There’s no way around it. Reinvention requires strategy: intentional, ongoing, long-term thinking and action. But today’s “on-demand” lifestyle conspires against full presence and total attention. It’s a challenge these days for anyone to look away from the current crisis to focus on her own future. But look away we must.
If you’re serious about giving your Do-Over! the sustained attention it requires, here are three strategies for developing the habit of deep focus:
First, give up the myth of multitasking. Our brain does not conduct its activities simultaneously. It works sequentially. When we think we’re multitasking, we’re actually zigzagging and backtracking between different tasks. This constant “switching” is terribly inefficient and even detrimental to higher-level activities such as strategic thinking. Your Do-Over! strategy isn’t going to appear in the cracks between text messages.
Second, write it down. Writing—and I mean handwriting—is a form of thinking, and it is a highly effective way to shut out the noise. Keep a reinvention strategy notebook where you regularly go to review goals, record research, document experiences, play out scenarios, draft plans, reflect on results, and make revisions. The act of writing will clarify intentions and invite fresh ideas.
Third, train your attention. Attention is the earnest direction of your mind. It is, metaphorically speaking, how and when you “turn” your mind. In general, we are too adept at alerting, too timid at orienting, and too remote from big-picture thinking. Think of your attentional training as pilates for the brain. Your goals are to: 1) filter out more stimuli, 2) respond more selectively, 3) spend more time in big-picture thinking.
Once you get in the habit of focusing on your future, you’ll be able to take more control of your Do-Over!