Tag Archives: focus

Complication Consternation

The ONE ThingI’m going to be honest with you, my friends – I mostly like the title of this blog post because of the alliteration. I can’t lie about that – I think alliteration is becoming one of my favorite things for no apparent reason. Somehow it just feels good rolling around in my brain. I felt the need to get that little gem out of the way before getting down to the business at hand of today’s post.

My last post on dinner with my Mom has been part of my overall thinking on how to get less complicated about life in general. It’s a trend for me the last few years and my success rate with it, while not perfect, is improving. Part of the reason I feel I am getting some traction on un-complicating things for myself is that I see people making things far too complicated, seemingly every day. The oft-quoted notion of analysis paralysis is prevalent everywhere I look.

I don’t think that’s surprising – life itself can throw a lot of variables at us and there are many things we cannot control. By delving deeply into everything in a non-stop fashion, perhaps we feel there is a certain level of control that returns… or at least that we improve our chances of getting things right. Whatever that means.

I am trying to detach from that way of thinking as best I can. Now, I surely enjoy reflecting and thinking, so I don’t want it to seem as if I only believe in all action, all the time. Perish the thought. Instead, I am against using over-analysis as a replacement for taking some damn action once in a while. The analysis paralysis problem is that it seems to get to an idea that if we just spend a little bit more time wrestling with the problem, gathering more data and re-framing the argument for the hundredth time, we will achieve perfection.

Since I believe the perfect is the enemy of the good, I don’t worry much about perfection.

This is a big part of why I am so thoroughly enjoying a book by Gary Keller, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. I could spend many hours describing it, the methods of Keller’s system and such, but suffice it to say, it really is about… well… one thing: creating success by winnowing down the focus of your energy and talents to the one thing that will either make things easier or every other action unnecessary.

Kind of bold, right?

But Keller’s point is compelling in that we often believe success is about adding more or doing more when often, it’s about focusing more and saying no more. Like, A LOT more – something I need to work on as a consummate people-pleaser.

So today I took up his advice to focus on something that is a big thing to me (this blog), did it at a high energy time (first thing this AM) and have creating this little morsel of goodness for your consumption. My hope is that it’s a tasty one, but that is yours to judge and not mine… especially since I think all of my stuff is worth a nibble or two.

With that, I leave you with a question: What would be the one thing you would focus on today to make things easier for yourself? That thing that you would protect and not let time thieves pilfer from your day?

Balance Through Imbalance

I seem to have my epiphany moments at odd times and a lot of them seem to come during my morning commute.  While part of it is likely due to the fact that I almost always do that commute with no music or radio on, I think it’s also likely due to the fact that it’s easier to let your mind be open to think about things instead of watching the utter madness of how my fellow humanity drives.  Come on, people… get it together out there!

My latest piece of highway inspiration caught me off guard a little bit, truth be told, because it stood on its head a lot of what I’ve been pondering in terms of creating a better life for myself… because the moment of clarity was all about how I need to possibly get myself out of balance to achieve balance.  A tad bit counterintuitive, to say the least.

yinYang.gif

Up to this point, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I need to achieve some kind of well-structured harmony of my mind, body and spirit… and that’s still my end goal.  The “A ha!” moment came with the stark realization that my process of achieving that goal was quite likely all out of whack.  I’ve been in a mode of thinking that I needed to treat mind, body and spirit equally in my pursuit of the noble balance, but there’s a pretty significant chance I am not currently balanced equally in those 3 areas anyway.  Maybe I am at 50% body, 35% mind and 15% spirit in terms of where I pay the most attention or where I have achieved the most amount of progress.  Nothing about that would approximate the equally divided personal growth pie of 33.3%, 33.3% and 33.3%.

I can practically sense a few doubters reading this and thinking, “How is it a grand point of epiphany to think that maybe you need to spend more attention on the 15% and less on the 50%?  That ain’t some kind of advanced nuclear physics, dude.”  Too truth, my Doubting Thomas… too true.  That wasn’t my clarity moment.  Here is what I realized:

Maybe I need to throw a ton of time and attention to body… even if it is at a 50% point of progress.  Seems a little odd, right?  How is devoting more time to the area where I am the “farthest along” (whatever in the world that even means) going to bring along the two areas that are not quite where I want to be?

Here’s my thought process… and be forewarned, my friends… stepping into my head for even but a moment is gonna leave a mark… tread softly:

I think that if I put in a full commitment to the area of body and really buckle down, get truly disciplined and decide I am going to completely kick ass on all aspects of my physical developments for the next few months… I think there will be tremendous carry over to mind and spirit.  It all gets back to my core belief that developing one area of mind/body/spirit and go a really long way to developing them all.  The commitment to excellence and dedication to discipline I can put forth through consistent training, top-notch diet and a relentless attitude will allow me to prove to myself I can make progress when I commit.  That proof will strengthen my resolve and, hence, strengthen my spirit.

This kind of single-minded focus I think will spillover into mind as well because this approach will force me to be smart and not just burn myself out like some kind of unfocused maniac.

And… in the end… if my body feels good and I know I am making progress, I already know this is the kind of confidence that improves my life as a whole anyway.  I can hardly put into words how much better my life has been ever since I decided sometime in college and then in law school to really start getting myself into shape.  It’s completely night and day.

But while I am still doing well, I think I’ve lost a little bit of the swagger and a little bit of the fun that goes along with it.  I aim to get that back and in getting that back, prove to myself that just an overall improvement to the other spots in my life is going to be part of the package.

Will I completely give up on devoting time to my mind or my spirit?  Of course not.  That would make me a completely shallow and borderline boneheaded fool to do that… but instead, I am going to let them rise with the tides created through getting myself going on the physical part of my life.  Plus, this is not a forever thing to devote this much more time and attention to one part of this little trinity.  These things must be cycled to really make best use of the shorter bursts of focused effort lest you truly become horribly out of balance and just a very one-dimensional person (one of my worst nightmares).

Time to shake up the yin-yang and see what comes out on the other side… and I’m feel pretty good that the other side is only going to be something better.  And more handsome… if that’s even possible.  Seriously… have you met me?  It’s almost unfair.

One Thing At A Time

One of my favorite blogs is Lifehacker, a site devoted to all kinds of ways to do things a little smarter and essentially “hack” your life, whether it is cool software, better ways to get organized, design your office or even exercise.

So today they had a post about how to build a stand for your cardio equipment so you can mount your laptop to it.  They link over to a snazzy YouTube video that demonstrates how.

*sigh*

OK, as you might see in the comments section of the post, I am not a big fan of any of this approach.  Why?multitasking

I cannot imagine you are providing any real focus or intensity or effort in any kind  of exercise activity where you are using your damn laptop at the same time.  Now, some people in the comments counter that this is meant more for a situation where you are doing work first and getting in the extra benefit of some extra exercise at the same time.  To that I would counter, you are probably not all that focused on your work then.

So to put a fine point on it: I really dislike multitasking.  I think it’s just an inherently flawed concept where we feel that we can get some kind of good product as the end result of a scattered level of attention and focus.  Personally, I know when I try to accomplish 3 things at once at work, I end up with 3 mediocre results… and umm, no one wants that.  Certainly not me.

And what about in your fitness?  I think that some steady-state cardio has its place, but generally, if you are talking on your phone or… for the love of God… working on your laptop while exercising?  My mind is boggled right now at how that can be of much benefit.

OK, OK… I can hear people saying “Well it’s better than nothing…” but so is doing 3 toe touches and call it a “stretching routine” when compared to just sitting on your butt all day long.  It’s not exactly setting the bar too high, wouldn’t you say?

I think this is why I am enjoying the new focus in my own training/lifting/conditioning program right now because I am trying to whittle away all the extraneous stuff I don’t need so I can be committed to doing the essentials and doing them well.  Not only is it a hell of a lot more enjoyable, it’s actually more productive too.

A perfect example is how I shun pretty much any kind of “regular” cardio these days.  You know the kind… shuffling into the gym, setting up on an elliptical or treadmill and slogging through 30 mind numbing minutes where I walk out feeling maybe a little bit better than when I came in.  Ehh.

My solution? Intervals or this lovely little thing called the Tabata protocol which is 4 minutes of fun.  Yes, you read that right… 4 minutes.  How does it work?  Very simple, really.  Pick your exercise (and not anything will do mind you) to perform.  In this case we will go with a piece of cardio equipment – a stationary bike.  You will do 20 seconds as hard as you possibly can.  All out.  Then go light for 10 seconds.  Repeat 8 times total.  That’s it.  It’s not easy, believe me.  The science behind it is not about burning calories while you exercise because it would be very small for 4 minutes… however, you have basically amped up your fat burning furnace, so to speak, for hours afterwards.  Hard work, focus and incredibly efficiency.  Gotta love it… seriously.  You HAVE to.  There’s no choice in the matter, so stop trying to debate me.

So I am begging you… pleading with you… but not groveling (seriously, even aspiring bloggers desperate for more readers have to have SOME limits, my friends)… knuckle down and do one thing at a time.  You might even find you do that one thing really well.  Crazy talk, I know, but that’s just the kind of nutty guy I am.