Showing posts with label focus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label focus. Show all posts

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Doctor Who and the Incredible Hulk

By Douglas Clark

I often find myself wondering what would life be like if I made other decisions and choices. It’s not so much that I regret my current state or that I’m unhappy, quite the contrary. For me, imagining the ‘what if’ scenarios that life can/could/does bring keeps me from getting mired in apathy and monotony. When I was young, I wanted to be a writer (duh), a millionaire, a super genius, and world traveler; I also wanted to be Indiana Jones, the Incredible Hulk, Captain Kirk, and a companion of Doctor Who (notice the Sci-Fi slant here?).

So what would have happened if I made different life decisions, and one of those dreams came true? (Obviously, some of those dreams will sadly never come true, so there goes my ride in the TARDIS… L, but I digress). Well I went to college and earned really good grades, so that’s probably the closest to ‘super genius’ I’ll get. I joined the Navy and did see the world, so I’m good there. I’m obviously a writer (still waiting on Random House, Harper Collins, or Simon and Shuster to give me a book deal), and try to keep writing every day. So that just leaves millionaire (guess that will have to wait until one of my books becomes a movie… see I have it all planned out).

It’s the ability to daydream and imagine the ‘what ifs’ that keep my mind fresh and vibrant. Now obviously I keep my focus and do my work, get the job done, etc., but the way I see it is this: If you imagine yourself doing something you really want to do, it’s the first step in making it actually happen. Do you see what I mean? That old saying “The power of positive thinking”, although somewhat cliché, is still true. Imagining yourself in a new job or taking on a challenging task opens the door to the skills and mindset of accomplishing those goals. (However, my boyhood dreams of building a TARDIS might not qualify. If I master Relative Dimensions and that wibbly wobbly timey wimey… stuff, I’ll get back to you)

Imagining each ‘what if’ possibility opens a new door to an entirely different life, vastly different experiences and varied knowledge and skill. Granted many of those ‘lives’ would be similar to the one I’m leading, but the more I let my imagination go free, the greater the variation. Those variations let me be me, only in a different setting. 

When you begin to see yourself living a different life, you can start moving toward that life. Now I’d love to explore the Universe like the Doctor, or command a star ship like Captain Kirk but I know that really isn’t going to happen. Refreshing my imagination with those far flung possibilities stirs up the mental pot and re-energizes me. I use that energy to focus myself and do what I do best, write. 

Where have your choices brought you?    

Thanks for reading. 

Questions and comments are welcome

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let's Focus a Bit...

By Douglas Clark

Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.

A very big challenge for me has always been focus. True at heart, I am a day dreamer. There have been and are multiple scenarios and situations where I find myself being whisked away to a dreamland conjured up from my imagination. It's just fun to get lost in a world of my own creation. 

From a young age, if I were staring out the window of my parents’ car, watching the rain come down, stuck at the dentist’s office, bored at school, etc., I would always find myself creating fantastical narratives for me and my imaginary characters to explore. Now I never got in trouble in school or work for distractions, but I realized a long time ago that even though daydreaming and imaginations are great fodder for creating art, lack of focus can wash away all relevance those daydreams brought.

You see, focus keeps us in line. Focusing on the job at hand, getting things done, and checking things off the ‘to do’ list help you keep an organized life, but if you don’t find time to daydream, that life becomes pretty sterile. I find that sometimes when I get focused on my day-to-day chores and responsibilities, I lose that head in the clouds type mindset that helps me create.  

It took me a long time to realize balancing my life between focused responsibility and daydreaming is vital. I love to daydream and just imagine, but when I apply my focus and determination to expression– that’s when real creativity begins. For a long time I wanted to write a full novel, but it wasn't until I focused my determination and married it with my creativity did I actually finish one. 

Being good at a few, or even just one thing can bring order and meaning into our lives. I’ve often thought about my education and what type of expertise and authority it brings to my opinion about literature and writing. From my experiences and studies I know I don’t know everything, but I know enough to comment and help others improve. It’s more than I could do in a physics class. I’d be totally lost. But the written and spoken word – well I’ve done pretty good for myself learning how to use them both. 

Now obviously I still have a lot to learn. With such a diverse and growing language as English, there’s always more to know. But language is the one thing I know I’m good at, even if sometimes I need a reminder about how much more I need to know about focus. I’m not myopic in the subject matter in which I’d like to learn more, but I narrowed it down considerably from when I was younger.

Learning who you are and what you like is a long process; you change as you grow up and gain experience. Staying focused on what you want and love helps to bring clarity to your actions and direction. If you suffer from a lack of direction or focus, look at the things that are distracting you. The answer to finding focus might be staring you right in the face. Oh, and no matter how many times you get side tracked and distracted, make sure you come back to focusing on your dreams and goals. Sooner or later, staying focused on your mission will become a habit.

Thanks for reading
Questions and comments welcome.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Do You Ever Wonder Why You Fail?

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Do you ever wonder why you fail? Of course you do. Failure sucks but it seems unavoidable. We should all strive for success but be prepared for failure, because unlike success, failure can teach us a lot. We can learn where we need help, where we need practice, motivation, instruction, experience, focus, the list is almost endless. But failure can be deceiving. It can teach you to give up and that’s a terrible outcome. When you fail, you need to persist; not at failing, but at attempting the next success. To put it another way, if you failed, you need to go back to square one, start over again, and give it another go.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard the old quote attributed to Einstein, the line goes something like “The definition of crazy is trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.” Okay, so I’m not advocating craziness, but I am advocating persistence. Trying again, with a different perspective, a different focus, a different motivation, a different plan, the key here is to try again. I’ll put it into context for you. Regular exercise and fitness is important to a person’s health, and it’s especially important to me. So, I work out about three days a week. The habit now is so ingrained into my psyche and daily life, I feel out of sorts when I don’t get to the gym. I’m not a muscle head to be sure, but I have made the commitment to go. But how did I do that, you might ask? 

Well, in the beginning, every day I went to the gym, I counted it as the first day, even if it was the third time that week. I told myself that going on that day was the most important day and that I couldn’t skip out on it. So I went. And on the days where work or personal requirements got in the way, I made sure I went the very next day, keeping in mind that that day was the most important day I needed to go. During times when I couldn’t go three days a week, I made sure I went twice. Every week that was short, I made sure the following week hit the mark. So you see, every time I failed, I tried again, recommitting myself to what was important, keeping my goal in sight but staying focused on Now.

It may seem ridiculous or just silly trying to trick your mind into being committed. However, when you are trying to readjust your life and mindset, you need to change the way you think about things. Remember if you change your perspective, you change the world. This is the same idea. Give it a shot.

This amazing picture is called The Galaxy, the see of stars.  Checkout more amazing artwork at Kagaya Space

Comments and questions are welcome. Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Sum Total of Your Life Should Not Reflect the Negative

Have you ever wondered why it seems so easy to lose motivation, get discouraged, become downtrodden and unhappy? At first glance it might appear that life is mostly negative, full of unpleasantness and grief; what with all the suffering and unhappiness in the world, the idea is easy to believe. But it’s not true. You might wonder though, why does the negative seem to get more attention? I would say it’s force of habit. Really! Think about your day-to-day life. Does your car break down every day? Does your cat run away all the time? Does your girlfriend break up with you repeatedly and often? Well, unless something is seriously wrong in your life, none of those things happen with enough frequency to truly be a daily event. The emotional impact, however, is significant, and that is why you dwell on it.

This morning, for no reason at all (actually there is a mechanical reason), my car decided to not start. What a pain in the ass, right? My daughter had to get to school, I had to get to work, and we both didn’t have time for this kind of inconvenience. Fortunately, we only live seven blocks from school, so I walked her there and we were only about five minutes late. I’m pretty mechanical minded and I figured my car battery was dying, so I got a jump start and the car was off to the races, sort of speak. Actually I was right off to the auto repair shop. While driving, I realized that even though this whole scenario was a royal pain, it wasn’t the norm in my life.  That’s why it was so bothersome, because it was so outside the norm. Now, my car requires maintenance and repair on occasion, some planned, some obviously not so planned. So I just have to deal with it. For the majority of the time, I get in, turn the key and drive away. So why don’t I get a giant euphoric feeling of joy every day the care works properly? Well, it’s because I expect the car to function properly.

You see, events in our lives that are unexpected, emotionally jarring, either positively or negatively make an impression. They have meaning because they wake us up from our malaise, that fog we hypnotize ourselves with. In a way that dazed phase of distraction is a good thing. It allows us to follow a routine we need to cope. But, and it’s a big but, that distraction can also make it harder to deal with the negative when it comes along, give it false power and significance. Don’t let that happen. 

Remind yourself that for every time your car breaks down, or your dog runs away, there are days, weeks, even months in a row where good, positive things happen, because you planned for them, make the right decisions and stuck with it. Life’s curving and winding roads are a test. Don’t let them distract you and become negative. Each bump in the road is a chance to regain focus. Remember, staying focused will help direct you on your life’s mission. So, keep your eyes on the road!

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are welcome.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Don't Pardon the Interruption

Excuse me, what?

Have you ever gotten to the point where you’re so distracted, you become distracted from your distractions?  Let me explain.  There are times when I have a chore to do, or assignment and I can’t focus.  So I find my mind wandering to something else only to wander even further into something even less productive.  Here’s an example.  I knew I needed to get some writing in this last weekend, so I sat down and tried to get into the right state of mind.  As I sat and contemplated where I wanted my story to go, my eyes wandered across my desk until I realized it needed to be straightened or I’d become buried in junk.  So I started to clean up.  While doing this I imagined my characters going about their daily lives until I realized that my desk needed a good dusting soon or the dust would require an archaeologist to clear it away.  So what did I do?  I started dusting (I don’t know any archaeologists). 
After about 20 minutes I looked down at my computer screen, which now had gone dark with its energy saver mode, so I slapped down the cover and continued to clean.  Once done, I sat down and checked my text messages.  It wasn’t until I checked the clock on my phone that I realized almost an hour had gone by.  I was like WTH?  I put the phone down, lifted the lid on my laptop and just started writing.  I managed to get a good amount of words on page, but it bothered me that such distractions could take over. 

I’ve got to concentrate!

So what do you do when you’re so unfocused, you’re distracted by distractions of distractions?  I mean it happens to all of us and it can be rather disconcerting.  For me, analyzing what happened and why works most of the time.  What it really comes down to, for me at least, is having the wrong mindset.  Have you ever told yourself “I have to get this done?”  I have, but think about what that means.  It’s the ‘have’ that frames the activity, not a ‘want’.  Everyone has chores and responsibilities that have to be done, it’s a matter of fact in daily life.  Sometimes those chores suck, are boring, are difficult, and the do provide a drain on your motivation and morale. 

I know what you’re thinking, “thanks for depressing me man.”  Sorry, so now that you’re depressed, what do we do about it?  Change your mindset of course.  Remember, perspective is how we view our lives, our dreams, motivation and ultimately our mission.  So you couldn’t concentrate, lost your focus and were distracted by multiple levels of distractions.  I’ve found when something like that happens, I need to re-examine why I’m even trying to do that task in the first place.  If it’s a chore, well, sometimes you just have to hunker down and get it done.  But I’m more interested in the hobby, you know, the thing you want to do that’s supposed to make you feel better, feel happy. 

The simple answer is: Maybe you don’t really like what you’re doing.  Too easy?  Maybe.  You could also be stuck in a rut.  Being so used to doing something you forgot that it’s supposed to make you feel energized, revitalized, and refreshed.  Solution:  Try something new.  In my example, I was trying to write.  Now I love writing, but I found I needed something else for inspiration.  Enter the Saxophone.  Playing is still creative and expressive, only in a very different way.  Once I started playing the Sax you know what I found?  It was easier to write.  I went back to writing with new vigor and stamina. 

So, try something new, if only to remind yourself how much you like your original hobby.  A bonus is you find a new activity that inspires you even more than before.  And that kind of focus is a good was to avoid distractions.  Good luck!

Comments and questions are always welcome.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fortitude is in the Mind

Stay strong in body and mind

Have you ever been accused of being stubborn?  Are you stubborn?  Being single minded about an objective or goal is actually a very good thing.  It keeps you focused.  I call it fortitude.  Applying your personal strength and conviction to a single goal helps achievement, but what about applying fortitude to life in general.  What good is that and what purpose does that serve? Well, having the strength of mind to withstand the pains and adversity of life is a pretty valuable asset don’t you think?  I’ve talked about perseverance and how it aids you on your life’s mission and keeps you going toward your goals.  But perseverance isn’t enough.  That’s right, you need fortitude.  Being able to keep going is one thing, being able to maintain your mindset and inner strength as well is totally different.  There will be a time when challenges in your life beat you down so much you might think you’ve lost.  But if you have a solid foundation of who you are, what your values are, and why you have them, well that’s fortitude, and you can take comfort from that; draw strength from that and carry on.

Why bother?

The only person that will always be with you throughout your life is you.  You better like that person’s company if you’re going to find any value in your life.  I know a person who has compromised everything they ever held dear because they thought it would be easier to attain what they wanted.  That person was wrong.  I know another person that never bothered to set any life goals, look toward the future or bother to develop a strong sense of self worth or conviction.  That person’s life is very unhappy. 

I’ve had my values tested, my convictions called into question, but I’ve always focused on who I was, what I wanted and what I valued.  When I weighed the options and saw what compromising my ideals would bring, I chose the right path.  Fortitude isn’t just about being strong.  It’s about believing in yourself when things go wrong, look terrible and you doubt everything.  When I got divorced, everything seemed go to wrong, then get really bad, and then get horrible.  I was hungry, homeless, penniless and thousands of miles away from family.  Let me tell you, sleeping out on the street for a few days really tests your fortitude.  I made mistakes, chose poorly, and didn’t listen to common sense.  I paid the price.  But because I took the time to re-examine my path, but stay strong to my convictions, I steered back toward my goal, and continued on my mission. 

Getting through the bad times can be done.  I know it from experience.  Don’t give up.  Stay strong.  You never know when things will turn around. 

Thanks for reading, post a question or comment.  I’d love to hear from you.

Check out this picture and others here.

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...