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Last Updated on May 16, 2021

4 Ways to Focus on Your Goals and Avoid Distractions

4 Ways to Focus on Your Goals and Avoid Distractions
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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.

Break the goal down.

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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.

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.

See our section on smart goals on our achieving goals guide.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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Last Updated on July 29, 2021

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success
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If there was a rule book of life, there would be one particular page that was highlighted, underlined, and titled as most important. It would be the one which told you that you need to master effective goal setting and have an aim in mind before you get on with the process. While there may not be an actual rule book of life, we do have this helpful goal setting guide to offer.

Yes, goal setting is important. In fact, it’s more important than achieving the goal itself. This is because it is the sense of direction that is needed for you to fulfill any task in life.

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed if this sounds new to you, as all the following information has you covered.

Today, you’ll find out all about the importance of goal setting, types of goals, and tips to define realistic goals for yourself!

What Are Goals?

To kick off our goal setting tips guide, you need to first recognize what goals are and how they are different from objectives, dreams, and expectations.

A goal is essentially your aim for the long-term future. It is the bigger umbrella, the main focus.

Objectives, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of goals. They are the stepping stones that help you achieve your goals[1].

Objects vs goals for goal setting tips

    For example, you may decide you want to learn a new language. Your goal is to be fluent in the new language. Everything you do to achieve this goal, such as the daily tasks and monthly learning aims, are the objectives.

    Similarly, your expectations, visions, and dreams are not your goals. If you wish to learn a new language someday, that is your dream. If you see yourself fluently speaking multiple foreign languages, that is your vision. If you think you’re capable of learning a new language, that is your expectation.

    However, if you aim to fulfill these visions, dreams, and expectations practically, that is your goal.

    Why Is Goal Setting Important?

    Why should you bother with goal setting at all? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get on with your daily objectives, follow a dream or vision, and let life take you wherever?

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    While that road can feel exciting and spontaneous, if you actually want to tick off things from your list of goals to achieve, learning how to set goals is necessary.

    Being committed to a goal puts your brain to work in one specific direction. Believe it or not, by having a defined goal, your brain does its magic unconsciously, 24/7, with full efficiency, to achieve the desired results[2].

    Goal setting is important to shift your focus, boost your motivation, and give you a sense of direction. Without formally defining a particular aim that you want to reach, you won’t be able to keep your objectives in line.

    Hence, this one tiny step can end up saving you a lot of hassle and time while also encouraging your productivity.

    Types of Goals

    Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals in this goal setting tips guide.

    These categories will not just help you brainstorm new one for yourself, but it will also guide you to list them down in the right way.

    Time-Based

    One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.

    Daily

    There are certain smaller goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

    Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

    Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.

    Short-Term

    Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, goal setting in this area is aimed at the near future.

    The great thing about these is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have a general idea of how much the situation can change.

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    Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next two years.

    Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.

    Long-Term

    Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

    Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

    Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

    There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

    They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various, short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.

    Life-Based

    Moving forward, you can also start goal setting based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.

    Career

    Like most people, you will likely want to succeed and excel in your career. Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal. These are usually measurable goals, such as receiving a promotion within two years, finding a job at a certain company within the next six months, etc.

    You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.

    Personal

    The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

    From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal. It’s important that these are realistic and attainable goals for your life.

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    Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, have children, or travel the world, all of these goals are personal and very important to have on your list.

    How to Set Goals

    The best way to guarantee the fulfillment of goals is to set them the right way.

    1. Use SMART Goals

    Every goal you define has to be SMART[3].

    SMART stands for:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time-Bound

    In summary, your specific goals should be very well defined. They shouldn’t be generic or broad, and every detail should be clarified as you’re goal setting. 

    If you want to start running, how often do you want to do it? How long will each session be? For how long will you continue this habit?

    There has to be a connection between your goals and beliefs or you’ll never be able to achieve the results you want. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic. You cannot learn to fly, and forcing yourself to try is only going to demotivate and stress you out.

    2. Prioritize Your Goals

    As you’re looking into how to write goals for the next month or year, it’s likely you’ll come up with more than one. In this case, it’s important to prioritize which are the most important or the ones that have the tightest deadline. This is going to be subjective, as only you know which goals will have the most impact on your life.

    3. Think of Those Around You

    As you’re working on goal setting, keep your loved ones in mind. You may have a partner, children, or employees that depend on you, and you should take them into consideration with your goals. For example, if you set a goal to travel to 10 different countries in the next two years, how will this affect your children?

    If you want to lose 30 pounds this year, is there something your partner can do to support you? S/he will need to be made aware of this before you set off on your weight loss journey.

    4. Take Action

    Setting goals is the first step, but in order to be successful, you have to follow this with action. If you set goals but never act on them, they become dreams. Create an action plan laying out the steps you need to take each day or week in order to achieve your big and small goals.

    You can also check out Lifehack’s free guide: The Dreamers’ Guide for Taking Action and Making Goals Happen. This helpful guide will push you to take action on your goals, so check it out today!

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    5. Don’t Forget the Bigger Picture

    Most people refer to the big picture as their vision. Whether it is the long-term result or the connection of the goal with your desire, keep it in mind to keep yourself from getting distracted.

    You can learn more about creating a vision for your life here.

    I also recommend you to watch this video to learn 7 strategies to set goals effectively:

    How to Reach Your Goals

    You can ensure your progress by following some foolproof tactics. The use of relevant helpful tools can also keep you on the right track.

    Tactics

    One rookie mistake that most people make is that they work on too many goals simultaneously. Create an action plan and focus on one thing at a time.

    Divide your goal into smaller, easily achievable tasks. Taking it one step at a time makes it much easier. However, do not break them down too much. For example, for long-term goals, you should go for weekly checkpoints instead of daily ones.

    Also, keep track of your progress. This will keep you motivated to work harder.

    Tools

    With so many categories of goals and so many aims, it is almost impossible to remember, let alone work, on all of them.

    Luckily, numerous goal tracker apps will help you keep track of your goals, as well as your plan to achieve every single one. Have at least one installed in your smartphone so that your plan is always within reach.

    The Bottom Line

    In conclusion, using a goal setting tips guide is not rocket science. All that it takes is strong will power along with all the knowledge that you’ve learned so far.

    Try out the tactics and goals setting tips mentioned above to be able to set successful goals so that you can achieve the life that you want!

    More Tips on Achieving Success

    Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Smart Insights: The difference between marketing objectives and marketing goals?
    [2] Confluence: Goal Setting Theory
    [3] University of California: SMART Goals: A How-To Guide

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