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18 Ways to Find Direction Over Your Holiday Break

18 Ways to Find Direction Over Your Holiday Break
    Photo credit: *clarity* (CC BY 2.0)

    Many times a month, week, or day you feel directionless.

    I can totally relate, so you don’t have to worry; you aren’t a freak or loser that doesn’t know what they want to do with their life. You just may be stuck.

    But, good news, “directionless one”. The holidays are a great time to step back from your work-life and rethink what and how you are trying to get things done.

    Rather than give you some of the reasons that you feel directionless in the first place, let’s just dive into the 18 ways that you can find your direction so you can be on the path again to get things done faster and better over this holiday break.

    1. Mind map

    We have talked about mind mapping in the past at Lifehack. If you sit down and spend a little bit of time connecting thoughts and ideas to each other either paper or digitally through mind mapping you may start to see how all the pieces fit together and feel some sort of direction.

    2. Learn what you don’t want to do

    If you don’t know what you’re supposed to do, sometimes it’s a good idea to find the things that you aren’t supposed to do. This can clear up your vision of your project or business model and help you move forward.

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    3. Day dream and doodle

    Over the past few months since I’ve graduated from college, I haven’t daydreamed and doodle as much. But, I know that this is one of the best ways for me to find new ideas on topics that I was stalling on. We sometimes need to just let our minds wander and not put so much pressure on ourselves. Day dreaming and doodling allows us to have some “no-pressure” creative time.

    4. Find some “non-technology” time

    Sometimes we lose our direction on projects because we are buried in our work. And with most of us being knowledge workers, being buried in our work means being buried in our computers and technology devices. It’s a good idea to step away on a daily basis from these devices and work on some of your own personal creative time. Over the holiday break is a great time to do this.

    5. Read

    Reading is a great way to find inspiration. But, you have to make sure that you aren’t just reading to avoid what you’re supposed to be working on.

    6. Reach out to friends and other creatives

    If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for your new project, a good way to get some is to talk to other people that are like-minded as well as friends and family. Sometimes these people can be a little bit strong in their criticisms, but it may just be what you need to find your direction.

    7. Free Write

    This goes back to my favorite thing to do every single day; write 750 words. Writing every single day helps free thoughts from your mind, making them more concrete. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had something in my mind but haven’t been able to express it until I wrote for that day.

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    8. Simplify things

    I’m sometimes a little weary of the whole minimalist movement, but, simplifying and going “minimal” can be a really great way to concentrate on what you’re trying to work on.Cut out everything that you don’t need and concentrate on only the things that you do to find some direction.

    9. Change up your tools and processes

    I’m a staunch proponent of keeping with your tools and productivity processes for the long haul, but every once in a while you may just need to switch things up, especially if there is something about your process that is holding you back.

    10. Exercise

    I’ve gotten some great ideas on projects that were “stuck” when I was out walking, biking, or running. Make a habit of exercising and you will get ideas on a regular basis to keep you unstuck and moving in the right direction.

    11. Meditate

    Being mindful is an important thing to do whether or not you need to find your direction. Sitting in silence can help you clear your mind and be in the moment, opening you up to new ideas and helping create motivation for something that is stagnating in your life.

    12. Create rituals and blocks of work

    Block out times during your day where you work on the the things that are important to you. If you don’t schedule your time diligently, it will possibly be lost to something that isn’t as important to you.

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    Also, having lists of things to do every day is a great way for you to keep “treading water”, allowing you to concentrate on the bigger picture.

    13. Force yourself to create ideas

    Sometimes you just have to force yourself to come up with new ideas to get a project back on track. Make ideas happen is part of being a knowledge worker.

    14. Stop analyses paralyses and get started

    Sometimes we already know what we want and have to do to get something moving forward. Instead of actually doing it though, we think that we need more information to get it done. You probably don’t.

    If you think you know enough to start or keep a project moving then put down the tutorial or the book and get to work.

    15. Follow a framework

    If you feel no direction on a project try running through something like David Allen’s 5 Phases of Productivity. Maybe you just need to know what “wild success” looks like to make it over the hump.

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    16. Spend quality time

    Some people that are consumed with projects and getting the next thing done forget to have a life. Instead of stressing and struggling, how about spend some quality time with your family and friends and try to remember why you do what you do?

    17. Step away from the problem

    Stepping away from the problem can sometimes give you instant direction on what to do to solve the problem. Once you stop thinking so hard about something, new ideas and direction can come easier.

    18. “White knuckle it” and get to work

    While meditation and free writing and all the other “nu-nu-na-na” stuff can help you find your direction, most times you just need to sit down, white knuckle it, and work hard. There is no replacement for hard work.

    Feeling directionless can be a horrible way to go through your workday and life. But, the holidays are a great time to rethink your work strategy and to make sure that you have everything that you need in your productivity framework to move forward on projects. Finding your direction on a stalled project may only be one free-writing or mind mapping session away, so give these above recommendations a try if you are feeling directionless.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on December 10, 2019

    How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

    How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

    It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

    So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

    1. Find Your Good Reasons

    Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

    You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

    If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

    Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

    Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

    • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
    • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
    • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
    • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

    2. Make It Fun

    When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

    Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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    Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

    They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

    Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

    A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

    • How can I enjoy this task?
    • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
    • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

    As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

    Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

    However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

    3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

    When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

    You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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    That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

    If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

    Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

    My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

    4. Recognize Your Progress

    Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

    We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

    Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

    Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

    For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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    You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

    Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

    For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

    5. Reward Yourself

    This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

    Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

    Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

    For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

    For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

    For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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    Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

    The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

    Mix and Match

    Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

    Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

    Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

    Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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    Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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