ecently a young YouTuber James Scholz became viral because of his 12-hour focused study with me sessions that he's been streaming for a year.
A lot of people had asked him how could he build such focus and consistency for so long. Many write articles claiming they know how to be productive and successful however there is little proof to their words.
James on the other hand, first showed what he's capable of and then shared his secrets to such productivity.
In this article, I analyze and expand on the topics that resonated with me. I was a procrastinator and after many years I figured out what you have to focus on to make your life productive and meaningful.
I wish someone explained it to me 10 or even 15 years ago when I studied and was at the beginning of my adult life. Anyway, you are lucky to find this article or the video from James.
Let's get to the points and discuss how each one of them is an essential part of your self-growth.
# 6 parts of focused and productive life
James says, emotionally, that it took him 19 years to figure out the secret components of productive life. It's 9-10 years earlier than I did. I wish he knew how lucky he is, compared to many others.
His video helped me to structure my thoughts regarding things I understood intuitively but couldn't phrase consciously.
It's structured in a way that the next part is built on top of another. Without a proper understanding of the right mindset, it's hard to stay consistent in the long run. Without a proper goal or drive, it's hard to build habits. Without tracking progress it's hard to know where you have to improve or whether you grow or not.
Here are 6 essential parts of a conscious, meaningful, and productive life.
1. Growth mindset
2. Drive & Motivation
3. Build habits
4. Work deep and measure your progress
5. Push your limits
6. Don't forget mental and physical health
Once you go through each step, you will learn the lessons and skills along the way that will become part of your identity. Shifting your mindset from fixed to growth, finding your true drive, building habits of deep work and personal development will become part of you.
Once you learn how to grow and succeed you can apply the same mindset and skills in different domains.
They say talented people are talented in everything. They are right, but also wrong. It's not about the talent, it's the secret recipe that you learn along the way.
The recipe will help you to get on back on track, recover from burnout and stop procrastination.
Let's dive into each part of the path where I can expand and share my experience.
# 1. Growth mindset
If someone believes they are special, they stop from improving and growing through effort. They rely on talent.
There are countless examples of how talented sportsmen did not succeed because they relied on the first success without further advancement.
On the other spectrum, some people think they are not creative, smart, or athletic. They fixed their mindset and place a ceiling on their [goals](https://www.maray.ai/posts/goal-system-notion) and success. They also don't make an effort.
Instead of focusing on growth, they focus on the obstacles and the current status.
You and I are different but we both can learn a skill or improve on something given enough effort and the right approach.
Naturals or talented people have an easier learning curve but they risk falling into the "I am special" trap.
People with a fixed mindset are focused on how they will be judged. **The growth mindset makes you think about what you can learn.**
I was in a trap of a fixed mindset for a long time. Early success trapped me in the "I am special" mindset that later led me to procrastination and life without goals and direction.
Eduardo Briceno in a TED talk explains what a growth mindset consists of.
First, **hard work and effort change the brain**. Neuroplasticity restructures the brain's neural network and adapts to new knowledge or skill.
Second, **deliberate practice and deep work strengthen your abilities** and convince you that you are in control of your growth.
Third, listen to your fixed mindset voice. **"If you hear** «**I can't do it**»**, add** «**yet**»**."**
A growth mindset is a foundation that everything else is built on. It's a compass that guides you and it's essential to success.
# 2. Drive & Motivation
James says that **motivation is unreliable**. It is indeed.
Often it betrays when you most need it. You are in the power of motivation and it decides whenever you feel like putting in effort or not.
The [midbrain's reward system](https://www.maray.ai/posts/motivation-reward-system-economy), which came with the ancient part of your brain, hasn't had time to evolve yet. The limbic system still thinks we live in ancient times and it has to define what's worth your attention and what's not.
Preserving energy and eating high calory food? Yes, please.
Doing hard work that will be beneficial in the future? Nope. There are too many threats to think long-term.
Relying on motivation means relying on the ancient part of the brain that doesn't know what's going on. That's why **it's essential to find the drive** that keeps you on track all the way.
# 3. Build habits
Habits make things easier.
Automation leads to less effort. Less effort means more benefit for a lower cost. **That means... motivation!**
Except... The hardest part is *building* the habits. That's very costly and very hard to build.
It takes discipline and consistency to make the structural changes in the brain. That's where the drive comes into play.
During difficult moments when your brain says "Are you sure you even need this?", your drive says yes and doesn't allow you to give up.
There'll be plenty of such moments. For instance, in [the valley of disappointment](https://www.maray.ai/posts/why-self-help-books-are-useless#toc-how-to-make-it-all-work).
The only single book you need is Atomic Habits by James Clear. You can also read how I set up an early [morning routine](https://www.maray.ai/posts/morning-ritual) despite being a late-night sleeper.
# 4. Work deep and measure your progress
Fully agree with James. It's essential to track your progress and [practice deliberately](https://www.maray.ai/posts/get-better-at-anything-the-beginners-guide-to-deliberate-practice).
12 hours of shallow work equal to 3 hours of focused work. **Deep work improves your knowledge, brings you insight, and makes your focus span larger.**
Focus requires resources and resources are expensive. That's why you get tired and unmotivated after a session of deep work.
The more you practice, though, the larger your span will become. The growth also widens your limits.
# 5. Push your limits
There are a lot of benefits to pushing yourself hard.
**Pushing limits is uncomfortable** as it challenges your well-being according to the limbic system.
Why risk resources to widen up your comfort zone if you are well enough to survive and reproduce?
The benefits, in the long run, are huge, though.
> Wider limits in studying can bring you faster results.
Wider limits in the comfort zone can make you focus on the essential only.
Wider limits in your mind mean originality.
A good rule is to widen your limits in areas that you struggle most with. For instance, I used to have a very low focus span and therefore distracted myself with non-essential things like social media and messengers.
To improve deep work I had to **deliberately push my focused work limits**. Just like in sports, the goal is to improve your result over time. It's hard at first, but the muscles get used to the stress. The level increases, just like in an RPG.
Now I can do several Pomodoro sessions without distraction. The more you practice the better you get at it.
# 6. Mental and physical health
Mental and physical health stand above all. Take one of them and the rest would not be of any use.
I don't know if I even should say anything else. Keep your head and body in a good shape and everything else will come. Given enough effort, of course.
Sleep is also one of the most important components of healthy mind and body. Simple breathing issues can lead to serious consequences such as headaches, brain fog and chronic fatigue.
# Final thoughts
I got many insights on the way he explained the path he took to become the person he wanted to be. It took him 19 years. It took me 28. It can take even longer.
But it doesn't matter. Yes, it is disheartening that nobody could explain it to me and I had to figure it out by myself. However, you learn better when you experience it.
You can sculpt your destiny as can everyone else. Many live with a fixed mindset and do not improve what they could otherwise. Internalize that you were wrong and be happy about it. Being wrong on your capabilities means there is some potential to fulfill, right?