Harness the power of focus in 5 minutes a day

How’s your January motivation holding up? That first rush of motivation can’t last forever, and there’s a much better way to stay on track. Here’s how you can tap into your inner focus with 5 minutes of work per day.

The science of motivation

The word motivation is thrown about whenever we have a goal. But is it really the most reliable source of forward momentum? Science doesn’t think so. Motivation works because our brain recognises that something important is about to happen, so it produces the neurotransmitter dopamine (the “reward chemical”). This is all well and good for the short-term. But what about for maintaining action?

This is why motivation is infamous for starting off strong and then falling away. Our brains don’t want to sustain that level of anticipation and dopamine reward for a long time.

Focus for long-term progress

If motivation is great for getting you off the starting blocks, what’s the best way to keep going? This is the question all goal-setters would love an answer to (and something most high-achievers already know!)

The answer is focus. But not just any focus, it has to be strategic and intentional.

Most people find it easy to set goals – so easy, in fact, they might end up with an abundance of goals. Executing your action steps is the difference between goal and success.

Intentional focus is the skill of thinking about your goal in a deliberate and purposeful way so you keep going after motivation has dried up.

Creating intentional focus

What’s the difference between focusing on your goal, and creating “intentional focus”? Intentional focus is smaller, narrower, and more frequent than general focus. It’s a series of consistent daily habits that keep your goal at the forefront of your mind.

Intentional focus integrates your goal (and its action points) into your routine and diary so you create habits that move you towards your big goal.

Examples of intentional focus

Let’s say your goal this year is to lose 1 stone. You’ve identified that the key reasons for your weight gain are overeating late at night, and feeling too tired to get up for a walk or workout in the morning. Tracking all of this back, you pinpoint “staying up too late and snacking” as the core habit that needs to go.

With intentional focus, you could set an alarm telling you to go upstairs and start getting ready for bed. You might programme your phone to night mode after 9pm. You could start a gratitude journal that you write every evening in bed. Maybe you start setting your workout clothes the night before.

These are examples of small, deliberate, consistent areas of focus that will move you daily towards your bigger goal. Much more effective than just focusing on “cutting calories and working out more” to lose that stone of body fat.

5 minutes of intentional focus a day

If you’ve already set a health or fitness goal for 2022, I urge you to try using intentional focus. My clients see great success with this technique because it doesn’t involve huge, overwhelming actions. Just a focus on small changes every day. It’s rewarding and doable.

Start by taking just 5 minutes throughout the day to hone your intentional focus skills.

1)    Write down your main big goal somewhere you’ll see it several times a day

2)    Create a session in your calendar (paper calendar or Google calendar) that reminds you of your values, beliefs, habits and goals. Set this as a recurring event every morning. Read more about this in my blog about annual goals.

3)    Choose one small change to implement that will move you towards your bigger goal (make it simple and achievable)

4)    Once you have mastered this new habit, add another one that will be triggered by an existing habit

5)    Finish your day intentionally by checking back in on your goal, writing out tomorrow’s action points, or journaling

As you can tell, I take a very different approach to health and fitness coaching. My clients do a lot of work on their habits and mindset as part of the bigger picture.

If the idea of this interests you, and you want to make a big change to your health, weight or fitness in 2022, drop me a line.

Coach Joseph Webb.

‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’

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