Focus isn't something you're born with, nor is it something that is easily taught. Focus is what allows you to break through to the next layer of who you are, a deeper level of understanding, creativity, drive and inspiration. Focus is one of the building blocks of mastery.
A lack of focus breeds the opposite. It is lighter fluid on the flame of thought, your head spinning with questions: "Who am I supposed to be? Am I making the right decision? What if I never figure it out?" A lack of focus is what makes it hard to hear your true desire—and will often lead you astray down the path of pleasure seeking. A lack of focus instills the belief that the answer is somewhere out there, somewhere beyond you, and if you just keep reaching just a little bit farther then one day you'll reach it.
How do you build focus? Here are some things you can do:
1. Observe Triggers
Triggers are the actions or circumstances that encourage you to stop what you're doing to do something else. Whenever you sit down to do something, take note of how many times you break to do something else. If you're reading, count how many times you check your phone. If you're working, see how often you tab over to social media. If you watch closely, you'll start to see patterns in when you break focus—and once you find a pattern you now have the opportunity to break it.
2. Set A Timer
When first practicing a new skill or trying to incorporate a new habit, it's important to force yourself beyond the threshold of comfort. An easy analogy here is the gym. Most people will quit when they're tired, but it's the time you put in as soon as exhaustion kicks in that makes the difference. What helps here is to set a timer on your activity and not quit until the timer goes off. This will help train your brain to maintain focus for that length of time.
3. The Meditation Of Focusing
One of the methods of meditation I was taught (and is part of my practice) is the process of focusing. All that this involves is sitting quietly and tuning in to the sounds around you. Close your eyes and let yourself absorb the fan, the traffic outside, the whirring of a vent, the creaking of a nearby floor, etc. Focus on the sound and try to imagine it in your mind as a shape—what does that sound look like? You can do this same exercise with touch by placing your hands facing up on your knees and rubbing your thumb and pointer finger together. Focus on the touch between your two fingers. This simple act will help quiet the mind and draw you deeper into a state of openness. In theory, this practice can then be applied to other facets of your life.
As I always say: The key to focus is practice. Focus is a muscle, and one that is quick to revert to bad habits unless constantly exercised. However the ability to focus is what separates the greats from the goods, the legends from ordinary men (and women). Focus is essential for success.
Going into the weekend, find little ways that you can practice focus. If you find something that works really well for you, I'd love to hear about it. Please post it below in the comments! I'm always looking for new practices.