Concentration is a Muscle, Don’t Drug It

Concentration is the ability to focus in on a single task with your whole mind. Concentration is when you want to work on a specific task, but you keep looking at your phone instead. It is closely related to willpower, which is a reaction to an internal conflict. Willpower is your ability to force yourself to go to the gym even when you are feeling tired.

Studies show that both concentration and willpower can be built up over time with practice. I have also seen this in my own life. I have built a company with over a hundred full time employees today and maintaining a very high level of fitness by slowly building up my willpower and concentration abilities over time. I have some tips to share below.

I think that concentration / willpower drugs (caffeine and adderall being most common) actually are long term detractors from concentration and willpower. They give you an artificial boost, but it comes at a price of not being able to focus later when you come down. If you use either drug consistently, your body resets to a lower normal level and you need the drug just to do what you used to be able to do without it.

So how can you strengthen your willpower and concentration without drugs?

  1. If you fail to accomplish a task using willpower or concentration, do NOT get mad at yourself. Stay positive and forget about that failure and try again.
  2. Don’t overuse your willpower and concentration. At first, carefully choose what is most important to you. I recommend focusing all of your willpower on giving yourself a strong starting base – get enough sleep that you wake up naturally each day, exercise, and eat healthy. All of these require some willpower to do, so make sure you focus on these first and foremost.
  3. Imagine yourself after your goal has been accomplished. If you want to go to the gym, picture yourself looking fit and feeling good with high levels of energy. Visualize the process in a positive way and the outcome.
  4. If you are avoiding something (playing on your phone, eating bad food), distract yourself. Eat something healthy. Move your phone charger and phone out of your bedroom entirely.
  5. Build strong good habits. When you have a habit, it doesn’t take willpower to exercise it. I have made it a habit of going to the gym every day. Now I don’t have to fight with myself to do it… it mostly just happens automatically… it’s no longer a choice.
  6. Break down your goals into manageable bite sized pieces and track each of those pieces. Want to lose 50 pounds and increase your athletic fitness? Then just make a goal to exercise each day and write down each time you do in a log. This helps you to build a streak of lots of little wins, and if you miss a day it’s not a big deal.
  7. Avoid temptation. You want to lose weight but instead find yourself watching hours of TV each night while you guzzle Mountain Dew? The secret here is to make it difficult to fulfill those temptations. Sell your TV, and stock your house with ONLY healthy food… but lots of it. Then when you are bored, you will find yourself choosing the next best option – maybe a book. When you are hungry, you won’t have bad food around and so the lazy option will just be to eat your healthy food.

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Joel Gross

Joel Gross is the CEO of Coalition Technologies.

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