If it seems Life distracts you from your goals every chance it gets, congratulations, your perception is spot on!
Everything from work to family to your love life seems strategically engineered to keep you from achieving the Nirvana of goal completion.
Having the opportunity to focus totally on a goal and move toward it is a blessing beyond measure, and a rarity.
For most of us, reaching a goal is a game of hopscotch, not a sprint. With all the jumps and delays of our hectic, demanding lives, how do we not only keep sight of goals, but avoid losing interest in them?
1. Realize That Goals Are Not Fixed Points
Goals are not immutable. As a matter of fact, they should change as we change, and grow as we grow.
Nothing else in our lives – despite how we might hope – is static, so there’s very little logic in holding a goal to such an unrealistic standard.
Allowing your goals to evolve and grow makes them vibrant and resilient.
Mutability keeps a goal an organic part of your life, rather than a flag set in concrete that you have to run headlong toward.
2. Stay On Top
No matter the goal, parts of its surrounding components will become obsolete. One way to stay focused on a goal is to continually educate yourself about it.
For some goals, study is mandatory, such as for law or the sciences. But what if the goal is weight loss?
Perhaps study up on metabolism and basic physiology rather than slog through the thousands of “revolutionary” diets offered. The more familiar you are with what’s under your “chassis,” the better a mechanic you’ll be when it comes time to service it.
Other goals might require you to know who’s who in a chosen field; what weather patters are like in certain regions (travel goals); which plants supplement each other and when best to plant them (permaculture); or even something as personal and basic as how you react to stress (interpersonal relations).
Knowing what you need to know about how to reach your goal gives you an internal sense of when you might reach that goal, which keeps a goal grounded and fresh in the mind.
3. Visualize The Reward
With any goal, there’s a concurrent goal. If the goal is to become a widely-read novelist, having the financial wherewithal and time to effectively devote yourself to writing runs concurrently with said goal.
Visualizing the concurrent part helps a goal from becoming a questionable, unpleasant task.
If (again, as example) weight loss is a goal, don’t try to see yourself slimmer. See yourself spending less time getting dressed for work or fun outings without wondering whether something fits.
Even a small goal such as tidying up a yard benefits from visualization. Don’t see tidying as “Well, I’ll have finally done it.” See it as getting to relax in a lovely, clean outdoor space all your own.
We have a need to see that there’s a reason for all the work we do. What better reason than improving conditions for y-o-u?
4. Avoid Goal Hopping
In a lot of instances, we lose focus of our goals because of a setback. At times, these setbacks are so discouraging that we immediately drop one goal and set our sights on another.
The problem here is that never achieving a goal becomes the goal.
We can get comfortable calling this hopping “movement,” when “avoidance” is its true name.
Focus on a goal by knowing that it will test you, and you’ll be found lacking more than you’re likely comfortable with, but that’s OK. A goal doesn’t require perfection from you, it requires persistence.
So the next time you hear that little inner voice saying you didn’t want to do that anyway and prodding you to hop away, answer it simply and firmly, “Yes, I did.”
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5. Define The Goal
This may seem evident, but how many of us say we have a goal in mind when really all we have is a vague sense of something we’d like to happen? My hand certainly goes up on that one.
Defining a goal takes research, takes honest self-reflection, and takes time. Time is crucial.
If we don’t permit ourselves the grace of enough time to get to know a goal, we relegate our status with that goal to one of failed relationship.
6. Captain’s Log
Journaling may seem like an odd word from a bygone era, but when it comes to accountability toward one’s goal, it’s hard to beat this tried-and-true tactic.
Keeping a journal of effort, progress, and setbacks overcome lends a goal a sense of epic-ness, and who wouldn’t want to consider a goal reached an epic, wonderful thing worthy of reflection and song?
It doesn’t even have to be a daily journal, but it should be a regular journal: the purpose is to provide a steady narrative to your efforts, which nods toward your being steady in your real-world efforts. Accountability, accountability, accountability!
It can be a staid, just-the-facts accounting; it can be a fun one. That’s entirely up to your sensibilities. But to be a motivator, it must be truthful and regular.
7. Take Breaks
Focus is great. Focus to the exclusion of all else is not great, it’s disastrous in so many ways and an entire self-help book would merely be scratching the surface.
Step away from “the goal” to have fun, to branch out, to engage mental and emotional muscles, or simply to heave a huge sigh of relaxation.
There’s a difference between a goal and an obsession. Short version: goals don’t get you dumped by your lover; obsessions do.
8. Give Yourself A Soundtrack
Music motivates. Period. I don’t care what your goal is, I guarantee there’s music to support it.
Find this music. Make a playlist.
When you feel your focus waning or events conspire to shake it, break out your Playlist O’ Inspiration.
Jam to this playlist. Air-guitar like a god to this playlist. Then regroup your efforts, refocus, and set your goal back on its appointed way.
Need a little inspiration to get you started? Check out these songs.
9. Be Real
Focusing on a goal isn’t a huge task when we actually know what that goal is.
Clarity is a wonderful thing in all aspects of life, and when we know what our goals are, the benefits of achieving them, and why we want or need said benefits in the first place, goals cease being goals and are, instead, our everyday way of life, which alleviates tons of pressure.
I’d say most of us have quite enough pressure to manage.
So if your goal is to do all the things, by all means do so… provided you remember you must focus on them one by one.