Wouldn’t it be great if every minute of every day just felt so inspiring and uplifting that you just wanted to jump out of bed every day and get going!? You wouldn’t want to sleep!
We’ve all had moments when things just…flow. Time stands still. Results are effortless and the thought of stopping or even reconsidering what you are doing seems so absurd it quickly leaves your mind.
The act of flow is addictive. No…really…it actually IS addictive. When your body is in flow you’re actually becoming addicted to the neurochemicals your body is producing. That’s why being in flow feels…so…good.
But when you’re out of flow…fuggedaboutit.
Part of what makes things flowy is that during the time you are working in flow you are getting little rewards that keep you interested. You’re not even aware of them at times because things feel so great but what is happening is your brain is getting feedback to what it is you are doing in frequent enough intervals that you feel rewarded.
For my athletes most daily practices are rewarding. They are getting feedback at frequent intervals sometimes multiple times per day.
But for my athletes in life…well…that feedback can feel few and far between.
“Why haven’t I lost six pounds since yesterday.”
“It’s been a week and I still have cancer.”
“It’s been a month and I still don’t have my book done.”
The truth is most “life” challenges take a lot longer to complete and the feedback along the way can be sporadic. Instead of frequent likes or hearts or thumbs up things feel like a grind and it’s hard to stay focused when things feel like a grind.
So with that in mind…here’s a gameplan to stay focused and keep it going.
Recommit To Your Goals:
If you are even aware that you are feeling like this, that’s a good sign. You can’t make significant improvements if you’re not aware of how you are really feeling. So you’ve got THAT going for you.
Now, just the fact that you’re thinking about it makes me think that you still want that thing you said you wanted…it’s just taking a long time and you’re losing focus. There’s no positive feedback…yet.
The first thing you need to do in this situation is to recommit to the thing you want. Hang in there. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. While you may not be able to see the rewards of your progress…yet…doesn’t mean that forces aren’t working on your behalf in the background.
It’s like a seed growing a root in the dirt before it sprouts. You can yell all you want at the seed and say, “Grow dammit!” But what you don’t see is the root under the soil getting stronger and stronger.
Before you know it that seed will sprout through the surface and then you see the growth happening.
Forget About Your Goals: Focus On Process
After you recommit to that thing you want…forget about it.
The thing you want isn’t the thing to be focusing on. Why? Because that “thing” is really the byproduct of some other action(s).
So focus on those.
For me…when I feel the ‘chubs’ coming on and I want to lose a few pounds it usually means I’ve been having an enjoyable Pepsi a little too frequently.
Focusing on the scale and the weight I’d like to be just gets me frustrated and I then beat myself up a bit.
But if I just focus on spreading out the Pepsi’s a little more infrequently I know the result will take care of itself.
My friend has gone through four bouts of chemotherapy to beat cancer. Each time, instead of focusing on if the cancer was gone or going away, he just focused on the chemo treatments.
Five left. Four left. Three left. Etc.
By doing that he focused on the benefits the chemo was giving him and how nice his bald head looked.
When he finally went for the checkup he was cancer-free, every time. His focus was on the process and not the end result.
So focus on your process and not the end result.
When I think about my next book once I decide on the book title and topic I then turn my focus on being the writer I need to be to get it done. It’s nice to have written a book but only people who write actually end up with a book.
I’m not a ‘booker’, I’m a ‘writer’.
If I don’t focus on being a writer then I’m really frustrated when I keep noticing I don’t have a book. Make sense?
Be Willing to Be Bored
It’s exciting to lose weight. It’s exciting to beat cancer. It’s exciting to be looking at your finished book.
But the acts along the way that make those things happen tend to be pretty boring.
Putting in the hard miles is boring. Laborious. Mind-numbingly…well…numbing.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s
inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
– Blaise Pascal
We are in a world where we have unlimited entertainment in our pockets. A lifetime of distractions available to us. It has made our attention spans quite short.
We have become uncomfortable with the silence between the notes and we have the inability to sit quietly…in a room…alone. So-to-speak.
When you recommit to your goals and then focus on the process you are immediately faced with the realization that the work can be…boring.
You need to fall in love with that feeling.
Fall in love with the grind. The work. The drudgery.
Fall in love with the process. For when you do, the result has to happen. It’s as good as guaranteed.
Olympian - Jonathan Edwards
Olympian Jonathan Edwards is the Chief Challenge Master and Performance Coach at OvercomeAnyChallenge.com. An author, Olympic Speaker, blogger, podcaster and more he's been dedicating his life to helping people overcome any challenge using the power of games and sport. He looks forward to hearing your story and the challenges you are planning to overcome.