Cultivating Discipline and Focus

The alarm sounds and the time reads 4:15am. These are the coldest parts of the day during typical New England winters. Then it's off to the rink after drinking something warm and putting the goalie equipment in the trunk of the car. All of us on the varsity hockey team have to be on the ice by 5:30am, immediately after off-ice dynamics. The pace and drills are always held at a rigorous tempo. The final part of practice, wind sprints, would wrap up around 6:40am. After practice, we had to squeeze in a shower and go to class. Off-ice training was held 3 days a week after school. This was a typical daily routine for my high school hockey team mates and me from November through March every school year. the way I was also a drummer for the jazz ensemble and played percussion for the school's other ensembles in the music program. Yes...I did need to find some time to practice my craft and prepare for the performances as well.

So...if you have a passion (or a few), then how can you develop the discipline in order to sustain and grow once you do commit to pursuing your chosen endeavor? If you already have that discipline, then that is fantastic! You are to celebrate this strength! But...have you been able to sustain and build on that foundational discipline? Are you consistently re-investing your energy back into sharpening the focus which is required for long term excellence?


Is this a trait that can be cultivated?

Value your time! Money is something that you can get back. Time is gone once it passes. No one is able to re-live the time that has already happened. Thus, you must begin by learning how to say NO! Saying no to certain requests that do not add value to you or your goals will provide the foundation of how you prioritize. You can begin by saying "no" to your snooze button! There were many Friday nights in college that I chose to go to my rehearsal studio and practice, instead of a night of hanging out at a bar and drinking. You can also decide to make similar choices too!


Why are you not able to focus? Can you improve it?

Would it be realistic if I asked you to practice drums 4 hours a day if you are just beginning? Of course not! That would be overwhelming. I have found that the "how" you practice pays longer dividends than the mere duration of time and the large quantity of material you may think you are covering.

True concentration is not possible with distractions. No TV! No devices...(unless they are being used in Airplane mode). There are studies that prove that you will leave a "residue" on the brain from the distracting stimuli. Over time this residue of distraction will accumulate and make it more difficult to fully engage in the act of whatever you are practicing and or creating.

Set aside shorter chunks of time without the distractions. You will gradually add on more time to these durations. This will eventually extend the amount of time that you may be able to invest into your passion and purpose. Ultimately, your focus can become crystal clear!