“Success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.”
While the action is most definitely important, the first step of success deals with training your mind. In other words, to even be able to act on something, one must first be able to ideate and think of ways to get there.
Our brain is the most powerful tool we have as humans, but it also acts as a double-edged sword. It can give you unprecedented willpower and drive through the toughest of times, but it can also cause one to stray from his tasks. This extra important ingredient is what differentiates a successful person from the average joe and it is called: Focus.
If you find yourself struggling to retain a calm mind under pressure, or perhaps you feel plagued by a lot of anxieties at heart, then this is the perfect article for you, as here are three simple skills that with just a little bit of practice and a few minutes a day, can help you to get focused on your goals.
Practice idea generation - Your brain is a muscle. Just like biceps or delts, you need to work it out to help it grow strong. Well then, how doth one exercise their brains? Think about it. Literally.
One exercise you can try is writing down ten ideas pertaining to any single topic (it does not need to be focused strictly on your profession), like ten easy cooking recipes or ten ways to improve the design of a shopping cart. The point is to not only to turn your brain into an ideation machine but also to help strengthen your mind’s flexibility to tune into a certain topic at hand.
You might think this as an odd workout at first, but those who are familiar with design thinking and innovation frequently practice this activity, and even famous American author James Altucher praises this method in his book ‘Choose Yourself’. Do try this exercise if you have a pen and paper or your e-notebook near you!
Meditation - First off, meditation is not just for yogis and monks. You do not have to reach some glorified state of enlightenment in order to be ‘right’ or to ‘succeed’ in this simple exercise.
Even with the most basic of meditation, you can stand to gain significant health benefits. There are myriads of studies that show how meditation is associated with reducing stress and anxiety, lessening depression and even improving cognitive function in the brain. Moreover, meditation helps us to increase our speed of adjusting our brain waves such that we become efficient at screening out distraction while promoting quicker remembering and incorporation of new facts.
If you are interested in trying some basic meditation, this is a great article to start with.
Tuning out - You probably think becoming a mental ninja means taking a lot of time and energy and doing a lot of mental work to keep your stamina up, but the reality is the exact opposite.
What you need to do is to tune out your thoughts for five to ten minutes after every hour of focus. Just like oiling a set of gears, relaxing your brain helps to keep your mind sharp as you are given some time to declutter the rambles of thoughts you are presently processing. Moreover, it acts as a separator from one task to another, meaning that you are less likely to spillover thoughts, opinions and problems from your previous task, which could otherwise hinder your ideation process in the next task.
One easy way to tune out is to get up and walk around your office (or home if you are presently working from home), or taking a water or toilet break. Who is to say that a change in scenery could even spark some innovative ideas?
Put these three skills into practice and with diligence, you will find that your brain is able to do more reps in terms of staying focused for longer periods of time.