September 29, 2020

The Antidote to Overwhelm


Feeling stretched a bit thin right now?

Keeping more plates spinning than usual?

Welcome to 2020, baby!

While each of us has a unique set of responsibilities and priorities, I don’t know an adult alive right now who hasn’t been presented with additional burdens or challenges in the past 9 months. It’s just what this ill-fated year had in store for us.

Maybe you’re playing a bigger role in your children’s education, or attempting to cover for a loss in income. Or maybe just the pile-up of societal and global issues is taking its toll. The list of things to be distracted by and worried about goes on and on.

Yet, I ask myself: What do I get out of that? What actually changes when I worry about something? What do I gain when my thoughts bounce from topic to topic?

On the subject of distraction and over-analysis, I think of myself as quite the expert because I’ve shown world-class skills in that department. I’m not so much a cat-video or social-media guy, but we all have our own distraction comforts.

However, I’ve found that when I’m at my best, and I stick to my plan and commitments, my life turns into a series of calm & rewarding blocks of focus.

Focus is the magic word here. We don’t create big results while feeling calm unless there’s fidelity in our focus. To fight the distractions, tune out the noise, and harness our full potential, we must find the ability to focus on 1 topic for an extended period of time.

Countless studies support the inability of humans to multi-task effectively – often documenting the “switching costs” of bouncing from task to task. This sporadic and undisciplined rhythm prevents us from doing our best work. The reality is that a lack of focus creates a watered-down version of ourselves and our potential.

Contrast that with the state of flow, so well-documented in the book by the same title by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is where world-class golfers go to secure a green jacket at the Masters. It’s where famous authors go to create their next best-seller. And it’s exactly where you and I can go to experience our next big personal win.

Lightning-quick quotes.

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