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Attention: How to Achieve Your Goals

  • November 22, 2017
  • 3-Minute Read

The human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe. It can handle incredible amounts of information that mostly we are not even aware of. However, the brain has a special ability, it can tune in to certain types of information at will, this ability is called attention.

“Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process of selectively concentrating on a discrete aspect of information, whether deemed subjective or objective, while ignoring other perceivable information.” — John R. Anderson

For example, if we are looking for our keys, we dedicate our mind to the purpose of detecting patterns relevant to keys, and we keep our attention on the places we expect the keys to appear in. If we don't pay attention to the places the key might appear in, we will never find the keys!

Now, if you don't know what you are looking for, your attention will scatter all over the place on things that give you immediate gratification, therefore you either never find any keys or you let go of any keys you find, never knowing you needed them.

When we want something to occur, we need to focus on the things that might make the effect we intend a reality.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” — Matthew 7:7

If you want to learn French you don't read Spanish novels—you try to observe French people, read French material, watch French movies. If you do nothing; you learn nothing. If you want nothing; you get nothing.

Planning Will Take You Further

Planning is very important because most worthwhile goals tend to need a lot of effort through a long period of time. In that time your mind will go through lots of transformations, and even your goals might get corrupted. It is a way to remind yourself of what you are doing and why.

It doesn't matter where you keep your plans, as long as it is not in your mind. You have to be able to go back at it every single day so you stay true to them, and improve it over time.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” — Bill Gates

Even though you do something just a few minutes every day, these minutes add up to thousands of hours in five to ten years. Perhaps along the way you might feel like doing more each day—it is a strange and wonderful thing when you begin to feel comfortable doing what once was uncomfortable. A good planning approach can help you get more comfortable as well.

Know Where You Are Going

One of your brain's jobs is to detect patterns in the environment, and it will detect these patterns based on your personal experiences and values, but most importantly it will detect patterns that you want through the discriminate use of your attention.

If you don't know where you are going, you will not get anywhere interesting, because the automatic state of your body is focused on survivability only.

Knowing what you want is of utmost importance. When you know what you are looking for, not only will you recognize it when you find it, but you will find “clues” everywhere you go.

Interesting enough, if you truly know what you want, your mind has an uncanny ability to know how to get you there. You just need to write it down.

What shall you find when you seeketh?