Focus to Succeed

Did you ever wonder what you could achieve if you could have complete focus on one thing for a significant period of time?

I was watching the documentary “Breaking2” tonight, about three athletes preparing to try and run a marathon in under 2 hours.  They spent two years preparing for it. Training daily with the other world class athletes. Eating, sleeping, drinking according to a rigorous schedule. Supported by their trainers and a team of scientists, who helped them determine how to optimally prepare. For two years.
It was a great watch, I can highly recommend it.
Oh and the fastest one finished in 2:00:25. He did something that was pretty much out of this world and still didn’t reach his goal.

The successful warrior is the average man

Afterwards I was trying to imagine what it would be like to be so focused on one thing for so long. Like most people my life contains a lot of variety. A significant part of it is spend on working. But in my spare time I like to play tennis, go rock climbing, plant shopping, running, spend time with my family, read, write and sometimes just sit on the sofa and watch TV. At several of these things I can perform a little above average (especially the shopping of course ;-p). Mostly because of my drive and determination. But I can’t imagine being able to focus on one of these things for more than a couple of hours.

Because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, I do sometimes dream about being able to put a lot of focus on something physical for a couple of months in a row and see where that would get me. For instance, play a lot of tennis or do a lot of running. Just to feel what it would be like.
I expect that it will not only be very hard physically, but also mentally. To stay motivated and to give 100% for a long time to reach a specific goal requires immense discipline and perseverance. Where do you find the motivation to keep going day after day? What keeps these people going?

I have profound respect for professional athletes and I’m happy that they are able and willing to put in all this energy and focus. Through them we can experience what it’s like to push the boundaries of what’s humanly possible and to feel the euphoria when they succeed.

4 thoughts on “Focus to Succeed

  1. Niels

    Humans are extraordinary.
    However I’m not a true sportsman (understatement) I can totally relate to what you are writing. I really believe it is the drive and will to accomplish something extraordinary that motivates you. And what that means can be totally different for everyone.
    Sometimes you just have to start (instead of dreaming) and be disciplined, sometimes it is hard when you fall and in very rare accessions you really are sitting on top the world. And that’s the feeling that makes it all worthwhile 🙂

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  2. Erik

    I am just realizing (and thank you for the spark) that focus, at least for me, isn’t so much about keeping focus, but about what you do when you (starting to) lose it. I have a problem with keeping focus. To such an extend, that by now (late 40’s) I am starting to like like a textbook example of what can happen to the life of a fairly talented person if he or she does not focus. One part is weight control. For the past six weeks I was doing a pretty good job to loose weight. But last night, I lost focus and ate everything I should not have. Resulting in a healthy 700 gram weight gain this morning. And, although I was scheduled for a morning run, the disappointment over my weight gaining (or, to be more honest and precise, the disappointment over my behaviour last night, thus me), made me ignore my running shoes and outfit and I found myself dwelling the virtual world, probably on my way to a very unhealthy breakfast. Until I stumbled by accident on your blog. Which for the first 20 minutes of course made me feel only more unsuccessful. But then it hit me. Today I will react to failure with kindness and forgiveness. Whatever happened is in the past and unchangeable. Everything else is a choice again, a blank sheet. A 700 gram heavier blank sheet, but nevertheless a blank one. At Least for this morning I will break the self destructive chain of failure, disappointment and more failure. If anyone is looking for me, I am off running!

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    1. Mirjam van Olst Post author

      That’s beautifully written! I don’t think any normal person can continue good/useful behavior without losing focus every now and then.
      I try to do abs two out of three nights, but in reality that’s more one out of three. And now that it’s getting darker I think my after work running is suspended until March..
      I’m very happy that you were able to find the motivation to go running this morning. I hope you are too 😉

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  3. Pingback: From buzz to flow – regaining focus | Kalliope's Journey

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