“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus”.
To get the results you want out of life you have to be a to stick with what you are doing. Day after day. Focus and consistency is key to success in any area of life.
But the problem is that it’s very easy to get off track. It’s very easy to make a few common mistakes and shot yourself and your potential success in the foot.
Here are four mistakes that I have made many times. And a few solutions I have used to make them less frequent.
1. You get distracted.
Maybe the biggest problem when trying to stay on track is all the distractions around us. There is however a few things one can do to decrease the number of times you get distracted in day to day life.
Use a cone of silence.
How do you create one of those? You unplug and remove as many distractions in your work environment as possible. Some examples:
- Unplug your internet cable. If you don’t, it may be tempting to just take a short breather online. Perhaps check your email or your RSS-feeds. Or chat for a few minutes with some friends via IM. This breather usually expands and before you know it your 5 minute break has become a 35 minute procrastination-session.
- Unplug the phone. If have the possibility, consider unplugging or shutting off the phone for a while. Talking, texting and emailing can become big distractions and time-thieves
- Shut the door. Get away from the voices and noises outside your room. Try to keep it as silent as possible to be able to focus on your work.
Reduce and clean up visual clutter.
Clutter in your work space can also be distracting. So:
- Declutter your desk. I remove old coffee mugs, put things back where I got them, order any loose papers in neat piles and throw out what is not needed. This creates a clean workspace with a minimum of visual distractions.
- Declutter the desktop. If I have any files/icons on the desktop that should be stored somewhere else on the computer I move them. What I don’t need anymore I throw out. I have also incorporated a bit of quick decluttering into my morning routine now. I make my bed and clean up for a few minutes. This declutters my space and mind and creates a good and focused start to the day.
Ask yourself helpful questions.
Be alert. Ask yourself questions throughout the day. Questions like:
Is this useful?
Will this matter 5 years from now?
Is this the most important thing I could be doing right now?
Whenever you feel like you are heading down a path of irrelevant thoughts or distractions ask yourself a question like the ones above to snap yourself into a better headspace.
2. Your simply forget.
In my experience one of the most common mistakes is simply forgetting what you should be focusing on. You fall back into your old ways and habits or get distracted into some different path during your day. Especially in the beginning, when you are starting to establish a new habit or working towards a goal.
So you need a bit of help. One thing that has worked well for me in this case is to use external reminders. To use something outside of your own leaky memory. You can, for instance, write your goals on a piece of paper and put it where you can’t avoid seeing it. Examples of such places are your bathroom mirror, fridge or computer. This helps to reinforce each and every day where you are going and what is most important to do.
3. You choose something you don’t really, really want.
I think this is a very, very common. You think you want something. But deep down you soon discover when you get started that you don’t really want it that much. Or you fool yourself into thinking that you want it and keep going. This can lead to many new problems as you try to go forward and start looking for solutions to resolve the new difficulties that pop up. But the big problem may simply be on the basic level you are overlooking.
So set goals you really feel for/are interested in. What are your goals? This is crucial. As much as possible, you have to set the goals for yourself.
Should and ought to-goals isn’t good enough. Or goals that other’s have set for you. Or other people’s goals.
Think about your goals. Think about who has set them. Then think about what you really want in life. Then set your own goals.
It has to be your goals and you have to have a real interest in them to increase your chances to achieve them. Plus, when it’s your own goals instead of ones imposed upon you the journey towards them becomes a whole lot more enjoyable. And so, everyday life – the biggest part of your life – becomes more enjoyable.
And when you really want it simply becomes easier to push through any inner resistance you feel. You are so motivated to achieve whatever it is you want that the risk may be scary but smaller than your desire. This is crucial when you hit an inevitable rough spot.
When considering what you want to do it’s also helpful to keep in mind that things can seem a certain way in your head when you think about doing them. But you have to actually do them for a while to gain understanding of how they really are. So to find what you really want to do you may have to try a few of your ideas and experiment to find what you love doing.
4. You don’t add clarity to what you want.
Really, really wanting it is great. Adding as much clarity as you can makes it even easier to stay on track.
A few good guidelines to add clarity to what you want is to set goals and make them specific, measurable and to think about them in present tense.
Don’t go for more visitors for your website or just for running more. Go for a thousand visitors a day or running for 20 minutes three times a week. The more detailed picture you have of where you want to go, the more likely you are to actually get there.
If you don’t make your goals measurable then how will you know when you have achieved them? You will never be done with the goal of “making more money”. But you’ll know when you have achieved a goal of “earning 5000 dollars a month”.
It’s also important to keep your goals in present tense. Not: I will run for 20 minutes three times a week. You have to write: I run for 20 minutes three times a week.
Why? Well, your subconscious mind needs clear direction of what is to be achieved. If you put your goal in an “I will…” form you mind will always strive to bring the goal of running into your life sometime in the future. It will always be out of reach. To actually bring the goal into your life, into the present moment, you have to think about it/write it down in present tense.
My experience is that the more clarity I can add to a goal the less I procrastinate and the less I get off track.
Of course, you may still not achieve the goal as quickly as you’d like. And you will probably still get sidetracked from time to time. That’s pretty normal. Things are seldom perfect, except in our dreams. But you can improve your consistency and focus in a big way by avoiding those four easy to make mistakes.
What is your best tip for staying on track in day to day life?