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“In summary, creating the practicing mind comes down to a few simple rules:
- Keep yourself process-oriented.
- Stay in the present.
- Make the process the goal and use the overall goal as rudder to steer your efforts.
- Be deliberate, have an intention about what you want to accomplish, and remain aware of that intention.
Doing these things will eliminate the judgments and emotions that come from a product-oriented, results-driven mind.”
— from The Practicing Mind, Thomas Sterner
How I came across this handbook is lost in the mists of time, but I’m glad I did! The full title says it all: The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life. What a pithy, valuable guide! For me, the biggest takeaways from the book is the power of the present: focusing on what we’re doing when we are doing it. Let’s briefly unpack the four steps above:
Keep yourself process-oriented: Focus on the journey, not the destination. Focus on the act of writing and creating, not what you want or have to produce.
Stay in the present: Be where you are doing what you are doing. If your mind drifts off, gently bring it back to the task at hand.
Make the process the goal: Let go of any stress about achieving or making something happen. Don’t create any boundaries around what you are doing – focus on doing.
Be deliberate: Think in terms of intention, not goal. A goal is a point in time you are striving toward. An intention is about the desire to develop a skill, to improve and grow.
Finding focus is challenging, but doable. Let’s make it our intention as we all write on!