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10 Ways to Reclaim Your Mental Space Amidst a Busy Schedule

10 Ways to Reclaim Your Mental Space Amidst a Busy Schedule

Is today’s landscape of over stimulation (media, smart devices, multitasking, high-stress work environments) making you increasingly anxious? Do you find yourself fleeting through a busy schedule, meeting tight deadlines and being constantly contacted while barely getting the time to be present, enjoy an experience, or live in the moment? You’re not alone. And what’s more—living in such a state of excessive stimulation can leave you mentally fatigued and lower your productivity.

Try these easy tips to find your calm and reset and reclaim your mental space amidst any busy schedule.

1. Start an easy breathing technique.

This simple 4-2-4-2 breathing technique increases focus, energy and promotes relaxation. Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, exhale for a count of 4, hold for 2. Feel the air fill your lungs as you breathe in and feel the air leave your lungs as you exhale. Repeat this 5–10 times and feel your mind and body instantly relax. Do it at least once a day to get your body and mind in a calmer and more focused state of being.

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2. Less is more.

If you’ve got a schedule that doesn’t allow you any wiggle room any day of the week, then you need to do less. Rushing from task to task without  a break can lead to multiple unwanted outcomes. You could start to burn out. Mental fatigue can make you to take longer to complete your tasks, getting even more anxious. As you rush through your activities, you may not complete one or more the way you would like to because you’re moving on to the next. You’re impatient and snappy when that’s not the real you.

So, start to prioritize your tasks and let a few of them go. Perhaps move some to another day. They will always be there for you when you wake up tomorrow. You’ll find yourself being more productive, more efficient, and more content.

3. Reclaim your morning.

If your morning starts with reading the news or checking your email while sipping your first cup of coffee or tea and solving problems on your drive to work, then you might be jolting your body into a state of over-stimulation before it is ready. Ease it in and reclaim your morning. Enjoy your shower. Sip your beverage slowly. Nourish the smell and taste. Take a moment to enjoy your breakfast. Start your work activities only when you’ve moved through your morning space.

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4. Do something fun every day.

We’re generally wired to give 100% attention to something we consider fun to do. Even spending 20–30 minutes on something you enjoy—like gardening, wood carving, cooking, baking or whatever hobby you cherish—can have you unwinding from your day’s stress and training your mind to focus wholly without distractions. Shifting your thoughts to something totally different from what you generally do all day will also help you unwind completely and feel mentally refreshed.

5. Rest your mind with sounds of nature.

Anxiety surmounts when we’re surrounded by a lot of activity and navigating a bustling world every day. You need to get away and clear your mind without having to go on a vacation. If you can get to a park, lake, beach or river, then sit by the water and listen to the sounds and environment. If you can’t, then step back anyway. Put those headphones on and listen to calming sounds like trickling water, waves washing ashore or other sounds. Zone out the world and listen to sounds of nature. Feel your stress melt away as you realize and appreciate nature.

6. Try a few yoga stretches.

Yoga is an age-old proven technique for disciplining mind and body. Many yoga websites offer easy poses with pictures and instructions for a beginner or even the advanced yogi. Try a few simple stretches to start your day with energy of even relaxing stretches to unwind at night. Whatever you fancy, you’ll start to slowly develop a rhythm that will help you clear your mind and enhance your focus.

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7. Connect with friends.

We’re social beings. Human interaction is paramount to our wellbeing. Positive human interaction is comforting, soothing, and even calming. Friends do just that. Step out and meet a friend for coffee or dinner. Listen to them talk and appreciate the safety net of friendship and have a good laugh. Get a good mental reset.

8. Unplug from devices.

We’re always “plugged in” and this is one of the main culprits of over stimulation in today’s culture.

Disconnecting can be hard. Start with ½ a day every week to be unplugged from your phone or computer.  Fill that time with something, or someone, fun. Take a walk or sit at a café and watch people go by. Browse an old bookstore or antique shop. Maybe you’d like a long drive out to the country. Let the time pass without Wi-Fi. Enjoy the space and feel your inner Zen bloom.

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9. Read a book in bed—the old fashioned way.

Good sleep rests your mind and body. Lack of sleep increases anxiety, reduces concentration and interferes with your productivity. When you’re getting ready for bed, your brain triggers the production of Melatonin, a sleep hormone that signals your body to get ready to sleep. Blue light emitted from your tablet or phone can suppress melatonin production. Over time, this leads to disrupted sleep/ wake cycles (circadian rhythm) or a restless night. Try an old fashioned page-turner instead. Keep your room dim and cool. Create a cozy environment to get the best sleep you can so you wake up well rested and alert.

10. Identify your “happy place” reset.

There’s something that makes you happy—a place you loved, a place you long to be or an experience you cherished so much you would love to have it again. Whatever your happy place is, it’s your mental safety net. Think about this once in a while. Take a good 5 minutes at least to visualize your happy place. Imagine yourself there, taking in the sights and sensations. This will reset your thoughts and help guide you to what you really want and what you really enjoy.

Conclusion

Disengaging and anchoring your thoughts to achieve mental well being is a step by step process. Don’t worry about being perfect. You’ll get better at it with practice. As part of the safety briefing on airplanes, they always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Your mental well-being is just as important so you can be your best for all that rely on you. Don’t ever give up your mental space.

The whole purpose is to reach a state of happy gratitude and calm, a state that you can control and command at will so you can be well while you’re being productive.

Featured photo credit: Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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  • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
  • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
  • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
  • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

For Changing a Job

  1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
  2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
  3. Get a raise.
  4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
  5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
  6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
  7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
  8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
  9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
  10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

For Switching Career Path

  1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
  2. Find a mentor.
  3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
  4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
  5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
  6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
  7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
  8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
  9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
  10. Create a financial plan.

For Getting a Promotion

  1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
  2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
  3. Become a mentor.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
  5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
  6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
  7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
  8. Become a better communicator.
  9. Find new ways to be a team player.
  10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

For Acing a Job Interview

  1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
  2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
  3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
  4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
  5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
  6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
  7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
  9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
  10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

Career Goal Setting FAQs

I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

4. Can I have several career goals?

It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

Summary

You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

  • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
  • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
  • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
  • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

More Tips About Setting Work Goals

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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