Do you ever feel like you don’t have control of your mind? It’s frustrating to set out to do a task, only to have your brain fight back. Your mind might wander off towards immediate gratification, such as junk food or a fun social outing. Or your mind might be hung up on work stress that you can’t resolve in your head.
Similar to an athlete training their body to master a sport, your brain needs some training to be practical. If the thoughts or habits you have now are not ideal, it doesn’t mean that you are broken or ineffective. You just have to learn how to optimize your mind for success. Using your mind, rather than letting it use you, comes down to the small practices you devote yourself to daily.
Let’s take a look at some ways to harness the power of your mind to reach your full potential.
Creating mindfulness habits
Keeping a well-organized and effective mind comes down to small habits. You don’t have to overhaul the way you think overnight, but taking some time to develop simple habits can make it easier to manage your mind.
Here are some mindfulness habits you can start implementing:
- Journaling: Journaling is a great practice to help you get in touch with your thoughts. Start by doing a brain dump of everything that’s on your mind. Often, this is enough to get any distracting thoughts out on paper so that you can focus on what needs to get done. If you ever find yourself in a loop, repeating events over and over in your head, write them down! Your mind is searching for an answer, and writing it down helps ground your thoughts back towards reality.
- Setting intentions: Setting an intention for the day can be a great practice to get into. On your morning commute or before you log in to work, decide how you want to show up for the day. Writing down your intentions is helpful to get them cemented in your brain.
- Connecting with nature: Take some time each day to get outside and ground yourself in nature. Breathing in the fresh air and soaking up a bit of sun can be the perfect reset your mind craves.
- Having a morning routine: An established morning routine can make a big difference in your mindfulness throughout the day. Take time to make your bed, meditate, journal, or make a cup of tea to center yourself.
- Taking mindfulness breaks: During the workday, it’s essential to re-center yourself to reduce stress and improve concentration. It’s a good idea to take a walk or do some stretches. Doing something you love for a couple of minutes can help you feel refreshed and focused.
When you develop mindfulness through your habits, it becomes easier to control your mind rather than letting it control you.
READ: 7 Mindfulness Activities for the Workday
People often believe that the key to getting the results they want is muscling through work with strong motivation. While motivation can be helpful, it’s not the sole factor in achieving a goal.
Motivation is a feeling, and feelings often ebb and flow over time. Discipline, however, is the practice of doing what you need to do even when you don’t feel like it. It is creating habits and following through on them without having to rely on willpower.
Studies have shown that people who have strong self-discipline also have good habits. This is because they eliminate having to make choices in the moment. They don’t have to wrestle with getting up at 5 A.M. because they don’t give themselves another option. It’s not difficult for them to work out because they decided ahead of time to do so, regardless of how they feel.
If you let your mind make choices in the moment, it will usually choose whatever is easier. It will choose to sleep for another half hour over getting up and will choose to eat fast food instead of something nourishing. Discipline helps you create habits to get the results you want, rather than relying on motivation (how you feel) to be productive.
You can practice developing discipline by making small changes. Try waking up ten minutes earlier or setting out your workout clothes the night before. Nurture these small habits and build upon them to get the results you want.
READ: What You Can Learn from JLo’s Discipline
Staying focused can be a difficult task. However, if there is anything worth doing, it’s worth doing with your complete focus. Oftentimes, dividing your attention or putting in minimal effort can lead to a product that doesn’t reflect your true values. This is where the tools of grit, passion, and curiosity come into play. If you’ve set out to do something, do it with full force. Put the full power of your mind behind the task at hand.
Get into the practice of devoting your entire focus to one activity at a time. It’s tempting to say yes to everything that comes your way, but this can divide your focus. Instead, focus on only doing one task at a time and giving it 100% of your brainpower.
When you use this positive way of focusing through passion and curiosity, it makes it easy to overcome distractions. It inspires you to create with abundance and openness rather than stress or anxiety.
Distraction and procrastination always start small, but we’ve all experienced the effects of a day filled with distraction. At the end of the day, you’ve accomplished much less than you anticipated which leaves you feeling stressed and anxious.
Build upon the skills we’ve talked about to prevent distraction in your routines. How can you make your mind more efficient and less likely to succumb to distractions? Try putting your phone in the other room when you need to focus or going to a quiet room where you are alone. If you can’t commit to a full hour of uninterrupted productivity, commit to 25 minutes and then take 5 minutes to reset your thoughts using some of the mindfulness habits we discussed.
Succumbing to distraction means giving in to your old habits and bad decisions. It takes grit and discipline to determine that long-term gratification is better than short-term.
The bottom line
Using your mind, rather than letting it use you, comes down to the small practices you devote yourself to daily. Getting a grip on your mind may seem like an impossible task when you’re consumed by distraction and stress, but breaking it down into smaller, actionable steps makes it manageable. Train your brain like an athlete would train for their sport. Focus on mastering one or two habits first, and your mind will already be more under your control.
What habits are you looking forward to working on? Let us know in the comments!