how to succeed

4 Ways To Train Your Mind for Success

Your alarm goes off at 6 AM and immediately your to-do list flashes through your mind.  Before brushing your teeth you check your phone for important emails and updates.  While putting on your mascara your mind jumps ahead to your noon appointment.  At breakfast you rehearse what you are going to say, anticipate objections, and the entire meeting runs through your mind, over and over again. “It’s going to be a long day,” you think to yourself and it’s only 7:30 AM.  Sound familiar?

This kind of mental projection is time consuming, unproductive, and exhausting. But you can train yourself and your mind to be present, productive, and supportive with these four easy and effective Applied Meditation techniques.

1. Accept that thinking is inevitable:  Over thinking is not the cause of an unproductive mind, allowing yourself to be either distracted by your thoughts or run by them is the problem.

Fighting with your mind or feeling frustrated over your lack of concentration actually makes thinking worse and it is exhausting.

Accepting that the process of thinking is normal and natural is the first step in retraining your mind and your attention.  Acceptance is the first step in gaining control.

2. Train your mind with gentle repetition:  Lack of focus is a habit.  No matter what your personality type, genetic predisposition, or up-bringing you can re-train your mind with gentle and consistent repetition.

When you notice that your attention has wandered during a client meeting or phone call, take a quiet deep breath, and bring your attention back to your client or call.

This is a very powerful practice and you can do it throughout the day.  The more you notice or watch your mind when it wanders the more present and focused you become.

3. Dealing with Worry: Worry thoughts are deceptively distracting and draining. Worry takes you right out of the present moment and propels you into the future.

The present moment is where all of your power lies.  When you are consistently focused on future events you waste time, energy, and the feeling of powerlessness increases.

Instead, when you find that your attention has wandered towards a worry thought, ask yourself one of two questions: “Is that happening now?”  or “Do I need to think about that now?”

Unless it is something that needs your immediate attention, the answer is usually, “No, that is not happening now” or “No, I do not need to think about that right now.”  Repeat the question until you feel your attention settling back to the present moment.

This practice is also very useful if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with “to-do’s” on your mind.

4. Take three deep breaths, three times a day:   Deep conscious breathing takes focus and it is a wonderful way to train your mind to be present. If you need to, set your phone to alert you at 12 noon, 3 PM, and 7 PM to help remind you.

Your mind is your greatest ally. Use these steps to gain control of your attention and create a mental environment is productive, energetic, and successful… and you will be too.


Krista Magidson has been teaching people how to enrich their lives with guided meditation, visualization, relaxation, and mindfulness techniques since 2001. She is the author of three guided meditation CD’s including, “Guided Meditation for Relaxation and Inner Peace.”  Presently, she is the meditation instructor at the Redondo Beach Center for Spiritual Living, co-founder of Sanctuary of Peace Ministries, and co-chair for the Peace Makers Gathering and Unity Breakfast. She has been happily married since 1997 and is the mother of two children. To learn more visit:


23 Responses to 4 Ways To Train Your Mind for Success

  1. Being in the present requires enjoying what you are doing or finding purpose in it. 

    Preferably both. 

    If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, and feel that it’s a waste of your time, then it will be difficult to stay in the present no matter what.

    The key is to find the benefit in what you are doing, since it is unlikely you can force yourself to enjoy something that you’re not naturally inclined towards. If you can’t find the benefit, and you don’t enjoy it, then you need to question why you’re doing it in the first place.

    And your advice for dealing with worry is spot on. If it’s not happening right this moment, chances are you don’t need to dwell on it. That’s about as far from living in the present as you can get. Not to mention unproductive as hell.


  2. It is nice, especially the deep breath as a reminder for our task is excellent.

  3. It’s funny. The really important tasks are the ones where I have complete control over in my mind. The mindless tasks are the ones that I seem to be fixated on before they need to be done. 

    I do accept that it is inevitable, but I’m unsure as to how I can “prioritize” these thoughts in my mind. I could easily remove them from my head completely, but that takes conscious effort. Any interesting tricks you may have for suggestion, Krista?

    I like point four because you didn’t use say “meditate!” Sometimes I don’t want to sit down and consciously make the effort to meditate for a few minutes. There are times when I just need to slow down and take a few deep breaths, focusing only on that. Of course, that is a form of meditation, but it’s much quicker and gives you that much needed boost. 

  4. Great comment Trevor! It is very difficult to be present when you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. And those are great questions to ask yourself when you find that you are consistently doing something that you do not enjoy.  

    However, it’s been my experience that when I am present, I usually enjoy what I’m doing. In fact, whenever I find myself irritated or annoyed that is a cue that I am opposed to what is.  So I take a deep breath, quiet my mind, and center myself in the present moment. 

    But to your point, you shouldn’t try and force yourself or stay in an untenable situation if you have the option to leave it.  Just leave it mindfully 😉

  5. Hi Vincent, 
    Let me understand, are you saying that the meaningless tasks are the ones that cause you the most worry?

    If so,  my favorite trick is the one I already shared in the article, which is to ask yourself, “Is that happening now?” or “Do I need to think about that now.”  Those questions immediately re-prioritize your thoughts and help you to refocus on the moment. 

    Also, the underlying issue could be about time management.  That is, the meaningless tasks are worrisome because they take up too much of your time.  If that’s the case then I’d check out @Trevor’s comment below 😉

  6. Yes, that’s what I meant. I apologize if it was unclear.

    Even so, these mindless tasks are the ones that need to be dealt with now, but they’re tasks that I shouldn’t worry about due to the simplicity. So it is difficult to overcome these thoughts by asking if they are present because in fact they are.

    You have a point about time management though. All the little things add up and it ends up taking hours before you’re done with everything.

    “If you can’t find the benefit, and you don’t enjoy it, then you need to question why you’re doing it in the first place.” I really like what Trevor said here and it really gives me insight as to why I’m thinking the way I am. Thanks to both of you! :) 

  7. Hi Vincent,
    I left a comment a while ago, but now I don’t see it. So if I’m repeating myself I’m sorry.  Anyway, are you saying that you find the meaningless tasks the most worrisome?  If that’s the case then I’ve already given you my favorite tip which is to ask yourself, “Is that happening now?” or “Do I need to worry about that now?”  Both of these questions really help to re-prioritize the thoughts and will help you to refocus on the present moment.  

    Could it be that the underlying issue is about time management?  That is, the meaningless tasks are taking time away from the more enjoyable and important tasks that you have to do?  If that’s the case then I’d check out Trevor’s comment below 😉

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  9. Chris Akins says:


    All great suggestions for mind training.  I especially like your first point:  accept that thinking is inevitable.  I have had an active meditation practice for the past 4 years, and in the beginning the toughest thing to accept was that I could not calm my mind.  Through a lot of mentoring I learned to accept the thoughts cascading through my mind, peacefully acknowledge them, and allow them to drifty by without dwelling on them as if they were leave flowing down a gentle stream.  I teach this technique to clients on a regular basis.  This technique has really helped me to deepen my practice, and accept myself.


  10. Hi  Chris,
    I love the imagery of stream. Very peaceful indeed 😉
    Do find it difficult to let go of the thoughts that you’re attached too?  What techniques do you use then?

  11. Chris Akins says:

    Hi Krista,

    I do sometimes find it difficult to let go, especially when they are emotionally charged.

    There are a couple of techniques I have found useful for letting emotionally charged thoughts go:

    1. Take time out and breath. I am fond of a technique I learned a few years ago that is a 10 second time out, where you close my eyes and take deep breaths, and tell myself that right now, in this moment, I am totally safe and everything is ok. I’ve found this to be a good primer for deeper relaxation and meditation practices. I have a more detailed description on my blog. The title is “10 seconds to perfect balance” if you are interested in more info.

    2. Sometimes when I have a client come in to my office who is stressed I start him/her out with just standing up and shaking his body out, then have him take 3-4 deep breaths, and maybe stretch his arms out above his head. I’ll have the client repeat this until he/she feels more relaxed. Then I can go into the 10 second exercise above, or straight into a breathing meditation.

    3. Of course, I believe the best way to learn to release these kinds of thoughts is through a sustained, regular, meditation practice. Exercise and eating a healthy diet is also a big help.

    I hope this helps!

    I am enjoying this discussion.


  12. Something may be wrong with me- I often think about the fact that I’m thinking about something. I ask myself, “why are you thinking about that again?” Then I get preoccupied with that. That’s why your first point really hit a chord with me. I never really considered that it’s inevitable to think- I always just attack myself when I start thinking about a problem. I shall adopt this new mindset and see how it goes.

  13. These are all great suggestions Chris!

  14. Hi Rynessa,
    What you are describing happens to every one of my students and they too are often surprised when they realize that they don’t have to fight with the mind.  They don’t have to try and stop thinking.  They can just relax into what is….

  15. Jan says:

     That is absolutely true. Also by accepting that thinking is a normal thing, you can bring your thoughts back to the task at hand easier, using the gentle repetition technique.

  16. Baggio Wong says:

    Hey Krista, 

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    I was recently going over an old program – The 11 Forgotten Laws by Bob Proctor and Mary Morrissey – that was talking about something similar. In one of the lessons – The Law of Thinking – Bob and Mary also mention the importance in disciplining our thoughts – common as it is to discipline ourselves in athletics, science and similar disciplines, rare it is to find someone who has deliberate practiced thought discipline!
    I completely agree with your second point – that we have tendencies to get distracted easily. As you mentioned, it’s really important first of all just to NOTICE that we’re distracted at certain points in time and deliberately bring our focus back to the current task at hand. 

    Will implement this tip as part of my challenge of the week regime…thanks!!


  17. Sudipto says:

    Hi Krista,
    nice post with great information and I really enjoyed this post while reading and I really like the point of taking deep breath. I think this post really gonna help me and also a lots of other people. Thanks for sharing this post.

  18. I used to hyper focus on all of my problems whenever I had an issue in my life, it would be my only concern. Over the years I have trained myself to designate times that I think about things to organize my thoughts and I have learned to sort of turn my brian off to avoid stress and over thinking. Do work at specific times of the day, like I always do my homework and studying either in the morning before breakfast or at night when I get home from classes. I designate a few hours each day to where I can work and after those hours are done I need to put down what I am doing and relax. If I don’t force myself to stop working, that’s when I start to get stressed out and over think. Budget in relaxation time because it is something that is very important and cannot be overlooked! You’ll eventually train your mind to unwind at those times and you will be much more relaxed as a person. 

  19. Hi @401e4116a3a518f44bd7b74d5aa4df2d:disqus, I love your suggestions of scheduling time for thinking about specific issues!  That is a terrific way to make more time for yourself.  In fact, there are studies that show that having relaxation time makes you more productive and more creative at work and elsewhere. 

  20. Hello Sudipto, 
    Thank you for your kind words.  And yes, taking those deep breaths periodically throughout the day can be life changing.  Not only does it help with maintaining healthy blood pressure but breathing consciously helps to create space between your thoughts and your reactions.  Good luck!

  21. ilakiya says:

    Thanks Krista this method will help me .

  22. It really sounds familiar and I needed these techniques. I think I’m gonna do that breathing technique but what troubles me is that with all the things I need to accomplish for the day, there’s always something that disrupts my to do list. Is it okay to finish first the list or act on the disruptions as it happens?

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