All of us have had the experience of doing too many things at once. Of driving while listening to the radio, eating a burrito and talking to a friend all at once. While it’s amazing that human beings can juggle so many things at once — a testament to our versatility — it’s also a fantastic way to end up with salsa in your lap, or even to get into an accident. (Check out Werner Herzog’s heart-rending documentary, From One Second to the Next, about the perils of driving while texting.)
Other situations may not be quite as dangerous, but still there are drawbacks to splitting your attention. Imagine college students say, trying to win at a video game; drink alcohol; listen to music; talk to several friends; eat a pizza; and flirt with potential sex partners at the same time. While that can be fun, they will probably fail or do poorly at most of them. Simultaneously doing a good job at so many activities is hard. And the old adage that anything worth doing is worth doing well, is still as true as it ever was.
The antidote to doing too many things at once is, of course, to only do one thing at a time. That’s the most basic definition of concentration: doing one thing at a time.
Doing one thing at a time is probably the most basic habit of concentration, and one of the most powerful. It is the easiest thing you can do to create a massive increase in your ability to focus.
The term for working with split attention is multitasking. Multitasking enjoys a great reputation currently, but he fact is that we are never actually multitasking. Instead the brain switches between each task quickly, and does each activity in succession. The trouble is that each task switch actually has a cost overhead. It’s not easy for your brain to switch tasks. It takes time and invokes a second level of executive functioning, meaning that you have to use a lot of resources to switch tasks. This task-switching overhead can actually become quite a drain on your overall effectiveness. You’ll do each thing much worse than if you had done it on its own. And the task-switching overhead multiplies exponentially with the number of things being juggled.
That means when you reduce the number of things you are mentally juggling, the cognitive cost is vastly reduced. Just changing from three objects to two objects frees up a tremendous amount of overhead. The best, however, is to reduce the number of things you are doing or thinking about to one at a time. This lowers the juggling overhead to zero, and allows you to focus 100 percent of your brain on a topic.
Develop a habit of doing one thing at a time.
Living in a world of distractions is nothing more than a habit we have gotten used to. The answer is to begin making a new habit of doing just one thing at a time. Every time you catch yourself doing too many things at once, come back to just the essential thing that matters. Practice this all day long, whether working or playing. Gently remind yourself, “One thing at a time.”
Success depends on having good self discipline and good boundaries with other people. If someone interrupts you, or engages you while you are busy, stop and let them know that you’ll get back with them later. Or if it can’t wait, completely stop what you are doing, engage with the person, and then once everything is handled come back to what you were doing previously.
Usually the hardest person to maintain such firm boundaries with is yourself. Our habits of distraction have developed over an entire lifetime. We crave a superfluidity of stimulation in the environment, almost like an addiction. There is an almost physical urge to turn on the television, or to check the smartphone.
You can quickly determine how strong this need for distraction is by experimenting with doing just one thing at a time. Shut everything off and do something simple with no distractions. The first thing that happens, often, is that mind begins to complain “This is boring. There’s something on TV. Why can’t I just play some music? What’s wrong with eating while studying?” And so on. You might experience anything from mild discomfort to an almost irresistible compulsion to bring back the distractions.
That’s okay. That’s the starting place. Just have compassion for yourself, and attempt to enforce some discipline about doing one thing at a time while trying to concentrate. Concentrating without distractions will eventually reveal itself to be incredibly pleasant. Unlike getting tangled up in a spaghetti of distractions, it can leave you feeling energized and refreshed. Strong, stable focus can really increase your feelings of satisfaction and sense of richness in whatever you are doing. You can even enter flow — a very calm, focused state that is so pleasurable it’s worth doing for its own sake, regardless of the activity. It’s not that difficult. All it takes is a little practice.
So try doing one thing at a time. And read the rest of the “Concentration Series“ to learn more about how to increase your powers of attention.
This article was written by Michael Taft, a meditation teacher, bestselling author, and neuroscience junkie. As a mindfulness coach, he specializes in secular, science-based mindfulness training in groups, corporate settings, and one-on-one sessions.
WHEN I look back on my goals for last year, I realise something that would once have sent me into a spectacular tail-spin.
Now, before you deem me a failure or send emergency remedies of wine and chocolate for my depressive state, I must tell you that I feel okay about this. In fact, I really couldn’t care less. It might even feel good.
You can still send wine and chocolate if you wish.
The thing is, last year I set goals I felt were expected of someone in my position, things that would be good for me to do. For example, lose 10kgs, achieve XYZ in business, meditate every day, blah blah blah, but in fact, they meant nothing to my heart and I now realise I have been doing this goal setting business all wrong.
You see, when our goals have no feeling or meaning connected to them, and they come from a place of fear rather than following our nose to what we love to do, then those goals are bound to fall into the refuse tip of broken dreams and discarded New Year’s resolutions. Or even worse, we might spend all year blindly slaving over pointless, empty stuff we don’t even care about.
So, why do we bother setting goals at the beginning of the year? Is it really because we want to do and achieve more? I think not.
I believe it’s because we want to take a fresh opportunity to feel more, be more and contribute more. With me on this? Then read on.
All the feels…
I’d argue we wish to start afresh each year because we desire to feel differently – about our work and ourselves. When we recall the relatively short-lived moments of success from last year, or as we’re ticking off our career to-do list, we might notice that it seems like a whole lot of striving in return for a few rather fleeting moments of accomplishment. Lots of “feel bad” and not enough “feel good”.
When we set our intentions, not for what we want to do, but for how we want to feel and be, everything changes for us. If we want to feel a sense of progress in our role or business, then we will focus on things that carry us forward. If we want to feel competent and capable in our leadership, we choose to take on challenges that lead us to learning and growth. If we want to feel connected with our purpose, then we must choose to shed the daily distractions and focus on the work that truly lights us up.
So, let me ask you: how do you want to “feel” this year? Start by identifying three to four key feelings you’d like to carry you through this year, and then map your planned goals and activities back to those feelings.
Insert meaning here…
At the start of the year, we can be prone to melancholy reflection and searching for the meaning in our work and careers. We might wonder what the point of our work actually is, what, or who, it’s all for (and do they actually care?), and perhaps to question whether we’re making an impact at all.
Be warned though, searching externally, in places outside of yourself, work, business or partnerships, for those answers is a trap and a complete waste of time.
Instead, when it comes to finding the purpose of our contributions this year, we must go inside ourselves. This means filtering out all the expectations of others, and quietly asking ourselves a simple question: what lights me up?
So, insert your own meaning into the contributions you choose to make -no searching required. By the way, if the way you spend your waking hours doesn’t light you up, well… you’ve got choices. Make them.
Plan from a place of love, not fear.
Finally, nothing brings better feels or meaning than working from a place of love. So, what does that mean, and how do we do it?
I always start by identifying the contrast – this means that sometimes it’s easier to know what makes us feel bad, fearful or heavy. From there, we can more easily determine that “if I don’t want more of this, then I do want more of that”. The things we want more of will be the things we love, that allow us to feel light, happy and as though our contribution is meaningful.
The funny thing is what you want, and what you don’t want, are the two opposite ends of the same stick.
This article was written by ANGELA KONING
While we know consistency is the key to success or accomplishment in sport (or life), it is also the hardest to master, especially this time of the year. Acquisition and mastery of a skill, a technique, or a lifestyle change will require you to be a consistent athlete. So how do we stay consistent with being consistent? Here are a few tips to help you stay on your game through the holidays and feeling confident.
TIP #1: Make a conscious decision to remain consistent.
Say out loud to yourself, “I am committed to remaining consistent each day in my goal. I am doing this!” Notice the statement is in the present tense. This technique commands your subconscious mind to act now, not later. Consistent actions require consistent thinking, specifically consistent thoughts that you are and will remain consistent.
TIP #2: Revise your concept of time.
The only time you have is RIGHT NOW. Later on, next week, next month, or next year is only a concept or thought in your mind. Tomorrow is not here, next week, month, or next year is not here. Right now is here. The point of power is always in the present moment and all the anxieties or worries about later on are not happening now. So let go of thinking, “I have to be disciplined and consistent all day, week, month, or year,” TO “I am disciplined in this moment. Right now is the only moment I need to pay attention to. I am only required to be consistent and disciplined in this moment.” Be in the NOW.
TIP #3: Have a plan. Know your objective.
The definition of a “plan” is: “A scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective:” A plan is in place so that you don’t have to do the thinking before hand or in the moment. Preparation is consistency’s wonderful cousin!
You must have a plan to be successful, even if it’s a daily plan. For example, you could prepare your meals for the week or get a nutrition consult for a meal plan. Pack your gym clothes the night before and write in your planner what your workouts will be for the week. Buy and implement TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition 5-week Triathlon Transition Plan to build base and strength.
It is imperative that you have a plan so that you know where to direct your actions, thoughts, effort, and time. It must be a plan that you want. It must be in line with your values and your hearts desire. The more emotionally invested you are in your plan, the more you will remain committed, the higher your chances are for success.
TIP #4: Remember that feelings and thoughts are temporary and subjective.
Any negative feeling or thought that could intrude on you being consistent is temporary. It is an illusion. In the moment it feels very powerful, but in an hour, 10 minutes, or tomorrow you could feel very different. Don’t let temporary illusions of stress, anxieties, worry, or insecurity derail you from your plan. In moments like these it’s critical that you push through the discomfort and JUST DO IT! Execute. Do the workout, eat the healthier option, or make the time. Remind yourself how you will feel after your workout, or after you have conquered the moment. It will be worth it.
TIP #5: Do one thing at a time. Be in the present moment.
In my mindfulness skills training we call this doing one thing mindfully. It is being fully and 100% present in your moment. Allow your mind and body to be present and engaged. When you find yourself distracted or your mind wandering you bring it back to full attention of your moment. For example, if you are working on foot position, pedal stroke, freestyle catch, elbow angle, etc. you are fully and acutely tuned in to that and only that aspect, nothing more and nothing less. This concept is why mantras and self-talk are powerful. They bring your attention back to the constructive action at hand and in the moment.
BONUS TIP: A great concept that I came across, thanks to one of my Wattie Ink teammates Chris Hague, is thinking of this time as “pre-season” versus “off-season.” Off-season sometimes implies letting everything go, permission to be in excess, or dare I say it, an excuse to not be as disciplined as we normally would be. “Pre-season” has come to mean, for me, preparation, transition, build up rather than let go. It gives me a sense of focus and empowerment. Try it out and see if it works for you my fellow triathlete’s. Obviously, for my runners/trial runners, short course swimmers, skiers, basketball players, and footballers we are still in season so this may work for you later:)
When all else fails and the above tips do not work, then use the foolproof guide below to help you stay consistent.
If you are “not feeling like it”…do it any way.
If you are sad…do it any way.
If you are busy…do it any way.
If you are tired…do it any way.
If you are feeling good…do it any way.
If you are “too stressed”…do it any way.
If you are unmotivated…do it any way.
If you are on vacation…do it any way.
If you are unsure…do it any way.
If you find yourself making excuses…do it any way.
No matter what trust that you can and will stay consistent. Be patient one moment at a time. You are an amazing person with valuable gifts to offer the world, but first master the gift of giving the best to yourself- through being consistent with your hearts desire. Once you stay consistent with yourself, every thing else falls into place.
This article was written by Dr. Petruzzelli, an accomplished athlete who played competitive soccer for 18 years before transitioning to competing in triathlons and road racing.
Your attitude defines and delimits your level of success. If you have a generally lousy attitude, you’ll never really be successful. If you have a generally upbeat attitude, however, you’ll always achieve at least some level of success.
Your attitude determines how you interpret what events mean. Take obstacles, for example. Everyone who pursues any goal will inevitably run into obstacles. Your attitude determines what those obstacles mean and therefore how well you deal with them.
If you have a lousy attitude, you’ll see obstacles as threats and annoyances. Even if you overcome them, you’ll find the process frustrating, which will make future obstacles harder to cope with.
If you’ve got a positive attitude, you’ll see obstacles as interesting or even fun. Even if you fail to overcome them, you’ll find the process invigorating, which will make future obstacles easier to overcome.
I ran into (or, more actually, almost ran into) a perfect example of this the other day. I was trying to find a parking space in a covered car lot. Suddenly, another car zipped around a blind corner and we would have crashed if we both hadn’t quickly braked.
My first thought was: “Wow, I’m sure glad that we (meaning me and the other driver) have fast reflexes!” I’m not exactly sure what the other driver thought, but she gave me the single-finger salute accompanied by an expletive.
Same event, different attitude.
Now, it’s never pleasant to be the target of that kind of animosity, but my next thought was to feel sorry for her. She was in a small car with four kids and clearly having a horrible day. (I felt sorry for the kids, too.)
Clearly still furious, she drove off even faster than she’d been driving before. I, however, slowed down because I took the almost-accident as a warning that I needed to pay more attention to my driving.
Same event, different attitude, opposite outcome
The outcome for the other driver was an action that made her drive more dangerously and thus increase the possibility that she’d actually have a fender-bender next time. My outcome was to make me a better driver.
Everything in business is exactly like this. Stuff happens. Your attitude determines how you interpret and experience those events, and therefore strategies and tactics you’ll follow in the future.
This is not to say that people who suffer from lousy attitudes don’t win sometimes. They do, but it’s always with massive hassle and complaint. When they finally win, they feel exhausted.
Similarly, having an upbeat attitude doesn’t bulletproof you against failure. You’ll fail sometimes, but your attitude makes it easy to learn from your mistakes. And when you do win, you feel exhilarated.
Some people believe that their lousy attitude is part of who they are. Not so. As I explain in “How to Create a Positive Attitude,” your attitude is something that you’re doing. It’s not a character trait.
Furthermore, there are at least 8 ways to improve your attitude and 17 ways to be happier at work. I know these methods work from personal experience. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but 20 years ago, I would have been the driver doing the salute.
Regardless of what you do for a living, your real job–the foundation of what you will or won’t accomplish–is your attitude. The more upbeat you are, the more likely you are to be successful at whatever you do.
This article was written by Geoffrey James, contributing editor for Inc.com and an author and a professional speaker whose award-winning blog, Sales Source, appears daily on Inc.com.
Whether you’re saving for a second car, a family vacation or a rainy day, big financial goals can feel intimidating. Instead of putting your goals on the back burner, read on. We asked financial experts how you can make a plan to get you where you need to go by this time next year.
Small steps = big results
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, achieving financial goals of any kind might seem out of the question. But saving a little here and there will bring you closer to your goal. “While some goals may seem unattainable, small steps in saving, especially in the long run, can lead to a whole world of difference,” said Zach Pelka, co-founder of Paytronage, a new online marketplace for income-share agreements.
Here’s a no-brainer: Drop your pocket change in a jar as you enter the house each day, or save your spare change digitally with a service like Acorns, which Pelka prefers. Acorns rounds up purchases made on your debit or credit cards to the nearest dollar and invests those funds into a managed account.
Try to cut expenses by at least 5%
If you have a firm grasp on how your money comes and goes, you can take steps toward efficient savings practices.
Neil St. Clair, President & COO of Karma Network, a financial media platform, suggests reviewing your bank and credit card statements, and categorizing your expenditures just like a business would. Some financial institutions, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, offer these tools online for their customers free of charge.
“Set a goal of reducing expenses across any discretionary categories (e.g. restaurant dining) by an achievable figure month over month – say, five percent. Then, take that five percent and put it aside in a rainy day savings account,” he said.
Save half of any windfall
Expecting a raise this year? It’s easy to get excited about that fatter paycheck and start living high on the hog. Instead, commit to saving half of your raise. Yes, half. “If you find yourself with a $500-a-month raise, it’s okay to spend $250, as long as you save the other $250,” said Nick Holeman, a certified financial planner at Betterment, an online financial advisory. “The same goes for your bonus.” Use this method, and you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor not just now but far into the future.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
It’s important to dutifully pay your bills each month, but periodically, you should check in with your service providers to make sure you are on the best plan and getting the best deal. “Your car insurance, home insurance and cable bill are just three of your monthly bills that you can reduce by calling up your service provider and asking for discounts, taking off features or increasing your insurance deductibles,” said Jamila Souffrant, certified financial educator at Journey to Launch. Souffrant suggests allocating any money you’ve saved toward your financial goals.
Go old school
Vacations can cost a fortune. According to a recent MagnifyMoney nationwide poll, the average American spent close to $3,000 on their 2017 summer vacation. Rather than sink into debt for your vacation, Leanne Jacobs, author of “Beautiful Money: The 4-Week Total Wealth Makeover,” suggests that you go “old-school” like her husband does. Every week, he puts 10-25% of his income in a cardboard artist’s tube, which you can find at your local dollar store.
“There is something powerful about physically touching your money and the active process of putting it in a savings tube. I used to laugh at him until he fully funded a Disney trip for five. I am now a believer,” she said. Whether you use a tube, a can or stuff the money under your mattress, this is a simple way to sock money away.
Those of us who are carrying credit-card debt month to month owe just over $4,000 on average. Because the interest alone keeps you from reaching your financial goals, moving that debt to a lower interest loan can be a smart move. “When managing your finances, it’s important not to add to any potential debt that you may already have,” said Andrea Woroch, a consumer-finance expert working with Marcus by Goldman Sachs. “As a way to save on credit-card interest, consumers should explore debt-consolidation options, such as a personal loan.”
Make saving work for you
It’s exciting to watch your savings account grow, but is that money doing anything for you? “Even if you are saving regularly, you can still be hurting your savings plan if you allow your money to sit idly in your account,” said Holeman. If you have not done so already, move your funds into an interest-bearing account at your bank or look into high-yield online savings accounts.
Become BFFs with your expenses
If dealing with money is stressful, you might be tempted to turn your back on it for a while, but Shannah Compton Game, certified financial planner and host of the “Millennial Money” podcast, recommends the opposite approach.
“The key to knocking your savings goals out of the park by 2019 is to become BFFs with your expenses, tracking every single cent that leaves your account,” she said. Rather than looking at it as a chore, think of it as a way to empower yourself to find savings in unlikely places every single day. “When you hit another savings milestone, give yourself permission to celebrate with a little reward (within reason) to keep yourself motivated.
Fun & games
Saving does not seem like fun. But in St. Clair’s experience, it can be. He and his wife regularly challenge each other to plan a date night in New York City for under $100. “We also look at how much we typically spend on a date night in New York and then put the difference aside in our savings account,” he said. “Do this several times a year, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it can compound.”
Rise and shine
Making small tweaks to your lifestyle can help you achieve your savings goals. For example, Souffrant suggests waking up a little earlier in the mornings, which allows you to have enough time to prepare breakfast or lunch, which then saves you from having to buy food at work or on the go.
Make saving automatic
You’re more likely to reach your savings goals if you automate saving. “It’s possible to make saving effortless by setting up auto-deposit so that the money goes directly into your savings or investment funds when you get paid,” said Holeman. Talk to HR to learn about what direct deposit services are available to you. If your employer offers matching, make sure you are contributing at a level that guarantees the highest match being offered.
Woroch suggests reviewing your spending each month and looking for ways to cut back by doing things like negotiating bills, comparison shopping, applying coupons and buying used instead of new. “Any time you save money when shopping, dining out, traveling, etc., transfer those savings into a separate account,” she said.
So, whether you’re intrigued by the 5% plan or like the idea of making savings a game, try saving this year. Life is unpredictable and you want to be ready to take on whatever it sends your way!
This article was written by Trae Bodge, an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, beauty, tech, apps, toys and gift guides.
We live in a culture of instant gratification. We want what we want, when we want it—and that’s almost always right this second. This applies to everything from travel (it used to take months to cross the country in covered wagons, now we complain if our flight’s delayed an hour) to food (think Minute Rice and drive-through windows). But what happens when we apply this need for speed to our life dreams? More often than not, they don’t come true. Here are three things to keep in mind that will help you focus on your dream instead of the clock:
If you don’t start, you’ll never finish. Some people are so incapacitated by how long or difficult the path is to a dream that they never take any action toward achieving it. Picture yourself in your car, parked in the driveway. You have a destination in mind, but you never turn the key in the ignition or put the car into gear, let alone hit the gas. Where do you think you’ll be an hour, a day, a month, a year, 10 years later? Right there parked in that driveway, that’s where!
There’s no time limit. You know why people say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Because it wasn’t. It’s nearly impossible to accomplish something big in a small amount of time. But that’s okay. The slowest runner still crosses the finish line as long as she keeps moving. Last week I told you about my life list of 40 goals I wanted to achieve before I turned 40. You may recall that I didn’t finish until I was 42. In the end it didn’t matter how long it took me to do those things, the important thing was that I did them. The fact that it took longer than I originally planned didn’t make my experiences any less meaningful.
Break it down. If you still have a tough time staying motivated for the long haul, try setting short-term goals that can be achieved quickly. Think of them as mile posts that you tick off as you’re running a marathon. For example, if your dream is to visit Paris but your reality is that you’ll have to save for three years in order to make the trip, use the time to learn conversational French, plan a French-themed party, and pick up a French cookbook and teach yourself how to make coq au vin. These smaller successes will give you a taste of the long-term goal and motivate you to stay the course.
This article was written by Susan Campbell Cross, a lifestyle expert, author, and on-air personality.