How many times do you find yourself being pulled away from your goals because you got distracted? What is that about? I have been observing my own patterns of behaviour and the patterns of others as well. Here’s what I discovered. The reasons we allow ourselves to become distracted, typically come down to fear, avoidance or distorted focus.
I have been paying special attention to this lately, as ironically I started to write this blog post back in December. Yes, I’ve had a few projects on my plate, but if I’m being honest, my reason has probably been more of distorted focus. What does that mean? Well, it means that although my intention was to complete this article, my focus was only partially there to do so. You’re probably asking, well just write it, how is that so difficult? Great question? I asked myself what was holding me back from finishing this article and what I realized was I wasn’t holding myself accountable to complete it and taking this one step further, it suddenly donned on me that I had not actually set a date to complete it!!
Okay, okay, I can hear you all now -whoooa! Yes, I am standing in that truth at this moment, understanding that for the entire year of 2016, I had time blocked off in my schedule every two weeks to write my blog posts. So, no matter what I had going on, I would write an article every two weeks (give or take) and post it. Guess what, I am doing right after I write this article? Yes, I’m going to add this into my calendar to be complete by the first week of April.
So what really happened?? I was suffering from distorted focus. I assumed that because I was in the habit of writing a blog post every two weeks all last year that this habit would continue. It didn’t and it won’t. Why not you ask? If we do not schedule it, the habit, the goal and focus will quickly fade away, until it becomes a distant memory or another thing that you ‘want to get back to doing some day’.
Here’s an example. Exercising… I can hear the groans now. How often do we get into routine with exercise or going to the gym, then after a short time, the habit diminishes and we stop exercising. We need some form of accountability or installation of a habit. For instance, I love long distance running. I’m not an elite runner by any stretch, but I use running as a form of meditation and self-care. I enjoy it. Running allows me to get outdoors for an hour or two, to clear my mind or to get refocused. Getting back to my point about accountability, one of the reasons that I sign-up for races each year, is so that I keep running as part of my routine and continue to train. It’s also great for my health, not just physical, but my mental health as well.
Accountability comes in many forms. I have a business coach who helps me stay on track with my business and a running coach to help me stay on track with my personal fitness. That said, I still need to do my part in that process.
As you know, it’s really easy to get off track, beat ourselves up and throw in the towel! However, that won’t serve you, those around you, your business or your career. The key is to understand what drives you. It is different for everyone, for example not everyone is motivated by money. We all need money, but some people are more driven when there is another type of reward, such as recognition from others or the incredible satisfaction in being able to say, “Mission Accomplished!” Whatever it is, figure it out and use it.
For me, I really like to know that I completed a task and honestly, so I can say, “Mission Accomplished” or “Check it off the list!” Yes, it’s true. That said, we often need something to kick it off and I’ve found these 3 simple steps help me the most, to hold myself accountable or to get back in the game when I’m off track:
- Write down what you want to accomplish and why. Why? While this seems like a lot of work for every task, when you consider what you want to accomplish and all of the benefits to doing it, holding yourself accountable actually becomes 10 times easier because you know full well what you’ll get out of completing the goal or task itself. It’s also a way to check-in as to how important the goal or task actually is. If you cannot come up with at least 3 benefits to doing the task, you may decide that it can wait –wow, talk about a time-saver!!
- Set a date for when you wish to accomplish each task or goal (even if it’s today or tomorrow). When you write down every task or goal you want to accomplish, nothing will stand in your way because it’s that important to you. I would also suggest writing it right into your agenda or electronic calendar. No to-do lists floating around or getting lost. Put what you want to accomplish into your calendar so it’s in front of you all day, every day and you’re more likely to make them a priority too!
- Celebrate each success along the way, great or small. It will help you keep up the momentum and help drive motivation even when times get tough! I mean it, treat yourself to something nice, like a mid-day walk, pick up a bottle of wine or go out for lunch or dinner with a friend or your spouse. Celebrating your success is as important as achieving it!
Seriously, try these 3 simple steps and you will be amazed at just how much you can accomplish. Your whole mindset will change and you will see your path much more clearly. You’ll also realize just how distorted your focus gets when you’re wearing so many hats and trying to juggle so many tasks. All that pressure you feel, is most often placed on yourself, BY YOU! Nobody else would put that kind of pressure on you.
Now when and how do I find time to do this you ask? Well, imagine if you were to give yourself 10 minutes a day to get clear, get back to center and get focused, what would happen? Yeah right Heather! Where am I going to get 10 minutes a day?? I know you just said that. Well, do you know that we have 65,000 to 85,000 thoughts flowing through our minds each and every day? Wow, that’s a lot of ideas, thoughts and a lot of the time, negative thoughts cluttering our minds, taking us off track AND… you just had one of those thoughts roll through your mind when I asked you to take just 10 measly minutes to yourself. Did the thoughts sound something like; “I can’t take time for myself, I have a job to do!” Or… “Are you kidding me, I have a business to run!” “Really, 10 minutes? What will that do for me?” Okay, deep breath and how about I ask you again…
What would happen if you took just 10 minutes each day to breathe deeply, reflect and visualize what you want and how you will get it? I’m sharing this with you because it works. Whenever I feel myself going off track, I take a cup of ginger tea, block off 10 minutes a day –get my pen and I sit and go through those 3 steps. Suddenly, my distorted focus starts to dissipate and instead, what I need to focus on and do next becomes clear. Test it out, in a very short time, you will know exactly what you want and you will start making values-based decisions… in life and in business. It’s giving yourself permission to reflect, breathe and get clear -you deserve 10 minutes!
“If you want to reach a goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Heather Wilson, ATC
Founder of Spark Your Vitality
Customized Coaching and Training Solutions
Igniting your personal growth and a new perspective!