The Number One Complaint from My Coaching Clients. Is This You?

A few weeks ago I trundled along to Mexico City to attend a conference. My hidden agenda was to grab several hours completely alone in my hotel room, to do some work. Just a desk, my computer, and me. I was determined to complete a marketing task I had been avoiding for about 4 months. This was my real reason for going—to have an uninterrupted opportunity to get down to it.

After the first 10 minutes of peering at spreadsheets and searching for keywords, I got itchy. Should I make a coffee? (No, one is already sitting in front of me). Is there anything on TV? (No, only 1 English channel). Emails? (No, you checked 10 minutes ago). Facebook?

Stop! You’re here for a reason, I scolded myself. To avoid all those distractions. Get to it!

Well, good reader. I got it done. And oh, it felt so good I can’t tell you.

And oh, if only I could escape to a nice hotel room every week or so and do those focus intensive tasks!

Not practical.

The Number One Complaint I Hear

I’ve been a life-coach for over 20 years now, and I can honestly say the number one complaint I get from my clients these days is—I can’t focus on my tasks. I can’t get anything done. I can easily waste a whole day doing nothing! What can I do about this?

Seems a lot of us, especially if we are work-from-home-entrepreneur types, have trouble making ourselves focus on tasks at hand.

The reasons are obvious. Digital Distraction. Modern research is showing that the average person checks his or her phone 200-500 times a day! Ack.

Robin Sharma, one of world’s top leadership experts, who has sold more than 15 million books, says unequivocally, “Your phone is costing you your fortune.”

Sharma goes on to say that we suffer from Digital Dementia—using up valuable ‘cognitive bandwidth’ by being hooked to a screen of some sort from the moment we wake up. We are literally addicted to the dopamine shot that we get from social media ‘likes’, messages, and emails.

We deplete our creativity allotment for the day with news, videos, and articles. Information overload before our day even properly begins.

Oh, this is so me!

Makes you think. Sharma isn’t the only one pointing this out.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says that in his research on productive, successful people, he found there are “no high performance people, just high performance habits” and that the key to high performance is creating an environment where you can concentrate on the one thing at a time.

Swami Vivekananda, the famous Hindu monk, wrote that “The difference between an ordinary person and a great person lies in the degree of concentration”.

The great quarterback Peyton Manning always claimed that the only thing that distinguished him from other players was his ability to focus in his practice. He would spend hours after the other players had gone home, practicing one throw hundreds of times. And that one throw would win him the game.

Our ability to focus Is important, and crucial to our productivity and success in anything.

A Tight Bubble of Total Focus

How do we ordinary mortals make ourselves focus with all the distractions life brings? The answer, says Sharma, lies in creating a tight bubble of total focus—controlling our environment and all distractions so we can sit and work on one project at a time.

No phone conversations, no checking email. Absolutely no Facebook. Ahem.

Isolating oneself for a fixed period.

(Dogs can be a problem. I’m being pestered as I write this to go for a walk.)

But it’s not impossible! And it does require some discipline. (What is that, I hear you cry?) Plus deciding it’s worth it. Do you want to write that book? Paint that picture? Start that business project? Finish that course? Really want to?

Or is life as usual just pulling you along and, well, hmm I think there’s a jar of mixed nuts in the kitchen that hasn’t even been opened, and then I really must email my friend in California who is having all those problems right now, and oh I need to go fix a drink of something. Is it lunchtime already?

I Woke Up From My Stupor

My weekend in Mexico City woke me up. I experienced a rather delicious feeling when I got something challenging done. Way better than watching YouTube videos.

So I’ve started a morning and afternoon Power Hour when I really focus on something challenging until I get it done. Then at least I’ve done something!

And maybe I can’t do hotels every weekend but I could get myself dressed and out the door to work for a while in one of the many cafes in town. Might even be fun.

What could you do to be more focused? Or do you do it already? Share your experiences with me. You’re almost bound to be more disciplined than I am, so you can ‘fess up safely.

Happy Power Hour!

Margaret

margaretnashcoach.com

PS— I may not be the most disciplined person on the planet, but I am a good coach and can help you with things you are struggling with. In my experience the best coaches are the ones who really ‘get’ your challenges because they share them and have worked on them personally. That would almost certainly be moi.

Check out my Accountability Coaching for Entrepreneurs and Retirees who don’t want to hang up their spurs. Might be just what you need to get moving.

How ‘Commit 100% or You’re Not Serious!’ can cause you to fail

Hey
 
I’m lazy. I like things to be easy. If you tell me that in order to get healthy I need to go on an anti-inflammatory diet where I have to give up, well, let’s just say, food, I won’t do it. It’s too hard to stop tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, flour, dairy, sugar, pasta, bread, and everything else that makes life worth living all at once.
 
I will not do it. Not one bit of it—much less the whole shebang.
 
I balk like a stubborn mule. Do you have a mule?
 
Mules don’t like overwhelm.
 
How my Physical Therapist unwittingly used a Japanese strategy to deal with my mule
 
I recently engaged a Physical Therapist for a repetitive strain injury. Typically I left it until I couldn’t move my thumb at all and was in agony. He helped a lot with the recalcitrant thumb, but it was something else he showed me that you may find interesting.
 
We discussed a health problem I had had for several years that caused breathlessness and left me exhausted after even the smallest amount of exercise. I was terribly unfit as a result. And mule-like I didn’t like going 3 times a week to the exercise classes my doctor insisted on.
 
My PT taught me just one thing—how to breathe. I mean really breathe. Big gulping deep breaths for minutes at a time. All day. Whenever I thought about it. He persuaded me to buy a fitness watch that would beep to remind me to breathe.
 
Breathe. I can do that. It’s pretty cheap and very easy. The Mule in me didn’t notice.
 
Well, gentle reader; I’m here to tell you it got me off the couch. After a few weeks I had more energy and was using the treadmill for more than 2 minutes before collapsing. I even got in a swimming pool for the first time in 5 years.
 
All because of breathing? Yes.
 
One thoughtful change had worked better than all the expert advice from umpteen doctor/chiropractor/acupuncture/massage therapist appointments pooled together. Oh, and kick in a portable oxygen tank that I never used.
 
What my PT had done for me, albeit unconsciously, was mimic a Japanese system called Kaizen.
 
A little background here is interesting
 
Hang in there with me.
 
In the years following WW2 the Japanese were exhausted and defeated—their economy destroyed by the devastating effects of war. Japan was in dire straits, yet within 30 years bounced back with one of the strongest economies in the world.
 
American businessmen traveled to Japan to learn their secret and discovered that the Japanese employed a method called Kaizen to get back on their feet. It involved making itty-bitty changes—not big ones. They tackled their huge problems one tiny step at a time, one week at a time. It worked. Spectacularly well.
 
Kaizen literally means ‘incremental change, continuous improvement’.  
 
Start with the smallest and practice the easiest.
 
How does this apply to me, I hear you cry?
 
Simply this. If you make small, seemingly insignificant, but thoughtful adjustments in your life, slowly but surely everything will start to improve.
 
What about, if instead of those huge monstrous dietary deprivations, you gave up just one thing for that flipping anti-inflammatory diet?  Let’s say sugar. Or pop drinks. Or cereal. Just one thing. Won’t kill you.
 
You can do that. Even I could.
 
Overly ambitious goals will trigger overwhelm and defeat. They don’t motivate.
 
Tiny changes will slip under the radar of the mule-mind.
 
So, let’s look at your goal or challenge
 
What is the smallest step you can take this week in relation to it? Can you do it for a week? 

  • Treadmill for just 5 minutes a day?
  • Learn one Spanish verb this week and use it?
  • Give up sugar in your tea? See if you can stand stevia. Just for a week.
  • Don’t watch YouTube while you eat breakfast. (Not sure I can do that one. May be too challenging.)


Think tiny. Don’t go big. Think easy. Think small.
 
Ignore advice to ‘Go big or go home!’ ‘Go all in’, or ‘Make a 100% commitment if you’re serious! 98% is not good enough’. Bad advice.

Instead, go for 50% max. More or less willing to give it a go. What have I got to lose. Why not. 
 
Next time you feel overwhelmed with an issue and all your myriad options, try Kaizen. You’ll be amazed. It’s unimpressive, dull, unspectacular, not at all sexy, but will get you results.
 
Let me know how you get on. I’m genuinely interested.

My approach to coaching is based on this philosophy. So if you want help getting that mule moving, or more info about Kaizen, contact me here.

Easy and effortless beats difficult and challenging every time.
 
Fool that mule.
 
Cheers!
Margaret Nash
Kaizen Coach and Mule Kicker Extraordinaire 
margaretnashcoach.com