Further thoughts on the 12 Gifts of Fitness…Today, the tenth gift: the gift of focus.
The 12 Gifts of Fitness
Day 1: ENERGY
Day 2: PATIENCE
Day 3: GETTING REAL
Day 4: KEEPING PROMISES
Day 5: RIGHTING THE SHIP, QUICKLY
Day 6: RESILIENCE
Day 7: A BRAIN RESET
Day 8: BENCHMARKS THAT MATTER…TO YOU
Day 9: THE GIFT OF KNOWING YOU CAN’T PHONE IT IN
Day 10: FOCUS
How can you not love Maz Kanata, the Yoda-inspired character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? She’s played by the incomparable Lupita Nyong’o, and she has fascinating eyes. The better to see into the souls of the people she is meant to help. The better to…focus.
The wisest among us seem to have extraordinary eyes. They take time observing everything around them. They often speak little—but when they do speak, they command the room. And they pay attention, closely, to all of the details of life around them.
The tenth gift of fitness is focus. In order to fully embrace a fitness lifestyle, a lifestyle where we’re exercising hard enough to sweat at least once every 48 hours of our lives, we have to be able to focus. There are details to be considered: when will I work out? Where? What gear do I need? Is it clean? Do I need to pack a gym bag a day early? How will I get where I’m going?
All of these details demand focus: an unrelenting focus on taking care of the details so that you can get stuff done. And once you’re there, in the moment, in the workout, the only thing you need to do is to focus on the single task at hand. The next repetition of the exercise. The next spin of the wheel in spinning class. The next tricep extension during BabyRobics:
(And yes, being able to stand in a stable way while holding a 15-pound baby in one hand and a 7.5-pound weight in the other definitely takes focus!)
Focusing on the task that is right in front of us builds discipline. It builds confidence in our ability to get things done. And it simplifies the unbelievable radio noise of our culture. When I’m running, I’m running. I’m not surfing the web, checking out how much more fun my friends had than I did during our recent vacations, or feeling depressed about the state of the world. I’m just running. (I might be listening to this awesome podcast, but that’s not depressing—that’s fun.)
What does focus lead to? When we focus on the task that is right in front of us, without the “distractables” around that conspire to make us feel like we’re getting absolutely nothing done (the devices, the TV…you know, the noise), we feel powerful. Strong. We’re checking something important off the to-do list for the day.
And all of that power for some reason is multiplied a whole bunch when I get my workout done in the early morning hours. It just makes the whole day go better. It makes me more able to focus on what I need to focus on for the rest of the day as well.
(There’s a whole bunch of brain science behind what I just wrote, but I’ll save that for another day.)
So, the tenth gift of fitness: Focus. Get it done, check it off, and enjoy the buzz for the rest of your day.