Even in our downtime, for those who find such a thing, we manage to get completely distracted. We’re an online and extremely connected society. Everything serves the ‘now’ and information is everywhere. It’s hard not to get caught up in it. The trends, the news, the latest entertainment, even your next door neighbor’s personal status is in your face when you look at your phone or computer screen. So, when you have goals, it’s more difficult to stay focused.
Even if you’re not online or looking at your device, we lead busy lives. People are asking us about our lives or asking us to do things. Our minds are flooded with a to-do list that, at times, feels a mile long. We’re left with little time to process things because our schedules are full of responsibilities. How can we focus on making goals, much less keep them, when we’re constantly overwhelmed by… everything else?
Goals are good to have and any coach will encourage a coaching partner to create these goals. Sometimes they’re long term and involve many steps. In those moments, especially for the easily distracted or particularly overwhelmed, it’s good to have mini goals or short term goals. On a day of craziness, it’s best to lessen the load by prioritizing and letting go of the minor tasks. If we don’t have any goals, the day can feel pointless. We can be left feeling as if nothing were accomplished and that’s a defeated feeling no one wants. It’s important to have some sort of goals, even if they’re minor.
Imagine you have a goal to organize a room, but this particular day you have many appointments. You may want to lessen your load with a shortened list for the day. Since you have to drive all over and you won’t be home much, you could make your organizing goal a small step. Imagine you tell yourself that today you’ll only throw away trash or unwanted items and you’ll work on this for 30 minutes. After that, you’ll leave the rest for tomorrow. You carve out the time and accomplish it. There! Goal set and done!
What if you have a goal to get a job but the prospects are overwhelming. You could break this into smaller tasks and see how far you get in one day. You need to polish your resume, decide on a direction for work, then start a job hunt on a few sites. Maybe you find a few and apply online. You don’t find a job that day but you’ve made smaller steps and they were accomplished. It feels better than saying you didn’t get a job. You can say certain steps were successful.
It’s near impossible to avoid all distractions. If you’re online you have an insane amount of things to pull you away from your task. If you have a phone, it will ring, ding, or do something to grab your attention. Perhaps you’re a parent of minors; those little mites (or big guys) will always need you… right… now. If you have ADHD… where was I? Ah yes, avoiding distractions is hard!
Start with considering your current task. Can you do this thing in a quiet room, alone, and without interference? Close all other windows on your computer or apps on your phone. Make sure you’re alone or have headphones on. Be sure others know you can’t be interrupted. Or maybe your task involves physical work, such as cleaning out a room or building something. Set up steps of what must be done so each task can be checked off (even if only mentally) and the next can be on your mind quickly. Keeping your mind occupied with this will help it from wandering to something else.
Getting Back on Track
It’s so easy to fall off track and lose focus. We slip on diets, exercise routines, have a day of laziness, or even completely forget to have goals in the first place. Coaches will help coaching partners to stay focused and get back on track. Being held accountable is what drives us towards our goals when distraction sets in. This is why it’s so important to bring others in on your goals and hold you accountable. We can’t do it alone, at least not as easily as having someone in our corner.
The best thing to remember, especially if you’ve been distracted and fallen away from your goals, is to jump back in. Don’t waste time feeling terrible or berating yourself. That never helps anyone. Acknowledge the set back, realize what caused it, take steps to avoid it for next time, and get back on track. Use a friend, a mentor, or a coach, to keep you centered on your goal. Having someone depending on you creates another driver toward you focusing on your goal.
Lastly, remember why you set the goal you set. Is it for a person, for you, financial reasons? Whatever the underlying reason you set this goal, keep it in mind. Put that reason in sight as a reminder to bring you back on track as often as possible. You could put someone’s picture on your screen or as your wallpaper. Put a saying or a few words on your bathroom mirror. Find a way to distract your distractions to keep yourself goal-oriented and on track to success!