If you experience mental fog or are struggling to focus or follow through on your goals, you're not alone.
You have big dreams, big ideas, and big plans for the future. You want to accomplish a lot, but you can't seem to find the time to do it all—live a healthy lifestyle, build your personal brand, nurture strong relationships, meet your goals, and start and finish projects. Further complicating the problem is that you find many things very interesting, and want to learn as much as possible about all of them, but you can only focus on and devote energy to one thing at a time.
It's not a problem of time. It's a problem of energy.
There are four different levels of energy:
The physical quantity of your energy
The emotional quality of your energy, whether it's positive or negative
The mental focus, stability, and presence of your energy
The spiritual force of your energy, your conviction and ability to persist
Your attention is your most valuable asset. Gaining control of your time is the most powerful move you can make towards success and living life to your full potential.
So what makes or breaks success? Successful people empower themselves by building practices and systems to design, optimize, and streamline their time. Creativity flows naturally, and healthy behaviors become the new default. Inspiration can be found all around, and boredom, consumption, and time spent feeding low-vibrational habits are minimized. Success results from cultivating:
Clarity-building, intuition-honing rituals
Efficient energy expenditure
Prolonged periods of focus / flow
These practices build confidence in oneself and emotional regulation skills.
If you're feeling cloudy, you may not be nurturing your body, mind, or spirit to your fullest potential. Lapsing into old habits is simultaneously easy and mind-numbing. The longer we spend feeding these unconscious thought patterns, neglecting self-care, scrolling mindlessly, and avoiding important tasks, the worse we feel. Ignoring problems doesn't make them go away, and observing them does not give them more power—it expands awareness. The biggest obstacles are mental.
Markers and symptoms of lack of self-care can be rooted in unresolved unconscious thought patterns and self-limiting beliefs impressing on your mind. By consciously identifying them, we can start to remodel the mind:
In this 6-part series, I will go over techniques that helped me:
Get mentally unstuck and break the loop
Identify and address barriers
Planning and strategy
Prioritization and efficiency
Part 1: Getting Mentally Unstuck - Break the Loop
1. Eliminate or remove distractions in your surroundings
Quality of attention is like a flashlight: it can be dim and diffuse (covering a wider breadth), or bright, focused, sharp, and laser-like (illuminating depth and detail).
Broad concepts are convenient for organizing and seeing the surface-level, big picture, while specific details are more vivid and memorable. Being able to switch between central and peripheral vision in this way helps unlock creativity.
Re-program your default networks.
It takes work to replace old routines that don't serve you. Notice how those lower vibration habits—checking your phone, online shopping, social media, email, or other compulsions or addictions—make you feel. Listen to those messages from the universe or your body to put your phone down, or that your body doesn't like certain foods, drinks, or substances. Replacement is easier than restriction, so develop hobbies you enjoy, such as meditation, journaling, making music/art, dancing, and meeting up with friends who lift your spirits. Maintain a healthy balance of production and consumption.
Tidy up your workspace and hide your phone.
Clutter lowers our energy by causing our attention to dissipate to the chaotic environment. Distractions like phones similarly expend our energy on consumption and comparison, which can have a demoralizing effect after extended periods. We all need a space we feel safe to be creative in. Within the buzzing world, resist a decreasing attention span by practicing patience: find clarity and stillness within. It's not easy at first, but it's so worth the effects on health and fulfillment.
2. Acknowledge what you can and can't control.
Let go of what you can't control:
Our memory, attention, energy stores, and decision-making abilities are all stretched throughout the day. Cognitive load can be caused by low mood, inconsistency, confusing display, and poor priming, making our work feel hard, unfamiliar, untrue, or bad. Things that increase cognitive load include deciding what to wear in the morning and multitasking. Minimizing cognitive load frees up space for creativity.
We can't control what other people do. We can't count on other people to fix the problems of the world or to provide all the answers we seek. We have to take action and pursue that knowledge ourselves.
Embrace what's in your control:
Our responses to events
What we focus on (e.g. complaining vs. gratitude)
The story we tell ourselves (e.g. excuses vs. perseverance)
We have the choice to free ourselves. Take responsibility in the present and set a higher standard for yourself because you know you deserve better. You are in charge of your destiny; you are powerful beyond belief. What you choose to do in this moment could have a significant impact on your life trajectory and can even change the world, so choose wisely.
3. Reset your motivation and drive
What you put in is what you get out. Energize your cells with proper nutrition. Slower brain frequencies are not ideal for focus but are good for relaxation and visualization. Be aware of your posture, breathwork, and movement.
If you have a major obstacle standing before you, envision the result, the reward for your effort, the life it creates, and the opportunities it opens up for you. These images can be inspiring and energizing. A rewarding process becomes a positive feedback loop for success.
Write it down
Instead of checking your phone when you wake up, try writing for 5 minutes about anything, such as the dreams you had last night.
What thoughts weigh on your mind? Release them into the world, and observe the lightness and relief that ensues.
If things never get crossed off your to-do list, reinforce accomplishment with a "done list." Write down what you accomplished in a day as reinforcement for your desired lifestyle. Writing down how you feel and giving yourself feedback can help you invest in the journey and advance forward.
Follow the 5-second rule
Mel Robbins' 5 second rule is the stupidly simple principle that snapped me out of my chronic unproductive bout and helped me relieve a lot of my general anxiety. Act on subconscious, intuitive signals as soon as you are aware of them, without hesitation. Harness the power of the present. Start with small tasks like getting out of bed, making your bed, cleaning your room, showering, or anything that calls you in this moment. Cement non-intimidating habits, and kick-start your day energized, in a good mood, and ready to be productive. Once you accomplish this, you can try more challenging tests of willpower that push your comfort zone, such as getting up before your alarm or approaching a potential contact.
Actions you can take instantly to feel better so you can think better
If you're sitting at a desk:
Sit up straight, feel the ground beneath your feet, breathe deeply through your belly and create space in your spine. Breathe deeply for a count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4. Repeat 10 times.
Try rolling your shoulders, neck, wrists, and ankles. Stretch your arms and back, and extend your legs.
Go for a walk. Moving for 5-15 minutes can have energy benefits that last 2-3 hours.
If you're at home or in a safe, comfortable space:
Write down things that are weighing on your mind
Take a minute to write down what you're grateful for
Perform self-care rituals
Meditate for 10+ minutes using Insight Timer
Listen to your favorite song and dance, or find new music