WITI PERSONAL GROWTH
How to Stay Focused on Your Goal in a Multitasking World?
How is your New Year Resolution going? If you are like most people, it starts dwindling after January 7, and by the 20th you prefer not mentioning the subject at all. Such is our collective annual ritual.
A similar pattern, however, is repeated almost on a daily basis: you set your mind on doing something, letís say, avoiding heavy meals before bedtime. Guess what happens by the time you arrive home after a dayís hectic work in the office? Or, maybe you intended to get your project done by 4 pm today. Then somebody called you to tell you about their trouble with X. Or there was an emergency meeting about Y. Or a piece of news popped out of your inbox. Ö
Multitasking, internet and their effects on our mind
When your intentions get washed away one after another, day in day out, New Year after New Year, what outcome can your mind look forward to whenever you make a decision? What does that do to your attempt to achieve your goals?
As an executive coach the most common complaints I hear these days is interruptions: meetings, phone calls, emails, internet, etc. Life seems to be just a non-stop flow of interruptions. By the end of the day it is hard to remember where you originally wanted to go and why you wanted to go there. Isnít that why we are all interested in our life purpose now? Itís hard to remember even the most important things in our life.
So the question is how to stay focused in the midst of the numerous influences we are all exposed to on a daily basis. How to actually carry out your intention to completion?
The mind can be trained to stay focused in the midst of chaos
The mind, to a certain extent, functions very much like the body. It has muscles or faculties which, if not used, will wither away. The ability to focus oneís attention single-mindedly on an object is one of the most important faculties of the mind. In the ancient yoga classics, this ability is called dhâraṇâ. Students need to train to strengthen that mental muscle for single-minded concentration on an object.
As we all know, sun light when harnessed can provide energy for all kinds of purposes: heating, cooling, charging batteries, and so on. The same is true of the mind. If scattered, it is capable of only very limited tasks. But when trained to sustain a single focus, the human mind has tremendous energy to accomplish what it intends to do, and nothing can possibly interrupt it.
Mental focus is easier than you think
No, you donít have to go to a mountain cave to learn concentration. You can do it where you are. In fact concentration is a natural state of mind. Think of a child watching his/her favorite show on TV. They wonít hear your call for dinner, even when you raise your voice. Nothing else matters for them at the moment. The rest of the world has quite literally disappeared in their mind.
In modern times we are daily flooded with new information, new gadgets, new activities, etc. That means our attention is constantly scattered among many different things. Is there any wonder that we have trouble staying focused?
In order to bring our attention back, some simple exercises done regularly can make vast improvement.
Choose an object for mental fitness training
Yes, it is time to set up your own mental gym. Improving your mental fitness will benefit you, your career and your life in more ways you can imagine.
You can improve your focus by focusing on an object using one or both of the two most important senses: vision and hearing. Traditionally, the science of mantra meditation is to bring focus to a sound, one syllable or a string of syllable. In general, the shorter the sound, the more concentrated or potent it is. After meditating on a sound for a while, you will see an image emerging. So aural and visual images have inextricable connections with each other in our brain. Powerful sounds include mantras or chants from all spiritual traditions, such as OM, Amen, I AM, etc. I also work with clients using mantras set to music, which makes it even easier to sustain focus.
A visual image is also powerful and can be used alone, or together with a sound or mantra music. Each spiritual tradition has its visual (as well as aural) symbol. If you follow a certain tradition, you can choose your visual symbol accordingly. Otherwise you can choose a natural phenomena such as the sun, sunrise, sunset, a tree, a flower, etc. The one I use most often with clients is the sun. There are many ways to work with the sun image, for example, you can place it in your heart. It brings illumination, energy and equilibrium to the mind.
Whatever object you have chosen, try focus on it for 3-5 minutes at one sitting, and continue for at least 40 days. Without training the mind tends to wander away every 20-30 seconds. Just gently bring back your attention on the object of your choice. After a while, your mental muscle will grow, and youíll find your ability to focus has increased. Even with all the interruptions going on, you will feel less affected because your mind has become stronger and more stable in itself.
As many leadership experts have discovered in the recent years, conventional time management is no longer viable in todayís world where information explosion is overwhelming our mind on a daily basis. Instead of managing the fixed number of hours we have little control over, it makes much more sense to manage our attention. When we have developed our mental muscles, we can bring our energy to a sustained focus. Like solar power, a focused human mind can operate much more efficiently and effectively. Then we can move beyond the constant interruption, and experience the deep satisfaction of achieving our goals.