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15 Things Highly Focused People Don’t Do

15 Things Highly Focused People Don’t Do

Focus is key to success and happiness in life. The most successful people on this planet are highly focused. They pay attention to the present moment and present tasks. This habit ensures they are fully engaged in activities, get more done properly and deal with adverse life events better. Highly focused people are simply mindful. They don’t do many things that many of us might be prone to do.

1. They don’t gossip.

Highly focused people don’t gossip. They have better, more productive things to do with their time. The only people who engage in this petty behavior are shallow people whose personal lives are not fulfilling enough. Otherwise, why would you even care how someone else is living their life? Gossiping only makes you look jealous and pathetic.

2. They don’t multitask.

Highly focused people don’t multitask. They focus on one thing at a time to boost attentiveness and productivity. Studies have shown that the human brain can handle two complicated tasks without too much trouble because it has two lobes that can divide responsibility equally between the two. However, adding a third task can overwhelm the frontal cortex and increase the number of mistakes you make.

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3. They don’t procrastinate.

Highly focused people don’t procrastinate. Sure, they might be tempted to put off tasks for hours because the tasks are unpleasant or overwhelming, but they somehow manage to push themselves and get what needs to be done DONE when it ought to. In other words, highly focused people know the best time to do something is now, and they do it now—not later.

4. They don’t allow distractions to derail them.

Highly focused people remove all distractions that hinder them from getting quality work done. Whether it is e-mail alerts, social media pop-up notifications or people casually stopping by during work hours, highly focused people stop distractions before they can steal their productive time. They know distractions break concentration, cause stress and derail you from completing tasks and achieving your goals.

5. They don’t seek validation from others.

Highly focused people don’t need your approval because they know their own self-worth. They do things for themselves and believe what they do will advance them in life. They don’t concern themselves with the opinions of others and don’t live up to anyone’s expectations. Focused people simply concentrate on the tasks that promote personal and professional growth.

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6. They don’t entertain disorganization.

Highly focused people hate disorganization. They don’t entertain it because they know it adds stress to our lives, blocks our creativity and costs us valuable time that could be used to get work done. They keep everything in its proper place so they can easily and quickly get it when they need it. You might think you can thrive amidst chaos, but in reality you are only holding yourself back from being as productive and effective as you could be by being disorganized.

7. They don’t give silly excuses not to work.

Highly focused people don’t give silly excuses not to work. They know you can’t always wait for the perfect time and perfect conditions to do things. There may never be such a time. Often you just have to brace yourself and get your feet wet. Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day as Sir Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama.

8. They don’t eschew risk.

Highly focused people are not afraid to take risks. They know life itself is a risk; nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. They take their chances because those chances may never come again. Playing it safe can keep you safe for now, but hurt you more in the long run. Focused people not only take calculated risks, but also learn from both the positive and negative outcomes of risks.

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9. They don’t dwell on the past.

Highly focused people don’t dwell on the past. They are not defined by the things they did or didn’t do in the past. They simply accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what could be. Their desire to succeed is much stronger than their fear of failure and so they learn from their mistakes and keep going forward. Mistakes may hurt for a while, but they will make you smarter and stronger in the end.

10. They don’t act rashly.

Highly focused people don’t rush onto things. They take time to think through and weigh options carefully against their core goals and objectives. They know not everything that glitters is gold. Often, they simply choose to take pleasure in their own work, celebrate their accomplishments and relish the good fortunes to come. They don’t abandon their projects and jump onto the next “big” thing. They stick to their goals and stay committed to their dreams through the sunny days and the rainy days.

11. They don’t involve themselves in matters that don’t concern them.

Highly focused people mind their own business. They don’t go meddling in other people’s affairs unless they are specifically called to do so or it is absolutely necessary because it affects them directly. They are fully engaged in their own affairs and content to focus on their own priorities. People who are unable to mind their own business aggravate others and often lose their own sense of direction and self-worth.

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12. They don’t compare themselves to others.

Highly focused people don’t compare themselves to others because they are content with who they are. They know comparing yourself to others serves only to demoralize and make you feel inferior, while in fact you have equal capacity for growth and advancement in life as anybody else. Highly focused people consider the achievement of others to determine what they need to do to replicate similar success. This ensures they are sufficiently motivated and energized to keep pressing towards their goals and dreams.

13. They don’t have unrealistic expectations.

Highly focused people are realistic. They don’t expect a smooth ride all through life or to get things out of situation. Instead, they go into situations with realistic expectations and are prepared for the rough times. They know unrealistic expectations only lead to disappointment and frustration when things don’t go as planned. However, smart, realistic and achievable expectations power you on to fully immerse and apply yourself without the pressure of living up to bad preconceived notions.

14. They don’t say “yes” to everything.

Highly focused people are not people pleasers. They don’t feel the need to say “yes” to everything and everyone just because. They know you can’t always please everyone and sometimes you have to say “no” to people otherwise their priorities might precede your own. Highly focused people, therefore, firmly but gently say “no” to everything that doesn’t support their values or help them achieve their goals. Saying “no” to things that are not a priority allows you to focus on the things that are important.

15. They don’t quit.

Highly focused people are not quitters. They know nobody ever succeeded by being a quitter. The people who succeed and live their dreams are those who work hard and persevere through troubled times. The people who succeed are those who don’t quit. People who are not focused quit when things get a little tough; highly focused people get tough when others quit!

Featured photo credit: Young man using a professional camera via shutterstock.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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