06 Jan How to Concentrate On Work Without Getting Distracted
Here is a story about the power of the mind and how you can do exercises to increase focus!
A father once asked his son to get onto a tightrope and walk on it so that they could meet on the other side. With a height difference of 100 stories of buildings between the boy and the ground, he began to shake in fear as he placed his foot on the rope to take his first step. The boy immediately backed away and reverted his steps onto something more secure, like the starting point. After a while, the boy’s father asked him to walk the rope again. The boy knew he had to start somewhere, so he decided to break away from his safety system, forgo comfort and become braver.As the boy tried again, he realized how much balance his the body had to maintain. One wrong move, too much to the right or too much to the left, and boom! He will fall and die.
So he turned to his father for guidance and asked him “how can I be successful”? The father told him that he had to push himself mentally against every wobble and desperately will himself to reach the other side, despite fearing for his life.
Now, what if I told you that the boy is your body and the father is your mind?
Does this happen to you? You try to look at your life and decide you want to make some changes (at work or personal goals), you get excited initially but then you slide back into your old ways. Or you can’t stick to your goals and you’re constantly wondering how to concentrate on work without getting distracted or do something that you want to do, without sliding back to square one?
To understand why we go back to square one is actually the solution.
And why we go back to square one is because of the same reason that the boy didn’t want to walk the tightrope, he wanted to stay safe, go with what has always worked best for him,live in the knowledge that some things work and some things don’t work- so we decide to stick with things that work for us. For example, jumping off a roof does not work- if it worked in the past, I’d be dead, but staying in a home with a heater when it’s snowing heavily outside works for me. So our body defines a safety zone and wants to be wrapped up in that blanket for the rest of our life.
Our body is an amazing living breathing organism that has many things keeping it in the balance. Without you being aware, it has built the perfect system to guide itself to survive. When it’s hot we switch the AC on, when it’s cold we turn up the heat. We have gone through years and years of trying to revolutionize, innovate, make ourselves feel comfortable and reproduce in a safe environment.
So we want to stay in that center of safety. And that center holds a large amount of attraction and gravity.You know you can cozy up there because it makes you want to gravitate towards that haven. In reality, things will try to pull you away from that haven, threaten the safety, because that’s how life is and every day you survive change or face any discomfort- it proves even further that, there is a mental gravitation pull to those concrete levels of safety and your brain says stay here, survive, grow, reproduce, don’t change!
Your brain is very biased towards keeping you in the same place. So every time the body( like the boy) tries to take a step forward, and maybe even reach 50% of your goals, it will start to tell you:
“I’ve worked so hard today, let me indulge in some office gossip and finish the rest tomorrow.”
“I’ve been so good, now treat me with juuuusssttt ONE pizza”
“I deserve a break from exercising, now let me not do it for one day”
“I’ve been waking on time every day, let me sleep longer for one day”
This day of treats and exceptions, will break down your cycle for a week, that will overflow into 2 weeks, and there, you’ve become distracted and now you cannot focus. All the changes you made, all that effort. And now, it’s back to square one.
This happens because your body will try to fight change. It knows that change means I have to fight for survival, I have to give the mind everything I’ve got to prevent it from change.
That’s where the mind( like the father) has to be strong and motivational. It takes emotional and mental labor to fight everything the body is going to throw at you. Your emotions will be forcing you to go back to that center which is designed for safety and stability, but you need to rewire your brain’s thinking and then my friend, you can walk any tightrope.You can soar through life with the perfect balance! You can let go of how thin the air is up there and just inhale heights of success as you calmly walk the rope and cross over to the other side, without being backslid.
So how do we do this? How do we do all these amazing things?
The first step, is to understand that the body will try to put up a fight. It does not want to break away from its routine. Change, obviously requires more effort, more blood, sweat and tears, so be prepared!
The second step is to take ONE thing you want to achieve in life and work toward doing that 365 days a year, never stop, go with a 100% commitment. Whether you want to stay more focused on your to-do list, whether you want to reach early to work and meditate for 10 minutes, or exercise daily, do it, but Do It Every Day!
Thirdly, understand the difference between treats and discontinuity. Don’t consider a rest day, unless you are sick, as a treat. You need to rewire everything your brain is used to. So doesn’t matter what the event is, sleep on time, only then can you wake up early. Discontinuity is when you give yourself wiggle room. One mistake will lead to 5 other mistakes and will resonate in the brain as failure. And failure, this time will make it easier next time. Do one thing that you won’t slack off on.
Also, make sure that the thing you are changing is actually the right thing that you want to change. The right thing is really going to make a big difference to you. If it’s the wrong thing, it’s not worth starting, as it’s not going to help you build values and purposes. So search your inner self, question your values, and visualize the goal you want to achieve everyday just before doing it- visualize how you feel after achieving it and you will do it!
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.