November 1, 2021
Struggling to find focus? Really want to take action on your dream coaching career and you find yourself distracted and confused often? While the traditional education around focus suggests we can only get one thing done at a time, Coach Ajit’s...
Struggling to find focus? Really want to take action on your dream coaching career and you find yourself distracted and confused often?
While the traditional education around focus suggests we can only get one thing done at a time, Coach Ajit’s experience with different business coaching and life coaching clients suggests otherwise.
In this episode, we understand why we find ourselves losing focus. The psychology and biology that work against us and how to really get focused.
This episode of Master Coaching Podcast is for a life coach, business coach, or health coach, that struggles with focus or works with clients that struggle with focus.
The philosophy of why we don’t do things against our better judgment
The philosophy of focus and myths around it (creative coaches will love this!)
Why our biology is designed for more and how it impacts focus
Some working assumptions to understand if focus strategies could even work for your coaching client
Easy for follow focus model for you as a coach and your clients
Speaker 1 (00:00):
You are listening to Master Coaching with Ajit podcast that inspires coaches to impact the lives of their clients more meaningfully. I am Coach Ajit and I'm known for coaching high performers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. I'm also a serial entrepreneur and author of many books. On this podcast, I am answering your burning questions. I'm also demonstrating and deconstructing behind-the-scenes coaching sessions.
And in today's episode, I am discussing a burning question that you may have right now for you or for your clients. This question was sent to me by Dr. Ravi, Dr. Ravi asks, I know what is right, and what is wrong for me to do? How do I make the right things happen? I plan many things, but often get carried away by shiny objects. As a result, I start many things at a time. I wanna focus, finish what I start, integrate, learning, and break all barriers and fulfill my dreams. Firstly, Dr. Ravi, you are not alone. Many coaches struggle with the same challenge. Many of our clients struggle with the same challenge to be able to really understand this problem and then give you an effective solution that will help you really be able to get past your current barrier of not being able to work on the right things and get the outcomes that you want and be able to focus on.
What's important to you. Let's first understand why is this happening first? I wanna share with you philosophy that will help you understand why is it that we don't do things that are often right for us. This challenge has been around for humanity for a fairly long period of time. We all seem to know what is it that we should do, but for some reason, we tend to not do it. How often have we found ourselves going for that bag of potato chips? Even when we know it doesn't really help us, or how often do we fall for the social media trap and scroll endlessly on Instagram or TikTok, even when we know that taking action towards our dream may be a better decision in that moment. This dilemma, this challenge has been around for so long. It had a name in Greek philosophy. It's called akrasia.
Akrasia is when somebody acts against their better judgment. That means even when you know, what is the right thing for you to do, you just cannot get it done while there are tons of philosophical texts that you can read and you can truly understand Akrasia and how it has happened in the past and so forth in modern times have found two specific reasons why we tend to as human beings, not take action towards the right things that we should do. The first reason that I believe most of us, even when we know what's the right thing for us to do, don't do it is because while we know what is the right thing to do, we are not necessarily motivated to do it because we don't truly believe that that is the right thing to do. This situation happens when our information that we think is the right thing to do comes from another source than ourselves.
This is the difference between an extrinsic motivator and an intrinsic motivator. An extrinsic motivator is where you are motivated by a reward. An intrinsic motivator is when you are driven to do something. Now, when our mental story is telling us what is right and what is wrong. So very often it tends to be that what we think is the right thing to do is what somebody else said is the right thing to do. So you may listen to this podcast. And then some episode, I may say, Hey, today Instagram is the right platform to get into and you get all excited and you are all ready to go ahead and take action towards it. Do you think it's the right thing to do for you, but that was not driven by yourself. It wasn't driven by your purpose. It wasn't driven by the meaning that you have towards your coaching business, towards your reality.
The same is true for our clients. A lot of our clients work in jobs and often the things that they have to do that they procrastinate with, or don't get it done are things that were assigned to them by their boss or their colleague. There was no intrinsic motivator. There was no reason why for them to really actually do it. And when there is a lack of reason why when there is no real motivation behind taking action that comes from within us, we tend to not take action, even if it seems to be the right thing to do. So fundamentally, we must ask ourselves, where is this task coming from? Who is it? That is inspiring me to say, this is the right thing to do. And that is the wrong thing to do because the only way to really know what is right for you to do.
And what is wrong for you to do is for you to reflect on what is right for you to do and what is not so right for you to do when you reflect on the different choices that you have, the different ideas that you wanna pursue, you may find yourself really buying into one particular idea, one particular thought, and that idea is the right idea to pursue. So before we decide what's the right thing and the wrong thing to do, let's set up some internal filters and help our clients set up these internal filters as well. What is it that you truly want? Do you really want this for yourself? Or are you doing it because somebody else has asked you to do it? Do you truly believe that the activity that you are believing to be the right activity is the one that will move you towards the goal towards the target.
And are you really bought into that goal bought into that target more often than not. You will find that your clients are either not bought into the goal. They're not bought into the activity, or they just have no motivation to really take action towards that particular activity, because they don't have an internal driver that suggests that that is what they should do, which brings me to the second reason why you may have moments or a situation where you are living in a cross yet, which is acting against your better judgment. And that is when the passion that you have to do that thing, that thing that is right for you, or you feel is right for you, is less than the passion that you have for things that you're actually doing. You see our brains, our minds are always looking for the most comfortable thing to do because it has too many operations that it does anyways, at any given time, it's always trying to simplify our lives.
It's always trying to optimize our activity. And because of that, while you may think in rational terms, that there is a particular task that you should do your brain, your mind is saying, oh, but what's easy for me to do. How is it that I can get back into a normal state where I don't have to exert pressure to be able to do a certain task or an activity. And that is where if your passion for the outcome that you get out of the new activity that you want to pursue, that is where if the thing that you think is the right thing for you to do is taking too much pressure, too much, uh, passion. And the current passion that you have for the easy task is a lot more because it's easier to do. You will not find yourself doing the activity that's important to you.
So let's take a scenario. Let me extrapolate that with an example from my own life you see for the past 36 years of my life, I had never really focused any attention to my health. And so it was always easier for me and for my brain because the neural pathways that had already set up to fall for the greatest food I can find around me. So what I would tend to do is if I would go to a new city, if I would move to a new city, I would try to find the best restaurants in town with the most gluttonous food I could find. And then I would just go and have a party at it. And that led to certain health concerns. As I was growing older every year, I would find myself not being as energetic. I would find myself not being as energetic with my kids or with my partner.
I would find my myself really not being able to deliver. When I had to do a little bit extra work. I found myself dragging my feet in the morning, but it was really exciting to eat all this amazing food. So I continued that habit of choosing to go the easier path, the more comfortable path of getting the best food I can so much so that sometimes I would learn the recipe of my favorite dish at the restaurant, and actually would replicate it back home and cook it for me and my family again and again and again, this was hurting me and my family on the long term, but my passion in the moment for great tasting food was much greater than my passion to live a healthy life. Now, recently, as I paid attention to this area of my life, and I realized that my passion for living a healthy life has somehow lost the battle with my passion in the moment I started to inquire as to why did that happen?
And one of the key reasons why that happened was because I never really asked myself the question on, why do I want to be healthy? Why is it that I want to have more energy? Why is it that I want to live a more fulfilled life? And as I was paying attention towards this question, I asked myself the question of how is it that I wanna be when I'm 65, 75, 85? How is it that I wanna be with my kids as they grow up? How is it that I wanna be with my grandkids? If they, if my kids choose to have kids, how is it that I wanna be with my partner? How is it that I wanna be for this community? Do I still want to coach when I am 85? And if I do, what is my life going to look like? I couldn't be tired.
I couldn't be exhausted. I could, I need to have my mental faculties really present. And for all of that, I needed to ask myself the question of what do I need to do today? So I can live the life that I wanna live. And I will be 85. This question brought attention towards my daily habits today. So I can change the long term outcome of my life. This helped me decide what is it that my daily habits need to be today? What is it that my lifestyle needs to be today for me to really live the life. And I was 85, because if I couldn't live that life today, there's no way I will suddenly change and live that life at 85, this particular question turned up the volume of amount of passion I had for the act of living healthy. Now, when I look at food, I don't ask the question of, is it going to be delicious?
My question is, is this food going to give me energy or is it gonna take energy from me? And because I asked that question in the moment, my passion for my act has gone up then the passion for the act in that moment, which was always around food. Now, because of that question, my intention in the moment has switched. And now my passion for that moment, when I'm deciding what to eat has changed. And in that moment, now my passion is I want to get energy, get nutrition from this food, making me or helping me make better choices. So put your intention towards what is it that you're really passionate about? Are you passionate about the outcome that you want in your life, or are you more passionate about the ease of the moment that you are currently experiencing? Because it will always make you choose the task.
That is the easiest at any given time versus the task that you are actually hoping to achieve something with. And that is how you get past across here or moments when you are making a decision against your better judgment. But before we get into how to focus more, I wanna question focus itself. You see, focus is an individual thing, how focus shows up in your life and how it shows up in my life, changes by the person who's approaching. The topic focus while mainstream media would suggest or mainstream books would suggest is same for everybody is actually vitally different. And it really depends on your biology, your psychology, your needs at the hour, your intention for long term business or life. And all of those add up to really define what focus will look like in your life. So what focus really means depends on the person that is approaching the topic.
Let me explain if, say for example, a person has ADHD or attention deficit disorder focus for that person looks very, very different. Then focus for somebody who does not have ADD or ADHD. The reason is because when you don't have that kind of disorder or that kind of brain programming, where you can focus on something for a long period of time, you would find focus to be something which is done over an extended period of time for hours and hours at end. Whereas somebody who is experiencing add in their life early on or now in their life, it may be that focus for them is to give 10 minutes of dedicated time to something and then 10 minutes to something else and then 10 minutes to something else. Now, if I was to take the traditional understanding of focus, I would start talking about how add is a bad thing.
If they need to take drugs, to focus and pay attention, to and take Adderall and take all these other things for them to be able to focus on the task for more than 10 minutes. But the question we really wanna ask ourselves is what's the point of focus? What is it that we are trying to achieve? Because focus itself doesn't require you to spend hours and hours on a thing. If that is not what gives you joy, if your natural state is your ability to be able to look at many things at the same time and be able to bring them together to create a creative solution. I think that's a superpower. I think that is an incredible thing that a person can do. Having ADD creates its own set of benefits. You are more creative. You're able to look at a lot of ideas at the same time and process a lot of information at the same time to come up with a unique information, which in modern times might be the greatest asset that you could have because you could be a great researcher.
You could be a great coach. You could be a great writer because you have so much information and you're able to process it all to make sense of it. So traditional understanding of focus may be accurate for some people, but it is not accurate for everybody. And that is why we must question focus itself. And first answer the question. What would focus mean for us? And here is the ultimate that one must understand focus or not focus. The idea of our activities, the idea of us doing work in the outside world is to find a source of joy and live a purposeful life. Is this area of focus giving you joy? Is it something that allows you and helps you live your purpose? If the answer is yes, focus on that focus. But if this idea of focus is taking away from your joy, I would wonder if you even need focus.
I would wonder if there is another superpower that may not be so well known in the outside world and may not have been something that is discussed frequently, but is something that is your unique superpower. It's what makes you different. It what makes you unique in your own? Right? So my invitation for everybody that is listening to this is don't take focus on the face value that it must always create more productivity or more joy or more results. I know enough entrepreneurs that are ADD. Diagnostically, they are ADD. When you talk to them, you can see they are ADD and they are wildly more successful than lot more focused people. So focus doesn't make you successful. Joy makes you successful. You living your purpose makes you successful. You living the moment as the greatest expression of you makes you successful.
Focus is a tool. You can use it, or you can ignore it, which brings me to the biology of focus. Yes, we are going even there. This may surprise you. The most active molecule in our brain right now is what it's called dopamine. I'm sure you have heard this term frequently in social media. And if you have ever researched the brain, dopamine is the molecule that begs us for more. It is always interested in getting more. It is the reason why you are on social media, because there is curiosity of more, every time you refresh your feet, there is something new for you to watch or see or read or do. And that is what triggers dopamine. That means our brain is always seeking for more. Guess what happens when you're seeking for more, while you lose focus, because you're trying to get more from the day you're getting, you're trying to get more from that particular event, that particular moment.
So that is why you're biologically sometimes going to fight focus. Now, before we get into a simple four-part framework that will help you get more focused immediately, let me make some general assumptions. And the reason why I'm making general assumptions is because, like I said, focus is so nuanced and so subjective to the person that we are talking to that if I gave you just a general frame, without making some assumptions, I would actually take away from the possibility that may be for you. So I'm gonna make some general assumptions. I'm gonna share them with you. So you know where I'm operating from and some of the S that I've made. And then you can see if this tool is right for you, and if you wanna try it. So the first working assumption that I have for you, and I'm hoping this is a question you've answered for yourself is what is the outcome you truly seek from this activity?
So one of the keys defining success with focus is that you have clearly defined the outcome that you wanna seek from a particular activity, because what very often happens, especially in the world of business, especially if somebody, uh, comes in as a client, who's an entrepreneur or high performer is that they wanna focus, but they don't know what they wanna focus on. And why do they wanna focus on that thing? They just go, oh, I need to focus to create content. And you ask them, why are you creating content? And they don't have a real answer for it. And that simply means there will be no strong associated why for them to want to focus. So while you can give them all the tools to focus, they won't be able to do so because there is no strong why there is no strong passion to drive that behavior on a long term.
So even if they might find focus in that moment, they will not stick with it. The second working assumption and working with is that if you have ADHD or ADD you have chosen to build a new habit, even if it may sound that it's against your true nature. Now I'm putting this caveat because I know a lot of coaches who have ADD and ADHD and the phenomenal at what they do, because they have ADD and ADHD. I don't wanna take away the power from you, just because this question. So I'm inviting you to at least put intention, attention, and inquiry towards yourself to say, Hey, am I doing this? Because the world has told me I need to focus, or am I doing this? Because I truly truly wanna change a habit in my life. And I truly truly believe that that is what I need in my life.
Because if we don't answer that question, we'll find ourselves back into the moments of akrasia, where we are doing things against our better judgment, because we had no motivation personally, to actually do it. And the third question that I want you to put your intention towards is to ask yourself, do I really believe that focus will give me joy? It will give me more happiness. It will give me what I truly seek. And the reason why this question is so very important is because you can get lost in focus. You can get in, lost in the tool of focus and forget about the purpose of why you're doing anything. You're doing anything because you are seeking meaning you're seeking joy. You're seeking connection. You're seeking impact in the world. And if you don't get the joy, if you don't feel joyous and you feel sprained and constrained because of the focus, it may be a better idea for you to not focus, right?
It may be a better idea for you to pursue or discuss the idea of focus in a different way. So I want to be clear on these general assumptions that you do believe you're gonna get joy out of focus, right? So now let's talk about how do we get to focus? How is it that we focus the four simple steps? And I wanna give these steps in context of weekly activities. The reason why I'm choosing weekly is because maybe as you start this journey, you wanna start designing your weeks and try and see if this technique works for you, because you could set it up for this week and the next week and the next week. And that way you'll be able to see if it's working out for you this whole model, once it works for you. And if it works for you, you can do the same for month.
You can do the same for year. You can do the same for three to five years at any given time, the process stays the same. It is just the timeline that we are changing. So you can do something to experiment. See if it's ringing more focus to you. And if it is amazing, keep doing it and keep extending the timeline. So step one is to make a weekly list. This idea comes from Warren Buffet's two-list technique. This is an activity you can do with your clients. And this is an activity you could try for yourself. Firstly, ask yourself, what is it that I wanna achieve this week? Write down as many items you want to achieve this week. It could be 10, 20, 30, 40 as many items that you choose to achieve this week. You can ask your clients to do the same. You can say, Hey, take out a pen and paper, or take out a journal and write down all the things that you wanna achieve this week.
Just write it down, right? And once you have written it down, you ask them the second question you say, if you could only do five things, what would be the top five things that you would choose out of these item of 2030 things that you may have written at this point and let them choose those five things. And as they choose the five things you say, okay, so for this week, I am going to hold you accountable to do only these five things. So whatever those five things are that you chose are the only five things that you can work on. And that's what we are gonna do. And as a coach, if you are looking to focus, you also say that to yourself, coach yourself, to say these are the five things I'm gonna work on. Now, the key to success of this tool list project.
And that's why it's called tool list is list. One is your five things, right? This is the list to do. The second list is the remaining 15, 20, 25 things that you have said, I'm not gonna focus on. The challenge is this. The second list is going to be the tempting list. This is the list that you're gonna go, oh, but I can spend five minutes and do this. Or I can do 10 minutes and do this. That's a complete, not to do list because this will be the most tempting activities that you can fall for. And that is why you wanna make the five, the things that you chose, the five things that you chose are absolutely must do. And the remaining 20, 25, 30 things that you have on the other list are absolutely do not do list. And that is what's gonna create you and set you up to focus towards what's really important.
The second step is what I call forced schedule. You see, when we don't have a schedule to do things, we tend to fit things in life versus having things as a part of life. Right? So say, for example, if you don't have a schedule or when you write, or when you coach, or when you prospect clients or your clients, don't have, uh, a time blocked for their health, or whatever's the priority that they chose, if they don't have a time blocked, and if there is no schedule for it, they will see it as the second or the third thing to do. It might be easier for you to reflect. If you looked at your, your own schedule today on how you may have woken up, right, you might have woken up. And the first thing you checked was your email, let's say, and that, and if that was your first thing or our social media, whatever that was, right.
So if that was the first thing that you did, what was the immediate two or three hours that looked after that, right? You probably were responding those emails or responding to social media cha uh, chats or your messages and so forth, right? You were responding to the world's request before following what was the most important to you, which were one of those five things that you chose on step one, right? And that is what a four schedule does. A four schedule forces you to do what's important first. So go ahead and create a schedule where you have designed your day in a way where the most important five most important things that you decide in. Step one are the first few things that you're going to do in the day, make that schedule, put it up on a Google calendar or physical calendar that you can see.
So your priority is predefined for you. Instead of you having to respond to the world or coming with a priority every day, your weekly priorities are already set. Your times have already been blocked. That task must be done at that time period. The third step is to measure progress. Remember how we talked about dopamine and that it wants more and more from you. This is how you hijack dopamine. This is how you get dopamine on your side. You see dopamine wants to complete things. Dopamine wants us to make progress. Dopamine, dopamine wants more and more and more of whatever is happening. And that is why you tracking your progress from yesterday to today, helps dopamine. It helps dopamine get on your side and say, oh, I want more of that from yesterday. I want more of this that I got right now as an achievement factor, because I did this particular task.
This is also why you keep open loops day after day. Instead of just thinking about what I'm gonna do today, as the day's ending, think about what are you gonna do tomorrow? Already set your mind to start looking out for that awesomeness tomorrow. That's gonna come. Also remember to get gratitude on your side. This is when, at the end of the day you say, okay, what am I grateful for? What did I achieve today? How did I make progress today? And follow that question up by saying, what is it that I'm releasing from today? What is it that happened? That didn't go up to what I wanted it to go, but I'm gonna let it go now. So I can lean into tomorrow with the idea of completion, because I have left an open loop and I'm gonna look forward doing that work tomorrow and with gratitude, because life's so beautiful.
This is how you get biology on your side and your support. And that brings me to the final step. Once you have done one week like this, I want you to keep measuring every week's success, like how you are measuring daily success in step three. The reason why we wanna do that is because a new habit or a new behavior is built in anywhere between 60 and 90 days. And if the behavior has been there with you for a very, very long time, sometimes it might even take longer than 90 days. And because of that, you want to do this weekly list day after day for at least 60 days or even 90 days or even longer. If you feel like it's still not in your bones, it's not automatic to you. The only way you can create long term focus or an attitude of focus in your life is to make it a part of your habit to make it as something that you miss.
If you don't do, because it's a habit. And so while the first 4, 6, 8 weeks are going to be so very difficult, you would want to go back to your old self. You'll wanna get comfortable. You'll wanna not do this thing of only doing five things in a week, and only focusing on items that are really, really important and not fall for the small, tiny task that give you some short term dopamine head been only work on long term, great things. It'll be hard for the first eight weeks. It's not gonna be easy, but if you stick with it in eight, 12 weeks, you'll find yourself doing these things automatically. I say this with confidence because this new habit of taking care of myself and my health has changed my life. Now I have a lot more time with my family that I get to enjoy because I have more energy.
I can be more present with you restart this podcast because I have a lot more energy. I can pursue many things in my life that I was otherwise ignoring or not following up on because I was letting food take energy from me instead of giving energy to me. Now, I know that putting intention attention to something can change my life. Even when it feels so unrelated, it can change everything in my life. It can change your life too. So I invite you to try this for the next 60 or 90 days and share with us how this changed your life. Now, today, we took a deep dive in understanding what is focus? Why is it? Is it important or not? In today's episode, we talked about the philosophy, psychology biology of focus. We talked about a technique that can truly help you shift your focus over the next 60 to 90 days.
This is something that I believe is going to change your coaching career, and most definitely change the lives of your clients. I believe this episode will not only help you change your life, but it'll change the lives of your clients. If you believe the same. I really recommend that you take two minutes of your time and leave us a positive review on any of the podcasting platform that you listen to this episode on, give us a rating, share it with someone that truly can use this. I think it's an important conversation for all of us to have, so we can really question focus, and then if it is the right thing for us, build it in our lives. So go ahead and share it with friends and clients and anybody that you think will benefit from this episThis is Coach Ajit and you're listening to Master Coaching with Ajit.