So as I read these books on how to stay focused and see examples that occur in nature. It just doesn’t seem the same as being somewhere that requires you to stay focused for a certain period of time. Such as school, work, training…..you get the picture. Even then, your mind wonders…one idea trailing to another and then another. I understand that this is how great ideas and plans occur and a growing body of research has linked daydreaming with creativity.
In recent years, scientists have been paying a lot more attention to mind-wandering, an activity that takes up as much as 50 percent of our waking hours (Gregoire, 2016). So as we think about how much our mind wanders we also understand that it is part of our decision-making process and evaluating past actions as well as decisions.
How do we use those wandering hours to avoid focusing on the negative and steer it towards the goals that we are looking to achieve? We have talked about staying focused on our goals and dreams and yet this gorgeous mind of ours wanders for half the day?
Have you noticed what your mind wanders to? Where does it go most of the time? For some, it could be related to the goal you currently have. For others, this could be something that worries or stresses you out or none of the above and based off of something you just saw or heard. This question could let you know what you need to tackle to continue on in your process. By either letting it go (check out the law of forgiveness episode) or obtaining the closure that you need. Maybe there is something that you need to say or do.
What we want to do is to direct the mind wandering into one that is supporting you in your journey and deflecting hesitation, doubts or worries that would cause you to stay where you are. How do we do this with our wandering? By not looking at this roaming mind as just that. It does not roam free. It roams based on what you are exposed to. Check out my very first episode what are you feeding your mind. It roams based on what is happening to you at that time and what your subconscious then sets as your priorities.
A recent behavioral and neuroimaging study at York University asked participants to write for fifteen minutes on three of their most important goals in life, and then completed a task of matching a sequence of shapes on a computer screen. During which they were periodically interrupted and asked several questions to measure their level of attentiveness to the task. At the completion of the task, participants wrote once again for fifteen minutes on their three most important goals. They compared the pre- and post-task writing samples, along with self-reports of how much attention they gave to the tasks they were doing. This revealed that higher levels of mind-wandering were associated with an increase in how concrete and specific the goal descriptions were from the pre- to post-task writing samples. The researchers concluded that spontaneous thought associated with the mind-wandering state increases future-oriented thinking, which in turn helps to clarify and solidify our future goals (McDonald, 2016).
Isn’t that what we are talking about on this podcast? Setting your goals and being specific. Picturing yourself already meeting your goals. Not forcing, but letting it happen through your thoughts as well as your actions and allowing life to guide you to where you want to be without doubt that this is where we will be. So now when your mind wanders, it is wandering with a purpose to help you to get to where you want to be.
I mentioned earlier that the things you see and hear has an influence on the way that your mind wonders? In some of the other episodes, we mentioned not talking about your goals to others. Which can be a bit difficult since you want to share your life with others. Especially good and positive things you are going through and pursuing. Why is this? because you don’t want your mind wandering about what a person says in response to what you want to do. Here’s an example. I had made a decision once about how I wanted to invest. I made a list about what I wanted to do and why. Wrote everything out and went to following them. I mentioned it in a conversation to an acquaintance once and they gave me so many opinions on how it won’t work and that I should do xyz instead. They later tried to offer me books on my area of interest and I said I wasn’t interested since those books didn’t help them to succeed in it, why would I use them? Later they sent me negative jokes about how many people failed doing what I wanted to do. I thought to myself. My goodness, this is annoying! If I didn’t know any better I would think they didn’t want me to succeed at all. My mind didn’t wander on me failing, but it wandered on the annoyance and curiosity of how negative this person was by me simply saying what I wanted to do. That lasted a couple days until I finally let it go and moved on so that I could remain focused. I decided after that not to talk about my endeavors or my life with them anymore.
I was going to spout a little about how the average person who makes their intentions public don’t succeed, but we are not the average person. We do not permit external influences to derail us from our path. Our goals are not to be like the 90% of the population that Earl Nightengale talks about. We are the 10% that set our goals, remind ourselves constantly about what we want to achieve. We plan up to what we know and live as if we have achieved them. We stay positive, open to receiving, focused and do not allow people and things to negatively influence our minds to wander in a way that does not matter or help. We are in a different paradigm that encourages us to surround ourselves with people who are positive and successful at what we are trying to accomplish so that we can learn and grow from them. Then your mind will wander about how wonderfully successful they are and how successful you will be as well.
Gregoire, C. (2016) A Wandering Mind Isn’t Just A Distraction. It May Be Your Brain’s Default State. from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mind-wandering-creativity-mental-illness_us_5818acc4e4b0990edc33827a<
Baer, D. (2013) Wait, What’s That? The Science Behind Why Your Mind Keeps Wandering from https://www.fastcompany.com/3016114/wait-whats-that-the-science-behind-why-your-mind-keeps-wandering
McDonald, H. (2016) The practical Benefits of Mind Wandering from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/time-travelling-apollo/201608/the-practical-benefits-wandering-mind