Top 10 High Achievers Share Tips to Focus
1. Slow down
Take a moment to gather your thoughts before important meetings or conversations. Often we think productivity and performance are related to always moving faster. They are, but you have to ensure you’re channeling the velocity in the right direction.
For me, it means taking a few minutes to write down my thoughts, identify my priorities and cast away other thoughts so I can focus entirely on the task at hand, particularly before brainstorming and team discussions.
—Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, who just doubled her company’s valuation to $345 million
2. Take water to the face
Go to a sink and splash water on your face — a wake-up splash. It might sound rudimentary, but it’s very effective for getting me focused. It has the added benefit of forcing you to look in the mirror and see if you need to comb your hair or brush your teeth before game time.
—Tim Draper, founding partner of DFJ
3. Envision yourself in the ring
I envision myself in a UFC MMA octagon. The gate just closed, my opponent is standing across from me and he’s hell-bent on taking my dream away from me. I take eight to 10 steps back and forth from one side of the cage to the other.
I keep my eyes steadily fixed and focused on my opponent’s eyes. Never wavering from the stare, I pace back and forth like a pit bull. Each pace increases my mental focus, prepares my mindset and sharpens my belief system. I remind myself this person is standing in the way of my dream. How bad do I want my dreams to come true?
I do this before going onstage to speak to large crowds, before important meetings, before advancing to a new weight limit in the gym, or before anything I need to get myself into state for. There has never been a single time I did not get into state using this and did not achieve the results I expected.
—Com Mirza, CEO of Fitness Expo Dubai and “The $500 Million Man”; failed in eight companies back-to-back and today runs a nine-figure empire with over 600 employees
4. Design the soundtrack of your life
I have a “motivational” playlist on my iPod that’s been growing since I began public speaking on the high school debating team. I think the first song that I added was, “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses.
Music can stir your emotions and sharpen your survival instinct in a way that no energy drink or mantra can. Think of it as the soundtrack of your life. What is playing over the moments where you win? Find the soundtrack to your life, and win.
—Roberto Orci, Hollywood super producer and screenwriter whose movies and TV shows have grossed over $5 billion worldwide
5. Unleash feel-good hormones
The one habit I have that gives me more focus and energy is exercise. No matter where I am in the world, I always try to start the day with a 20-minute, high-intensity workout. If I have room to move, there is nothing better than putting on running shoes and exploring a new city.
Exercise helps me hit the day pumped full of feel-good hormones like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. That, supplemented with a double macchiato.
—Josh Black, investor, entrepreneur, and CEO of GroupM Content in Asia; GroupM is an investment group with more than $100 billion in billings
6. Visualize the desired result
First, I write down my ideal outcome for each case, even when the chances of winning are slim. I over-prepare, utilizing the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College methods. Then I visualize the courtroom, what I’m wearing, and see myself going through the steps of presenting my case, and feel myself enjoying the win.
When it comes time to walk into the courtroom, I stop, close my eyes, fast-forward the visualization, and feel the win. It works. I’ve gotten cases favorably resolved or even dismissed when the odds were far stacked against my client.
—Nafise Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
7. Engineer peak performance
Peak performance doesn’t happen by accident. The reason the New Zealand All Blacks are the most successful sporting team of all time is because of rituals. Before every major meeting or event, I have incorporated a physical anchor to get myself into a peak state.
I also have a Spotify PB Mix playlist that gets me in the zone for performance. Hot and cold plunge pools are also a fantastic way to wake up. Whenever possible, I swim in the ocean to start my day.
—Calvin Coyles, CEO of Young & Wildly Successful
8. Seclude yourself
Before I go on stage to speak about marketing and business storytelling, I try to seclude myself, even for two minutes, to take five deep breaths and remind myself to keep the voice low and go slow.
I want to crush my first 10 seconds. I conjure James Bond — no one is cooler than Bond. If I need a boost of energy, I avoid the spike and crash of caffeine; instead I do pushups and shadow box.
—Maury Rogow, CEO of Rip Media Group
9. Meditate on your ‘why’
Prior to an important meeting, I use a new feature on my Fitbit called “Relax.” It’s a guided breathing experience that lowers blood pressure and reduces stress and anxiety. My Fitbit monitors my heart rate in order to identify my optimal rate of deep breathing. I find that if I focus on my startup’s mission statement and the patients for whom we’re finding solutions, it can inspire me to be my best.
—Laurence Girard, founder and CEO of Fruit Street
10. Be intensely interested in the other party
I become sincerely interested in the people I’m interacting with. Being interested in them, focused on what they have to say, and asking them questions, rather than trying to be “interesting” to them has a calming effect and allows me to truly focus on whatever the deliverable is.
—Joy Gendusa, founder and CEO of PostcardMania
11. Find your flow
I use the power of guided visualization, coupled with mindfulness, to bring myself into a state of flow and focus. It must be done with a certain amount of discipline and set intentions:
1. Clear your mind of chatter — like stress and negative background conversation or noise.
2. Settle into your foreground conversation and into the intention of the ideal future you wish to achieve.
3. Increase positive emotion by continually rehearsing the ideal outcome and future you wish to eventually manifest.
A few simple ideas to get more focused:
I recommend you stop every now and then and ask yourself if you are really focused and aligned or if you are walking in the opposite direction of where you want to go. Whenever you realize that you are not fully focused, simply bring the focus back. Be patient and use a playful attitude. Developing a sharp focus takes some time and practice.
It is also a great idea to keep a daily diary and to make a note of everything that distracts you. Make a note of all your beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions that are not aligned with your goal. That way, you became more aware of the things that disturb your focus and it will be much easier to get rid of them.
Once you become aware of your main distracters, make a firm resolution to let go of those thoughts, habits, actions… that keep you from reaching your goal.
However, before you can apply a laser like focus, a few other requirements need to be handled first:
#1 – Get a crystal clear vision of what you want:
You are not applying focus just for the sake of applying focus. You are using your focus to achieve your goals. And, this means, first you need to get absolutely clear what you want.
What drives you, what excites you, what will pull you forward? This is about what you want, not what your parents want, not what your friends may think is great, not what your society thinks is worthwhile to achieve…
If You Connect With Your Passion, With Your Heart’s Desire, It Will Be Relatively Easy And Natural To Remain Fully Focused On Your Goal. You Will Literally Be Pulled Towards Your Goal.
On the other hand, if you do something that doesn’t really correspond with your heart’s desire – for example, because you want to impress someone or feel more respected in your society… – keeping a strong focus will be very difficult and you will constantly need to push yourself.
Also, if you have a crystal clear vision of what you want, you will be able to come up with a great plan on how to achieve your goal and the clearer and more lively your vision is the more drive and energy you will find to make it happen.
#2 – Create a plan:
Once you have a clear vision of what you want, you can get started to create a plan on how to get there. Depending on the complexity of your goal, you may need to do some research, read some autobiographies and books… to identify the required action steps.
Your first plan won’t be perfect, but it will be good enough to get you started. Don’t worry to get everything perfect right from the start – it is impossible. Just keep on learning, take action, move forward and adapt your plan as you go.
At the beginning, you won’t have all the elements, but the stronger your focus grows, the more ideas, people, strategies, action steps… to achieve your goal will be attracted into your life.
#3 – Identify your most important tasks and fully focus on them:
Once you have a basic plan, identify the most important steps and tasks. Those are the tasks you need to focus on. There will be one or a few major tasks and maybe hundreds of other tasks and you won’t be able to get everything done, and that’s fine.
Just focus on the most important things – the habits, thought patterns, action steps… that provide the quickest way towards your goals.
At this stage, you know pretty well what needs to be done and what needs to be avoided and all you have to do is to direct your focus towards those things that are aligned with your goal and retract your focus from everything that is not aligned with your goal.
I know, it’s easier said than done and that’s why I would like to provide you with some additional tips to make it easier for you to focus:
- Be aware that the more you focus, the faster you will reach your goal and the more you will ENJOY your life. This may be a bit uncomfortable at the beginning, but only at the beginning. Soon it will become a new habit and you will be “flying” towards your goal.
- All those things that “distract” you: endlessly surfing the web, thinking the same old (negative) thoughts again and again, watching too many videos on YouTube, eating the wrong foods, not going for a run… may feel comfortable in the short run, but they hurt you in the long run, because they keep you from living the life of your dreams – and nothing hurts more.
- Don’t get discouraged and lose your focus if things don’t work out immediately. Simply commit to give your best, keep going, enjoy yourself and be proud of yourself. That’s really all you can do and that’s all you need to do to make your dreams come true.