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Four steps to reclaim your focus when you’re ready to give up.

Focusing can be hard. Sometimes our minds race with distractions, worrying about all the other things that need to get done. Other times we feel lethargic, drifting in and out of focus and just spacing out. And all those distractions can make us want to just give up.

As spring comes to an end, when school is almost out and vacation is on the horizon, I find myself gazing wistfully out the window instead of concentrating on work that needs to be done.

Students pushing through that last round of work before finals. Teachers wrapping up the curriculum, so close to the end. Parents preparing for summer plans. Everyone whose job has been remote, thinking about the reopening plans and going back to the office.

It’s a time of transition, and it can be hard to focus with so much going on.

Just the other day, my 10-year old son was ready to give up.

SON: Mom, I just can’t do it. I’m not really good at focusing, it’s really hard for me.

ME: But you’ve gotten so much better at it; think about what you do when you play baseball!

SON: No mom, that’s totally different.

ME: What do you mean? When you play baseball, you’re able to block out the distractions and pressure so you can just focus on the pitch, right? SON: No, not at all. When I play, I’m not focusing on anything. I just take a deep breath, calm down, and that relaxes me so that I’m not thinking about anything at all. It’s not mind-fullness mom, it’s mind-emptiness. It’s the complete opposite of focusing, it’s just being relaxed. And that way I just wait for the pitch to come to me, and I can decide in that second how I want to hit it.

Ok, I give up. I’m not going to argue semantics with a 10 year old, but I think he gets the idea better than most of us. The reason we all want to give up is that we’ve lost our focus. We’re distracted by everything else and aren’t clear on the one thing we really need to get done. It’s all the noise, all the clutter, telling us we can’t do it. We all get tired, or anxious, and then we just lose patience with ourselves.

So how do you get that focus back? How do we reset our drive?

The answer is we have to calm our minds and quiet the mental chatter. Whether you want to call it mindfulness, mind-emptiness, or just taking a deep breath and relaxing, the outcome is the same. Taking a momentary break can allow us to reset and regain our focus, our confidence, and our drive.

Here’s a quick and easy way you can practice getting your focus back right now:

  1. Take a slow, deep breath in as you count to 4 in your mind.

  2. Hold at the top of the breath for 4 counts

  3. Exhale slowly for 4 counts

  4. Hold at the bottom of the breath for 4 counts.

  5. Repeat this 4 times. As distracting thoughts enter your mind, gently bring your focus back to your breath and keep counting.

If this is challenging and you need a little more guidance, click here to watch a fully guided mindful moment to help you reset.

Once you feel a little calmer, you can go back to what you were trying to accomplish. Now that you’ve let go of all the external thoughts, distractions, the noise, and just allowed yourself to be in the moment.

With your new focus, you can wait for the right pitch to come to you, without all the pressure and distractions of expectations. You’ll be able to respond in the moment, and the focus will come.

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