As a conscious entrepreneur, you often need to get something important, but not urgent, done. You might be familiar with using a reward or punishment system–sometimes called the “carrot or the stick” in the analogy of riding a donkey to get it to do what you want. This might look like creating an artificial thread where there will be a consequence if you don’t do something with a deadline or accountability partner you don’t want to look bad by saying you didn’t do something. Or you might entice the brain with a reward system for getting something done.
Unfortunately, your brain is wired for what Psychologist Rick Hanson terms a “negativity bias” where early ancestors evolved brain structures that allowed them to make three key mistakes to overestimate threats, underestimate opportunities, and underestimate resources.
Ever notice how you self-sabotage an opportunity right at the last minute because it’s uncomfortable, and your ego does not want to lose and flares up even more of why it’s a bad idea to take that action that deep down we know is important.
Here are 5 secret powers to master your mindset so you can become a ninja with whatever distractions come your way, helping your brain stay present amid any chaos.
Secret 1: The Power of One
Did you know you might be multitasking without even being aware of it?
Multi-tasking can be defined in three ways. It can mean
- Performing two or more tasks simultaneously,
- Switching back and forth from one thing to another, or
- Performing a number of tasks in rapid succession.
Given the broader definition of multi-tasking, it begs the question–who isn’t multitasking all the time?
You could simply be getting interrupted (either by your thoughts or your environment) and that is technically by this definition, multi-tasking.
A recent study of tech workers show that it took an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for their brain to get back on task when interrupted. Most workers were getting interrupted every three minutes–by themselves! They would suddenly buy something online or look something up. Even if you grouped interruptions by theme (a phone call or word doc or looking something up that is all related to the same task at hand) workers were still interrupted on average every 10 minutes.
Interestingly enough, if you anticipated the interruptions, workers worked faster to get something done but it was at the cost of higher levels of stress, frustration, mental effort and feeling of time pressure and mental overload.
What happens in your brain when you multitask? According to researchers Meyer, Evans, and Rubinstein, your brain’s executive control process works harder by having the brain “goal shift” (when you decide to do one thing instead of another) and “role activation” (when the brain changes rules of the previous task to rules for the new task).
These days, it would be easy to multi-task JUST SITTING THERE NOT WORKING ON ANYTHING.
Imagine sitting in front of your laptop. Boom. Your browser’s bookmarks, phone notifications, apps, or alarms start pinging at you. Your kid says “Mama!” You haven’t even tried to start something and already, you are multitasking.
That is why more than ever before, focusing on ONE thing at a time is a secret power worth cultivating. That is the Power of One.
The Power of One can be applied in your business on a broader scale as well. One niche, one offering, or one marketing strategy.
Easier said than done. The best way to discover this power (or anything!) is through action. Now it’s your turn.
- Grab a paper. Brain dump a list of everything you can think of to get done.
- Cross off anything too big or too small. Something that takes about 5 days.
- Now choose. Circle the one thing that would have the highest impact that you have been procrastinating. This is where you get to practice the Power of One right now–by choosing just ONE THING to get done over 5 days.
Here are further resources on how multitasking affects productivity and brain health and Workers Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching.
Now that you’ve picked your one thing you want to accomplish, it’s time to plan for it by breaking it down into smaller chunks.
Secret 2: The Power of Planning
Planning is to design or map out something to be made or build. Planning helps your brain break down big tasks into smaller bits that look easier to accomplish, lowering stress levels and increasing motivation.
Breaking down a task into smaller steps or “chunking” allows you to carve a path in a dark tunnel and see the light at the end, rather than let yourself get overwhelmed. For example, if you want to run a 26.2 mile marathon, the key is to take it one step at a time.
However, all too often in business, we don’t take the time to learn what are the steps to win the race. In fact, we likely just maybe think about the race, then get overwhelmed at the thought of the race, think “I can’t do that!” and push the race off.
The Power of Planning is a critical skill for entrepreneurs at any stage given they often find themselves having no idea what they are doing–but going after it anyway.
Let’s practice building this long term habit now.
- Break down that one thing you are focusing on into four chunks over the next four days using the suggested tips below.
- Then take action on the first step.
- Notice how you feel after you complete that first step. Ask yourself “How do I feel?” and answer yourself with one emotion.
Here are a few tips on how to chunk something big into four smaller steps.
Depending on the size of your one thing to get done, you might need to break it down into categories, phases, stages, or steps first.
- Draw a square with a cross in the middle. Or draw four rectangles in a row. Then put the 4 biggest categories that one thing breaks down into. This method particularly appeals and works well with visual or kinesthetic learners.
- If that doesn’t work, bust out your sticky notes (or if need be a blank piece of paper and mind map with circles) all the steps and actions required to accomplish that one thing.
- Take off any item that’s unnecessary to accomplish the goal. Then group the remaining items on your list into four categories.
Being self-aware or observing yourself as you take these actions is critical to cultivating this Power of Planning as a long term habit. Don’t judge your thoughts or emotions. Simply notice them.
Secret 3: The Power of Resistance
Now that you have focused on one thing, planned the steps to accomplish your one thing, you’ll might face some resistance at this point.
What you resist persists.
Resistance never goes away, and it’s best to let it in then reject it at your door. You must make friends with resistance to have any shot of taking action in the face of resistance. You must prepare for the unexpected.
This is what makes resistance so powerful.
Rather than look at resistance as negative or your enemy, resistance can be a powerful ally, teacher, or guide.
Consider resistance is your access to action. Resistance is what points you to a bigger pattern. Because we are designed in fight, flight, or freeze mode, resistance can reveal to you what you really want if you learn how to read your own resistance.
The moment you notice resisting, ask your heart “What am I resisting? What is the threat?” Sense if there is any body sensation or pain in your body, and if so, breathe into that area of pain or discomfort. Don’t ask your brain which will come up with a delightful number of reasons. Ask your heart within, and be surprised or delighted by what you hear from your inner wisdom. It’s usually a quiet wisdom that’s short and sweet. If you can only a long, rambly, defensive thoughts–that’s just your brain in fear.
The more you can learn to treat resistance as a powerful guide for discovering what you really want, the greater chance you give yourself to break through a pattern that normally stops you.
Whenever you tackle something important that you’ve been resisting (avoiding and procrastinating) you can face our resistance head on. The trick is to expect resistance. Then be pleasantly surprised resistance doesn’t show up!
While you expect it’ll never go to plan, you still plan then prepare for resistance. That is the mindset necessary to develop the power of resistance.
- Make a list of all the ways you resist.
- Take action two of four to accomplish your one thing.
- As you take action two, notice what forms of resistance show up. Whether positive or negative, just notice all your thoughts as you take your next action.
The key part in this challenge is how you respond. Simply notice what comes up. Don’t judge. Or judge yourself for judging. Just choose to bring yourself back to taking the action you said you would do.
The more you can tap into the power of resistance by expecting it, noticing it, accepting it the way it shows up or not, and choose to keep taking action–the more power you will have. You will discover resistance is your access to accomplishment.
Secret 4: The Power of 100%
When you no longer have resistance, what’s left is flow. Flow allows you to tap into the next power of 100%. This means bringing 100% of your full attention, focus, and energy to whatever task is at hand.
Think of a baby. They are mesmerizing and bring out the light in humans because they are 100% present–experiencing life to its fullest with no filters, past memories, or future worries. Babies are simply present in the here and now.
You have that same attractive, bright quality when you bring 100% presence. It sharpens your ability to generate and focus your mindset at any time. It’s distinct from forcing something to happen. Rather you observe your thoughts and emotions as you act–without good or bad judgements. You generate your beingness and create each moment.
Acceptance of the current moment will often naturally have you develop your ability to be 100% present. How many times during the day do you have racing thoughts and distractions?
A lot. Than that’s a lot of opportunities for you to practice being 100% present.
- Time yourself taking the next action towards your “one thing” you want to get accomplished bringing the power of 100%. Notice what thoughts, feelings, or emotions arise and continue bringing 100% presence.
- Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10. Be authentic about your rating. 1=checked out, lost in thoughts, identifying with thoughts and feelings, or don’t remember the experience, numb to any feelings. 10 = super present like experiencing something for the first time, fully present, allowing judgments, thoughts and emotions to flow through, while continuing to stay focused on the task at hand
- Write down what you learned from observing myself bringing the power of 100%. It’s critical you write it down or say it out loud for your brain to process it.
Secret 5: The Power of Acknowledgment
Acknowledgement has two definitions. The first definition is acceptance and recognition. The second is the action of expressing or displaying gratitude or appreciation for something.
History provides many powerful examples of the first definition of acknowledgment. Many local Native American tribes where I live are still fighting for being acknowledged, or recognized, as a tribe of the First Nations with the US Government to receive reparations. Likewise, Korea is still fighting for Japan’s acknowledgment of how history is taught to Japanese students regarding the forced Japanese colonization of Korea in 1910-1945.
The second definition of acknowledgment is expressing or displaying gratitude. For example, each night my family does a bedtime ritual called “Acknowledgements.” We go around and acknowledge one another and then acknowledge ourselves. This powerful practice not only ensures a deep sleep, it builds a mindset to notice or acknowledge what’s been accomplished and lets your brain know what’s important.
In business, both definitions are critical to build as a mindset habit. I had a client who after 6 years, landed her first diversity inclusion client. She was so focused on what was next and what wasn’t working I literally had to point out the victory of it before she was even aware it had happened!! First she had to accept and recognize what happened. Next, she could then display gratitude and appreciation through celebration.
It’s too easy as entrepreneurs to rush to the next accomplishment without taking any stock of the victory of accomplishments along the way (no matter how small or big). The power of acknowledgement is as critical as profiting in your business when in comes to sustainable ROI of money, mind, heart, and spirit.
Make a list of all the ways you can acknowledge yourself. Here are some ideas to you get you started: Simply declare out loud “I did it!” Pat yourself on the back. Go out for dinner. Give a toast. Reward yourself by taking a walk. Go share what you accomplished with somebody.
By utilizing the Powers of One, Planning, Resistance, 100%, and Acknowledgement–you’ll be able to navigate more smoothly through challenging waters, rolling with the waves than fighting against them. The little time you take to take on these challenges will pay deep dividends not just for your pocketbook but for your mind, body, heart, and spirit in the long term.
Share with us what you learn in doing these challenges or comment on what you learned below.
Anna S. Choi, Conscious Business Coach, empowers the next generation of conscious entrepreneurs to unleash their brilliance, attract more clients, and scale their impact. As a broke art major with zero experience, connections, or knowledge she started her first conscious wealth management business, Inside Out Investing. By age 25, Anna was able to triple her net income and gross six figures. Now she helps her clients do the same by clarifying their vision, leveraging their genius, and executing strategic marketing plans. If you’re interested in gaining focus, energy, and inspired action in a like-minded conscious entrepreneur community, learn more at www.annasunchoi.com.
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