I have a strong belief that the way you are in your personal life, how you treat yourself and your surroundings, the way you behave with others, the way you react to happenings and how organized you are, the same gets reflected in your money life too.
There is a clear connection between your Personal Life, Professional Life and Money life.
If you are happy in your personal life, you will be effective in your professional life, and the opposite is also true.
It has been observed that those who do Financial planning or seek Planning services are themselves more organized in their personal lives and now they want the same kind of organized structure in their Money management too. (Read: Habits of financially Planned people)
Those who are not so positive about their own self, they also find difficulty in trusting others. They live in their own shell and feel that all others are here to ditch them.
If you are a productive person personally, value time the most, know the importance of relations, the same way your money will be working for you i.e. productive.
Now to gain productivity, you are expected to be completely focused on your work, update yourself on the new developments, and have to design a structured process to follow.
Yes, to be productive in a particular task you have to give it the full attention it deserves, and then only you can excel in it and get what you want. (Read: One thing at a time)
Recently, I was reading an article on Meditation, where the author has beautifully explained why awareness is more important than attention. The whole idea is that it is the surroundings that influence you a lot and thus make or break your focus.
The Author has given a reference to the book “The Mind illuminated”, where the difference between attention and awareness is explained as
“Whenever we focus our attention on something, it dominates our conscious experience. At the same time, however, we can be more generally aware of things in the background. For example, right now your attention is focused on what you’re reading. At the same time, you’re also aware of other sights, sounds, smells, and sensations in the periphery.” — Culadasa
At any time, our conscious mind distributes its capacity between these two processes. Thus, Stronger the Attention (Focus) means weaker the Awareness; and Stronger the Awareness means Weaker the Focus.
Focus is important to have, not only on the breath or thoughts while meditating but also for productivity at work, for good communication, for a healthy relationship, to stick to your budget, to keep saving towards your goal…but for all this, you have to stay away from noises around.
Noises like your phone calls, Mobile Notifications, News Channels, Online sales, your own behavior, multi-tasking, etc. All these don’t let you focus on the immediate work that is important.
However, if you understand and accept the noises around and realize that as you can’t do anything about them and still maintain your focus on the work you are doing, the goal for which you are saving, the person to whom you are talking, the food that you are eating, then that stage is called Mindfulness.
The Optimal balance between Attention and Awareness is Mindfulness.
Here you need not distribute the resources but train the conscious mind to use its full capacity
When we talk about getting into a Flow or doing a deep work, which requires your complete focus, then we also have to work on the surroundings too so to have fewer distractions. But actually, you cannot control your surroundings completely. What you can do is to make some adjustments with them, like accept them and Ignore them, make them understand and thus don’t let them be distractions to your work.
But here the interesting point to note is that you can never get into focus if you keep thinking about the things which may distract you from your path.
You’re probably heard that trying not to think about some particular thing or person will only make you think about it more often than ever.
In other words, trying to suppress distractions from your awareness can actually damage your focus and make you more distracted.
So, what’s the solution?
The solution lies in being “aware” of the cues which distract you from your important work and learn/train yourself not to surrender to it.
Those cues could be Internal or External. Internal cues like Unnecessary Worry, Feeling Bored, feeling alone and other emotional triggers that do not let you focus. And then you end up spending your valuable hours wasting time on social media. (Read: How to manage Financial Worry?)
External stimuli can be the smell of food or some music being playing around, Phone calls, WhatsApp and other notifications, etc.
See, when you are sure of your aim of getting things done then you would know what to avoid, and how not to get trapped in this distraction.
Accept that you can’t do everything yourself, learn to delegate, learn to say NO, take help of professionals or I should say borrow time from professionals, Not answering a Phone call, or not responding immediately to a message will not do much harm but the important work that you are focused on will surely bring some benefit.
Savings and Investments also need your attention. You should be clear on the goals and focused on it. But you also have to be aware of the things that could bother your savings plan and move you away from what is important.
Like Emergencies (Job loss, health issues, Accidents, Death, etc.), Near term requirements, New Year and Diwali Online sales (Yes, Christmas, Lohri, Holi, Navratras, Dussehra…and others too), Weekend Breaks, Interest-Free EMIs, Uncontrolled usage of credit cards, Unplanned Parties/get together, One-time events/expenses which turn out to be multiple times in a year, Your Investment behavior issues, etc. All these have the potential to distract you from your goals.
Conclusion – Take Ownership of Your Mind (Difficult but Possible)
I agree it’s not easy, but neither that difficult too. Your Mind needs regular training. Every moment, every activity gives you an opportunity to train yourself towards this.
Focus without Awareness is of no Use. Without being aware of the bigger picture, you are more prone to distractions and make you more reactive, short-tempered and less organized.
Be it getting things done, losing weight, getting rich, or whatever else — the truth is that focus without awareness can be a trap.
Being Mindful of actions will help you gain Focus and Awareness both. I experienced mindfulness at the “Sahaj Samadhi” meditation session by Art of Living.
You may try meditation, do what you consider yourself good at, learn things that you feel would be good to improve upon your expertise and keep less on your plate.
The smallest changes can make the biggest difference if applied with dedication and commitment. Practicing Mindfulness will surely bring positive change in your life from all angles.