Developing Purposeful Focus to Achieve Your Goals

Holly Becket

Holly Beckett is a Nuffield scholar, who recently spoke at the women in dairy conference. Our team where very impressed, and asked her to write a piece for the newsletter. Holly can be contacted on
07815 917 352 Or visit her web site :

Developing Purposeful Focus to Achieve Your Goals…with Less Stress!

When I first met psychologist Willie Horton during my Nuffield scholarship, he professed that you could learn to achieve your goals – effortlessly! It was a big and bold statement and at that time I didn’t believe him and couldn’t believe him…because my belief was that to achieve anything worthwhile in life, it took effort – which inherently involved a degree of stress.  But the results he had achieved working with CEOs of large multi nationals seemed so impressive that I was keen to understand more and explore his research further.

The first step in stress management is learning what stress is and how it arises. When you understand the damage that stress does to the physical body and your mental state – it is quite a motivation to learn how to reduce it and if possible – eliminate it all together.

In evolutionary terms, the stress response developed to save our lives – the fight or flight response to a startling situation meant that our body geared up physically to be able to stand and fight the situation or quickly run away. The immune system and digestive system in our bodies are a waste of energy for such times and so they shut down and we certainly do not need to think clearly about anything – our brain pathways close down to just deal with the immediate situation  – you don’t think logically or strategically of how best to manage the problem when you are face to face with a man-eating tiger!

And the story gets worse – we are wired to not really pay attention to everyday, small things that are going on around us due to the brain saving its attentional spotlight for things that startled us or posed a threat – have you ever been accused of not paying attention? Not really hearing what your loved one or colleague is saying to you?

What we often listen to is the 70,000 thoughts that pass through our mind each day – passing away the time – whilst we’re not fully paying attention to our surroundings.

It is these thoughts which cause us stress. Thinking about things that might happen, often thinking the worst of a situation. What if the milk price drops, what if the black grass gets worse, what if we have another bad winter, another summer of drought…These thoughts are not reality, but our mind cannot tell the difference and often through this allowance of constant mind-chatter, the stress response in the body is also triggered.

In the 21st century, without predators threatening our lives, this wiring of our brains does not now serve us well – but – the good news is that it is your choice to be stressed and therefore…. you can do something about it!

Recent developments in neuroscience (looking at the brain) have discovered that we can exercise to build the muscles in our brains, whatever age we are and mental training can build memory, concentration, focus, creativity and reduce stress.  The body of scientific evidence is wide and expanding to support that the development of mindfulness, achieved by certain forms of meditation, results in an improvement in state of mind, protecting mental wellness and makes changes exceedingly quickly when a regular practice is undertaken.

“Meditation turns on areas of the brain that in an average adult are underutilised and this can lead to greater success in all that we do in our lives.  But to experience success in life, we must set ourselves goals.”

Through 2017 and 2018, 29 people from the ag-sector took part in a pilot study to measure the effects of a programme which couples mindfulness with goal setting and has seen remarkable results from the 25 participants that completed the programme, including; a 27% increase in self-discipline, 22% increase in purposeful focus and 20% decrease in stress.

Practicing meditation over the past couple of years and being encouraged by the positive results of the other participants in the study, I have come to redefine my beliefs and understand that you don’t need stress to achieve your goals – you need focus.  Developing focus and goal setting in a particular way to develop purposeful focus can mean the difference in you achieving your goals with accidents, high stress levels and fatigue along the way OR achieving your goals without half killing yourself.

To learn more about how you can manage your mind and reduce the risk of your mind mis-managing you, visit and sign up for a free video series on how to develop purposeful focus.