Here’s How To Reprogram Your Brain To Achieve More Focus On Your Goals

“Those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.” -Steven Pressfield

You’ve been raised with limitations. The world is inherently full of distractions that are designed by very smart people to keep you focused on unimportant things.

In his landmark book Deep Work, Cal Newport wrote: “Network tools — social media, email, Reddit, etc. — are distracting us from work that requires unbroken concentration, while simultaneously degrading our capacity to remain focused.” The world doesn’t set you up for success or high-level focus — on the contrary, it sets you up for failure.

If you don’t choose to program your brain to focus, you’ll have a hard time achieving your goals. It’s hard to accomplish anything when you can’t sit still without your phone for more than an hour! Right now, much of the culture around you isn’t helping you to be focused. For the most part, it’s helping you stay where you are, which probably isn’t where you want to be.

But you can change this.

You can reprogram your brain to achieve more focus on the things that truly matter — your goals.

In today’s world, entertainment and distraction is the boss. Open-office environments, push notifications, and unbridled technological accessibility have eroded many of people’s ability to focus. As a result, many people find themselves stuck, with no idea how to break out.

If you don’t choose to reprogram your brain, someone else will program it for you to help with their goals.

Steven Pressfield once wrote, “You can’t let the actions of others define your reality.” You need to take control again — of your thoughts, your behaviors, and your life.

Here’s how to reprogram your brain to achieve more focus on your goals.

If You Can Do It Every Day, You’ll Be Enormously Successful

“My brain gets stronger every day because I exercise it.” -Robert Kiyosaki

It takes significant time to program your brain — if you have a history of scrolling through social media every time you have a free moment, it’ll take some time to reverse that cycle. These things take time to unlearn.

But how do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

Spend a little time each day building new beliefs about yourself. One of my favorite authors James Altucher once wrote: “Every day, check these 4 boxes: Have I improved 1% on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health?” Small progress adds up.

Here’s a personal example.

In high school, I was afraid to tell my girlfriends about my feelings. I’d been burned before, and I’d grown scared of being vulnerable.

When my now-wife and I were dating in college, I wanted to change that. I began gritting my teeth and just saying it. If I was scared, annoyed at her, or just cranky, I’d just tell her that. Progress was slow.

It was scary, but throughout this (consistent!) process, I began being less afraid. Soon, I became a great communicator. Nowadays, I’m great at telling my wife the important things going on in my head. We have a great relationship built on trust and communication.

If you can do a little bit every day, you’ll be enormously successful over time.

“Small, seemingly inconsistent steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.” -Darren Hardy

If you don’t program who you are, someone else will. You must declare how you want to spend your time and who you want to be. If you don’t, you’ll probably never live the life you want.

When you show up to do the work every day, the work becomes easier. And this is some of the most important work you’ll ever do.

Once You Take Responsibility For Your Life, Everything Gets Better

Grammy award-winning performer Kendrick Lamar once wrote, “I want the credit if I’m losing or I’m winning.” This mentality isn’t common, because it’s risky — what if you lose? There’s no one else to blame.

Have you taken full responsibility for your life? Are you in charge — or is someone else calling the shots?

It’s so easy to let someone else take charge — that way, if things end up in failure, you have someone to blame. It’s easy to point fingers at someone else instead of taking a hard look at how you could’ve done things differently.

But if you never take full responsibility for your life, you’ll never have the life you want. Wrote best-selling author Hal Elrod:

“The moment you accept total responsibility for EVERYTHING in your life is the day you claim the power the change ANYTHING in your life.”

Back in the day, I worked at a terrible corporate desk job. I was chronically bored, exhausted, and felt overworked even though I spent 75% of my time doing basically nothing but pretend to work. I had a goal to “be a writer,” but I’d never taken the time to figure out what the hell that actually meant.

For a long time, I blamed my annoying coworker, incompetent managers, and dysfunctional company for my troubles (again — so easy to blame others!). I never took responsibility for what I wanted until years later. Eventually, I got so sick and tired of being sick and tired, I quit!

My wife and I took full responsibility. We quit our jobs, packed up our belongings, and moved to South Korea to travel the world and teach English. I was able to start a personal writing business where I work from home, making more money than my old corporate job only working 10 hours/week!

When you let others call the shots, you get stuck in a cycle you can’t break.

But when you take full responsibility for your life, that’s the moment where you can do anything with your life.

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” -Greg Mckeown

Choose Learning and Education, Not Entertainment or Distraction

In general, most technological and Internet-based tools — things most people use every waking hour — ruin your focus.

That’s why you need to choose learning and education, not entertainment or distraction.

Watching TV and using social media isn’t evil. But these things do have side-effects, and too much of them will ruin your ability to focus, learn, and grow at the level you need to succeed.

Reprogramming your brain requires you to be present. Wherever you are, be there — don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. Changing core beliefs about yourself requires freedom of excessive distraction. As Sheryl Sandberg once wrote:

“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”

If you want to stop drifting through life and make true progress towards living the life you want, start by removing distractions and network tools like excessive TV and social media.

If you can’t learn, you can’t thrive.

The truth is, most people are drifting through life in a haze of busyness. Effort towards true goals is rare. If you’re not careful, you might realize one day you’ve been stuck in a mediocre job, relationship, or state of mind for years.

“Most people drift through life without devoting much conscious energy to figuring out specifically what they want and what they need to do to get themselves there.”

-Darren Hardy

Those Who Only Do What They Feel Like… Don’t Do Much.

“Those who only do what they feel like… don’t do much. To be successful at anything you must take action even when you don’t feel like it, knowing that the action itself will produce the motivation you need to follow through.” -Hal Elrod

Most people let how they “feel” dictate the course of their lives.

If they feel tired, they sleep in. If they feel uninspired, they don’t create. If they don’t feel like doing something, they usually won’t.

If you only ever do what you feel like doing…you won’t do much in your life.

You need to cultivate a healthy “no-matter-what” mantra in your daily routine. No matter what — you’ll do it. Even if you don’t feel like it.

This is always a characteristic in the world’s most successful people.

Take a look at Olympic snowboarders. The Boston Globe once described a typical day for them: “Up at dawn, stretch, watch video of the previous day, hit the slopes till lunch, go to class, do more conditioning, eat dinner, and then go to study hall for an hour and a half. At most, they get about an hour of ‘free time’ a day, but it’s usually used for homework.

A fascinating truth about the world’s most successful people is that often, they’re not the strongest, fastest, or most creative.

The world’s most successful people are simply the best at staying motivated.

To quote prolific Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:

“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”

If you want to reprogram your brain to focus more on your goals, you have to do it every single day. This isn’t easy, but it’s possible when you put in the work.

It’s a choice that anyone can make, yet one few people make.

You have to regularly do what you want to do in order to master it. Otherwise, you’ll always remain in the mediocre majority.

In Conclusion

Most people just want to fit in and enjoy the safety of the herd — to fly under the radar, not rock the boat, and live as hassle-free as possible.

But eventually, hassle-free morphs into mediocrity. You can’t have mindless obedience to others and expect to live the life you really want. You need to take responsibility for your beliefs, thoughts, and actions. If something’s not working, then change it.

The problem is that most people aren’t willing to put in the work. Life is confusing. It’s hard to know what to believe, how to act, what to do, and what to become.

But if you never take the time to design your life — your environment, habits, beliefs, and routines — then someone else will.

Your mind is programmable. If you don’t program it, someone else will.

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Writer for CNBC, Business Insider, Fast Company, Thought Catalog, Yahoo! Finance, and you. Come say hey.

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