Focus goes energy flows: why attention drives performance and well-being

focus goes energy flows: grounded in solid science


The Tony Robbins inspired idea that where focus goes energy flows is worth paying attention to. This is because it is grounded in solid science.

I graduated from Sydney University in 2017 with an M.Sc. in coaching psychology.

Afterwards, I reflected quite hard on what I’d learned. I tried to think whether there is one single, big important lesson or theme that I could distil from hundreds of hours of study, thousands of words of assignments and mountains and mountains of reading.

Of course, I have learned many lessons but one that comes immediately to mind, something that I’d like to pass on to my children perhaps, is this:

The quality of your life, the quality of your relationships and the quality of your performance, is largely determined by where you place your attention.

Attention seems to be a critical component of so many aspects of psychological well-being and adaptive functioning. Therefore, if we can be intentional with our attention, we can go a long way towards optimising the way that we live our lives.

Energy flows where focus goes

This very similar to the idea that where energy flows focus goes. This concept has been widely popularised by motivational speakers like Tony Robbins. It suggests that when you focus your attention on something, you also direct your energy towards it.

Here are some examples of how where we place our attention (focus) drives good outcomes.

Coping with difficulties

If you place your attention on solving a problem you are struggling with, rather than on the way you feel about the problem, in most cases, you will have more chance of coping better with your struggle.

Goals

Similarly, when pursuing your goals, you’ll have more success if you pay attention to the processes involved in achieving your goals, adjusting your approach in accordance with the feedback you receive, than if you focus solely on reaching a specific end result.

When you concentrate on a task or a goal, you’re essentially allocating your mental and physical energy to it. This enables you to accomplish the task more efficiently and successfully. You might have experienced being in a state called “flow,” where you’re completely immersed in an activity, and your performance and productivity are at their peak. This phenomenon is a real-life example of how directing your attention can drive your energy to achieve desirable results.

Mindfulness

Placing your attention on the present moment, rather than ruminating on past difficulties or speculating about future unknowns, will help you resist anxiety and stress and enable you make to better choices and more informed decisions.

By being fully present in the moment and devoting your attention to a single task, you can maximise your energy output and increase your chances of success.

Multitasking, on the other hand, can scatter your attention and hinder you from making significant progress in any specific task. So, whenever you feel dispersed or overwhelmed, take a deep breath, zoom in on one task at a time, and observe the change in your energy levels.

Meta-cognitions

You can regulate the extent to which your emotions are hijacked by negative self-talk and limiting beliefs by paying attention to the way that you are thinking (your meta-cognitions), instead of attending to the thoughts themselves.

By developing this attentional capacity, you can access your thoughts and beliefs about situations as they arise and evaluate their true worth, discarding those that are unhelpful before they trigger a negative emotional response. By placing your attention of helpful thoughts, your energy flows towards more positive action.

Mental toughness

Mental toughness involves dealing well with stressors and challenge. By being mindful of the way that you think think and by placing your attention on the desired outcomes that you seek, you can begin to see problems as challenges to be solved, rather sources of stress and pressure.

Relationships

You will fare far better in your dealings with others if you pay attention to what those others are saying, by truly listening to them and hearing what is important to them, than you will if you focus mainly on your own point of view.

Perspective taking capacity

Finally, if you can develop the ability to expand the scope of your attention, learning to take in multiple perspectives and work with the complexity and ambiguity that you will find when you attend to the bigger picture, you will be wiser than most and will have reached a level of personal development that does true justice to the human mind and spirit.

Pay attention: focus goes energy flows: frequently asked questions

What are some techniques to focus my attention on important tasks?

To focus your attention on important tasks, try using the Pomodoro Technique which involves working for a short period, taking a break, and then repeating the process. Break down complex tasks into smaller components, prioritize them, and tackle one at a time. Limit distractions by setting specific times for checking emails, turning off notifications, and creating a dedicated, clutter-free workspace.

What is the connection between attention and psychological well-being?

Attention is linked to psychological well-being because it plays a key role in mindfulness, awareness, and emotional regulation. Training and directing your attention towards positive experiences and thoughts can help improve your mood and overall mental health. Developing the ability to focus on the present moment can also reduce stress and anxiety.

Can focused intention impact the direction of energy?

Yes, focused intention can impact the direction of energy. When you concentrate your thoughts and emotions on a specific goal or outcome, it can influence the way you direct energy and resources towards achieving that objective. This concept is supported by the idea that energy flows where attention goes, meaning that when you give something your full attention, it becomes a priority and therefore attracts more energy.

How do I concentrate my energy towards a specific objective?

To concentrate your energy towards a specific objective, first set clear and realistic goals. Break them down into manageable steps and create an action plan. Focus your attention on each step, maintaining positive thoughts and visualization towards the desired outcome. Stay persistent and consistent in your efforts while avoiding distractions. Remember that time management, self-discipline, and motivation are crucial factors in directing your energy effectively toward your goal.

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