by Kusha Karvandi
All elite athletes know that training the brain is the key to success. It doesn’t matter how hard you train your body, if you can’t maintain full focus during critical moments your performance will suffer. Not just in athletic endeavors, either- successful business people and artists will tell you that in all areas of life, being able to focus is essential.
Here are a few tips to improve your focus:
Many individuals find that they are their own worst enemy- negative thoughts and questions constantly pop up in their brains and make them feel and act unfocused. One common experience is the “loser” theme: you constantly find yourself thinking of how little you have accomplished so far in your life. After all, there is no such thing as free time, or quality time- there is just time. What have you done with your limited time so far? And the automatic “loser” response is: nothing much.
One exercise to re-train your brain to stop repeating the “loser” theme is to dwell upon the positive things you have accomplished. Whenever you feel lost or unfocused, sit down and write up a list of the amazing things you have accomplished.
After you’ve done that, spend some time thinking about what motivated you to do those things- Love for family or friends? A strong desire to win? Once you’ve figured out your deeper motivations for accomplishing goals, turn your thoughts towards your skills and talents. What skills allowed you to accomplish these things? Are you just never willing to give up? Perhaps you have an amazing ability to adapt to any circumstance.
After performing this exercise, try to bring what you’ve learned about your inner motivations and skills to the task that is making you feel lost, uncertain and like a loser. You’re not a loser, you just need to figure out how to re-gain your focus.
Remind Yourself of Your Goal
An exercise to help people stay focused on achieving a particular goal is to use a physical reminder of the goal. Buy some small objects- marbles, or rubber bands. Each morning, pick up one object and carry it around with you all day. Regularly feel the object and remind yourself of your goal. At the end of a successful day of goal-meeting, toss the object in the garbage.
Using this method you can easily achieve any short-term goal. And as we all know, long-term goals are only a series of short-term goals. For example, a long-term goal might be to win the World Championships; one step towards that goal is to consistently follow a series of progressively more difficult custom workout plans. Your marble reminds you to perform that day’s plan no matter what.
Desensitize Yourself to Triggers
While focused on a task, your biggest enemy is a distraction that breaks through your focus. Think about what kinds of distractions are likely to occur while you’re doing something and work on training yourself to ignore them. For example, if screaming crowds and air horns are likely to occur during your next game, try playing a recording of these noises in the background while you practice- start at a low volume, and gradually increase the volume as you successfully learn to tune it out.
Practice these strategies regularly, and you will be amazed at how much your focus will improve! More tips coming soon.