Do you ever find yourself doing everything else instead of what you are supposed to be doing? You may even start making up stuff to do, to prepare for what needs to be done rather than just going for it. Do you say to yourself, I need to read this book on how to lose weight, while eating a chocolate doughnut. Or I need to go to this seminar to learn how to get out of debt, while shopping online to see what’s on sale.
The fear of change, the fear of being uncomfortable or the fear of facing something you think is bigger than you can all lead to a lack of focus. I already know that to lose weight I have to eat less and workout more. And I already know to get out of debt I have to make more than I spend. But to actually be successful in these or any area takes focus.
What I do when I see this pattern forming is stop and ask myself two questions.
What am I afraid will happen?
Fear is the opposite of focus. Not to say once you have focus, fear is eliminated; sometimes that’s what induces it. But usually the fear is psychological and the only way to overcome fear is to do. In June of last year, I faced one of my biggest fears by learning to swim.
Despite my being a Pisces, I have had a terrible fear of drowning for as long as I can remember. I gave myself every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t learn to swim—I don’t like the Muslim bathing suits and I don’t want to make one, the classes are co-ed, there is no one to watch the kids, I’m gonna drown and die a horrible death and there would really be no one to watch the kids— believe me I could go on for days. But, with the help of my sister, I joined a swim class. For the first couple of weeks I lacked focus. I was hanging onto the side of the pool like my life depended on it—mind you it was 4 feet and I’m 5’4”, but that didn’t matter. All I could think about was water getting in to my nose and mouth and drowning. Logically it didn’t make sense but fear is a powerful deterrent. I slowly began to trust myself to stand-up if I couldn’t breathe. I started to focus on the technique of breathing and less on
what would happen if…
Soon I was able to let go of the kick board (flotation device) and swim the full length of the pool. Ok, so it was still in 4ft of water and next to the edge, but for me even this was impossible last year. I was focused on what I was doing. I was present in the moment. So I encourage you to just start that project or new venture. Begin by taking baby steps, 5-10 minutes a day to achieve your goal. Once you realize it’s not as bad as you thought and most of it is all in your head, you can move forward. Be focused.
What’s stopping me from doing this?
Getting clear on what’s stopping me from moving forward allows me to peel away the blockages. Of course this is much easier said than done. At first I might answer laziness or not having enough time. But I’ve come to realize that it is actually fear. It’s a hard thing to face. I like to say to myself “I ain’t afraid of nothin” – but when I look deeper most times it’s the fear of being overwhelmed or the fear of failure that stops me. But embracing past failures as a valuable experience of what not to do usually makes for a deeper understanding. Being overwhelmed is the biggest for a lot of people, me included. With so much going on in our lives already, starting a new project usually means you are giving something else up—sleep is often the first to go. What I’m learning is to be present and to accept that I can only control the now. Acknowledge the block and give yourself a break, but don’t let it stop you.
Click to tweet: Fear is the opposite of focus @ZahiyyaA
What do you do to stay focused? How do you overcome distractions? Join the discussion, leave a comment below.