Do You Make These 4 Common Mistakes and Get Off Track All The Time?

by Henrik Edberg


Image by *Zara (license).

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus”.
Bruce Lee

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?

If you found this article helpful, please share it on Stumbleupon and Twitter. Thank you very much! =)





Like what you've read? Then get email updates (it's free)

Join over 59,426 awesome subscribers who receive exclusive happiness and personal development tips every week!

Click here to get started!

Print Friendly

{ 28 comments }

Jojo August 21, 2009 at 12:18 am

This is good x

heyzanie August 21, 2009 at 4:42 am

I really like your blog. Thanks for sharing the tips!

Ralph August 21, 2009 at 5:08 am

Great post! I have two ways to stay on track.

1. Dont trust myself
I put as many systems in place to make sure that I stay on track as I can. I plan, make a list of specific tasks to accomplish, I even use a kitchen timer.

2. Focus on the 20%
I outline the 1 or 2 tasks that will get me the most results and I focus on them first. From there it is easier to do the other things.

Thanks for the great tips!

Sastha August 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

Very nice write up. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Kaizan August 21, 2009 at 10:16 am

Very interesting post! I especially love #2 about forgetting. You hardly ever see that mentioned, but it happens to me all the time. I have a new habit that I want to follow and do it for 3 days, but then forget to keep doing it. I’ve sort of fixed that now by using reminders.

Another big problem is trying to do too much at once. I am guilty of this. I have too many projects going at once, so I can’t properly focus on any of them. Better to do one at a time.

Amy August 21, 2009 at 11:17 am

Thanks, I really needed this to remind me to stay on track…!

Martin Wildam August 21, 2009 at 1:40 pm

> “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus”.
> Bruce Lee

I really like that quote (I think you also used “razor-sharp focus” some time ago).

I also often feel getting off track (as in the current moment ;-) ) – but most tips I read about getting focus are not applicable for me, as for instance:

“Unplug your internet cable”: I need it usually for my work – so to be on track I need the internet cable!

“Unplug the phone”: Giving support on the phone is part of my job. Unplugging it would affect customer experience in a negative way.

“Shut the door”: There is no door in my office that – being shut would reduce external disturbance.

“You choose something you don’t really, really want.”: I can’t always only do, what I want – just “renaming” work=fun as some hints look like that I read out there – does not work for me. If you are employee or your own company, there are others you have to respect or are dependent from them.

That said, there are other tips I can implement.

Ron - Heroic Nature August 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm

My best tip would definitely be that of visualizing.

It’s important to take a few minutes out of the day (15 or more) to just sit down in a quiet place and meditate about what it is you want in life. Think about your goals in those moments habitually until the picture becomes as clear as day. Building this kind of visual image inspires daily action.

Nica August 21, 2009 at 4:11 pm

love your post as usual.
: )

Positively Present August 21, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I definitely think these are the most common mistakes we make that get us off track. The first one is the hardest for me to battle. With so much to do and so many things that interest me, I am ALWAYS getting distracted, which is why I do my best to stay in the moment and focus on the present. Great post!!

Stephan F- August 21, 2009 at 7:11 pm

#3. is my killer. I have worked so hard fulfilling other peoples goals, I’ve forgotten what my own goals have been.

How do you rediscover your own goals again?

Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching August 21, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Thanks for this — it’s difficult sometimes, I think, to see whether we’re going for something we actually want, or something others have taught us we “should” want. To break these kinds of ties, I usually pay attention to how I feel in my body when I think about the goal I’m pursuing — if I feel open and warm inside, I’m probably acting consistently with my real desires.

Veroniica12 August 22, 2009 at 12:54 am

My favorite tip is goal setting. I personally run 3x a week for 20 minuetes a day. It may not be enough to lose a bunch of weight (thankfully I don’t need to), but it makes me feel accomplished.

Same if I set the goal of reading and interacting with 10 blogs a day. That’s do-able, and gives me the flexibility to choose which blogs (from my list).

My best trick for keeping on task is to periodically revisit my todo list and try to scratch through one thing at a time. I’m constantly tempted to side track and work on multiple projects at once, which keeps me from scratching anything off at all! So, I remind myself to just get through the task so I can scratch it off which feels SO GOOD!

Daryl Furuyama August 22, 2009 at 7:49 am

I always remove the pre-installed games (minesweeper, solitaire, etc) off my computers because it’s just too easy to get distracted by them. Something that I created to help me keep focus is a paper form that tracks my progress throughout the month of things I need to focus on. The only problem is keeping your nose down when things become routine.

koko August 22, 2009 at 7:49 am

this is a great post … I get off track all the time !

Vincent August 22, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Hi Henrik,

A genius without focus won’t achieve as much as someone who is average yet focused. I am working on “sharpening” my focus and one of the most important skills is to know when to say no.

Cheers,
Vincent

jonathan figaro August 22, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Staying the course is the foundation of successful living. We each need to change our mindsets towards the present moment. Too many people get lost, confused or stressed because of distractions. They wonder why no results have shown, no money has been made and debt has consumed there bank accounts.
The tip here is to make daily progress. Working towards a dream or desirable out come takes persistence, perseverance, consistency, focus, positive mindset, positive influence and some fun to go along the way.
I’m not be a workaholic cuz i ain’t my damn self, but i make sure that if i work hard, a brother has gots to play hard….can i get a witness.
So i want you guys to go out and stretch the hell out of those comfort zones.

AS August 23, 2009 at 8:47 pm

heyyyyy

loved ur blog!!

m ur fan nowonwards!

LLS August 24, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Making things too difficult. I have a tendency to think things have to be perfect or not at all. Or make something become an impossible task in my head. I’d be much happier getting close to what I originally wanted rather than quitting. I have to remind myself of that all the time.

NeoTechie August 24, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Great post,

To stay on track, remember when a co-workers says it will only take ONLY A MINUTE it usually takes longer. Guard your time and priorities .

Business Communication August 24, 2009 at 9:20 pm

I liked your first point about posing the question- how does what I am doing now, affect the future I want to happen later. We need that sign at our desk. We need that sign to catch us daydreaming. We need that sign to remind us of our higher aspirations.

Srinivas Rao August 25, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I make a to do list in a very simple mac application called Anxiety. I also avoid multi-tasking because I used to be notorious for that. I was diagnosed with ADHD so I have to be very conscious of multi-tasking. I think reducing caffeine intake is another thing that can help keep you on track.

Tangible Success Coach August 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Great blog, some really beneficial points here that will definitely help a lot of people. De-cluttering that desk is one of the most underrated but vitality important things that ANYBODY can do. Keep up the great work.

Vijay - Meditation Techniques Guide September 1, 2009 at 7:09 am

Interesting post! Consistency and Focus are definitely 2 most important attributes for achieving success in life. It is important to follow the “First things first” rule and avoid getting distracted on activites which do not contribute anything towards our goal. One of the important thing I have learnt over the years is to make enjoyable those activites that are important. This makes achieving goals easier. Keep up the great work!

BeTrulyHappy September 4, 2009 at 5:38 am

Very good post. Staying on track is much easier when a person has found their true purpose in life. Then it is more fun than work.

I also suggest waking up in the morning and visualizing your success. It reminds you everyday why you are doing what you’re doing.

Nan September 4, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Nice post. Henrick, do you ever proof read your stuff?

Henrik Edberg September 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Thanks! Yep, I do. Did I miss something? :)

Meaghan September 14, 2009 at 1:14 am

Great tips! The first step to staying on track is recognizing why you get off track. Thanks for sharing!

Previous post:

Next post: