Key to sustainable focus

The concept that I try to explain below is an excerpt from the book flow .

All our life, we keeping learning new skills and face challenges. In this process, we encounter boredom and anxiety which in essence is a negative feedback loop. For example, thinking about anxiety makes us more anxious. Understanding boredom and anxiety are key to breaking out of it.

Let’s try to understand this in the context of an activity like playing chess, climbing a rock, cooking some delicious food or even reading a book. You are at a position p1 when you start the activity. You can take one of the two paths from p1 . a.) If you keep improving skills for the activity, you proceed to position p2, where you fall into the boredom zone i.e. your skills are so good that the activity is no longer challenging. b.) Alternatively, you can proceed to p4 by facing more and more difficult challenges leading you into anxiety zone i.e. your challenges are so high that your skill set is not enough to tackle them.

Entering into one of the two zones, will automatically diffuse your focus. So, what to do when you start feeling anxious or bored ?

The Solution

  • If you are feeling bored about the skill, focus on introducing more challenges into the activity. Think of it like a game, where you are setting yourself new challenges. If you have done something today in 20 minutes, set yourself a target of doing it in 15 minutes, come the next time.
  • If you feel an activity is way too challenging, focus on sharpening your skills. Take steps, one at a time, to improve your skill set.

One of the above takes you to p3 depending on where you were and which path you take. This is the point where you maintain optimal amount of focus and enjoy the activity that you are doing. And this is a cycle. p3 is a starting point for the next round. More the number of such cycles you complete, more closer you come to being the best in the business.