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It's not the only factor, but it is the most important factor. Lots of skills and abilities have to be in congruence to make this happen. Some folks in the stands may have been praying, and some may have been meditating. The one thing in common is that the focus and attention were on the outcome of victory. When you focus on outcomes, both good and bad, they come to pass. This is true individually and collectively. It matters what you think, and the effort you put into thinking a thought is reflected in the results! If an internal trigger distracts you, what strategies will you use to cope the next time it arises? Did an external trigger, like a phone call or a talkative colleague, prompt you to stop doing what you wanted to do? (We'll address tactics to control external triggers in part three.) Or was a planning problem the reason you gave in to distraction? In which case, you can look back through your Distraction Tracker to help answer the next question. When our lives change, our schedules can too. But once our schedule is set, the idea is to stick with it until we decide to improve it on the next go-round. Approaching the exercise of making a schedule as a curious scientist, rather than a drill sergeant, gives us the freedom to get better with each iteration. Before moving on, consider what your schedule currently looks like. I'm not asking about the things you did, but rather the things you committed to doing in writing. Is your schedule filled with carefully timeboxed plans, or is it mostly empty? Does it reflect who you are? Are you letting others steal your time or do you guard it as the limited and precious resource it is? By turning our values into time, we make sure we have time for traction.

If we don't plan ahead, we shouldn't point fingers, nor should we be surprised when everything becomes a distraction. Being indistractable is largely about making sure you make time for traction each day and eliminating the distraction that keeps you from living the life you want--one that involves taking care of yourself, your relationships, and your work. Mood disorders is a term that includes major depression and bipolar disorder, conditions of the brain that involve a disturbance in your mood or state of mind. These two conditions are grouped together because they share some of the same clinical characteristics. Major depression is most often a relapsing and remitting yet treatable illness. A relapsing and remitting condition means that the symptoms come and go. Depression affects your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, relationships, activities, interests, and many other aspects of life. Someone with depression often has trouble functioning in the ordinary activities of daily living. An episode of depression may last weeks, months, or longer. Many people have repeat episodes over time and feel well in between--the pattern is unique to each person. One way to see patterns in your illness and its relationship to life events is to track your daily symptoms on a Mood Chart (page 46). Tracking these details is a good way to follow your progress and response to treatment. This information can then be used in making treatment decisions with your physician or as a point of discussion in psychotherapy sessions. One long-held theory of depression is that it involves an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters. These chemicals are found throughout the brain, including the part that regulates your emotions and behavior. The chemical imbalance may happen when certain life experiences occur in a susceptible person. What makes a person susceptible is not fully understood. As you can see, we have a number of tendencies that can lead to faulty beliefs and decisions. Some of them are deeply rooted in our cognitive processes because of our evolutionary development, as in our preference for stories over statistics. Others are there to simplify our complex lives and decision making.

Of course, we don't always fall prey to these problems. While we often seek out confirming data, we sometimes pay attention to disconfirming information. In addition, these cognitive characteristics can serve us very well in many instances. If we didn't use simplifying strategies, we would often become overloaded with information, making it difficult to reach any decision. However, these tendencies also cause us a number of problems when we form our beliefs and make our decisions. One other thing must be kept in mind. Don't feel bad if you find yourself making the kinds of errors in thinking that are discussed in this book. I've made them, my friends have made them, and everyone I've ever known has made them. That's how ingrained they are in our cognitive makeup. Since we're typically not even aware they exist, the first step in making better decisions is to identify the pitfalls in our thinking. So let's take a look at where and why we can go wrong. It is not disbelief that is dangerous to our society, it is belief. In taking stock of your own self-talk, you may have become aware that there is a certain species of that talk that is unlike any other. It's a self-conversation, but it has this distinction: While you may have the sense that it is filled with sour notes from your past, it seems to happen so fast that it is just kind of a blur. Unlike the rest of your internal dialogue, which takes place in real time and can be listened to at will, this embedded mental activity is tough to get a handle on. It happens incredibly fast and it is especially malignant. For those reasons alone, it demands a separate discussion and your special attention. This especially dangerous kind of self-talk is what I call a tape. A tape is negative self-talk that you have rehearsed and repeated for so long and so often that it has become "overlearned." It has played in your head, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year. Ultimately, a tape becomes so deeply ingrained that it becomes an automatic response: It can be unleashed without your even being aware that something has happened in your life to trigger it.

Remember our earlier example of how quickly and powerfully snake-phobic people can react when someone yells, "Snake!"? When your tape is triggered, it can be screamingly dramatic or it can pervade your consciousness, silently yet with dominance. It's a reaction that is so powerful, so fast, that no other thought, rationale, or reason sees the light of day. If some puppeteer were standing above you, controlling your every move, you would want to know it and know it now. You'd be shocked and appalled to learn that you weren't actually the captain of your own life, that you weren't choosing what you did and when. Well, that is the premise of this chapter. First, I want to help you understand how tapes work and help you identify your own tapes. Next, we'll look at the fixed and limiting beliefs that form the content of your tapes. Finally, we'll talk about how those tapes yield a life script that, like that puppeteer, is probably dictating the outcomes in your life. Have faith in your cause and put forth the effort to make it happen, and your aspirations will come to pass. The wisdom of this formula has been proven repeatedly. How do meditation and prayer come into play when it comes to success and failure? The effort that you put forth is decisive. Mentally, when you focus your attention on something, you begin to move in that direction. It is my belief that when you focus on things, you are changing the patterns of molecules in your brain (and ultimately the world) in either a positive or a negative way. If you focus your mind in a positive direction, then your thoughts (and ultimately events) will align accordingly. This is a very powerful idea. It means you hold the power to change the course of events. Change begins with your belief systems. You have to be the source of positivity and then work with effort to manifest goals; your actions then allow for the expectations to take hold and become contagious.

When prayer, meditation, and expectation levels are raised, and effort is put into developing them, the results can and will be life-changing. In contrast, if you do not cultivate belief and focus your thoughts and efforts, then you float along in discord with yourself, your environment, and others. The common threads to prayer, meditation, and expectations are the effort and focus that drive your self-fulfilling prophecies. In this visual representation of your life, you are at the center of the three domains. Like every valuable thing, you require maintenance and care, which takes time. Just as you wouldn't blow off a meeting with your boss, you should never bail on appointments you make with yourself. After all, who's more critical to helping you live the kind of life you want than you? Exercise, sleep, healthy meals, and time spent reading or listening to an audiobook are all ways to invest in ourselves. Some people value mindfulness, spiritual connection, or reflection, and may want time to pray or meditate. Others value skillfulness and want time alone to practice a hobby. Taking care of yourself is at the core of the three domains because the other two depend on your health and wellness. If you're not taking care of yourself, your relationships suffer. Likewise, your work isn't its best when you haven't given yourself the time you need to stay physically and psychologically healthy. We can start by prioritizing and timeboxing "you" time. At a basic level, we need time in our schedules for sleep, hygiene, and proper nourishment. While it may sound simple to fulfill these needs, I must admit that before I learned to timebox my day, I was guilty of spending many late nights at work, after which I'd quickly grab a double cheeseburger, curly fries, and a decadent chocolate shake for dinner--a far cry from the healthy lifestyle I envisioned. A newer theory of depression is that the interaction of your genes with your environment and life experiences shapes the complex network of cells in your brain (called neurons). This shaping is thought to work in this way. The brain is sensitive to stressful and traumatic events during vulnerable periods in your life. Negative stimulation, such as stress or illness, changes the action of certain genes.