I had a battle with focus the other day and my inner dialogue went like this:
Tired Anne: I don’t know about working out…..
Beastmaking Anne: You need to train. The Alpha, Anne!
TA: I feel like a slug.
BA: You’re going to feel epic after, tho.
BA: Damnit this isn’t an argument! And you know it.
TA: Gag. I do.
BA: So maybe your original plan won’t happen today. Let’s do it Monday. You love going nuts on Monday. What can you do today?
TA: I could do some kettlebell swings. And ropes!? And and…
BA: Gurrl that’s what I’m talking about.
TA: Feeling a bit better. But I don’t care I’m eating this bacon sandwich at@goddessgrocer first it will fuel me, wake me up…
BA: Duh, #Bacon is life.
TA: [licking fingers]
Because of the following focus drills, I’m consistently winning the battle in my head.
[Sadly, I’m not going to recommend bacon as one of the drills.]
Focus provides better results and keeps you accountable. It’s like a muscle you have to train. A random workout routine will get you inconsistent results.
Here are four drills to improve your focus:
1) Train with purpose
I am always bonded to a goal. Whether it’s a Spartan race, American Ninja Warrior (I chickened out of applying last year, but I was training for it!) or powerlifting, I have a tangible goal.
A tangible goal allows you to set benchmarks to see and enjoy progress. That’s what gets you results.
Even if the goal is cosmetic or as simple as five pull-ups, you are still training your focus muscle because the act of consistently showing up and putting in quality work is mentally challenging. And that’s nothing to ignore.
2) Anchor yourself with a word or mantra
My word is “ALPHA.” I truck through my reps by spelling out A-L-P-H-A instead of counting.
The word carries a lot of meaning to me because it represents the beginning of my journey. It got my career started at Equinox and Lift>Live>Lead was born. My very first fitness competition, the Alpha Showdown, was in 2014: I had just been training for less than eight months.
I didn’t win, but my inner beast woke up. I wanted to compete, again and again.
I clawed my way through intense training periods and I tried the Alpha again.
I didn’t win.
It was one of the worst feelings I had in 2015. I remember because I felt the most secure in my athletic abilities. My life was still unfolding, but at least I still had my athletic prowess. When I didn’t win, I felt like I was going to keep scrambling to find my way. But now I know challenges provide focus and I learned there is never an ending.
Because of this, ALPHA is my code word, even when I’m in a situation outside of training.
I did the Alpha again with an attitude makeover.
Now I’m headed to nationals in September!
3) Become Your Own Champion & Gold-ify Your Environment
I love Jim Afremow’s book The Champion’s Mind: How Athletes Think, Train and Thrive. To quote Jim,
Keep in mind that winning an “inner” gold medal is your ultimate victory. A true champion is someone who has overcome great odds to reach the pinnacle of his or her potential, regardless of the externally measured result.
I strive for progression and excellence in my endeavors but you have to set yourself up for success one day at a time. Make it an automatic part of your environment.
I tried using visuals on my phone and laptop wallpaper but those items are already sources of distraction and it wasn’t registering. A few of Jim’s ideas are to wear a gold wristband or tape a note somewhere noticeable.
I found something that remained in my line of sight: My nails!
The Alpha Showdown is in four weeks. I’ll be sporting gold sparkles on my nails until then. I also deploy this technique during times or situations that require more inner grit than normal, so my “gold story” continues.
4) Train ALONE
This is an excerpt from a post I recently wrote for Dan John’s blog:
Some of the hardest obstacles we face in our careers, personal lives or even training, can be an opportunity. But you – and only you – have the power to view it that way. No matter how many people encourage you, it still requires inner grit.
When you push yourself, alone, your sweat is a fulfillment of your promise to be your best self, and you increase your autonomy and focus.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a trainer and it’s how I make my living! CEOs have business coaches. Trainers have trainers.
But if you condition yourself to only workout when you have someone there, what happens on the days they’re not there? Will you falter? This includes ignoring social media and phone calls.
Call it tough love.
Let’s recap how you’re going to improve your focus:
- Train with purpose
- Anchor yourself with a word or mantra
- Gold-ify your environment
- Train alone
Drill your focus daily and you will be suited to feel like a champion in all aspects of life.