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Tag: Stoic Runner

Manage Focus vs Time

We are in an attention economy. Endless things are fighting for your attention. Phones are dinging, inboxes are constantly filling, and there’s a billboard or commercial everywhere you look. There’s even a career called “influencer”, whose main skill is grabbing and holding your attention. That is a tough skill to master and cultivate.

What my head feels like with everything that must be done.

That’s the issue I have with technology. We’re too connected and attached; everybody is available via text message. Overbearing parents track their child’s location in REAL TIME with cell phones in 3rd grade. I know. I just picked up a “smartphone” for my daughter, but I’m trying to make it a dumb phone by removing all apps and social media that might steal her focus. There’s a saying, “May you live in interesting times…” Well, it’s TOO interesting. There’s too much going on, too much news, and too much spam. That’s why this quote got to me: “Don’t manage your time, manage your focus.” That is critical. If you don’t manage your focus, someone or something else will.

If you are not planning your day or structuring it meaningfully, then you will be subject to whatever way the pop-up-driven wind blows. You have to focus on the intention for each day and the following day, week, month, and year. Amazing things happen with intention, not magic. There’s a plan to do something great, write that book, run that race, achieve something great that you sat down and thought about for a minute. Otherwise, text messages and nonsense will fill your time, and then fill your life.

It’s hard to get away from the distraction of all the tech.

That’s part of where racing and running made a difference in my life. If you’re doing it right, your workout will disconnect you from all that. Getting a pop-up while running, biking, or lifting is much harder. The intention to work out removes you from distractions. That’s what I love about it. It’s the intention to travel to the trail, gym, or park, AND be present in that moment. Sit with discomfort and do something HARD that I enjoy as I age. You will say, “Well I just have too many other commitments that get in my way”. Are they, or are you just not managing your focus? That’s what I tell myself: do I not have the time, or do I not have focus? Ask yourself that next time you’re overwhelmed. This quote says it best: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Focus on health if you feel like crap, otherwise, everything else will be difficult. Focus on family. If your closest relationships are toxic, it will cause stress and unhappiness. Finally, focus on work. It will always be there, and we must pay the bills. You will not die with zero, but you could die with a lot of regret for what you didn’t do. I regret focusing on too much stuff that should never have been done in the first place.

Thanks for reading!

Fear and Action – Mental Toughness In Ultrarunning

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. One who lives life fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain

I was thinking about this quote and had a different spin on it.  Fear and action cannot occupy the same space inside your mind.  The idea is we only have two states our mind and body can occupy at any given moment.  That state is either fear or action.  Before you act, you are in the grip of fear, which normally doesn’t let you act.  The trick is to act before the fear takes hold of you.  Fear makes you believe that 100 things will go wrong before the first step. 

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

The power comes after we take that first step.  Every action after the first step melts fear away.  It forces your mind to THINK, “Well, what is my next step going to be?”  You have left the state of fear, and are now in the state of action.  That first step is critical.  Procrastination falls under the classification of fear.  It grips you in thinking no matter what choice you make, it’s wrong.  That’s where we get caught, debating if it’s the RIGHT action.  Action eliminates fear instantly.  You can’t be afraid AND move forward. The fears might be there, but they have a hard time growing roots.  The mind gets focused on making decisions for what needs to be done to keep flight AND move forward!

This brings up the idea of iterative design.  The idea is that we keep improving on every attempt.  “First is the worst” is what I always say.  Iterative design is a design methodology based on prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process.  Version 2.0 of YOU gets released only after version 1.0.  It’s not complete until nothing is left to add or take away depending on how you look at it.  The issue is we have to create that first version.  That first version takes the most effort.  Each improvement on that previous version is substantially easier.

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

That’s the beauty of running.  There’s always next year, next run, and hopefully tomorrow.  I design a lot of my life with the ability to create a better version of myself. I have put many of my “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” on my TO DO list to achieve each year and get completed with daily effort. The future comes one day at a time and no task can survive daily attacks.  If you put in the work then the greatest of achievements will become yours, and thus the greatest version of yourself.  

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

My new version of Mark Twain’s quote is this:

“The fear of failure follows from the fear of action. One who acts in life is prepared to fail at any time AND become the best version of themself.”

I force myself to act, to become that version of myself I imagine.  Am I afraid as I move forward?  Sometimes, but if you move fast enough fear never sticks.

Finally, I leave you with one more quote to think about.

“My Dear,
Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.”

― Falsely yours, Henry Charles Bukowski