundation? We already established that you mustn’t think. You must do. Here’s the twist:
You must do so that you can think.
What I mean is you must wake up and immediately–without thinking–move towards an exercise that allows you think.
Yes, think. Recently studies from Harvard scholars have found evidence that suggests the creation of new brain cells if you think every single day. You can establish focused thought through reading, through exercise, through writing, through helping others, through reading quotes (actions which we’ll cover later).
Jimmy V, in his famous speech, was asked what makes a complete day. Laugh, think, and experience emotion moves one to tears. Here’s what he says in the video below:
The power of focused thought not only allows one to become a more focused person throughout the day, it allows one to experience a more fulfilling life.
Focus on the next step
If you look at my “Focus in Practice,” posts, which literally document each step I take in establishing a focused foundation, you’ll see that I failed for weeks in establishing this regular habit. And I’m fricken’ writing a book on it. I personally understand how hard it can be.
Stephen King often experiences massive Writers Block. Yes, Stephen King. The man behind Carrie, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, The Shining and a couple dozen more. The author who’s renowned for slamming out books like a Mormons slam out babies.
When one experiences Writer’s Block, he or she usually is just focusing on a big-picture idea that is often misconstrued and/or inaccurate.
The key is to take writing one word at a time. In life, one step at a time. The same is true for getting focused.
I don’t have the time
For people that throw out this objection, please shut up. The excuse of the time constraint is so annoying it hurts. Look, if you don’t have the time to invest in your mind, your focus and your direction, then I can’t help you.
The thing is: Everyone has the time; it’s just a question of, what are you willing to give up in order to become a more focused, productive person? That’s what I had to do, you can read about my experience cutting out distraction here.
You’ve got to make the Focus Foundation a habit through making it a routine. Anthony Trollope, a British Writer who wrote long and profound novels on a regular basis, exemplifies this perfectly. Anthony’s day job wasn’t being a writer; it was as a postal clerk. In fact, those red public mailboxes were Anthony Trollope’s invention. As part of his daily foundation, Anthony wrote for two and half hours every single morning. It was a regimen. It was his routine. He didn’t have to think about it because he didn’t have to think–he just acted. As soon his time slot was up, he dropped the pen immediately and went to work.
Once you cut out the distraction and make your focus foundation a regimen, trust me, you’ll have the time.
Your Challenge For Tonight: Day One
First, I want you to bookmark this post in your browser so that you know to come back here after the challenge is done.
Next, If you don’t have a planner (which we’ll discuss later), I want you to write this on your hand:
“1 hr bedtime — htgf in morning”
This is a little reminder for tonight’s exercise. Tonight, I want you to cut out the T.V. or late night ‘net surfing and lay in bed for an hour before you normally go to bed.
That’s it. Tomorrow morning come back to this post (which you’ve bookmarked), and continue reading below:
Only when you do this, I want you to come back FIRST THING IN THE MORNING and read more below. Please block out two hours in the morning.
If you’re having a tough time, here’s a little help to make this happen: Cut the fat. Make a decision now to cut out a normal routine that you would go through. Read here about how I cut out habits that were wasteful. Read a book, close your eyes. You’ll probably get anxious after an hour, get up and jump back into your old routine. Still, that near hour of laying in bed is a start. Now, repeat this practice until you actually doze off.
That’s the only action item that I suggest doing for now. Until you’ve done that, please stop reading this.
Ok, if you’ve finished the above exercise, you can continue on by reading below.
So it’s bright and early and you’re likely thinking about all the crap that you must do for the rest of the day. You may also be trying to scan this material and quickly sniff out what needs to get done.
Here’s what I want you to do — write a one page response to the following question and submit it here. TAKE YOUR TIME. Even an hour. Don’t write directly in the form below if you’re an average writer. Write using Word (or whatever you use), edit it, and spend time perfecting it. Invest one hour. You don’t have to fill out your name. You can keep it anonymous. Just please, be honest with yourself:
Answer the following question below:
What is your purpose?
For further clarification, we’re all betting our life on something. Your response could be about you betting your life on there being an after life, and through feeding the homeless, building a family, working 70 hour weeks, you’ll set yourself up to achieve this goal.
Or it could be that you’re betting your life on no after life. You don’t have anything that you’re betting on. You simply work and help others because it’s intrinsic to human nature. It’s a choice.
Or it could be something entirely different. Key point: there’s no right or wrong answer. Just your answer. Again Take your time.
If you followed this exercise, and this is before your day has started, you’re golden. You just invested some time in thought and self-reflection before the day’s begun.
After the first day of doing this, I felt a little different. However, after a couple days of doing this, I not only felt more focused during the day, at the end of the day I felt as if I’d just woken up. The drowsy, tired feeling that one feels at the end of a work-day is extinguished through focused thought at the beginning of the day.
The 5 Actions That Develop Focus in One’s Life
This exercise is the basis and beginning of building a focused foundation. I try and do at least one of these exercises at the beginning of the day. We’ve already done one of them:
- Writing (which is simply, “refined thinking”)
- Exercise (which you can see increases focus here)
- Reading books (not blogs, not Facebook, not Twitter, not news)
- Reviewing Notecards with quick notes and quotes on them (Repetition is the mother of skill)
- Meditation (Western focused meditation and Eastern breathing meditations)
We will cover all of these in the next chapters.
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