Most people would agree that having goals is a good thing. Goals provide a sense of direction in life and without that, it can feel quite meaningless. Goals also tend to relate to self-improvement or enhanced circumstances, so they should be positive. You could be forgiven for thinking it would be easy to stay focused on your goals… yet all too often it turns out not to be. Why is that?
We, humans, are complex creatures and can be quite changeable, so remaining focused is at times a challenge. Our capacity for wandering attention is also pretty high, and since this busy digital era constantly pulls our attention in different directions, once exciting goals can eventually fall by the wayside. Fortunately, there are ways to remedy this issue.
If you’ve been struggling to stay focused on your goals, here are our top tips for keeping your eye on the ball:
Getting caught up in the daily trivialities and being distracted by life’s ups and downs… these are realities for us all. Such details can keep us fixed in the present moment, and while being present is no bad thing, realizing goals requires some projection here and there. The goal is waiting in the future, and if you don’t give it any attention, it may never come to fruition.
Make a habit of looking at the bigger picture and imagining life as it will be once this goal is achieved. That keeps the excitement alive and reminds you to take appropriate and timely actions. A great way of staying focused on your goals is to create a vision board and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day. This is a visual representation of your goals, so it helps you to keep them alive in your mind.
Our emotional and mental states could be likened to a river. They shift and change endlessly, and are subject to external weather and obstacles. Sometimes we just wake up feeling below par without obvious cause. As perception colors our attitude and motivation - for better or worse - it helps to remember this.
Emotions are incredibly convincing, so one day you might feel full of life, brimming with confidence and ready to go after your goals. On another day, you may feel flat as a pancake and unable to visualize yourself ever reaching this apparent Holy Grail of a goal. Perception can be influenced by many aspects of life, from current circumstances, past experiences and education to familial values, peer viewpoints or culture.
No matter the intensity of influences, ultimately perception is a construct that you are in control of – even if it doesn’t feel like it! Reframing negative thoughts can help; try not to allow your thoughts to go on a downward spiral when you’re having a bad day… but if you can’t manage it, don’t focus on your goals that day. Wait until you’re ready to view them in a more positive light, rather than risking diminishing your motivation.
When doubts or fickle moods creep in, we might need to give ourselves a pep talk. If the horizon looks cloudy and goals are disappearing from view, it’s time for a review. What were you thinking at the time you set that goal? Has anything changed since then? If so, is it really an obstacle, or is it a matter of perception?
Sometimes revisiting the state you were in when you decided upon a goal is the best way to stay focused on that goal. The chances are you envisaged yourself happy and proud when you thought about realizing it. That feeling is motivating, so a simple trip down memory lane could be all you need.
What was it that set your heart on this goal originally? It doesn’t matter whether the motivation was financial, or related to personal growth or freedom, for example. Simply revisiting the initial feelings and intentions can spark off fresh motivation and actions. Again, your vision board will help with that!
Take it from self-help author Napoleon Hill, who said that whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Aside from genuine physical limitations, this is true. When you have never even tried something before, it’s easy to imagine that you can’t do it. Is there evidence to support that though? Perhaps not - the only way to find out what you’re capable of is to try your hand at it.
However, don’t try to run before you can walk. Some goals require patience and persistence, and rushing to the finish line may even diminish the glory. Similarly, the dogged pursuit of unattainable goals is not a great use of your time and won’t do much for your self-confidence.
It’s probably wise to set goals and action plans that are well considered, born of integrity, in your best interests and within your physical capabilities. For instance, you might want to be a hundred-meter medalist… but do you know why you want that and whether it’s truly achievable? Either way, the only realistic approach to such a goal is dedication, effort and persistence.
By resources, we mainly mean your time, energy and money. The more you invest into a goal in terms of planning, the more likely you are to stick with it. Planning takes time and energy, and some might say that time is money! Some goals require leaps of faith to achieve, and that could mean making a financial investment; perhaps you’ll splash out on a course, lessons, books or equipment. It could be as simple as investing in some fantastic motivational apparel so that you’re motivated to get into the gym each morning.
No matter how big or small your goal, the more you invest in it, the more inclination you’ll have to achieve it. When something is free or too easy to achieve, we perceive it as having less value. Ultimately, you assign value by your actions… so to stay focused on your goals, make an investment. For self- improvement watch out XOH!DNAIR blogs.
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