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Losing Track of Time

March 31, 2023

When was the last time you lost track of time? What were you doing? Take a few minutes to jot this down. Exactly what activity were you doing the last time you lost track of time. 

The reason this is a helpful exercise is because that thing, the thing that took up so much of your headspace that the clock dropped out of awareness, is a very important thing for you to consider. Why? Because that thing successfully captivated your full attention.

Something clicked for you. You were engaged. You were vibing. You were connected to your true essence. Lots of fun ways to describe this state of mind. 

I want you to bring some awareness to that thing because there’s something there for you. Exactly what is there for you, now that is the beautiful, unfolding mystery. But it’s there, you guys. And as you learn about the things that captivate your attention, you’ll develop clarity around where you want to go/what you want to do, your true desires and dreams.

Here’s a re-frame for us to consider. What if “losing track of time” was more like “syncing up with time?” What if, during that space in which your conscious awareness of time was temporarily on the back burner, you were actually in more of an organic state, closer to the natural state of things, cyclical and flow-y (versus linear and categorical). 

We tend to think of time as something that we “have/don’t have” or something we need to control. What if instead of that grippy relationship with time, we started thinking about time as being a resource that is always on our side no matter what? It just is. That’s the nice thing about things like time and nature and the sun rising and setting and stuff. It just is. And we can either get all bent out of shape about how it doesn’t serve us, or we can vibe with it. 

Dr. Mihaly Cxikszentmihalyi, psychologist and co-founder of the field of positive psychology, traveled the world studying this experience of losing track of time. He calls this state “Flow,” a mental state during which one is so focused on their present activity that they lose track of time (and sometimes lose track of awareness of their surroundings). 

Today, many people refer to this as “hyperfocus,” and it is so totally a thing among many people with ADHD.

Years of clinical research has shown that Attention “Deficit”/Hyperactivity Disorder is actually not about a “deficit” of attention. In fact, most people with ADHD experience a surplus of attention. The “deficit” of ADHD is in the cognitive mechanism (based in the frontal lobe of the brain) which allows the individual to allocate, regulate, and sustain that attention to a given task at a given time. 

Today, I want you to bring awareness to a thing that captures your state of “hyperfocus,” and ask yourself:

Does this thing align with my values?

Does it get me closer to my goal(s)?

If it does, it could be a window into your deepest desires and dreams. Lean into it. Do more of it. Write it on a piece of paper and hang it on your bathroom mirror. Do whatever you need to do to hold it in your awareness. Then watch with gratitude for your wise self, as you find yourself doing more and more of it.