How to Focus & Improve Your Attention – the resource you can control

I was reading a book “More Than Financial Advisory” by Finexis, on recommendation from my financial consultant Yeo Ching Yee and chanced upon this page in the book (see above picture). 

Your Most Precious But Most Neglected Asset is not your money, not your time but… your Attention.

What you focus your attention on, it grows.

When you focus your attention on problems, your problems grow. When you focus your attention on solutions, solutions grow. When you focus your attention on what matters, life becomes happier and more fulfilling!

This is very easy to say. We all want to have a good life, good personal growth, good career, good relationships, happiness, and so on. 

Question is, how?

Have you tried to focus your attention on the positives, or solutions and any other thing that you know you should focus on? But… in reality, your mind simply wanders off, gets distracted or even starts zooming into the negatives that you’ve been trying so hard to avoid?

How to really focus and improve your attention?

Here are some tips on how to focus and improve your attention

These are ways that my clients and I have tried and tested. It could possibly help you. Feel free to do them too!

1. Start your Day with Genuine & Good Intentions

When you open your eyes each morning, what are the first thoughts that come to mind? Is it “I am so tired and I just want to go back to sleep” or “It’s going to be another stressful and difficult day”?

Or do you start with a wide smile thinking “awesome! let’s start the day!” or “I am going to learn and enjoy today and be a better person than yesterday!”. 

These conscious and subconscious thoughts (especially the subconscious ones) are messages that you are sending to yourself and to the universe. Magic happens! The universe responds accordingly and it becomes how your day really is. If you think “it is going to be a horrible day”, things happen in a way that makes it seem like a horrible day. Conversely, if you think “it is going to be an abundant and beautiful day”, then a beautiful and abundant day happens to you too.

It is your choice. You have a choice.

Action: Notice your thoughts when you wake up. If the thoughts are what you wish your day to be, great! If it is not, take a deep breath in and make a decision and say to yourself how you want today to be.  Keep practicing until your mind can respond to what you choose to say to yourself.

This helps your mind to focus and improve your attention on these genuine & good intentions from the start of the day.

2. Meditate Regularly

Meditation is a practice where you connect with your mind, where you hear your inner thoughts and feelings and where  you grow your awareness of what’s within you and surrounding you. 

Practicing meditation improves your focus and lengthens your attention span. During meditation, you are not physically jumping from item to item, doing this and that and trying to keep yourself constantly busy. You get to practice being still and focused.

Action:

  • Put time aside and meditate for at least 5 minutes a day. If you are up for the challenge, do this consistently.
  • How to do it? You can download an app or follow a video on youtube to start. You could also join us for a guided Meditation Class here in Singapore if you wish to learn how to do it and practice weekly.

Note: When you can focus your mind, you can improve your attention span. Practice meditating for increasing amounts of time to train this focus!

3. Acknowledge and Feel the Negatives

Sometimes you feel stressed, anxious, angry, heartbroken, sad, disappointed, jealous or a combination of more emotions. Your instant reaction could be to dismiss or put aside your feelings or make them wrong. You may feel that your feelings are obstructing your life.

Your feelings are here for a reason.

Give yourself some time and space to feel these feelings and emotions. To hear them. Yes, this may feel uncomfortable, and that is okay.

Now, other than being present and accepting your feelings, acknowledging your negatives goes beyond hearing yourself. Take the time to feel, know and understand the impact you have created on people, on your surroundings, and on your life.

Action:

  • Take a moment to feel the feelings, let yourself feel them fully. Listen to what the feelings are saying and why they are saying that.
  • Imagine now you are seeing yourself from outside. How are your feelings affecting you? How are you reacting to your feelings? How do the people around you feel when they receive your reactions? 
  • If just imagining and doing this on your own is tough, you could also consider talking to a friend or family member, or even getting a professional life coach or counsellor as a third party to enable you to see your blindspots in this process. Coaching is available here too.

4. Set Your Future Intentions

Why set your intentions? Where your mind focuses and is able to imagine as if it has already happened, you can create this intention in reality.

Action: Set your intentions clearly. Write them down clearly in black and white.

  • Who do you want to and commit to be? (e.g. be a person who is confident, courageous, intelligent, loving etc.) 
  • What outcomes at work or school do you want and commit to?
  • How do you want your relationships to be?
  • When do you want the above intentions to happen by? (by today, in 1 week, in 1 year’s time, in 5 years and…in 10 years time?)

Setting your intentions is just step one. That probably took quite a lot of Attention to write them down in black and white.

Take this a step further, imagine yourself when these intentions come true. Make this imagination as real as you can. Feel it and interact with it.

These steps help you to bring your focus and attention to creating a future that you want.

5. Focus on Doing What Matters

When you are focused on doing what matters, you get more of it and more fulfillment. Focus on creating the moments that you have been hoping for. 

Action:

  • Once you have your intentions and priorities, make a list of at least 10 next steps you can take. Set deadlines for each. When you do this, you find that your mind starts shifting gear into bringing you forward.
  • Focus on doing the steps to bring these beautiful intentions to life.
  • When you feel distracted or unmotivated along the way, you can repeat any of the above steps to bring your focus back to doing.

6. Practice Awareness of Non-Attention

Time to time, your mind naturally wanders off. And this most precious resource of your Focus and Attention is dispersed and no longer invested in building that one important thing.

You can consider to create an alarm in your mind. An alarm to detect when you are going from Attention to Non-Attention.

For example, I am writing this article and focusing on it. And then a WhatsApp message comes in. I feel curious and switch windows to see the WhatsApp message. The next thing I know, a whole half hour has passed where I was replying messages and chatting. I had lost the focus and Attention on writing this article.

How to change this? What I needed to notice is at the moment when the WhatsApp message came in, my mind went “Oh, message! Look there!”. And put a mental alarm whenever my mind wants to switch focus. So that in future, when this happens, there will be a counter voice “No, focus here and finish this first. You can look at the message 30 minutes later”.

Action: Whenever you shift your Attention away from your initial focus, notice yourself doing that and what you are thinking and feeling. Keep practicing until you are able to catch yourself switching from Attention to Non-Attention and you can consciously make a decision to switch or not.

7. Declutter

The old and past clutters of physical items, relationships that went sour, emails, letters and all, they hold weight and require Attention (consciously or subconsciously).

Clear them to gain more space to focus your Attention.

Action:

  • Clear out your physical items
  • Say your apologies, thank yous and any other thing to people that you’ve been holding back your sincere communication from.
  • Clear out your electronic items (emails, photos, videos etc) 

We hope that these tips have been helpful for you.

Once again, what you focus your attention on, grows.

Wishing you all the best!

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