Having the evidence myself, I wouldn't skip that.


Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Distraction is impossible without a focal point the same way moving is impossible without direction. For something to be a distraction, there must be something else that the mind treats as more important.

In that sense, thinking about what's a distraction in our lives is impossible without first figuring out what's not. That suggests the tremendous value of having a set of clear, foundational priorities beforehand.

Examples would help, so here's one from my life. I'm really proud of that particular one, as it had a huge impact on almost all areas of my life. But not until I did something about figuring out what's a distraction and what's not. Let me explain.

I've been visiting the gym since 2017. "Visiting" describes precisely what I've been doing in those three years at the gym. My progress was close to zero on any exercise I implemented in my program. You'd see me doing all kinds of exercises there. Bench pressing 50 kilos, doing pushups, stretching on the side, running on a treadmill, squatting a single rep with 60 kilos on the bar, trying out various fancy-looking machines to "tone up" my muscles, doing HIIT, you name it.

All the bullshit - I've done it.

My goal back then was to remove some stubborn fat around my belly and, at the same time, build muscles. That's commonly known as "recomposition" among gym rats.

Here's a clarification. Making a recomposition is not that hard for a beginner. I saw a tiny bit of that phenomenon happening to me, but nothing to be proud of. In general, after the first year, recomposition is really a contradiction. The body cannot just "burn" fat and at the same time "build" muscles. Roughly speaking, if it's burning something - it's burning everything. That's called "catabolic state". It doesn't care if it's a muscle, fat, or whatever - it's going to be burnt.

If the body is gaining - it's gaining it all - muscles and fat. That's the "anabolic state".

So, fast forward to this day, my squat is 144 kilos for 3 sets of 5 reps. Going from 60 kilos to 144 kilos on my back in a year. I already can see some abs, and I'm happy with the way I look wearing a slim-fit t-shirt. I'm not trying to brah or anything. Just asking you how do you think that happens.

The primary reason to start progressing was the realization that came to me somewhere around the end of 2020 (which happened thanks to Mark Rippetoe's work on strength training, but that's a story for another essay).

All I did was set a clear priority. One simple statement that changed everything in the gym for me. That statement is as follows:

From this day on, I'm focusing on increasing my strength, and that's all. Meaning I don't care about my body fat percentage, I don't care about how fancy an exercise is, I don't care about cardio work, I don't care about abs, I don't care about looking fit. All I care about is the numbers on the bar going up as fast as possible. Nothing else matters.

That was the focal point I so desperately needed. The foundation that made everything else clear for me. I could already see what's been a distraction and what aligned perfectly with my new principle.

Having a clear focal point, I immediately knew that all the machines in the gym, for example, are a complete distraction. There's only one productive way to become stronger. And that's to hit as many muscles every workout as possible, just by slightly increasing the weight on the bar every workout in the major three exercises - squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Everything else is smoke. A distraction. I ditched it.

Let me share the obvious outcome and observation that might surprise you.

The obvious outcome is that I became much stronger in a year. Something I couldn't do three years in a row up until then. Setting a focal point and removing all the distractions made my workouts a couple of magnitudes more productive and way more enjoyable, seeing actual progress, session by session.

And here's the surprise.

Focusing solemnly on the one thing and ignoring the distractions actually resulted in improvements in my physical presence, confidence, health parameters (hormones, blood, etc.), eating habits, communication skills, dealing with pain, work habits, sleep, focus, meditation...heck, even writing.

Removing distractions and focusing on one important thing in one important area massively improved my whole life. Without exaggerating.
Would you apply that to an area that's important in your life?

Having the evidence myself, I wouldn't skip that.

This article is part of my writing challenge - Writing Seed. Join it and become more consistent with writing. It's totally free.