It is easy enough in the new year, or at the start of any new season of life, to set goals. This year, I’m going to ____. Some goals are more specific than others, some more realistic or meaningful than others. But for many of us, the problem does not come with setting a goal, but with focusing on and achieving a goal.
The power of distraction
The world is full of distractions. Social media. Television. More projects at work. Feelings of frustration, anger, or jealousy. Feelings of joy and excitement can be distractions too! Focus allows us to ignore or reject the less-important things around us in order to achieve the things that we have decided in advance are actually more important. You may want to spend quality time with your kids, but what about the days when you come home tired, frustrated, the TV is inviting, and the kids are whining anyway? You may want to get healthier in the new year, but doughnuts are very tempting, and your brain keeps reminding you how cranky you get when you’re hungry… Focus helps us pick apart the “right in front of me” from the “actually important to me.”
Tips and strategies
It requires work to stay focused on a goal. Sometimes hard work. We must do things on purpose and stop life from just passing us by. Here are five tips for staying focused on the goals you have in your life:
- Identify why this goal is most important. Why this goal? How will this impact your life? Who will notice that things are different? What are you excited about with this goal?
- Create a visual reminder. Track your actions that focus on the goal. Find a picture that reminds you what you’re working toward. Write down your list of goals to review daily.
- Tell someone, so you have accountability. Who will notice if you are getting off-track from your goal? How can they remind you and encourage you to stay on track?
- Get rid of distractions. Delete social media apps from your phone. Do your work in the office instead of in front of the TV. Eat a snack on the way home so you aren’t cranky when your kids want to play.
- Schedule time or specific activities that will help you achieve the goal. Put it in your calendar. Set aside a day or an hour for the goal you’re working on. Make it a priority in your schedule and don’t allow other things to interrupt it.