Many successful professionals talk about importance of focus. They manage to maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. Jack Canfield says that successful people stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.
The question is how to do that? How to keep my focus when things are not going well?
Attention and intention are tools of our focus.
Intention – a determination to act in a certain way
Attention – the act or state of applying the mind to something
When we use these tools in the areas of self-development, achievement or in coaching, attention without clear intention can cause feelings of spinning our wheels and lacking a sense of purpose. We can repeatedly experience a quick fix, but we see no long-term progress or transformation. When we set an intention but avoid attention, we almost always miss action steps. This might create stress, feelings of guilt or frustration.
Attention is the tool of our cognitive mind. It is the “what“ of our focus. It is the concentrated direction of mental powers or the close attending to something or someone. We will not, and cannot, give our attention to something unless we have an intention but often we are not aware of the intention that drives attention.
Intention is the tool of our emotional brain it is the „why“ of our focus. Intention both precedes and follows attention. We can use our intention as the driving force of the actions we take. It is the underlying purpose of our attention. Intentions are created from our deep desires, from our needs and our values. Intention gives as stamina to dream big and attention helps as to act smart.
Balance between attention and intention
We balance attention and intention in any life experience. Normally we use these perceptual tools unconsciously but the quality of our life is determined by the way we consciously combine these tools.
When attention and intention align, a powerful life changing force of awareness is unleashed that keeps us in the present moment. Mindful attention allows us to make moment-by-moment choices that support our intention to change.
It can take practice to finesse the balance between these two powerful forces. By continually returning to the present moment and objectively looking at where we can put our attention right now, rather than where we’ve failed to act in the past, or worrying too much about where we will have to act in the future, we allow our intention to manifest itself more easily.
Intention and attention are partners who need one another to bring us desired results and support our self-realization.