Focus…First Things First

I’ll be the first to admit…it’s easier to talk or think about my priorities rather than actually pursuing my priorities in the order of their value and supremacy. What makes prioritizing so problematic is that my life is lived in many venues, and all of these venues have built-in priorities from which I must choose (decide) their order of primacy.

We have relationships and roles to fulfill (work, family, social, community, etc.); we have stuff which obligates our time or material resources (houses, cars, hobbies, etc); we have bodies which need to be nourished (mental, physical, emotional, social, etc). Our to-do lists are endless. So how do we determine what gets priority? How do we order and rank our most precious resource…time…in any given day?

You always have time for the things you put (do) first. ~Anonymous

Instant messaging, fast food and next day shipping has become standard operating procedure for those of us living and working in industrialized economies. Our inboxes, virtual or otherwise, are overflowing and all the messages are marked ‘urgent’ or ‘important’. We say we value our relationships, our physical health, our freedom, our faith…but how much of what we do everyday actually supports, nourishes or advances our values; our priority(s)? How do we focus our attention when the minutes of the day are full of diversion and distraction?

 Starve Your Distractions ~ Feed Your Focus…That Which You Seek, Finds You!

Our attention and focus is pulled out of whack and into disorder by every thing we allow to come into our awareness. If we are honest with ourselves and truly desire to accomplish those things we say we value, then we must decide (choose), again and again to do only those things which we have identified as ‘priority’. Two questions help us rank our values:  #1. What do I truly desire? #2. What is standing in my way? If you’re not sure of the answer to question number one, then consider what you spend your time thinking about. What you spend time thinking about is a strong indication of where the desires of your heart lay.

Focus like a laser, not a flashlight…

Do you get the sense that accomplishing something of import for yourself will require your relentless determination and focus? If this sounds like hard work, that’s because it is hard work! Prioritizing your life, sharpening your focus, ignoring those things which would divert and distract your attention, all these things and more will be required from you when you set out to craft your most meaningful life.

But do not despair of this worthwhile work of yours. Your desire, determination and dedication will provide you strength and stamina to pursue the object of your focus. It’s no harder than doing the ‘number one’ item on your priority list FIRST. Do not move on to item number two or item number three if doing so will remove the urgency and primacy of your focus.

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DECIDE…TO…MOVE

Living in a healthy, strong body does not happen by chance, but rather by choice. This is most honestly true if the body you are living in has celebrated at least 50 birthdays. If your current body is one of the 50+ year old models, do you regularly choose to move yourself in a way which might be construed as exercise? Do you walk, jog, lift weights, bike, dance, swim, go to a gym or fitness class at least once a day? If not, how about these activities: sweeping or vacuuming floors, washing dishes by hand; cleaning windows; gardening. Do not discount your household activities, they require bodily movement and as such, may be considered purposeful exercise for your body.

Whatever activities you do to move your body for well-being, the best fitness outcome will occur when you actively, mindfully move yourself every day. If not everyday, how about every other day? If you cannot or choose not to move yourself on purpose most days of the week, then prepare yourself, and your body for some disturbing news: if you do not change what you are doing today to become more active, by this time next year you will have gained weight and lost strength!

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. John C Maxwell

Now for the good news! Every day presents you with opportunities; perhaps that is part of the problem, too many choices. Regardless, every day provides you with at least 10 minutes from which you may engage yourself physically so as to build strength, stamina and flexibility. All you have to do is make a decision to move and then…MOVE IT!

“Do something today which your body will thank you for 10 years from now.”

Here’s what I do for myself to make it easy. This might work for you too. Just move for 10 minutes! If you don’t feel better after moving about for 10 minutes, then return to your former activity and try again a few hours down the road. This is how an inactive person becomes a more active person, 10 minutes at a time.

In case you find yourself in front of the television or computer screen for more than 10 minutes today, you can move it (your body) in between your sit time with some of these Move It moves:

  1. 10 squat touchdowns
  2. 10 high knee steps
  3. 10 wall or floor pushups
  4. 10 pogo hops
  5. 10 inchworms

To stave the decline of passing years upon your body, DECIDE TODAY to make physical fitness a PRIORITY in your life. I know this sounds like work to you, but I promise you this: If you will choose activities which seem like fun to you, then moving your body more minutes each day will seem less like work and more like a gift for yourself. Just move more and NEVER GIVE UP TRYING. 

 

 

Our Focus: Our Attraction: Our Destiny

Training our mental focus is just like training our physical body. To gain strength and stamina within our muscles, daily exercise must be engaged. Similarly, to achieve a personal goal, our thinking must be focused, purposeful and regular about that thing  which we desire to achieve.

What if all we need to be successful goal achievers is to understand this one thing? That we fail to achieve because we fail to focus on the right thing. If we are constantly thinking about not doing what we don’t want to accomplish, how much mental energy, stamina or will power will we have in reserve to make the positive change for ourself? Can you see the paradox here? We are always thinking thoughts…but the focus or centrality of our thoughts will determine our achievements and outcomes.

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Or another way of looking at this paradox is by using the principles of nutrition for our physical  body. We know how to nourish our body with food, even though all food is not equally beneficial for the body.

Likewise, our thoughts are the food by which our minds are energized. Not all thoughts are equally beneficial for mindful action (change). When we need to make a change in our life, we have to nourish our mind for action by thinking about the new habit frequently. We practice this change by replacing the old habit thoughts with thoughts about the new habit whenever we find ourselves thinking about the old habit.

We feed a negative habit by giving it our attention. The best way to change an old habit is to starve it! How do we starve an old habit? We starve an old habit by diverting its food source (our thoughts and attention) with thoughts and imagination about the new habit. This is how we nourish new thoughts…we think about them…alot!

You have to learn that everything you do every day has a deep-seated reason. It gratifies a need and offers psychological support. Therefore, begin where the rewards of the new activity can clearly outweigh what is being sacrificed.
Dr. George Sheehan

Bear with me as I reach this last crucial point. In order to propel us to action, our thoughts require our mindful attention. This is how they influence our behavior. We must recognize  our attraction for old thinking, and as soon as we find ourselves thinking about the old haibt, detour our thinking onto the new habit. This practice requires diligence. But there is no shortcut. We have to be willing to cut ourselves off from our love affair, if you will,  before we can attach our full attention and imagination into new thoughts about our new habit. In other words, we have to fall out of love with the old, before we can take pleasure in the new!

It seems so simple, but I know it’s not so easy to do. But hopefully what you have just read will help you remember…when you need it most. And this is what I hope you will be able to take away from this post: What you focus your attention on…or perhaps, what captures your attention and affection most often, will ultimately propel you towards your destiny.

When we train our focus to embrace a new thought (love) interest, then we invoke the law of attraction upon our goal and our life. This law never fails to succeed for us because, that which we attend to will increase!

Put Your Mind Where Your Muscle Is

If you want to gain power, strength or stamina from your exercise training, then try putting some mindfulness into your next exercise session. Whether you are training for strength or endurance, pay attention to what you are asking your muscles to do for you! Put your mind on the muscle you are currently working, make sure you focus your attention on your form during every repetition. Involve your mind in the exercise activity and require it to focus its understanding on feeling what the muscle is doing. Can you visualize the muscle lengthening and shortening with every repetition? Can you focus the energy of your breath on your working muscle(s). Do you perceive health and strength surging through your blood vessels as weakness is expelled with every exhalation? When you practice this kind of mindfulness during  exercise, you are effectively training not only your body, but also your mind; this is how your brain is made strong and how you increase mental discipline! With every mindful intention you make during your exercise session, you are making new neural connections between your mind and body and you are laying down new foundations for well-being; you are teaching yourself how to re-create vitality into your body every time you put your mind on your muscle!

Everyone is an athlete. The only difference is that some of us are in training and some are not. George Sheehan