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Six Strategies to stay focused on your goals

By | Manish Joharle – General Manager Business Development at Brakes India Ltd (TVS Group)

Unable to stay focused on your goals…sounds like a universal problem. It takes hardly any effort to set goals but extremely difficult to stay focused on execution.

Today we are all living in a wired world overwhelmed with plethora of information. Cable TV has hundreds of channels, our smart phones are constantly connected to multiple social media sites and messaging apps. Our attention span is decreasing day by day. Is our brain equipped to process so much information? I read somewhere that a Sunday edition of a newspaper today, contains more information than the average 18th century French Nobleman learned in his lifetime.

In such an environment where there are too many tempting distractions and if we want to achieve our dreams what should we do…..

It takes hard work and consistent effort to achieve major goals. The harsh reality is that most people will fail to achieve their goal. These failures will rarely be due to a lack of knowledge or skills. It is far more likely that in a hectic world, we struggle to stay focused on our goals.

Just imagine if we had the power to fulfil our goals without losing focus. The good news is that there are a few simple measures which can help us stay focused, motivated and more determined on our goals.

Before we see these strategies I am tempted to share this quote by Wilson Rawls

“I believe a boy can have anything in life that he wants once he starts working for it. The main thing is not to give up. It makes no difference how tough things get, just bow your back, keep working, and put your heart and soul into it. As you go along your way, live a good clean life, don’t hurt anyone or anything, and always be honest. It doesn’t hurt to pray a little, too. If you do all those things-someday you’ll have your pony and gun. You’ll get help when you least expect it.” 

1. Deal with Procrastination:

Research has shown that procrastination is the biggest dream killer for all of us. But if you look at the people who are consistently achieving their goals, we find that they do not get distracted because of their commitment to the process and their ability to rewrite old patterns of behaviour with new processes or habits.  One simple technique to overcome procrastination is to break down your goals into as many steps as possible and then stay committed to start at least 3 of these in a week. Starting is the key and once you have succeeded in it and have achieved your weekly targets of starting things go ahead and reward yourself with a treat.

Repeat this week on week until your old patterns of behaviour are overwritten by new habits. In his bestselling book “The Power of Habit” Charles Duhigg writes “This process within our brains is a three-step loop.

First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.

Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.

Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: “.

So the broken down step of a goal is your trigger,  the routine is the physical process of starting it and the reward is just the feeling of fulfillment of moving forward or a planned break for any pleasurable activity you wish to enjoy. This strategy works great for me when I reward myself for starting my work for the goal e.g. the first step, then again when reaching halfway through my goal and big one when I meet the goal.

2. Journaling your way to success:

Another great way to stay focused is the habit of journaling. It is the most effective tool to connect with our subconscious mind.  Many a times we are not able to move forward or start something it is because of some fear of failure in our subconscious mind. It tries to prevent us from harm and disappointment or locks us in a comfort zone. When we start writing about events unfolding in our life giving our perspectives and analysis, a miracle happens… we are able to rewrite the negative patterns in our subconscious mind. We start getting a new perspective of the life around us, making it a therapeutic and positive experience. It helps us to understand the worthiness of our goals and our priorities thereby enabling us to focus on what matters most to us.

3. What gets measured gets done:

All through our life our parents, teachers in our school or with colleagues at work we get conditioned to compete. Invariably we end up competing in all areas of our life.  Hence if we work out a process of measuring our progress on a daily basis for each of the goals we wish to accomplish, we start competing with our own self. This kicks in great motivation to achieve our daily performance targets. However for this to work we need to set realistic and simple metrics.

4. Enrol your loved ones:

Another effective strategy to stay focused is to inform our near and dear ones about our goals and priorities and enrol them in to our life by keeping them updated about our progress. Their love, understanding and mentorship often work like booster shots when we tend to lose confidence or motivation.  Obviously the best results are seen in this case when concern for each other and sharing is mutual.

5. Control your screen time:

Today we are surrounded by so many screens….Smart phone, Tablet, office computer and television. One effective strategy is to control their use and go to the extent of switching them off or putting them out of sight and enhancing our productive thinking time. One study showed people in offices checked their smart phones as much as 20 times an hour. You can imagine the distracting power of our smart phones.

6. Identify your productive time zones:

Each of us has productive and non productive time zones in a day. For example for me the morning hours from 5 to 7 and weekend afternoons are the most productive time zones. I also make most of my office commuting time by listening to audio books while driving my car. And if your work calls for lot of travelling you can also use your travel time productively. You can mark these time zones to work on your goals for the best results.

The above six strategies have made a lot of difference in my life and I sincerely hope you too will benefit. I am sure you may also be having your own strategies to stay focused, do share them in the comments below for the benefit of everyone. If you liked this post do not forget to click on the like button or put in your valuable comments.

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