Right now, it’s really easy for us to get bogged down and stop seeing the bigger picture. Our focus is on worrying about the myriad of risks and uncertainties that are facing us all in these unprecedented times. We feel out of control and stressed, and are thinking more about short-term survival than about longer term success. That’s perfectly natural, but it doesn’t put us in a good place to actually move forward with our businesses, or our lives.
I suggest that it’s time to give ourselves a metaphorical kick up the backside. Decide to ignore the media, with all its negativity and blame, and start to think about what we need to do to achieve the success we desire. Now, success demands many things from us, but willpower and determination always come at the top of the list. Many people seem to think that certain individuals are born with masses of determination and willpower, and so it’s easy for them to achieve success. But if you ask any successful person, they will tell you that’s a load of rubbish. What made the difference is that they found a way to utilise their natural levels of determination and willpower to greater effect.
So how can the rest of us harness our determination and willpower, and stay focused on our success? Well, here are five steps you can take:
1. Plan your day in advance
Before you go to sleep, make some basic decisions about what you will do tomorrow. Simple things, such as what you will wear, what you will eat for lunch, and the route you will take to work. If you’ve any expenditure to make, decide in advance on a budget and stick to it. Start to take control of your day. When it comes to work, make a decision the night before that you won’t check your emails or surf the net before you have finished the more important tasks that need to be completed. Stick to your schedule, and at the end of the day, take a few minutes to appreciate how good you feel to be in charge of your day.
Getting into the habit of planning your day in advance will remove your easiest decisions from your mind. This makes it less likely that you’ll get sidetracked and waste time and energy on small, unimportant things. As a result, you’ll have more energy to focus on the things that will make a difference to your success.
2. Eat your frog
In other words, do the most difficult things first each day! Putting them off doesn’t make them easier, and it means we’re wasting energy worrying about them. So get on top of the hardest job right away, while you are still fresh and have the energy.
Research has shown that our minds are sharpest in the morning and that is when we should tackle the tough jobs. After these are out of the way, we can relax and take care of the more routine work that doesn’t require as much ability and energy.
3. Eliminate your distractions
From time to time, real emergencies come up at work, and we have to deal with them then and there. But the majority of situations that do come up to distract us are not emergencies, and do not require us to respond right away. In fact, many of these situations will resolve themselves on their own with time.
If you jump to respond immediately every time something comes up to distract you, you’ll find that you’ll just get more and more requests coming your way. By not responding to non-urgent requests, you are sending a message that you are a focused on important issues. Over time, you will be bothered less by trivial, time-wasting matters.
4. Keep your batteries charged
If you feel your energy starting to fade, take a quick break. Take a brisk walk, do some stretches, make a cup of coffee – whatever works for you. Just a brief break from the work will help you to regenerate, and you’ll come back to your task with renewed vigour and a sharper mental focus.
Eating a large meal at lunch can make you feel sluggish. Instead, try snacking on healthy foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables during the day. Drink lots of water and try to get into a regular exercise program. If you make these things part of your routine, you don’t have to waste energy thinking about them.
5. Keep your eyes on the prize
It’s really important to identify the WHY behind your goals, as this is a crucial motivator. The goal may be to build a £10 million business to sell. The why may be to fund your exciting retirement plans. Create a vision of what you’re going to do in your retirement – buy a lovely country cottage, travel the world, learn to fly a plane, help your children financially – whatever it may be, set time aside daily to visualise the why. The more emotionally connected you can be to your why, the more motivated you will become.
You could even create a vision board, with pictures of all those places you’re planning to visit, and looking at this will help you keep your focus on moving towards your goals.