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Published on September 8, 2020

4 Ways to Focus on Your Goals and Avoid Distractions

4 Ways to Focus on Your Goals and Avoid Distractions

Wondering how you can focus more on your goals and avoid those pesky distractions? Do you want to know how you can get laser, in-the-zone focused so you can chase down those big, audacious goals and dreams you have?

If so, you’re in the right spot.

In this article, we’re going to highlight 4 strategies you can use to focus more on your goals and avoid distractions. Let’s dive in.

1. Break Your Goals Down

When it comes to setting goals, the process of dreaming up the amazing things we’d like to accomplish is exhilarating. We think big, set our minds to it, then commit to taking action!

The problem is that any real stretch goal—meaning one that’s going to require you to grow and evolve in order to accomplish it—takes time. And achieving these types of goals can be tough and require us to get out of our comfort zones quite often.

You mix all those ingredients, and you’ve got a perfect cocktail for obliterating that gung-ho, shoot-for-the-moon motivation that you had in the beginning.

Next thing you know, the goal starts to feel overwhelming. And that’s the moment where most people quit.

The reality is, we’re nearsighted creatures when it comes to our goals. So, if the finish line to your goal is so far out in the future that you can’t see it, it’s likely that you may struggle with staying focused and avoiding distractions.

“What’s the solution?”, you may be wondering.

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Break the goal down.

I don’t know about you, but when I played racing games growing up—aside from focusing on annihilating my competition—the only other thing I was worried about was getting to the next checkpoint.

I didn’t worry about the finish line. That was four or more laps away, which might as well be an eternity in a child’s mind.

Nope, no finish line focus for me! I was simply focused on getting to the next checkpoint because that meant I was still on track. And better yet, it meant I was still in the race.

So, if you’re struggling with staying focused on your goals, break the goals down.

You can do this in 1 of 2 ways:

Via Tasks

You can break the overall goal down to its tasks, then focus on achieving 1 task at a time.

A great example of this is publishing a book. Some of the steps are storyboarding/planning, outlining, writing, designing, editing, and promoting. If you just set out to write a book, without putting thought into the individual tasks, you can see how that would become overwhelming.

But if you break the process down, it becomes much more doable, which will allow you to stay focused on your goal and avoid distractions.

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Via Time

The second way to break goals down is based on the time it takes to achieve certain tasks. SMART goal setting 101 tells us that goals should be time-bound. So, once you break your goals down into tasks, schedule them.

Just like in the racing game where you only had so much time to get to the next checkpoint before it was game over, you need to schedule your tasks so that you keep yourself accountable. Doing so will naturally keep you accountable and help you to avoid distractions.

2. Optimize Your Environment

When it comes to staying focused on your goals and avoiding distractions, very few things—if anything—are more important than your environment.

We all have certain environments that are perfect for locking in and getting stuff done. But we also all have certain environments that make distraction and procrastination run amok.

Your environment is composed of the following:

  1. People
  2. Places
  3. Things

When optimizing your environment, all three of these elements of the environment need to be taken into consideration. It does you no good to change the place if you bring the same distracting people along with you.

Likewise, changing out the things within a certain place is pointless if it’s the place itself that prevents you from focusing.

Personal awareness is key when it comes to optimizing your environment. If you’re not aware of which environments or its elements are conducive or a hindrance to you focusing on your goals and avoiding distractions, then you can’t make the necessary changes.

So, before you set out to start working towards a goal, put some thought into each element and figure out if there are certain people, places, or things that you need to avoid.

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3. Make Your Goals Fun

Let’s be honest for a second, shall we? Life can be tough. It’s got enough low and stressful moments without us having to add any more to the pile.

But for a lot of people, trying to accomplish big goals would be categorized as a stressful or low time—especially if you have a hard time staying focused and are constantly coming up short of your goals.

Because of that, a very easy way to ensure that you can remain focused and avoid distractions is to make your goals—or the pursuit of them—fun and exciting.

After all, why are you pursuing a goal if it isn’t fun or exciting?

But going back to what I said earlier—about the finish line being so far away and us not taking into consideration the amount of time and discomfort that’s going to take to achieve the goal—something that started as fun and exciting can become not so fun or exciting pretty quickly.

So, before you set out to achieve any goal, make sure that it’s something that excites you. The rest of the action steps mentioned won’t matter if it doesn’t. Then, once you’ve ensured that the goal does excite you, figure out ways that you can make pursuing the goal fun.

Maybe that’s going after a goal with a friend or accountability partner. Perhaps, it is working in a certain fun and inspiring environment. Or it could even be the last strategy I’m going to mention for staying focused and avoiding distractions: rewarding yourself.

4. Reward Yourself

Chances are if you’re reading this article, you’re either a high achiever by nature or hoping to become one. And while high achievers may be great at achieving goals, they tend to be terrible at celebrating them.

High achievers often have an “on to the next one” mentality. That can be a good and a bad thing.

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The good part of being that way is you remain hungry and driven to reach that next level and achieve more.

The problem is that when you don’t take time to celebrate your wins and the goals you achieve, it becomes very easy to fall into that vicious cycle of enough never being enough. Perhaps, this is why we see countless examples of unfulfilled multi-millionaires or highly accomplished individuals.

Also, on a deeper level, you actually begin to train your brain not to celebrate. From an anatomical perspective, when we do something great or exciting in life, our bodies release Dopamine, which is the chemical responsible for feeling pleasure.

Over time, if the process is repeated—when Dopamine is released—and you don’t allow yourself to experience the pleasure, your body will shut off this response.

In short, you can train your body to not be able to experience the euphoria and pleasure of accomplishment if you repeatedly fail to take time to celebrate.

Celebration is a very simple strategy for maintaining focus and avoiding distractions.

You can decide what the celebrations or rewards look like for you. But regardless of how big or small, you should build them into the goal pursuit process.

Putting It All Together

Setting and pursuing goals can and should be exciting. Doing so means that you are growing and evolving and that you are bettering your life in some way.

Because of that, it should be an enjoyable process. But if you’re not careful, you may find yourself falling victim to distraction and losing focus on your goals.

Hopefully, by breaking your goals down, optimizing your environment, making your goals fun, and rewarding yourself, you’ll find it much easier to remain focused on your goals and avoid distractions.

More Tips on How to Focus on Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Stefan Vladimirov via unsplash.com

More by this author

Justin Aldridge

Success Coach, Author, and Speaker helping people wake up to their potential to create lives better than their wildest dreams.

Redefining Your Dream Job with Mitch Matthews 4 Ways to Focus on Your Goals and Avoid Distractions How to Believe in Yourself More in 8 Simple Steps Intentional Quality Output with James Williams Manifestation is a hot topic in this ever-growing personal-development-conscious world and culture we live in. Some people see manifestation as a woo woo, hyper-spiritual practice that focuses on bringing into your life that you energetically align with. Others view manifestation as a result of hard work and extreme action. Manifestation = the fruits of your labor. Still, many fall somewhere in between. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, there are a few practical, actionable steps you can take in order to manifest anything you want. Keep on reading to learn how to do that. 5 Steps on How to Manifest Anything You Want Seek Clarity The first step in the manifestation process is seeking clarity. Whether you see it as a spiritual or actionable process, the core concept remains the same: you bring what you desire into your life. If you’re not clear on that, then how can you expect to manifest it? That would be like taking a road trip, hoping to end up in a specific destination, but refusing to define where it is. It doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, does it? Well, if you’re hoping to manifest a specific outcome but don’t know what it is, how will you ever know if you’ve manifested it? By seeking clarity, you gain direction. You take the guesswork out of wondering if you have manifested your desire and provide a clear target. Furthermore, it allows you to eliminate distractions and focus your attention on the desired outcome. Your reticular activating system (RAS), a part of your brain that acts as a filter, will start to hone in on the information that is relevant to your goal and discard the information that is not. By being crystal clear on what you’d like to manifest, you’re letting your brain run in the background while you’re consciously putting in the work. Align With Your Goal It’s all good and well to sit down and create a list of the things you’d like to manifest. However, if you’re not aligned with the steps required to make it happen, your list essentially becomes a wishlist. If you truly want to understand how to manifest anything you want, you have to understand alignment. Alignment means ensuring that your morals, values, ethics, and energy are in line with your desired results. For example, if you would like to manifest a million dollars but think that money is the root of all evil, you are not in alignment with what you’d like to manifest. Similarly, let’s say that you want to have a better, healthier body. If you are not mentally and emotionally prepared to put in the amount of work and effort required to achieve your desired outcome, you won’t realize it. So, in order to manifest something in your life, you have to make sure that you are in alignment with your goals first. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself disappointed, lacking the motivation, or self-sabotaging in your pursuit. Hold the Belief One of the biggest mistakes I see when people are trying to manifest something in their lives is not holding a belief. Would they love to realize a dream? Absolutely! But do they actually believe that they can? Uh, no! That’s the problem. When you seek manifestation in life, you must believe that it is actually possible to happen. Now, to be clear, I am not saying that you should only attempt to manifest things that you are 100% certain you can do. Manifestation, just like goal achievement, is a process of growth. You should become a more evolved version of yourself in order to manifest what you desire. There should be a certain level of uncomfortability that exists when deciding on what you’d like to manifest. But you can still be confident in yourself to show up and do the necessary work to see your goals occur while also feeling a bit overwhelmed by its grandness. If you cannot believe in your abilities, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Keep Your Vibration High and Clear Resistance So much of the process of manifestation — and goal setting, for that matter — is about your mindset and perseverance. Notice what I said there: “the process of manifestation.” Many people forget that manifestation is a process, and a time-consuming one at that. In this society we live in, a lot of people fall victim to believing that things should come easily or instantly. However, because manifestation requires growth and development, it definitely doesn't come easy or happen instantaneously. It can take time and effort to manifest your greatest desires, so it is essential to keep your vibration high. Below are a few tips to guarantee the latter: Optimize your environment for the mood and emotions you want to feel; Eliminate or distance yourself from people who lower your vibration or put you in a negative state; Meditate; Exercise; Make time for activities that bring you joy and happiness; and Get plenty of sleep. By doing some or all these things, you’ll find it so much easier to maintain a high vibration. Moreover, resistance can either be internal or external. The tips above are crucial in getting rid of resistance that block you from moving forward or cause you to quit, namely limiting stories, physical exhaustion, negative people, etc. But regardless of where it is coming from, you need to break through the resistance in order to manifest your greatest desires. Track Your Progress and Celebrate Another good way to keep your vibration high and persevere throughout the manifestation process is by tracking and celebrating your progress. Often, we get laser-focused on the result and adopt an all-or-nothing mentality when we’re pursuing a goal or attempting to manifest something in our lives. The problem with that is the fact that you won’t know if you’re making progress and may get discouraged if you do otherwise. After all, manifestation may take some time. Think about any racing video game, for instance. As far as I can remember, every game I ever played didn’t just put you on the track and tell you to complete a certain number of laps. No, there were checkpoints along the way. These little markers allowed you to know that you were on pace to achieving your goal of finishing the race. Each time you made it to another checkpoint, you knew you were still in the race. It works the same way in real life. While you’re holding the belief that you will follow through and manifest you desires, you can also help yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually by setting up some checkpoints in the process. These checkpoints will remind you that you are still on track to manifesting what you want. And once you hit every checkpoint, make sure you celebrate! As high achievers, we often celebrate one milestone by immediately moving on to the next. This is dangerous because you slowly turn off the dopamine response in your brain that’s signaled when you achieve your goals if you don’t celebrate. When this happens, you fall into that vicious cycle of enough never being enough. So, be sure to celebrate hitting those checkpoints once you establish them. Conclusion To review, the first step in the manifestation process is being clear on what you want to manifest. This will give you peace of mind and allow your RAS to work for you. After gaining clarity, check in with yourself to make sure that you are actually in alignment with what you’d like to manifest. If you’re not, seeing it take place in real life will feel like an uphill battle. The next step is to hold belief. In order to manifest something in your life, you have to believe that you can do it. Be honest with yourself and ask whether you truly believe you can manifest what you are talking about. Keep your vibration high and clear resistance, too — that’s the next step in understanding how to manifest what you want in your life. Manifestation is a process that can take time and effort. If you don’t protect your vibration and clear resistance along the way, it’ll be a tough ask of yourself. Lastly, in order to manifest anything you want, track your progress by setting up checkpoints and then celebrate it afterwards. That is how you can manifest anything you want. How to Manifest Anything You Want and Achieve Your Dreams

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1 How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways 2 How to Use the 5 Whys to Get to the Root Cause of Any Problem 3 4 Ways to Focus on Your Goals and Avoid Distractions 4 How to Bullet Journal to Skyrocket Your Productivity 5 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

Memory plays an integral role in our lives, both in the short and long term. If you’re wondering how to improve memory, I’m here to tell you that there are natural and effective ways to do so.

Despite what you might think, improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it.

Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve memory efficiently and reduce the risk of memory loss.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts, and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder, then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. Research suggests that the more information and distractions you receive, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory[1].

Fortunately, meditation can help.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which, in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

While any amount of meditation will do something to help your memory, one study pointed out that “8 but not 4 weeks of brief, daily meditation decreased negative mood state and enhanced attention, working memory, and recognition memory as well as decreased state anxiety scores”[2].

Therefore, if you’re looking for the most benefits, try sticking with a meditation practice for at least 8 weeks.

However, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then it’s likely that you’re not able to remember well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities, including your memory.

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If you want to learn how to improve memory, how much sleep should you be getting?

Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation[3], you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things[4].

If you want to improve memory, get plenty of sleep.

    Maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!), but if you care about improving your long and short term memory, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

    Try these three things to naturally improve your sleep cycle:

    • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
    • Don’t eat too late
    • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

    Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

    However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory.

    3. Challenge Your Brain

    When was the last time you challenged your brain?

    I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or under-sleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and memory games.

    To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

    Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-solving ability, and memory.

    There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

    • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
    • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
    • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

    If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

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    Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it; try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

    4. Take More Breaks

    When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctly remember working all the hours under the sun—and many under the moon, too!

    At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat, and tears.

    However, if you want to know how to improve memory, taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative, and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

    Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

    One 2011 study from the University of Illinois concluded that “the brain is built to detect and respond to change…and prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance”[5].

    This is based on something called the “vigilance decrement.” This can be applied to many things. For example, we often don’t notice the feeling of clothing touch our bodies because our brain becomes accustomed to the sensation. However, if you change clothes, you’ll likely notice the difference in texture and temperature for a few minutes.

    When you take a break from memorizing information, it refocuses your attention and energy, leading to increased focus overall.

    It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart, and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

    Basically, make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

    5. Learn a New Skill

    I love this quote, as it’s 100% true but frequently overlooked:

    “Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

    From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

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    Let me give you an example of this:

    Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day, many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

    Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

    The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you rather than letting you work in your own way.

    Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction into learning a new skill (computer coding).

    It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career, and the ongoing learning made the call center job much more bearable.

    Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus, and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking out new information. When learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly becomes a habit, too.

    If you want to know how to learn something new every day, check out this article.

    6. Start Working out

    If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

    Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory[6].

    Regular physical activities increase blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. A well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

    Even if you don’t have much time, research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines[7].

    Interested in getting started?

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    Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

    • Join a gym
    • Join a sports team
    • Buy a bike
    • Take up hiking
    • Dance to your favorite music

    7. Eat Healthier Foods

    I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

    This applies to your brain, too.

    The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health, as well.

    Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery, and dark chocolate. But any fruits, vegetables, or foods high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory. Here’re some ideas: 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

    Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain, leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

    If you want to improve your mental health, eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

    • Turmeric – Helps new brain cells grown
    • Broccoli – Protects the brain against damage
    • Nuts – Improves memory
    • Green tea – Enhances brain performance, memory and focus[8]
    • Fish oilFish oil supplements can increase your brain power

    Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

    Also, remember that your brain is about 75% water, so dehydration can have a huge effect on the way your brain functions. Stay hydrated if you really want to improve memory!

    Final Thoughts

    I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be helpful for you.

    You don’t need to implement them all, but you can try out the ones that appeal to you.

    But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory and avoiding cognitive decline, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested.

    More on How to Improve Memory

    Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

    Reference

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