Have you experienced the satisfaction of focusing on a project, right up to its successful completion? It’s wonderful! At times you might feel carried forward by the flow of your concentration. Best of all, you build confidence, each time you keep on track.
But rigidity … that’s another matter! Sparks fly and patience frays. You want SO much to stick with your plan that other parts of your life suffer. Relationships can be the first casualty when you become overly rigid. And your body may complain bitterly, too.
It’s essential to learn the difference between focus and rigidity in daily decisions!
Here are 3 ways to strengthen FLEXIBLE focus and avoid the pitfalls of rigidity:
List your top priorities and COMMIT to balance.
Rigidity is focus that has lost its balance. This can happen to anyone! But it won’t happen as often when youconsciously broaden your perspective. You may find it veryhelpful to write down your central commitments, and thenclarify boundaries for each in advance.
For example, you might resolve, “I won’t let this report interfere with my weekend plans!” Then, if you are tempted to cancel an important family get-together to review your project for the fifth time, an inner warning bell can help you readjust your perspective.
PLAN your day the night before, giving each priority its fair share.
Some people mistake planning with rigidity. But realistic planning actually PROTECTS you from going overboard! First, if you chunk your project down into daily increments, you won’t be pulling all-nighters at the last minute, while losing your temper with those nearest and dearest to you.
Second, keeping to a well-planned schedule will help you sustain the tempo of healthy daily life, especially if you factor in a little flex time. When you are rested, healthy and well nourished, you retain your perspective more easily, and you build resiliency.
Compassionately FLOW with the unexpected.
Oops! Despite your best plans, your schedule may be up-ended by sudden change. If you grimly refuse to flex, your rigid focus may actually collide with the new state of affairs! So bring in compassion, breathing deep. Affirm that you can thrive despite this current setback, and ground yourself in your essential self-worth.
Next, call forth your nimbleness and creativity to explore fresh opportunities. Let your options broaden as you map the new terrain.
Then intensify your focus onto your new course of action. You will find this process much easier to engage in if you have followed Steps #1 and #2.
Flexible focus is a skill you can build! And self-reference is one of your best allies. Keep checking in with yourself to find your “sweet spot” of balance, as you flex here, and hold firm there. Assess your results with friendly objectivity.
With practice, like the surfer, you can use both your focus and flexibility to skillfully ride the waves of change!
Bring your body into focus.
What happens when you are over-focused to the point of becoming rigid? Do your movements become quick and irritable? Do you skip meals, and then feel deprived? Or wince at that familiar twinge in your lower back? Often your most reliable indicator of focus turning rigid is your twitching, aching, body!
Learn your particular cues, and honor them by stepping back for a needed break. In fact, make a point of both scheduling and then taking regular breaks, even when you want to press on! If your body continues to rebel, you might then explore whether tweaking your priorities can help rebalance you. Brainstorm options, and learn what resonates, to support your health as well as your productivity.
Research indicates that open focus, or relaxed concentration, wins hands down over bulling your way through fatigue and discomfort. The very act of tensely pushing past your body’s alarm system restricts the vital flow of blood to your brain. Relaxed focus, on the other hand, helps you assimilate more easily, and it sparks creative ideas. Think of how tunnel vision restricts your awareness. Tension also narrows your focus, adding to the danger of overlooking significant background information.
If you haven’t developed versatility with focus, don’t be discouraged. Your body wants to function at top effectiveness and will faithfully send you signals.
With practice, your ability to tune into progressively subtler cues will effortlessly enhance your effectiveness!© Copyright 2010 Paula Eder, Ph.D.