“I know how to set goals. However, I find it hard to stay focused on my important goals all through the year. What can I do?”

This challenge was raised by a prospective client as we started her Discovery Session. Like many people, setting goals was not a problem. However, for some reason, it was becoming harder to stay focused on her goals.

This reminded me of a statement I hear constantly when I tell people that I work from home. Many people respond by saying, “Wow, you must be very disciplined if you can stay focused.” The same sentiment is repeated when I share my schedule and time management process.

Truth be told, I’m not a naturally disciplined or focused person. In fact, I’m naturally very lazy. I can spend a whole day reading novels and not feel guilty. I also procrastinate and easily second guess myself when I have to get out of my comfort zone.

In today’s post, I share 5 of the tactics and resources my clients and I use to stay focused on and committed to our goals.

This post is the final one in a series of 4 posts on self-care and self-love as we work through the 28 Days of Loving Yourself Challenge. The 4 posts in this series are:

As women, we play many roles. We’re daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, significant others, employees, business owners and have other societal obligations. These roles easily take up our attention, time and energy to the extent that we put our self-care on the back seat. This in turn makes it easy for us to focus on others at our own expense.

The 28 Days of Loving Yourself Challenge helps remind us that our self-care is just as important as all our other roles. For many who take part in this challenge, this time is well spent, especially after the December and January hustle.

Getting back to today’s topic, here are…

5 Ways to Stay Focused on Your Goals This Year

1. Get crystal clear clarity about your ONE THING

I never knew what it meant to be highly focused until I read The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

I’ve written a review of this book or you can get more info from their website.

As the title says, this tactic is about getting extraordinary results in any area of your life by putting your attention and energy on one thing. This helps you cut through the clutter, become more productive, and achieve more in less time.

The One Thing is not just a book, it’s a system for ensuring that you stay highly focused and move towards what matters most to you.

Once you know your One Thing, narrow it down into a goal for this year. Then keep this goal at the forefront of your mind every day.

For example, say your One Thing is to grow your business income to Kshs. 1 million a month over the next 3 years.

  • Imagine how your business will look and feel when you’re making this money per month.
  • Will you still be on the same premise or you’ll have moved to another one?
  • What will the interior look like?
  • What will you do in the business each day?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What activities are going on and who is involved?

Create an emotional attachment to your visualization by adding music, colours, video…anything you want. Ensure that your vision doesn’t include anything or people that you don’t want. And as you visualize, express gratitude for its achievement, even before you achieve it.

Keep your vision at the top of your mind by reviewing it mentally

Do this daily, and even more than once a day if possible. Just take 5 minutes, close your eyes, and visualize your goal.

You can also create a vision board that you hang somewhere you see daily. There are also virtual vision board systems that will help you create one online. Two of the best I’ve found are by Jack Canfield and Oprah Winfrey.

Remember how you learnt your ABCs?

That’s exactly what you’re doing by keeping your goal at the top of your mind. Repetition is key to keeping your focus on what you want. The more you visualize your goal, the more it sticks in your mind. The more it sticks in your mind, the more motivated you’ll be to work on it, consciously and subconsciously.

Over time, you’ll start noticing things that are related to your goal or its achievement. You’ll also start taking steps towards working on it even if you haven’t written down these actions.

Finally, it will seem like magic is happening when people, resources and situations required to achieve your goal start appearing. Take immediate action when this happens. Don’t waste time or opportunities.

2.   Keep track of your progress

Keeping your focus on the big picture alone will not help you achieve your goals. You need to find a way of making your goal measurable and then keep track daily.

Keeping track will help you identify:

  • How far you’ve come towards the achievement of your goal.
  • How much is left to reach the goal.
  • What you’re doing that’s working (do more of these).
  • What you’re doing that’s not working (abandon or fix these).

If you don’t measure and track your goals, you’ll not be sure whether you’re making progress or heading in the wrong direction. And if you’re heading in the wrong direction, you may find yourself so far off track that you end up disheartened and demotivated.

Daily tracking not only keeps the goal at the top of your mind. It will also help you make small shifts and changes where necessary.

3.   Create habits that help you stay focused on what you want

In the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, Charles Duhigg takes us on a journey of scientific discoveries about habits and how they can be changed.

When you examine the life of anyone who’s great at achieving their goals, you’ll find that they have habits that maintain their focus. They were not born with these habits. They learnt and practised them until the habits became second nature.

Any goal you want to achieve must be backed by habits. It’s easy to form bad habits and hard to break them. Poor time management, procrastination, gossip, blaming others, and not taking action… are all habits that you’ve formed.

In contrast, great time management, focus, attention to detail, productivity, taking action, exercise and such are good habits that you can form.

Changing habits is not easy, but it’s doable. You need to:

  1. Identify the habit you need to change.
  2. Analyze why you have this habit (the motive or reward behind the habit – usually a subconscious one).
  3. Decide what you want instead.
  4. Practise the new habit until it becomes automatic.

Duhigg shares a story about losing weight by changing one habit. He noticed that he was eating a cookie each day at a specific time. By analyzing the motive, he realized that the cookie was part of his need for socialization with colleagues. So he’d walk from his desk to the cafeteria at a certain time. Craving a cookie was simply an excuse to get moving and a reward.

To break this habit, he started standing up at 3:30pm and looking around for someone to chat with for about 10 minutes. With time, this became the new habit and he stopped craving cookies in the afternoon. Now that he was aware of his health, he started exercising daily which also improved his productivity.

Habits are very powerful. And even more powerful is the fact that changing one habit will have a ripple effect on other areas of your life.

So…looking at your main goal for this year:

  • What habits do you have to change?
  • What is the motivation behind these habits?
  • Which new habits can you adopt in order to stay focused on your goal and motivated to achieve it?
  • What is the first step you will take today to change just one habit so that you stay focused on your goals?

4.   Have external accountability

This is probably one of the biggest tactics used by people who are good at staying focused on their goals. Having someone or a group of people who hold you accountable to your goals will keep you highly focused.

There are many types of accountability including:

  • A trusted friend.
  • Having an accountability partner.
  • Joining or setting up a mastermind group.
  • Working with a coach.

When choosing your external accountability, ensure that it’s a trustworthy person or group who doesn’t just encourage you. They should be able to listen to you, push you when need be, encourage you when things are tough, notice opportunities for you, and celebrate with you.

I credit most of my growth over the last 3 years to being in virtual and physical masterminds with coaches and business women. Being in this space helped me step boldly out of my comfort zone and move my life and business in directions I never thought possible. The groups also helped me think bigger and see my business from a totally different perspective.

5.   Eliminate distractions

Distractions from family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers, social media, and the internet take your attention away from your goals. Sometimes these distractions come in the form of critics and naysayers, especially when you’re working on big goals.

Constant distractions and negativity wear you down and make it easy to give up on your goals. So how can you avoid or change this?

For one, it’s important to only share your goals with people who empower and motivate you. So learn to keep silent about what you’re doing.

You also need to say No more often and make No a complete sentence. Each time you say Yes to someone or another task that doesn’t belong to you, you’re in essence saying No to what you want to achieve. You’re also putting your life and goals on hold as you help others achieve theirs.

Additionally, identify the times when you’re most likely to be distracted and by whom. For most people, early morning is an ideal and distraction-free time. Wake up earlier, or get to work earlier and work on your goals for an hour or so before the rest of the world catches up.

I’ve shared this strategy with some of my coaching clients and they all managed to carve out at least an hour each weekday morning for themselves. The results were astounding as goals that had been set aside were achieved seemingly without effort.

Finally, when it comes to social media and the internet…this is a big time waster for many people. The ability to have access through our phones has also meant that people now spend way too much time online, at the expense of their goals.

Eliminate these distractions by using one or more of the following tactics.

(a) Use a news feed blocker on your computer

Set this up for certain times of the day. This will ensure that you can’t access social media at the blocked time.

(b) Get out of the numerous groups you’re a member of

This is more so for Facebook and WhatsApp groups where conversations keep popping up. I once deleted WhatsApp from my phone for 1 year when I realized how much time I spend there.

When I got back after my one-year break, I was highly focused on what I wanted from WhatsApp. Today, I mainly use it for business and to connect with my family.

(c) Eat your biggest frog first, each day

Mark Twain said that “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Your frogs are your biggest, most important tasks. These are also the ones you’re most likely to procrastinate on if left to your own devices.

Brian Tracy has taken Mark Twain’s advice and created a productivity system called Eat That Frog. This is available for free from his website.

(d) Tackle your biggest frog(s) first thing in the morning

Research has shown that our minds are sharpest early in the morning. This is also the time when most people are at their highest level of productivity. Don’t waste that time reading the newspaper, reading social media updates, surfing the internet, or catching up on gossip with colleagues.

Make this your ‘frog-eating’ time. Block off the first hour or two in the morning and concentrate on your #1 task or goal. Put on headphones if need be and listen to some classical or soft music as you work. Having headphones on creates some space because people assume that you’re busy listening to something important.

This tactic worked for me very well when I was employed as I had colleagues who loved chatting. Once the headphones were on, I entered an island of silence that helped me concentrate on my work.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” ~ Mark Twain

Over to you…

Winding up, it’s important to recognize that staying focused on your goals does not mean that you’ll achieve them within the time you’ve set. You need to accept that you may not always achieve success within your set schedule.

Sometimes you’ll achieve your goals earlier, sometimes you’ll achieve them later, some goals will shift, and some will die. So cut yourself some slack and accept that this is part of your growth as a human being.

Goal achievement is a process. You’ll increase your chances of making this process a successful one and the journey more fruitful when you follow these 5 strategies:

  1. Have crystal clear clarity about the One Thing you want to achieve.
  2. Break down your goal and keep track of your progress daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.
  3. Harness the power of habits to create habits that keep you focused on and moving towards what you want.
  4. Have at least one source of external accountability.
  5. And finally, eliminate physical and online distractions and keep your focus on what you want to achieve.

Stay focused on your goals and make them a priority this year.

Additional resources on this blog

Book review: The One Thing by Gary Keller

7 practices that will help you keep your focus on what you want

How to overcome challenges to achieve your goals

How to maintain motivation and focus on your goals

5 resources to help you overcome procrastination and get things done

How to achieve your dreams without a lengthy to-do list

5 ways to make self-love a part of your self-care

Top 10 critical competencies of great leaders

Persistence pays…so finish what you start

(Image by Bryant Archway)

Caroline Gikonyo
Caroline Gikonyo

Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at Biashara 360. She's an avid blogger and also oversees our content creation. This ensures that we give our readers quality and well researched information and tips.

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