FOCUS: A Brief How To.
The word focus comes in and out of our day so frequently we probably don’t even notice it. To some it may seem rather simple, and to others it may be complex. It’s not wrong or abnormal to think one over the other, but what are we really saying when we use the word focus?
Let’s start with a definition. Dr. Jim Taylor from Psychology Today defines focus as “the ability to attend to internal and external cues in your attentional field.” In English, this basically means that Focus is what we pay conscious attention to, whether it’s something inside of us such as a thought or feeling, or something outside of us like a sight or sound.
To help get a better grasp on exactly what focus is as it relates to performance, here are some examples of what focus IS and what focus IS NOT:
– Focus is a skill. The ability to focus involves directing and maintaining attention. This ability is a behaviour that can be practiced and therefore improved, and mastered.
– Focus is NOT effort. Many athletes when performing will hear or think the word ‘focus’ and believe it means they need to try harder. Focus certainly requires effort, but it is not effort.
– Focus is most helpful in the present. Dwelling on past mistakes or future outcomes often hinders a performance. Keep focus in the here and now.
– Focusing is NOT thinking. Thinking involves analyzing a situation, and includes emotions that can sometimes disrupt performance. Focus is only about what your attention in on.
– Focus is your attention. Simply said focus is what you are paying attention to.
– Focus is best relaxed. Relaxed does not = sleep or sleepy! Your best focus comes when you are calm, not stressed.
– Focus is in your control. Believe it or not, what you focus on is up to you!
The next time you go to complete a task, try to focus on your focus. Yes I said it, focus on your focus. What I mean by this is practice the skill that is your focus.
- Practice, putting all your conscious attention onto whatever it is you’re doing in the moment.
- Practice bringing your focus back to the present when you get distracted.
- Practice focusing on the things you can control instead of the things you cannot.
If you practice your focus enough, when it matters most you will have your best focus, and you will perform your best.
Here’s a quick acronym to help SPARC your focus:
Skill. Present. Attention. Relax. Control.
Focus is a Skill that can be practiced.
It should in be in the Present.
Focus is what you’re paying Attention to.
Relax to focus.
Your focus is in your Control.
Taylor, J. (2010, September 3). Sports: focus control. How do you stay focused on the heat of competition. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com /blog/the-power-prime/201009/sports-focus-control