Updated: Apr 30, 2021
It's the greatest tool you have.
What you Focus on...
And Results Show.
(-Some smart person)
It's easy to get stuck in a rut.
Maybe you were kicking ass at your job, school, and... life for a while. Super motivated, super driven, nothing could stop you... and then you hit a wall. Conscious is clouded. It seems like there's a million things that you could do, but don't know where to start. You feel sluggish. When that 3rd cup of coffee doesn't kick in, you've got deadlines, wife is mad at you and the kids have 3 different sports to get to all at the same time... The negative self-talk starts creeping in... I'm not driven- I'm not smart enough - why does Susie seem to be so on top of it? why can't I focus? ... and the vicious cycle continues.
This is where most of us function, most of our lives. Life is hard. There's no denying that, but if you want to get out of that rut, and start truly living the life you want to live and not be chained down by a clouded mindset, then it's time to make some changes.
When this continues long enough in the same pattern, and all it takes is for someone to point out your 'problem', and for you to accept that maybe they have a point. It may not even take a 'doctor' to 'diagnose' you with a 'condition', that you don't really have. Even if they're trying to be empathetic and supportive. This could have a label like ADHD or anxiety, or a general state like fatigue, lack of motivation, etc. All REAL experiences and are not discounted, as these things impact a massive portion of our population. What is worth considering is that in reality you've just accepted a title and fate that shouldn't define you for the rest of your life. As you are only defined by your current dysfunctional patterns that have developed over time, and have shaped your current subconscious processed, and subsequent reality.
There's a reason why 1 in 12 Americans are dealing with moderate to severe depression (17+ million) and 40 million are dealing with chronic anxiety. This isn't a result of 'bad genes'... but more as a dysfunctional environment that we're subjected to through our social circumstances and tensions, family, neurotoxic foods and products, chronic stress, etc. It may not be your fault, but, you can take small steps to dramatically help your outlook and health.
You don't NEED drugs or artificial means to have a sharp mind and clear focus.
--> You just need the right action steps and build a healthy brain will launch you out of that rut, and on a completely new track in life.
Yes, addressing the obvious factors will help:
Effective planning and scheduling
Breaking up tasks efficiently
The team your surrounded by, and consult with
All can make a significant impact on your focus and productivity.
We won't go into that here, but once these areas have been addressed, you can take it to the next level:
First step is addressing the very factors that affect how well your brain functions.
Starts between the Ears
There are endless nerdy, biohacky things to do in effort to improve focus. But, at the end of the day, your focus will be internally created and driven. The only way to create sustained attention over a long period of time, as most good things in life don't come over night.
So dig DEEP. Unearth what makes you excited and inspired. What emotionally moves you. What you would stand up for, even against the most ruthless devils-advocate. Motivation will only last so long without a deep-rooted foundation. There are many books, courses, documentaries, talks, professionals, etc that can steer your in a clear direction. A direction that may take many twists and turns, rerouting dozens of times and never truly coming to a destination... but one that fulfills your deepest passions and upholds your God-given purpose, whatever that may be.
Effective routines and an efficient schedule can help you focus on the most important tasks at hand from week to week, daily, and hourly. These may change monthly, and even daily, but having a clear vision of the most important tasks from a personal, professional, social, spiritual, and whatever other values and commitments you want to prioritize.
Trick to this process is... actually following through. Start by outlining your entire week. Day by day, and even hourly. Block out times you absolutely have to be somewhere, and the times that you have open for the things you've been wanting to do; exercise, walk, spend time with your kids, etc.
For yourself. And hold yourself accountable.
Hold yourself to a high level. We are far more capable than we allow ourselves to believe. It just takes commitment and consistent action to carry it out. Not ever day is going to be a grand slam, but you can make small single base hits consistently.
The easiest way to start positive habits around this is... plan. Plan for success, which starts with planning to hit the steps that are going to get you there. You may see the big picture, but what needs to be done on a daily, and even hourly basis, to get there? Does it start with getting up a half hour earlier? Cutting out watching your favorite Netflix series? Forgiving someone? What's holding you back from making those small, consistent steps to get where you want to be.
This planning process needs to happen ahead of time. Even consiously reviewing your next week's tasks, day by day, will help you set the stage for what needs to be accomplished. Making a clear game plan as to what each day will look like, down to the very hour. My mentors would call this creating your 'war plan'. Others may call it 'block scheduling'. Either way, get crystal clear about what HAS to be done, and then move on to what you WANT to get done as well.
Now stick to it, and hold yourself accountable!
Stabilize your Rhythms
It's easy to get out of sync; or not even get into it in the first place. When we get into a rhythm, life seems to flow. Things fall into place, and good things just happen. We break ourselves out of this rhythm with distractions. And yes, distractions will come from every direction sometimes, but keeping your focus on your priorities, and what is going to get you closer to achieving those goals will get you back on track quicker. Staying in rhythm with your priorities and life.
Surround yourself with Inspiration
Protecting your mindset is the most important thing you can do. It's what shapes your every day reality.
Between the media, social media, coworkers, family... your mindset is continuously being infiltrated by various perspectives, moods, energies, which creates a tough environment to continually shape and grow your mindset to the best place possible. Becoming deeply rooted in your values and philosophies will help you be more resilient to negative invaders, and will help you become even stronger over time.
First, ditch the toxic sources; delete social media, vow to never turn on the news.. whatever you need to do.
You can then offset the toxic propaganda by finding books, podcasts, churches, YouTube channels, etc that you can anchor to on a daily basis. Fulfill your mind with inspiration that you can take into your day, and inspire others with.
Spice up/down your Workspace
UP: Create an environment that fosters focus, creativity, peace, tranquility.
Also-- upgrade your ergonomics. Your workspace should promote good postural and spinal health. Reduce stress, tension, and it'll save you years of deterioration of your spine. My patients that have the worst spines typically come from backgrounds where they've been stuck, hunched over a desk for years.
Down: Reduce the clutter. Research shows that multitasking is worse than smoking copious amounts of weed. Some studies show that a cluttered work space actually shows higher levels of intelligence; just take that with a grain of salt. I'm the last person to talk when it comes to a clean work space... but if you can manage to clear out the excess junk, your mind will be able to focus on what's at hand much better.
Upgrade your Physiology
Build the healthy brain you need to be at your best
Our brain interprets our external and internal world, and is what carries out our response to any situation. Having a healthy brain and nervous system is the single most important factor we can focus on, as we have control over the most important factors when it comes to creating a healthy brain. The age-old idea that your brain steadily declines with age, and doesn't have the capacity to rebuild and renew itself, is wildly misleading. We just need to stimulate your nervous system, and provide it with the right resources to function and heal properly.
It starts with; toss out the toxic junk--in all areas of life.
Eat real food. Hydrate. Move your body. Breathe. Manage stressors, distractors and improve self-talk and mindset resilience. Embody gratitude. Stop ingesting or applying toxic chemicals.
Honestly, leaving it at that would help 95+% of the population, tremendously.
This is because the health of our brain and nervous system is directly dependent on the environment in which we immerse it.
Easier said than done. I get it.
But, if more people understood how all the toxic junk that they're consuming on a regular basis is affecting their physiology and affecting their overall health, and in particular, the health of their brain and nervous system, making small changes to improve on this would be a no-brainer. Pun intended.
Trash the Toxins
The food we eat, can be riddled with toxic junk. Synthetic chemicals that are added to foods to change flavors, colors, textures, preservative agents, stabilizers, etc, etc, ALL negatively affect your hormones, gut, microbiome, brain and nervous system... literally every aspect of your physiology. Synthetically derived compounds that are created in a lab and produced in a factory... have no business inside your body.
Thousands of studies show the negative health impacts of these additives, yet mainstream health sources turn a blind eye. Some food additives will mimic (i.e xenoestrogens) or damage hormones, others will damage your cells, many are known carcinogens (cancer causing), and others go to a much deeper level-disrupting our cellular machinery and DNA to create dysfunctional cells. With enough time, this leads to inflammation and systemic issues.
Solution? Cut out the junk. Yes, it's enticing. And addicting. Billions of dollars go into making sure of these two things. They do a great job marketing their products, even tricking you into thinking they're healthy, but at the end of the day, are only harming you and the health of your family.
Buy SINGLE INGREDIENT foods. Yep, your veggies, proteins, fats, fruits, sprouted nuts n' seeds, water. Eat in abundance! Cook some, leave some raw. High quality, and as organically sourced as possible. Simple as that.
Yes, organic. A lot of conventionally sourced produce is laden with toxic chemicals during the growing, harvesting, or transportation process. Pesticides/herbicides are one such chemical used, and these toxic chemicals will dramatically impact your health. Starting with your gut health and microbiome (which has a direct impact on brain health).
Head to ewg.org to check out their 'Dirty Dozen' list for foods that should absolutely be bought organically.
Throw out your 'non-stick' pans! They release numerous chemicals that can affect our brain and hormones. Stick with the natural products; ceramic, cast iron, stainless steel.
Check your personal care products; the average female leaves the house with over 200+ synthetic chemicals on their body. Your skin IS your largest organ, and many of those chemicals are immediately absorbed into your body. Some will have a direct impact on your integumentary (skin) system, others will impact your liver, and many others will affect your brain. Look for truly natural personal care products; swap them out all at once, or one-by-one, either way you'll be doing yourself a great service.
Trash the toxic cleaning and other household chemicals
Dish soap/detergent, candles, laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, air 'fresheners', etc are all mostly made of chemicals and can have a negative impact on our physiology. You're much better off using products that are derived from natural sources. Again, ewg.org is a great resource to see what is in your household products.
Google (actually, you're better off using duckduckgo.. less censored) 'mode of action' or side effects of _________ (insert whatever med you're using). This is an eye opening experience for a lot of people who are on, or use, any type of medication.
Rarely, are we fully aware of the 'side-effects' of the medications that we're consuming daily. We assume it's helping us stay 'healthy'... when in reality no medication on the planet is designed to get you 'healthy'. They're designed to mask symptoms, and the 'side-effects', are just 'effects' of taking the medication. They all have them. We all just have a unique, individualized make-up that causes many of us to respond differently to different medications.
Many medications have neurological effects. Whether that's the intended effect, or a 'side' effect. The long term effect of taking many different kinds of medications is mostly unknown with most; and there's never been studies to determine the effect of taking multiple medications at once. Never. It's impossible to determine the short and long term effects, which, unfortunately, most Americans are currently experiencing to some degree.
Even ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs, have a toxic effect on the body. They're harmful to our stomach, gut, liver, kidneys, and other systems of the body. They deplete our natural stores and production of glutathione; our body's master antioxidant... making any other toxic substances we're consuming even more harmful.
Anti-psychotics/depressants/anxiety as well as ADHD (and other stimulants) meds are all extremely damaging to the nervous system, as well as our hormones, gut, kidney, liver, and quite literally ever other system of the body. I'm not going to argue that there isn't a time or place for the use of such meds... but they should not be lifelong, or the only 'solutions' for someone that truly needs constructive help.
Check toxic stress; although unavoidable, going unchecked or chronically infiltrating your every day life will create major health problems. According to some studies, stress is the number one culprit of emergency room visits (up to 75%), and a major contributor to chronic disease. Hormones, neurotransmitters, and organs