Are there times when you struggle to focus on the task at hand? Perhaps that’s because there’s too much going on in your attentional field. What’s that? It’s a term used to describe everything within your attention span – your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, sights and sounds around you. Right now your attention is on the website reading this, but you may at the same time be distracted by other things like the mug of tea you’re sipping, the sound of your child or pet in the background, the thoughts of a deadline looming later today.
Focus is the ability to attend to internal cues (what’s going on inside of you, your feelings and thoughts) and external cues (what’s going on around you, like the knock on the door) in your attentional field. In all areas of life, whether you’re giving a presentation at work, having an important conversation with your spouse or training for a marathon, in order to excel you need to be able to focus.
What can you do to learn how to focus better? Here are two main skills you’ll need to master:
- In order to tap into the tremendous power of concentration, determine what the relevant cues to the task at hand are and learn to focus only on them. We learn to selectively focus on or block out cues every day, otherwise the background noises and activities would drive us crazy.
Think about a star ball player. He must be in tune to his technique, his opponent, the score, the referee, the coach, and time remaining on the scoreboard, to name only a few cues vying for his attention. What would happen if his focus shifted to the pretty girl in the bleachers? He, in all likelihood, might miss the ball flying towards him. Hence at this point and time, that pretty girl would be considered a performance-irrelevant cue that must be ignored.
- So the second skill for achieving better focus is determining what the performance-irrelevant cues are so you can ignore them as you strive to excel. These would be anything that would hurt your performance when you must accomplish a task.
There are two types of harmful cues that you’ll encounter:
Interfering cues are those that directly hurt your performance such as negative thoughts, anxiety, and concern over what others think.
Irrelevant cues are those that distract you from an effective focus including what restaurant you’ll go to tonight, the project that you must finish by tomorrow, or that pretty girl in the bleachers.
Each of us has a different dominant focus style, which is what we default to under stress. We pay attention in two distinct ways. These two focus styles are…
Internal-focus style. These people are totally and consistently focused during a specific activity like a presentation, a practice session or a competition. They need to keep their focus narrow, thinking only about their performance all the time. The down side of this intensity is that they also tend to be easily distracted by their surroundings.
External-focus style. These people only focus on their specific activity when they’re about to begin the event or competition. They function better by taking their mind off of the activity at all other times, because they tend to over-think, becoming negative, critical, and anxious. For them to excel, they must focus on other things when they’re not actually performing.
Neither approach is right or wrong. The important thing is identifying your focus style and utilizing it to improve your powers of concentration. If you’re trying to force yourself to adopt a style other than your own, you’ll find that under pressure you’ll revert back to your normal style and that could really throw you off your game.
Would you like assistance in utilizing your personal style to excel at everything you do? We can work together in person or via Skype. Please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you identify your weakness and learn how to tap into your strengths.
A good place to begin is by taking my 7-Point Wellness Assessment. You can download your free copy by clicking here.
“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.” ~ Joyce Brothers
Did you know that how you see yourself in your own mind has a great impact on your fitness level? Scientists and sports coaches have found that when you imagine yourself as fit and healthy, the brain believes it, which encourages you to make choices that consistently support your self-image as a fit person. To reinforce this positive shift you can definitely benefit from mental strength training.
That’s right! To improve your physical fitness you need to strengthen your mental fitness. Why? Because mental strength training will help you shift your self-image so you are empowered to reach your potential. Imagine how your fitness will improve when you can…
- Focus and deal with distractions. Rather than having a result-oriented focus, you’ll be able to focus on the present moment rather than becoming self-conscious.
- Develop a fearless mindset. You know that one event doesn’t define you as a person so you’re not afraid of embarrassment or failure.
- Control your emotions. You’ll be able to deal with setbacks and errors as you stay composed under pressure to perform.
- Improve endurance. You’ll be able to perform at your peak for a longer period of time when you are able to work in the “zone”.
- Find your true motivation. You’ll be able to deliver your optimal performance because you’ll be doing things for the right reasons.
What mental training techniques can you use to create a better self-image and boost your fitness level? Here are a few techniques I like to use with my coaching clients:
Relaxation: Calming your mind and body relieves tense muscles, which is essential to allow your muscles to stretch without tearing or pulling your skeletal frame out of alignment. By relaxing and contracting mindfully through all of your muscles groups you create deeper mine/body awareness that allows you to move more freely.
Visualization: Imagine yourself enjoying the benefits of reaching your goal. Do you want to reduce one size? Visualize how great that feels…how much better your balance is…how much stronger you are…how much more stamina you have…how well your clothes fit…how happy you are with the renewed energy to take that mountain hike or play ball with the children. The more engaged you become in this, the more your brain actually believes it to be true.
Anchoring: An anchor is a preset response to a specific stimulus. To help you feel like working out, recall a time when you had an awesome workout. Visualize the experience fully, and at the peak moment set an anchor or cue that makes your brain relive this feeling each time you employ the anchor.
Reframing: Identify your unhelpful thoughts and replace them with positive statements that support a positive self-image. Remove the phrase “I should” from your vocabulary. Instead use “I can do X now, which is so much more than when I started.” Also, get rid of the all-or-nothing mentality by refusing to personalize or over-generalize each event. One event does not define who you are as a person.
Mental editing: Whether you perform an exercise routine or only picture it, you activate many of the same brain connections that link what your body does to the controlling brain impulses. It also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. For example, Jack Nicklaus excelled because he practiced each shot in his mind before taking it.
You’ll get the best results if you enlist the assistance of a trained coach who can teach you how to do each of these techniques correctly. Mental strength training is all about taking you from where you are now and enhancing your fitness and self-image incrementally until your mind/body health transforms you into a top performer. Contact me and we’ll schedule an appointment so you can get started on your path to an excellent self-image and improved fitness.
“Achieving good fitness involves making yourself a priority.” ~ Robert Dilts
Do you know anyone who has turned their indoor treadmill into a clothes hanger? It happens more often than not. People in the United States are spending billions of dollars on physical fitness equipment each year, too much of which sits and collects dust. Just the gyms and health & fitness clubs alone this year are estimated to be $30 billion industry!
We all want and are trying to buy what they’re selling…to live longer, have more energy, enjoy better health, maintain greater flexibility, and create lean bodies that look super. So what’s causing this huge gap between the desire to be fit and the reality of everyday life? If spending money isn’t the answer, what is?
There are no magic pills or quick fixes to obtaining your optimal fitness. For many people, fitness depends on overcoming long-held habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Complete fitness applies to the combined health of your body, mind and spirit, which are supported by proper nutrition, exercise and a healthy outlook on life. These are the things that fuel your motivation to make real change!
How can you step up your inner game for physical fitness and lasting motivation that gets you through the tough times?
While the outer game focuses on your physical skills, the inner game focuses on your mindset, your mental approach and wellbeing – such as your attitude, self-confidence, your ability to deal with setbacks, and your commitment level.
First do a reality check. If you keep doing what you’re doing …
- What will you look like when you’re 70?
- Will you have the flexibility to tie your own shoes?
- Will you have the stamina to dance at your granddaughter’s wedding?
- Will you greet each day with joy?
If you don’t like what you see, then NOW is the time to start making changes. You are the master of your own body. No one can live your life for you. Each decision is your alone – to eat healthfully, to exercise regularly, to think positively.
Right now, take a moment, close your eyes, and visualize how you want your life to unfold from this day forward.
Visualization is powerful and can be dramatically enhanced by NLP. What’s NLP and what does it have to do with fitness? It may surprise you to learn that using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) for fitness motivation is highly effective. It’s a set of guiding principles, attitudes and techniques about real life behavior. NLP allows you to change, adopt or eliminate behaviors as you desire. It also gives you the ability to choose your mental, emotional, and physical states of wellbeing. It’s a powerful tool you can use to create real and lasting change in your mental and physical wellbeing.
You may think you need a physical trainer to get in shape and that might be true. But it is also true that our physical wellbeing is dependent on our mindset. Working with a life coach or psychotherapist can help you achieve excellence in every aspect of your life, including your physical fitness. For example, you can work with a life coach on…
- Setting achievable goals for where you are right now.
- Developing self-discipline to make these goals part of your new lifestyle.
- Making being fit part of your new identity by breaking old habits and setting new ones that create the lifestyle you want to live.
- Updating your self-image and self-esteem by appreciating the progress you’ve made.
Are you ready to learn how using NLP for fitness motivation can help you achieve the healthy lifestyle you desire? Let me support and challenge you each step of the way as you activate your inner abilities to achieve and maintain your motivation for total wellness and fitness. Contact me and let’s get started as soon as possible!
If you haven’t you received your free copy of The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, download it right now. It will help you get started on the path to a healthier you.
“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you experienced fear lately? Were you afraid to try something new? To push yourself outside your comfort zone? To say something you feared would start a confrontation? Did you meet it head on or did you retreat and run away? How did your response make you feel? Empowered or powerless?
Dictionaries define fear as: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Because we shy away from what is unpleasant, I challenge you to redefine the word fear this way: “This feeling of fear is alerting me to an opportunity to become more fully aware of my surroundings and connect with my inner power to handle whatever is happening.”
Just as children first love sweets then, as they mature to adulthood, they develop a taste for the full palate of flavors – bitter coffee and endive, savory chili peppers, salty anchovies, and sour lemon – we can mature and embrace each uncomfortable sensation as an opportunity for growing and enriching our experience in life. To help you reframe your feelings and learn how to deal with fear and worry, here are ten ways to cultivate a fearless mindset:
- Fully acknowledge and accept your feeling of fear. Everyone feels fear. By being fully present in your feelings, you can embrace it as a friend that teaches you about yourself.
- Change your right/wrong attitude to a can’t-lose attitude. Regardless of the decision you make, there will be positive rewards. You may or may not attain your desired goal. No matter what, you haven’t failed. You’ve learning what you’re capable of and gained a greater self-awareness of your strengths and weakness. Upon reflection you’ll see what you can do to achieve greater skills so you can excel.
- See the benefits of facing your fear. Avoiding, running and hiding only reinforces your fears. When you gain confidence and put yourself out there, you’ll make stronger connections with family and friends. You’ll be sharing solutions with co-workers and clients. You’ll be true to yourself. And those who love you will accept you for who you are. Those who have a problem with your authenticity don’t need to be in your life anyway.
- Recognize fears that you’ve inherited. Not everyone has supportive parents who instill the belief that you can do and be anything you want to be. Fears around money, sex, and self-worth are some of the issues that stem from your upbringing.
- Identify where the fear is coming from. What you say you fear may not necessarily be what you really fear. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, in actuality you might really fear rejection, feeling foolish or failing. When you identify the underlying issues, you can focus on resolving them.
- Celebrate your growth. Don’t forget each time you’ve been challenged and have pushed your comfort zone further out. Remember it’s not about winning or losing. It’s that you handled it!
- Avoid comparisons, which only lead to feelings of inadequacy. Your life experiences are unique to you. Own how YOU feel and don’t worry about what someone else would do in the situation.
- Recognize fear as an alert system to protect against valid dangers. Fearless doesn’t mean reckless. Life is fragile and we must exercise proper precautions in times of danger.
- Take baby steps if you feel overwhelmed. If you fear swimming, jumping in the deep end of the pool will not help you. Slowly easing into the water and having positive experiences will build your confidence and feelings of control. Often having a mentor to guide you is what’s needed to get you past the roadblocks.
- Find your support system. When you can voice your fears out loud to someone you trust, you release the pressure, and the challenge may not be as large as you first felt. They know you well and their helpful feedback and support can instill a renewed confidence in you.
If you want to learn more about how to deal with fear and cultivate a fearless mindset, I recommend you get Susan Jeffers’ book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: Dynamic techniques for turning Fear, Indecision and Anger into Power, Action and Love.
Do you feel it’s time to step towards your fears and learn to embrace them so you can create excellence in your life? I’m here to help. Contact me and let’s talk about what your next, best step might be.
Often people say they don’t have the time to eat healthy. Our busy work schedules and family demands can make it difficult. But it is not impossible – if you have a good reason for doing so.
Why wait until a health crisis, such as a heart attack or diabetes, forces you into making changes. The risk of permanent damage isn’t worth it. How much better it is to make proactive, mindful decisions that support you in building an excellent life now. The evidence indicates that proper nutrition plays an important role in the prevention of various physical and mental health problems. A balanced mood, sustainable levels of energy and feelings of wellbeing can be cultivated by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water.
So, what is your WHY? Why do you want to improve your eating habits? To prevent disease or needless pain? To have more energy so you can participate more fully in life? To see your children and grandchildren grow up? To look more attractive? Whatever your reason is, hold onto it. That vision will keep you motivated.
Once you have your reasons for improving your eating habits firmly in mind, here are four easy steps to make meal planning simpler. (Preparation is the key to success!)
1. Commit! Just decide you’re going to do it. Involve those who eat with you by asking what they do and don’t like to eat. Even children as young as five or six can be included in this discussion. When you can factor their preferences into your plans, you can avoid discouraging, negative feedback.
2. Make a cheat sheet for your shopping trip. List plenty of veggies, fruits, and protein that you want to always keep on hand in the kitchen. This list will keep you from being distracted by the candy and chips aisles at the store. It will keep you on the outside aisles of the store where the healthy food is. And remember, don’t shop when you’re hungry. The money you save by not buying junk food will allow you to splurge on more varieties of healthy food. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
3. Prepare your meals for the week on Sunday. Plan two or three recipes for dinners and use the leftovers for lunch the next day. Cut up your veggies and fruits and put them in the fridge in see-through, separate containers. This simple step makes it so much easier to build your salad, have a quick snack or prepare an easy side dish.
4. Pre-make your breakfast. Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day! You can save a lot of time by preparing yours ahead of time. Did you know you can make a big batch of green smoothies and freeze them in mason jars? The night before simply move one to the fridge and it will be ready for the next morning. Give it a shake or a stir and you’re good to go. Or you can make little egg-veggie muffins for a quick bite when your meeting is at 7am!
New habits are formed one baby step at a time. As the book, The Power of Habit, points out, often it only takes one pivotal action to interrupt the habit cycle in our brain thereby allowing us to form new habits. (If you haven’t read this book, I recommend that you do because it’s very insightful. And it’s fun to read.)
If you haven’t you received your free copy of The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, download it right now. It will help you determine the pivotal action that you need in order to create real change in your life.