This might sound simple, but I think it’s something that is often overlooked in the health and fitness world. At the beginning of this New Year, I wanted to address the importance of focus and how it can be the key to success in both our long term and short term goals rather you’re wanting to get healthier, lose weight or improve your life in some other area.
1) GOALS and FOCUS
How you form your goal can determine your focus, and your focus can determine your success. An example: You form your goal as “I will lose 20lbs this year”. Now, that’s a fine and noble goal, but it’s much too vague and leaves too much room for distraction and demotivation. You might start off working towards it and lose track of your progress or get discouraged easily with how far you have left to go, and say, “well I have the rest of the year to achieve this, so I’ll skip today (this week, etc)”. And of course those thoughts inevitably slow, if not halt, your progress.
The human brain needs structure and details.
If you take that larger goal of “I will lose 20lbs this year” and break it down into progressive, realistic short-term goals, you’re much less likely to lose your focus, and therefore your motivation. So how would you break that down into something specific and manageable? Well, you might make a goal that you will lose one pound every week and focus in on each milestone as you complete it, checking them off one by one. In this way, you will not only not feel so overwhelmed, but you will be able to see your progress on a regular basis, and that feeling of accomplishment is VERY motivating to continue on!
Another way to break things down where weight loss or fitness in concerned is to make your focus your fitness routine. Instead of focusing on the amount of weight to be lost, you will be focusing on accomplishing a certain routine or length of time for your exercise: “I will do one hour a day of ________(workout/exercise or routine of your choice) __________(so many times per week). And now you focus on achieving this goal each day and each week.
2) WORKOUTS and FOCUS
Another place that focus comes into play is the workout itself. Let’s face it, sometimes it can be a challenge to keep going. There are two ways in which focusing comes into play.
The first, is to focus on completing the move or exercise you’re working on in the moment. If you’re doing a routine that includes 40 crunches followed by 40 leg lifts, break them down again. Focus only on completing the crunches while you’re doing them and track them in tens; counting ten, then another ten and so on until you reach your total of 40. Again, we’re focusing our attention on the short term and feeling the present achievements, without worrying about what’s next, until we get there.
Second, I find that it helps when you’re doing an exercise to find a literal/physical focal point as well. This may be a song that’s playing or a visual focal point. Music is something most of us use as a tool to carry us through the workout, but it’s also useful to find an object or point to actually hold our visual attention at the same time during very repetitive moves. They go faster when all our senses are engaged.
Again, the brain needs focus. We can (and should) focus inward, feeling those muscles crunch and strain, but at the same time, we need an outward focus to propel us forward.
3) MANTRAS and FOCUS
This is an invaluable tool when it comes to any goal. Our self-talk, or what we tell ourselves can make or break us. Developing a simple, positive mantra (statement) to repeat to yourself at least once a day, if not throughout the day, is a powerful thing. You can create one to focus on your current goal, like, “I am healthy and strong and getting stronger all the time”. And you can change it according to your needs.
You can also create one or find one at the spur of the moment, when you need it most. It may be a powerful song lyric you hear that you find strength from, or it may be your own self encouragement in a short statement like “I’m going to do this” that you continue to repeat as you work through the moment.
Mantras are very flexible, as you can see, and with time and practice, quite helpful. Remember, that our energetic systems, our very cells, respond to our moods, which in turn are influenced by our thoughts. If you want a thing, like health or endurance (for example), you have to focus on achieving it with a can-do attitude. Focusing on what’s wrong, won’t get you anywhere. Focusing on what’s right and what you CAN do, will open you to receive and build on those things. This really goes for every aspect of our lives, and this is where a mantra can be a great tool.
In closing, I hope this brief article has been able to share some insight and ideas with you and gives you something new to work with this year. Whatever your journey is, take one step at a time, focus on small goals that will add up to your larger one and keep you motivated!
As always, feel free to contact me or book a consultation if you need help with your health and wellness.