Ask any successful entrepreneur or executive of a leading company what is the most important thing they do to succeed and my bet is they tell you “focus”.
Most success starts out as a dream that overtime comes into fruition through brainstorming, planning, and taking action. But, the one thing that keeps the momentum going once achieving the first paycheck, completing the first winning product, or landing the first important position in a leading company is focusing on what is most important and taking action.
In college, focus is the major commodity while taking action is study and limiting distractions. No matter how much experience we have in life, focus is something we must nurture and practice. Not everyone has the immediate ability to achieve focus. Whether we are kindergarteners or presidents, we all start out having to learn how to manage attention.
Maintaining attention is important in every aspect of our life from deciding where we apply our attention, choosing to be happy or sad, to achieving life goals. Many things compete for our attention. How much control we take over our attention determines the outcome of many of the emotions we feel to our actions and behaviors.
Focus is more than just applying our attention to something in our immediate environment. We may focus our attention on something in our immediate environment, something relative to our past, or something relative to our future. Of these three, we need a central place to navigate our attention such as managing our emotions or working towards our happiness.
Much attention placed on our ability to quiet our mind using mindfulness helps us center our attention in the present moment. While we tend to think of quieting our mind as a way to reduce our focus, we actually are learning how to train our focus. Not to be taken lightly, our focus is something we have to practice in order to improve any area of our life.
In order to make decisions, we must be able to control our focus. Most importantly, we need to know when to give our attention or focus a break. A two way street, our attention helps us not only to achieve our goals but also helps us relax.
For example, we may be applying our attention on a current project while focusing on an earlier event. We can take a walk outside to clear our immediate attention which is part of our executive functioning part of our brain, while the other is what some call soul work. In our soul work, we learn to quiet our mind and gain control over our emotions which brings us to a central place of living, being, and having.
As an exercise for finding a central place, relax for the moment and focus on your breathing. As you begin to relax, allow all thoughts that surface float away and calm all emotions. Not that how you feel or what is on your mind is not important. But, you can take the time for yourself after you take care of all the things that are important. As you allow your frustrations and worries float away, you can begin to feel relaxed and renewed.
If you get distracted, return your immediate focus on your breathing until you start to feel the relaxing effects of being in control. The benefit of managing our attention is we have a choice which is one of the most powerful tools we have to achieve success and happiness in life.