The support I’ve received from my family, friends, and readers has been amazing. Thank you.
I’m very excited (and honored) to announce that Black Hole Focus will debut as the WHSmith Business Book of the Month.
To celebrate, I wanted to give you a Free SlideShare Sampler of the book. If you want the full version of the Sampler, just sign up above in the red bar with your name and email next to where it says Get A Free Book Chapter.
I also wanted to share a brief summary of 7 of the studies that are in the book. The studies provide concrete examples of why you need to focus your life and how you can stay focused in the face of adversity. Successful people have a strong focus. These studies show you why.
I hope the below Sampler and studies ignite your sense of purpose and motivate you to start focusing your life and going after what you really want.
Know Why You Need A Purpose
People with a strong focus live longer. A study in the British Medical Journal followed a group of Shell Oil employees who retired at age 55 and another group who retired at age 65. The study found the early retirees had a 37% higher risk of death than their counterparts. That’s not all. People who retire at 55 are 89% more likely to die in the ten years after retirement than those who retire at 65.
Protect Your Brain With Your Purpose
A strong focus slows mental decline. Experiments published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry evaluated 246 people as part of the Rush Memory and Aging Project. These people underwent cognitive and neurological testing once a year for ten years. Each person was asked to clearly define his or her purpose in life. After each participant’s death, brain autopsies were performed. The researchers found that people who did not have a clear purpose in life had significantly faster rates of mental decline. (It is worth noting that no participants suffered from dementia.)
Gain Energy From Your Purpose
Focus creates energy. In the 1950s, Curt Richter did a series of experiments to test how long rats could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water before giving up. Under normal conditions, the rats could swim for an average of 15 minutes before giving up and sinking. But, if the rats were rescued just before sinking, allowed to rest briefly, and then put back into the same buckets of circulating water, they could swim an average of 60 hours. Yes, 60 hours. If the rats were temporarily saved, they would swim 240 times longer than if they were not temporarily saved. The experimenters concluded that the rats were able to swim longer because they were given hope. They had a clear vision of what being saved looked like, so they kept swimming to fulfill the vision.
Believe In Your Purpose
A strong focus is backed by a strong belief. During a clinical trial that was designed to test the efficacy of arthroscopic surgery on osteoarthritic knees, one group of patients received the actual arthroscopic procedure. These patients’ damaged cartilage was scraped or flushed out with the aid of a thin viewing scope. The second group of patients received a “sham surgery,” where they were merely given anesthesia and two incisions on their knees to look as though an arthroscope had been inserted. After the surgeries, both groups reported improvement in knee function and a complete loss of pain. The second group of patients felt better solely because they believed they would feel better.
Expect To Fulfill Your Purpose
Expectancy will strengthen your focus. In 1968, experimenters gave every student in a single California elementary school a disguised IQ test without disclosing the scores to the school’s teachers. The teachers were told that some of their students (about 20% of the school chosen at random) could be expected to be “spurters” that year, doing better than expected in comparison to their classmates. In reality, these spurters had the same or lower IQs than the other students. The spurters’ names were made known to the teachers. At the end of the study, every student was again tested with the same IQ test. The result? The spurters showed large gains compared to everyone else, even though their initial IQ scores were the same or lower. The experimenters concluded that merely increasing expectations can dramatically enhance achievement.
Conserve Willpower To Fulfill Your Purpose
Stay focused by avoiding willpower depletion. An experiment involving two groups of students was used to test how willpower depletion, or mental strain, affects decision-making. During the study one group of students were given a two-digit number to remember, while a second group of students were given a seven-digit number to remember. Both groups were instructed to remember the number, walk down a long hallway, and repeat the number to an administrator at the end of the hall. Halfway down the hall, a young woman waited by a table with a large plate of fresh fruit on one side and a large plate of unhealthy pastries on the other side. She asked each participant to choose which snack they would like to eat after completing the memorization task. The people in the second group—those laboring under the strain of remembering a seven-digit number—chose the unhealthy snack far more often than those who were remembering the two-digit number.
Ritualize Your Purpose
Creating good habits will help you avoid willpower depletion and maintain a strong focus. Studies testing how habits are formed show that the first time mice are put into a particular cheese maze, their brain activity is robust and intense. The mice will sniff and claw the walls and analyze every part of the maze as they race to find the cheese at the end. Here’s the interesting part: if the mice are put into the same maze day after day, they will find the cheese faster, but their overall brain activity will plummet. This is because, over time, the mice ritualize the process of finding the cheese. A tiny part of their brains, called the basal ganglia, takes over a series of actions so that they no longer have to actively concentrate or make decisions.
Which of the above experiments do you like the best? Why?
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And don’t forget to order my new book: Black Hole Focus