It’s 3:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I keep thinking about all of the projects, trips, and special events I have planned for the coming months. I’ve got to get an entire department at work reorganized, I have to plan for my upcoming trip to Colombia, and I need to get serious about watching my diet and getting back in shape. And somehow, in the middle of all this, I need to make time for my family and friends.
How am I going to get everything done??? Sigh…
It’s not uncommon to lose focus and feel overwhelmed by the myriad challenges facing us in life. We all go through it.
The key to overcoming a defeatist mentality and to conquering these challenges is to develop, and constantly redevelop, a laser like focus. Follow these ten steps to stay focused and achieve your goals.
1. Be Afraid!
Forget the “No Fear” slogan you’ve heard for years. Expecting anyone to have no fear is unreasonable and unrealistic. Fear is a natural part of our makeup and there is no escaping it. Sure you can use anger, recklessness, despair, or even apathy to mask your fear, but that doesn’t change the fact that the fear still exists somewhere inside you. Instead, just go with it. Allow yourself to fear and try to process what exactly it is that is causing you to be afraid.
In my case, I know I want to succeed at work, I want to travel the world, I want to be healthy and energetic, and I want to have strong relationships with the people I care most about. So, it makes sense that I would be afraid of failing on any of these counts. Now I just have to harness this fear and use it as fuel to reach my goals.
2. Eat Right!
Your body is the machinery that allows you to function in this world. You won’t have the energy and clarity of mind to maintain your focus over the long haul if you aren’t fueling your body properly. Want to stay focused longer? Try skipping the cheeseburger and greasy fries and go for a healthy salad instead. Over time, you’ll find that your mind seems cleaner and clearer. Your goals will feel much closer than they did before you started eating right.
3. Exercise Regularly!
Okay, so you’re eating right. Now what? Again, you’ve got to keep your body healthy if you want your mind functioning at it’s highest capacity. So many people in this world underachieve because they haven’t figured out that the couch is not your friend. Take time out at least three times a week to get in a good workout. Remember, focus comes through harmony between body, mind, and spirit.
4. Seek Inspiration!
It doesn’t really matter where your inspiration comes from. It could be music, literature, good company, Sunday service, a vision board. Find what works best for you. You just need something to excite the neurons in your brain into firing away. You can read some of my old blog posts here, here, and here for a small dose of inspiration.
5. Get Away!
Let’s face it – it can be tough to get a lot done when we’re surrounded by people. Distractions are everywhere and it can be extremely tough to focus when we’re surrounded by that sort of social pressure. You’ve got to find time away from everyone else so you can focus on you and be your most productive self.
6. Connect With Nature!
We are spiritual beings who must regularly recharge our spiritual batteries in order to function at peak performance. Whether you talk to God, meditate, or even develop a connection with your family pet, it is important to get beyond the constraints of the physical world around you. I like taking walks in parks or preserves with great views of the surrounding natural landscape. There is something liberating about taking in the breathtaking beauty of our natural environment.
7. Visualize Your Success!
Take a few minutes every day to think about what it is you want to accomplish that day. Visualize yourself reaching your goals and congratulate yourself on a job well done. It’s always easier doing something the second time around. Once you’ve successfully achieved a goal in your mind, the challenge will seem much less daunting when you actually get to it.
8. Share Your Goals!
Reach out to the people who really have your back and tell them all about what it is you wish to accomplish, why it’s important to you, and how you plan to reach your goal. Then, keep them regularly apprised of your progress as you work toward your goal. It’s important to have people in your corner who want you to succeed. It’s especially important to have people who will hold you accountable.
9. Break Down Big Goals!
Big goals can seem overwhelming and even impossible when we first set them. You can overcome the paralysis that comes from a big, intimidating goal by breaking down the goal into smaller, more manageable steps. If you have a broad or difficult goal you’re trying to achieve, you may want to start by setting a series of more easily attainable goals. For example, one of my goals this year is to get back in shape. I’m in the process of breaking this goal down into smaller goals including my target number of push ups and sit ups in 60 second intervals over the next three months. Simply increasing the number of push ups and sit ups I do is an easy way to get a good jump on my goal of getting back in shape.
10. Reward Yourself!
As you complete tasks, remember to reward yourself with something you love. If you love going to the movies, you may want to try reserving trips to the movies only for those weeks when you’ve stuck to your schedule and moved closer to your goals.
Oh and before I forget, if you want to stay mentally focused, you’ve got to get enough sleep. Did I mention it’s well past 3:00am? Goodnight!