How To Remain Focused on Your Goals in 2020
STAY FOCUSED: LEMONADE
From grandmothers to teachers and even as far as the Queen herself (Beyonce obviously), everybody seems keen on turning lemons into lemonade. Now from a culinary perspective (with a few more key ingredients), that’s all good and well, but what happens when we’re talking about real life?
How do we stay focused on our life goals when life keeps throwing things at us?
We’re only 5 months into 2020 and it already feels like we’ve been tip-toeing across a minefield. It has been one distracting catastrophe after another and everything is screaming for our attention.
How then do we stay healthy, stay productive and stay focused on “life after a disaster” in the here and now? Turning lemons into lemonade takes considerable effort but with the right tools and the proper strategy, there isn’t anything that is out of your reach.
One of the biggest hindrances to productivity and focus is the inability to be honest with ourselves. We lie to ourselves all the time. We say things like ‘it’s not that bad’, ‘I have more time’, ‘it’s not that difficult’ or the most popular lie, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. The truth is often a less consistent version. It sometimes isn’t that bad but the longer we wait to get it done, the worse it becomes. Despite that, the lie remains the same until it’s escalated to painful points and we find ourselves doing damage control.
My advice? Get real. Get real with yourself about where you’re at, what you can do, what your weaknesses are, and the strengths that you have. Tune out what you think you should be able to do and where you think you should be at. Getting real requires kicking ‘should’ to the curb and acknowledging reality. Only then will you have enough clarity to move forward.
Having a routine to follow has worked tremendously well for many of us. If you want to pencil out the time slots and create a time budget that you’ll go by daily, and then go for it. If you simply need to organize your ‘To-do list’ in order of priority and tackle each task in the order they appear at your own pace throughout the day then do that. If you need supervision or accountability, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Some of us have an easier time being accountable to others than we do being accountable to ourselves. Don’t be ashamed; be real. When you’re real, you can create a real routine that best reflects who you are. A routine won’t work unless it is made for the real you.
We touched on this a little before but let’s go just a bit deeper. Whether you create a routine for yourself or not, making your goals and priorities known to a trusted friend, colleague, confidant or family member who has your best interest at heart, can go a long way into ensuring your success. If you have trouble staying focused when things aren’t going your way, or in times of crisis, then having someone who can be objective step in and help can go a very long way.
The most difficult part of being accountable to someone else is choosing that person or those persons and laying ego down when we’re corrected or called out. Still, if you’re able to tap into the power of accountability, then you find that you will learn to trust yourself more, and that too goes a very long way to increase productivity.
This is real on so many levels. Sleep is useful for many different reasons but where focus and productivity are concerned, sleep reigns supreme. The brain needs to rest and so does the rest of your body. When we are exhausted, all our emotions are either dulled or heightened, and neither of those states is great for getting anything done. Fatigue can lead to irritability, anger, sadness, guilt, negative thoughts and a barrage of other unhelpful states of mind.
When you’ve gotten sufficient rest, then you have more energy as well as a clearer mind through which to strain your ideas. When things go sideways, it’s often hard to see anything other than the giant turd spinning on the blades of the fan. Sleep can help with that. Sometimes all our subconscious mind needs to solve our problems is that stillness and silence that comes with good, deep sleep.
WRITE THEM OUT
The mind is a beautiful and powerful thing. It can process several things even without us realizing that we are. Because there’s so much going on upstairs, it’s easy for things to get lost or forgotten in the jumble of things we need to process. One way to help remember what to do, especially when there are so many other things going on, is to write them down. Having our goals written out and staring right back at us helps to keep them at the forefront of our minds. This way, even in the difficult times, and the stressful times or even those exciting times when our focus is divided, we can be reminded that there is something important that we’ll need to get back to if we write those things down.
I’ve talked about tracking in a few of my other success blogs and that because it really works! Tracking appeals to our need to be better, to do better and to be and do more. It’s a tangible way to maintain some healthy competition with yourself and to measure your growth and progress. When you begin to track activities, don’t be mad if you’re terrible at the intended goal for days in a row. Honest tracking is meant to hold the mirror up to your face and then hold your hand and guide us in the direction of our goals. After a few days or weeks or even months of tracking, we become stronger not just at completing tasks, but also at bouncing back when we mess up.
For a few ideas on how to effectively track, check out my previous blog posts here and here.
This is a big one. We live in a time where there are so many vibrations (and I’m not even talking about energies right now). Everything beeps or vibrates in an effort to get out attention. Distractions are everywhere and they can be as generic as an affinity to our mobile devices and or social media or as complex as another competing goal. Yes, we often forget that the need to be productive can also be a distraction.
When we’re busy juggling too many things, our minds have a very hard time keeping still and remaining focused on just one task because everything is so urgent. The sad reality of that is when everything is urgent then nothing is urgent and this can often daze us and steer us down a counterproductive path of inactivity. If you’ve ever had so much to do that you wind up doing nothing then you know exactly what I mean! Establishing priority-based to-do lists and routines can help with this. By carving out reasonable blocks of time to focus on activities, we may find ourselves less distracted and better able to get things done.
As for those devices, get creative about taking your time back. If you MUST get a social media fix, schedule it into your routine. Remember, we’re being real with ourselves here. If you feel incomplete if you don’t scroll through Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook or whatever it is that holds your interest, drop it into your time bank. You could have those binges be rewards for getting a task done. Note that for you to be your most productive, the reward should not be equal to or exceed the amount of time spent on the task. Otherwise, you’re simply wasting time.
EVALUATE YOUR EXPERIENCES
John Maxwell, Leadership guru (extraordinaire) says that experience is NOT the best teacher. I know right? How dare he? Hang on. He wasn’t done. What our friend John really said was “Experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is.”
I’ve found this to be very true. Going through experiences means nothing if we don’t evaluate them, because, without evaluation, you would have missed the lesson. If you’ve ever found yourself going in circles and trying to solve the same issue repeatedly, perhaps it may be time to hit pause and evaluate your days. What decisions are you making daily? What emotion fuels these decisions? Is there anything you could do differently to yield a different result? Is there someone else I can ask who isn’t too close to this, for a fresh opinion and a new perspective?
Evaluation is a great teacher; John would say the best. Evaluate your days. What are the lemons that you’re picking up and how are you squeezing them? Do you peel and then squeeze or do you simply toss it into a juice extractor? Could you benefit from a minor or major adjustment? What is the taste of your lemonade?
In a world full of things holding us in place and distractions from inside and outside ourselves, it is important that we establish a game plan for success. These are of course just a few suggestions and are in no way an exhaustive list. But consider these things as you go forward and turn those lemons of life into lemonade.
To The Future You!
"Success isn't just about what you accomplish in your life; it's about what you inspire others to do."