What Are Some Uncommon Ways to Work Smarter Instead of Harder?

Whatever goal or resolution you set out to accomplish is understandably important to you. Oftentimes, it is something you believe that needed to happen some time ago, so you are a little anxious to get started. When you start out on your change journey, your motivation is at an all-time high.

  1. If you want to lose weight, you work out five days the first week.
  2. If your goal is to find a new job, you applied to thirty jobs in the first two days.
  3. If you want to stop drinking or smoking, you trashed your cigarettes and poured your alcohol down the drain.
  4. If you want to become more religious, you go to the church building every day the door is open the first week (Bible study, AM Sunday worship, PM Sunday worship, song service, etc.)

Your first week could not have gone any better. The momentum you built during the first week carries over into the second week. You second week starts off amazing, but you hit a roadblock.

  1. The scale is not showing the number you thought a five-day workout week should produce. In addition to that, your body is not accustomed with working out, so you take most of the second week off to recover (which means next week is not looking promising).
  2. The thirty applications you put in to find a new job have not produced one interview. Worse than that, the only feedback you have received were ten rejection letters.
  3. Even though you removed all your cigarettes and alcohol from your house, you are stressed and feel miserable. Not to mention, most of your friends are still drinking and smoking, so they are not helping your cause.
  4. The people at the congregation you attended church services do not remember your name. You also grow discouraged because the politics you see outside of church are inside as well. People seem to be leading double-lives.

At the end of the second week, you do not feel as awesome as you did at the beginning of the week. You start to question whether your resolution is as rewarding as you originally thought it would be. There is nothing more deflating than not receiving the results you believe your effort warranted. Some will attempt to muscle through the rough patch, hoping the outcome will be different next week. Others will grow so discouraged they give up on their growth goal (until the next time they are ready for change). For most people, the result ends up the same – whether the setback hits in the second, third, or tenth week, most people will give up on their resolution.

This is because most people have not prepared in any way for the journey. A lack of preparation is not a problem when things are perfect, but when the failure comes (and it will come), it is the difference between improving your life and maintaining status quo.

If you want to work smarter, take the time to refocus your attention. Your attention is a combination of what you focus on, and what you choose to ignore. The reason your attention is selective is because it is an exhaustible resource (it runs out). To help you cope, your brain automatically filters out what it believes is not important to you. Yesterday your brain believed smoking and drinking were important to you, so it is going to shine a focus on opportunities to engage in both today. Yesterday attending church services were not important to you, so your mind is not going to remind of the things you enjoyed about church tomorrow. It is going to remind of the things you previously enjoyed doing and why attending church is a bad idea.

Have you ever seen someone who appears to look plastic because they had so much cosmetic surgery? Instead of arguing the merits of cosmetic surgery, let us assume he needed the procedure in the beginning. However, after his first procedure on his nose, he signed up for a procedure on his lips, thighs, hairline, and liposuction. Procedure after procedure, he continued to believe he needed another surgery. His attention was on his perceived imperfections, and that hindered him from absorbing the results of his past procedures.

The same holds true for someone who lost a considerable amount of weight. They were not consciously aware of the reality that they were a healthy weight. Every time they received a complement, they did not believe them. Because every time they conjured up an image of themselves, it was always the overweight person. As a result, they continued to maintain their strict regimen and slipped into anorexia.

How to reset your Attention

You must manually reset your attention whenever you want to make sure you are seeing things as they truly are. There are plenty of ways, but I find Mindfulness Mediation to be the easiest and most effective. Studies have shown by bringing your attention to your breathing pattern (you don’t even have to change your breathing), you can reset yourself to the moment. Another easy way to reset yourself is to focus on your senses (smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch). Your senses are always in the moment, so take a few minutes to become aware of what you are sensing. Once you are in the moment, ask yourself a few questions about your goal or resolution. For example, what am I hoping to change about my life, why do I want to change this, and what will my life look like if I do not give up?

By resetting your attention, you will drastically increase the likelihood of persevering through the difficult times, even though you will not be physically doing anything to achieve goal in that moment. Like they say, measure twice and cut once.

Continued blessings,

Undre Griggs | Be More

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