Today we’re talking about focus, because it's so easy to get distracted. Wait, what were we talking about again?
Did you know that ADHD and the inability to focus is closely connected with unwanted sexual behavior? According to a study done by the Journal of Sexual Medicine, up to 60% of individuals seeking treatment for problematic porn usage also reported symptoms of ADHD, especially for men.
So what does this mean? It means ADHD and porn go together. They're closely connected, especially for men. And I'm no exception. I've struggled with ADHD since I was a little boy. When I was eight years old, I would bang my head against the wall because I wanted to obey my parents so badly but couldn't remember what they told me. I had so much trouble getting distracted.
The following year, they took me to a psychologist who diagnosed me with ADHD. I bawled my eyes out and they put me on medication for the next four years. As I got older, people felt like they couldn't depend on me because distractions dominated my life, even into high school and college.
Thankfully, my story didn't end there. Since then, I've been able to achieve so much more than I thought possible. Not only have I had more than five years of freedom from all unwanted sexual behavior, I've been able to publish my own book, Redeemed Sexuality. And the biggest achievement was starting this business, Husband Material, to help men outgrow porn.
This has created both an impact on the Kingdom of God and income for my family — supporting my dreams and supporting the people I care about. Starting this business has required more discipline than anything else I’ve ever done. So if you’ve ever struggled with ADHD and you want to hear how I went from distracted to disciplined, this blog post is for you.
How did this all happen? It started with getting inspired. When I was a kid, my parents tried to motivate me to do my chores, be more organized, be more disciplined and be more focused. ‘Just focus,’ they told me. It never worked. My elementary school teachers tried, too. They gave me an agenda, and in the calendar I literally wrote one letter in each little box. It said, “I will never use this.” Anything that felt like structure, rigidity or rules just seemed constrictive, oppressive and restrictive. I wanted nothing to do with it.
Even when I got older, my friends couldn't depend on me because they knew how easily I would get distracted. They couldn't count on me to be on time. Being focused just wasn’t important enough to be a priority in my life. I still didn't feel inspired. I mean, sure, I wanted to be more reliable. I wanted people to feel like they could count on me. I wanted to achieve more in life, but not enough to actually get a calendar and make task lists. That just seemed like a horrible, gross, disgusting way to live my life.
Until I read a book called Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt. I have no relationship with Michael Hyatt and I don't make any money by promoting his stuff, but it did change my life. Free to Focus is a total productivity system to achieve more by doing less. When I read the book, I was like, “that's what I want.” I want to achieve more. I have dreams I want to pursue. And I want to work smarter, not harder.
Free to Focus was the key because it inspired me. That's what got me started on this journey of productivity, and the result was incredible. The book, though, was not enough. Information alone can't transform us. What I needed was a system.
If step one to defeating ADHD is getting inspired, step two is getting a system. You need to get a system because inspiration alone is useless and information alone is powerless to change us. Only implementation leads to the results we want, and implementation is the hard part. When you have a system you're not trying to just work it out through trial and error, you're following something proven and solid. For me, the system that has helped the most is Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. He not only gives us a vision with inspiration and information on how to change, he gives us a system for implementation.
For me, the Full Focus Planner always works. It helps me ask myself, “what do I want to hold onto that's working and what do I want to let go of that's not working?” I wonder what kind of system you will need.
One of my first systems for increasing productivity was using Post-it Notes to write a daily to-do list. At the end of the day, I would crumble up the Post-it Note and put it in the trash. Eventually, my trash was full of these crumpled up pieces of paper. It was a system that I created on my own and it was working okay, but it wasn't great. I also tried a gamified productivity system called Habitica. It's basically a video game in which you get magical items and rise to new levels by achieving goals in your real life. That was good for me because video games motivated me, but the foundational tool I've had the greatest success with is the Full Focus Planner.
It took me three and a half years to write my book, but I feel like it would have taken me one year, maybe two as the most, if I had used this planner. My point is this: you don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to productivity, focus, determination and discipline. Find a system that works for you.
Once you’ve found your inspiration and you’ve committed to a system, it’s time to get into a routine. A morning ritual can be especially important. I emphasize this for all my individual clients because the way you start your day sets the tone.
Here's what my morning ritual looks like.
On an average day, it starts with reading the Bible. I'll usually begin with a prayer that goes something like this: “Spirit of God, use the word of God to do the work of God in me.” The specific words don't matter as much as the fact that I'm opening myself to the voice of the One who loves me, that I'm connecting with my Father, who says “You are my beloved son, in you I'm well pleased.” This sets the tone for everything else that I do this day. Everything else revolves around the reality that I am loved and secure, that I have this intimate connection with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For me, that's a non-negotiable. That is what begins my day on the right foot.
The other most important part of my routine is regular exercise.
For me, this usually involves running, but it can also mean swimming in the ocean or going for a hike up a mountain with a friend. Sometimes, I like to play ultimate Frisbee. The whole point is to provide a release for myself mentally, emotionally and physically. I get to reset so that when I come back to work or come home to my family, I'm able to be the unique man God created me to be. I'm coming back to the life he created me to live. And that's what defeating distraction is all about.
Even when you have a great routine, though, you still get distracted sometimes. What can you do in those moments? You have to get some guardrails in place that you can implement immediately when you feel yourself beginning to drift.
My favorite guardrail is deep belly breathing. This kind of breathing doesn't happen in your high chest area. It's closer to your belly button. Its job is to flood your brain with oxygen, providing a jolt to your prefrontal cortex, which is the center of moral decision making and impulse control. It calms you down when you're agitated and it wakes you up when you're apathetic or zoned out. It gives you a few seconds of clarity and feeling like you're in your right mind, which allows you to make a decision that aligns with your values in the context of freedom from porn. Maybe it's just enough control to let you call a friend. Maybe it's just enough control to take out your journal and start writing. Maybe it's just enough control to open up your Bible and read the Word, or to go through some of the healing exercises you've been practicing.
Your guardrails, your routines, your systems, and your inspiration are all part of the tool belt that will take you into greater productivity, full focus, defeating distraction, pursuing dreams, and deep freedom from porn. It’s the life God desires for you.
If you want more teaching from me on this, I'm providing an extensive free training for everyone who's reading this blog post. It's called Free From Day One. This training will give you a detailed explanation of the exact assignments I give my private individual clients in the Husband Material coaching program to help them get free from day one. Many of my clients have been able to achieve incredible results and freedom from porn because this system allows them to pursue exactly what God created them to do. You can get access to this training at the link below.
Always remember my friend: You are God's beloved son. In you, He is well pleased.