Your life does not better by chance, it gets better by change. — Jim Rohn
So true, yet it is much easier said than done. There are many times in life where we wonder how on earth we ended up in such a miserable situation. What is even more miserable is the inability to break out of the mess. The light is clearly at the end of the tunnel, but we are not moving at all. Becoming aware of the obstacles that keep us from making change makes an incredible difference. Here are 10 obstacles that will hold you back from making change successfully:
1. Facing the Unknown.
We become comfortable with what is familiar. Even when it is detrimental to us, we are drawn toward what we already know. Change will challenge us to step out and break free from our comfort zone. Push through the barrier of the unknown through creating a vision for what you desire. Make it so real that your mind cannot tell the difference.Advertising
2. The Need for Instant Gratification.
In our “microwave culture” we expect to always see immediate results. As technology puts everything at our fingertips, we crave the same ability in other areas of life. Change does not have to be instant. Rather than try to go from black to white, do not forget about the grey area in between. Work on making incremental change rather than drastic change. Take baby steps.
3. Misinformation and Getting the Wrong Advice.
Receiving the wrong advice can really mess up your attempts to change. You may be doing everything right in terms of researching and gathering the knowledge needed to make some shifts in your life, but you could be getting them from all the wrong sources. Be careful about who you allow to speak into your life. Even people you look up to and respect may not be the right people to get advice from.
4. Pressure to Conform.
We are naturally inclined toward being in community. The need to belong. However, this can become adverse to change when the community you are in is not bringing you toward your goals. Start to explore different social groups and search for like-minded people that share your interests.Advertising
5. Overthinking your Goal.
Carefully thinking through your next big change is a good thing, until it becomes the only thing. We can spend so much time aiming but never firing. In order not to be paralyzed by this obstacle, be sure that you are regularly taking action on your plans. Think, but also do.
6. Limited Finances.
It is very true that if money was not an issue, we would all be living the dream. Money can provide a real sense of comfort and security, but it can also be a major obstacle holding back change. It may be necessary to take a little bit of a pay-cut in order for change to happen. On the other hand, you may need to begin setting some money aside and make little sacrifices- maybe one less mocha a day.
7. Questioning your Abilities.
Stop doubting yourself! You need to give yourself a little more credit about your ability to make change happen. Trust that not a single door closes without another door opening. If you are still alive and breathing, you still have the ability to make changes happen. Do no let doubt cripple you. Believe. Have some faith.Advertising
8. Being Indecisive.
Constantly changing your mind is a guaranteed way to choke out any change. You may take one step in one direction, only to stop and take another step in an entirely different direction. Ultimately, you just end up going around in circles and not making any progress. Make a decision, commit to it- at least long enough to see whether it is the right decision.
9. Trying to Live up to Family Expectations.
This one is tough, we all love our family and respect their opinions. But their opinions may very well the the obstacle keeping you from change. They may get frustrated at the choices you make, but express to your family how painful it is for you not to make the change.
10. Your Pride & Status.
Nobody likes admitting to pride- but that is just being prideful. Change may mean that you have to give up all of the ‘status’ that you worked so hard to gain. That takes humility, the opposite of pride. There is no doubt that you have worked very hard to gain the respect and position that you find yourself in, but ultimately, if there is no fulfillment in that role, it is time to take the exit.Advertising
Lastly, if you are standing on the edge and struggling to take that leap toward making the much needed change in your life, let this well known quote motivate you,
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Last Updated on December 9, 2019
7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions
The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.
Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.
However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…
The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.
Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.
1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused
According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.
From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.
This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.
Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.
2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode
We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.
Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.
When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.
Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.
Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.
You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.
What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.
3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day
This technique is a lot easier than you may think.
First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.
Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.
Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.
4. Plan Your Day the Night Before
One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:
“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”
If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.
Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:
Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.
When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.
5. Learn to Say “No”
I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.
Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:
Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.
Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.
By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.
6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time
This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.
Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.
The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.
Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!
7. Be Intentional
The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.
There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.
It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.
The Bottom Line
The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.
Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.
More About Staying Focused
- How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)
- How to Improve Concentration and Sharpen Your Attention at Work
- How to Not Get Distracted: 10 Practical Tips to Sharpen Your Focus
- How to Use Deep Work to Wipe out Distractions And Boost Productivity
Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com