Focus Control Challenge

Summary

What: The involves setting aside specific times throughout your day for taking active control of your focus
How Often: You have the choice to commit to 7 days, 14 days, or 30 days
Time Commitment: Depending on the level you commit to, your time commitment can be as short as 15 minutes per day or as long as 1 hour per day
How much: This challenge is FREE to participate in
What you will get out of it: You will improve your ability to concentrate on what’s important and let go of everything that’s not helping you create the life you want
When: You can start the is challenge whenever you’re ready to stop letting outside distractions limit your ability to live a rewarding and exciting life

NOTE: Focus control exercises are often called meditations. They’re one and the same thing but some people are a little funny about the word ‘meditation’ so to make sure they don’t miss out of the incredible benefits, I refer to them as focus control exercises in this challenge.

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Do you know the single most critical skill in transforming your life?

There are plenty of answers you could give here which wouldn’t be too far from the truth: self-awareness, insight, integrity, accountability, etc… But they’re not the core. All of these things are a necessary part of the equation, but they’re not the make-or-break element in taking control.

The single most important skill in transforming your life is focus control.

Your ability to consciously and direct your attention will determine just how much progress you can make and how quickly you’ll make that progress.

Before I explain why, it’s necessary to give you a solid theoretical understanding.

 

What is Focus Control?

At any one point in time, there are millions of different bits of information flooding into your brain through your senses. There’s visual information pouring in through your eyes, audio information through your ears, olfactory information through your nose… (You get the idea), but if you were to try and be consciously aware of every piece of information at once, your brain would get overloaded. There’s simply too much information for you to process. Even if you just tried to consciously take in all the information from one sense, it would be too much.

Take your sense of touch as an example.

Right now, as you read this, there are millions of different pieces of information flooding in through your sense of touch.

  • There’s the feeling of your socks against your feet
  • There’s the feeling of pants against your legs
  • There’s the feeling of your top against your torso

But, they’re not homogenous feelings; they differ for different parts of your body.

  • Your little toe has its own set of nerves and sensations, separate from your big toe
  • The arch of your foot has its own set of nerves and sensations, separate from your ankle
  • The outside of your foot has its own set of nerves and sensations, separate from the inside of your foot

Then apply that to the different part of your legs; then your hands; then your forearms; then your upper arms… There’s a LOT to take in, and that’s not even all! We still haven’t started on temperature and other internal sensations.

Now as you focus on all the different physical sensations, try to do the same with your vision. Then your hearing. Then your smell.

And then, if you really want to understand the full scope of information your brain could be processing, turn your attention into your brain and actively pay attention to the thoughts you’re having, the thoughts you’re having about those thoughts, the mental images you’re creating based on the thoughts you’re having about your thoughts, and the physical sensations created by those mental images.

There’s simply too much for your brain to process at once. If you attempted to be consciously aware of everything that was going on, you’d be like a cat in a ball pit — completely overwhelmed with options and possibilities and unable to execute on any of them.

To make sure you don’t get overwhelmed with all these different sensations and can still function in your everyday life, you’ve developed a skill called ‘Focus’.

Your ‘Focus’ is the part of you that determines which pieces of information you pay attention to and which parts you ignore. It’s the process of highlighting important elements and ignoring other less important elements.

Think of it as if every piece of information that’s coming in through your senses was an actor on a stage in a dark theatre and your focus was the spotlight operator highlighting a handful of actors whilst others stayed in the dark. That spotlight is your focus.

Focus control is learning to actively control that spotlight so you can choose which actors you highlight and which you leave in the dark.

It’s learning to tune into particular sensations, thoughts, ideas, or mental images and ignoring others.

 

Why is Focus Control Important?

Focus Control is important because it’s the cornerstone of all personal development. Without the ability to consciously and deliberately control your focus, you’re going to struggle to change the deep psychological processes and systems responsible for your life situation.

Think about it like this:

Let’s say that the problem you’re trying to overcome is a reliance on external validation to feel good about yourself. Your Script you’ve identified is that:

  • You currently feel isolated
  • You want to feel connected
  • The outcome you’re looking for to feel connected it to get approval from other people
  • The mechanism you’re using to create that outcome is by changing yourself to meet other people’s standards

You know this isn’t going to help you create the life you want and you’re committed to change. You know that in order to do this, you need to change your connection Script to:

  • You currently feel isolated
  • You want to feel connected
  • The outcome you’re looking for to feel connected is to find a deep and meaningful commonality with another person
  • The mechanism you’re using to create that outcome is by opening up and sharing meaningful things about your life and looking for people who have those in common

 

And if you’re going to make this change, you need to be able to control your focus.

This is because your old Script is created by the fact that as soon as you enter a room with people you want approval from, you direct your attention to what they could be thinking and how you could make them like you or approve of you.

To start using your new Script, you need to change your focus from focussing on what they’re thinking and how you could make them like you to what is real and meaningful for you and different ways you could express them.

Without the ability to consciously and deliberately control your focus, that change simply won’t be possible.

 

What do I have to do?

The Focus Control Challenge is simple. Just like basketball, football, dancing, knitting, and any other physical skill, the more you practice focus control, the better you get at it. That’s it. That’s everything. And that’s what you’ll be doing — getting reps at controlling your focus.

The way to practice your focus control is to set aside a particular period of time to practice and during that time, consciously and deliberately focus on one only thing. That can be a thought, an idea, a physical sensation, a visual object, or anything in between. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you aim your spotlight at that one thing and allow everything else to stay in the dark.

NOTE: You have the choice of whether or not you use a guided meditation to walk you through the process of staying focussed on one thing at a time. They make it far easier to remember to stay focused on one thing, but there aren’t many great ones freely available some people can find them distracting.

 

How long do I have to do it for?

There are three levels of intensity for this particular challenge, each designed to push the right person out of their comfort zone.

Level: Beginner
Duration: 15 minutes focus control blocks for 7 days
Frequency: Either once per day (15 minutes first thing in the morning) or twice a day (15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening)
Where: In a dark, quiet, calm space, free from distractions. A bedroom is a great place to do this.
How: Sit in a comfortable and upright position, with your eyes closed and without your head being supported by anything (because if it is, you’ll fall asleep), and choose one thing to consciously and deliberately direct your attention towards. The holy grail is to stay focussed on physical sensations (the physical sensation of your in and out breath is a very useful start), but if that’s too challenging, you can start with picking one thing to look at and focussing your attention on that.
Who’s it for: The beginner level is for anyone who wants to take control of their focus, but struggles with maintaining their attention on one thing for any extended period of time

Level: Intermediate
Duration: 30 minutes focus control blocks for 14 days
Frequency: Either once per day (30 minutes first thing in the morning) or twice a day (30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening)
Where: In a place that challenges you to stay focus. Start in a dark, quiet, calm space, free from distractions and progress onto noisier and more challenging place as your skill level increases
How: Sit in a comfortable and upright position, with your eyes closed and without your head being supported by anything (because if it is, you’ll fall asleep), and choose one thing to consciously and deliberately direct your attention towards. The holy grail is to stay focussed on physical sensations (the physical sensation of your in and out breath is a very useful start), but if that’s too challenging, you can start with picking one thing to look at and focussing your attention on that.
Who’s it for: The intermediate level is for anyone who can stay focussed on tasks some time but wants to see how much better they can get

Level: Advanced
Duration: 30 minutes focus control blocks during the week for 30 days with 1-hour focus control blocks on the weekend
Frequency: Either once per day in the morning or twice a day (in the morning and evening)
Where: In a place that challenges you to stay focus. Start in a dark, quiet, calm space, free from distractions and progress onto noisier and more challenging place as your skill level increases
How: Sit in a comfortable and upright position, with your eyes closed and without your head being supported by anything (because if it is, you’ll fall asleep), and choose one thing to consciously and deliberately direct your attention towards. The holy grail is to stay focussed on physical sensations (the physical sensation of your in and out breath is a very useful start), but if that’s too challenging, you can start with picking one thing to look at and focussing your attention on that.
Who’s it for: The advanced level is for anyone who can stay focussed on tasks but wants to be like a rock

 

Is there anything else I should know?

 

The first few times you try to control your focus, you’re probably going to find it difficult. If you do, don’t stress. Like I said earlier, this is a skill and like any skill, it takes time to develop. You couldn’t swim perfect freestyle the first time you jumped into a pool and you’re not going to be able to develop perfect focus control the first time you practice it.

Take your time with this process, try out different guided meditations, test out what works for you and what doesn’t, and find your sweet spot.

The other thing you need to know is that there is a far richer and far more incredible world happening inside you than you’ve ever noticed before and if you go deep enough with the meditation process, you’ll be able to experience things you never thought possible.

Trust me.

What do I do next?

If you’re ready to take on the beginner, intermediate, or advanced Focus Control Challenge, the process for getting involved is simple. All you need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Click the ‘Start taking this course’ button at the top of this page
  2. Go to the Focus Control Challenge forum and post an introduction that says:
    1. The level and amount of days you’re committing to
    2. What you hope to get out of the challenge
    3. How the rest of the group can support you
  3. Identify the obstacles that might get in the way of you completing this challenge and come up with a plan to eliminate them
  4. Set a reminder to come back to the forum every night and update your progress