No matter how hard we work towards success, sooner or later the outside world is going to get in the way and challenge our progress. Many of us are striving towards our goals, but no matter how much we try to predict bad times, things that can go wrong often do, like a bad Murphey’s Law joke.
A big part of being successful is being able to keep productive when life gets in the way of our progress.
While it doesn’t always seem so on the surface, productivity comes down to what you prioritize in your life, particularly when there are other factors and influences that effect the work you’re putting in.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to prioritize when there are multiple challenges in your professional and personal life. It can be tough to know where to focus, and how to focus.
Here are some tips and guidelines on how to keep focused when it all seems too much.
Find Some Time to Think
When your mind is cluttered, it clouds your vision of success. Whenever you can manage it, find some time alone to think through your plan for what comes next.
Remember to take deep breaths, as this relaxes the body and reduces stress build-up.
Research across many medical institutions have found links between deep breathing and stress relief. In 2013, for example, the Journal of Investigative Medicine published an article detailing the beneficial effects of mind-body practices for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.
You can read more about that here.
Sometimes we think that running at such a rapid pace is what keeps us going. That if we stop for even a moment, our life will fall apart. While it’s true that you must do what you have to in order to keep the lights on, it often leads to burn-out if you aren’t managing your stress.
Take care of your mind and body first and foremost, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. A clear mind will be crucial to resetting your stress and figuring out what to do next.
Consider the Big Picture for Your Life
It often becomes too easy to fall into the trap of forgetting the grander vision for how you want to live.
When there are bills to pay, children to feed, and drama among friends, your goals and development fades to the background.
Be sure to prioritize what matters to you. When you can visualize all the elements in your life, the complete picture, it becomes easier to cut out the unnecessary problems that are causing you unneeded stress.
Even if you can’t cut away all the negativity, choosing to keep your passion in mind will help to motivate you and keep you productive. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see the entire plan for your success. Just visualise as much of the big picture as you can and trust that it’ll come together with time.
With the Big Picture in Mind, Choose a Smaller Step and Do It
Now that you have an idea for where you want to go, it can seem overwhelming to keep it all together in your mind.
Consider this: if you were to think about the effort required to drive down to the grocery store all at once — having to use your mirrors, changing gears, avoiding hazards, parallel parking, as well as every item on your list and managing payment, all in your mind at the very same time — you would never leave the house.
In reality, you don’t particularly think about these steps at all. You act on auto-pilot. But the first time you learned how to drive, we imagine that it was one small step at a time. If not, it would have been too much to handle.
The brain only has so much room for conscious thought. Be sure to choose the very next step you can actually do, trusting that you will be able to figure out what comes next once you begin. Needing to know the entire process becomes a trap, an age-old desire for perfectionism.
Any master of their field has abandoned the idea of being perfect, and instead aim to do only the best they can.
It all begins with the first step…and then the next…and the next…
Success Isn’t Always Easy, but it is Worth it
In nearly all cases, success takes a measure of sacrifice. Deciding to focus as much as possible on your success will inevitably mean there is less time to focus on other demanding areas of your life.
When overdue bills become too overwhelming, it’s hard to find the time to focus on a positive future, but this is the crucible that forges you into the person who can create a better future.
If you aren’t able to make the time for yourself, then all the best information in the world won’t be able to help you.
We’re aware this is easier said than done. The best advice is to create boundaries in your life: to set apart uninterrupted time to work on your plan. This might require sacrificing some leisure time, but the benefits to your life and self-esteem will be well worth it in the end.
Sit down with pen and paper. Create a tangible list of your day-to-day activities. Figure out where you can create time for your passion. Remember your priorities. If success is important to you, then you will find the time somewhere in your busy schedule.
As you make more movement in this area, consider posting a vision board or motivational quotes at your desk or on your bedroom wall to help you keep focused when life tries to pull you back to old habits.
Communicate Your Goals to Others and Ask for Help When Needed
You might be surprised how much the other people in your life are willing to help when you can communicate your unique vision to them. People respect passion and effort, so if you can get them on board with your plan, they can become a major asset to your journey.
We all need help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with chores around the house or for others to respect your time to work on yourself. The other benefit to this approach is that, by saying your goals aloud and to others, you make them more real and hold yourself accountable to them.
If you’re open and authentic about who you are and what you want to create, you might be surprised by the people in your life who could be of help.
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Now for some closing words.
We all go through hardships in our personal and professional lives that throw us off balance and hold us back from working on our success goals. But if you keep your priorities in mind, finding time to clear your thoughts and focus on the next step in the big picture, you can put in place a firmer plan for success.
Keep in mind, you’ll need to create boundaries that give you room to focus on what’s most important for you. Finding that balance of priorities is a crucial tight-rope to walk, but massively beneficial when you figure it out.
Applying these steps will get you back on track in no time, no matter how much life gets in the way.