Are you sitting at home in search of a direction?
2020 has proven to take the ideas we thought this year would bring and let them turn to vapor faster than we can think of new hopes and dreams.
If you are waiting for your new path in 2021, please excuse me for being blunt. The answers you are searching for are not going to appear while you do nothing.
Being idle with expectation is one of the biggest mistakes people make. No matter what happened in 2020, it does not determine what will happen in 2021. Your situation now does not equal your ability to take a step toward something new, different, better, or more exciting.
How do you take a step when you feel like your potential is on lockdown?
The answer will ring true for you. Figure out what you are avoiding. What are you procrastinating? What do you know deep down you need to do? The answers you come up with are the things likely to propel you into progress.
It would be best if you took action. If you don’t take action and keep doing what you keep doing, you’re going to keep getting what you keep getting. I don’t know anyone that wants to keep getting what 2020 keeps dishing out.
Have you heard of the compound effect? Darren Hardy explains it as is the strategy of reaping huge rewards from small, seemingly insignificant actions. In other words, it’s like eating an elephant- one bite at a time. Taking small action steps every day, over time, will help you cross the finish line- even if your goal seems like Mount Everest. Taking small action steps over and over will seem like no big deal at first, but the reward will be huge over time.
If you’re reading this blog post and thinking, “Aaron, tell me something I don’t know already! Take action is not the secret sauce I was looking for!” You’re probably not alone.
You’re probably not alone in the toxic cycle of having doubt, dread, anxiety, analysis paralysis, and other feelings. Can you relate to sitting down at your computer to tackle a goal and going down a rabbit hole of social media instead? Soon an hour has gone by, and you’re not even sure what the original distraction was? Staying focused in a world where Zoom, facetime, the internet, and social media are in front of us all the time is more than just a simple task.
Being cautious of time and energy vampires takes conscious effort every day. When you get distracted, the key is to stop what distracted you right away and get back to the task at hand. Create a habit of self-checking for distractions and don’t get hung up on the details. Getting hung up on the details leads to procrastination. Distractions and procrastination do not have to be what working from home in 2021 looks like.
Start with a list. What *must* get done? Do you have a blog post to write or a social media post you need to complete? Do you have to follow up with leads or respond to some emails? How is strategizing your goals going? You can do all of this by making a list and dedicating time to each bullet point. One way to consciously stay focused and self-aware is to set a timer. Give yourself x minutes to respond to emails, and the moment you start to slip, pull yourself back to the task at hand. Don’t get bogged down or overwhelmed with all the things you need to do. When you get distracted by an incoming text, video pop up, etc., remember you are on the clock and push forward. The text message will still be there in 15 minutes. You can save the video for later. Get the point?
I don’t think I’m perfect when it comes to being focused all the time. I still slip down a rabbit hole, start scrolling, and get lost in the moment now and then. Nobody is perfect. But there are specific skills you can learn and master that will set you apart from the people who are quite literally wasting away. I’m not talking about Margaritaville wasting away, although that does sound nice! I’m talking about letting life pass you by without ever being in the driver’s seat. Don’t waste away the day with each passing moment because things got different or challenging or weird. There are four weeks left in 2020, and then 2021 is here. Pull yourself together with self-discipline.
Self-discipline is the secret sauce for taking action.
What are some examples of self-discipline?
-Paying attention to the task, especially during a distraction
-Staying committed even if you’re not in the mood (Something else usually seems more exciting/interesting)
-Dedicating time each day to complete a task (time doing vs. time thinking about doing)
-Sacrifice (Remembering why you want to accomplish your goal)
-Getting out of your comfort zone
What does all of the above have in common? One crucial skill I’ve mentioned: FOCUS.
It’s so easy to get distracted by the bright and shiny ‘thing’ in our lives. You might have great intentions, but the second that shiny thing shows up, all the good intentions go out the window, and there’s zero focus.
What do you do when you lose focus? First and foremost, don’t dwell on it. Getting distracted by the fact that you were distracted can become a vicious cycle all on its own. It would be best if you accept it, forgive yourself, and move forward.
Getting mad or disappointed in yourself is a waste of your precious time. One way to move forward when this happens is to write down what is going on.
Write down what is going on and why you’re disappointed, distracted, or unmotivated. Here is an example:
See how naming things can put things in perspective? Above are six simple things that together were causing me to feel unmotivated and unfocused. Writing them down helped me realize how I was feeling and move past it. It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom and the end of the world.
Re-focusing will look different for everyone based on your list, but here is another example based on my list above:
1) Work out each day next week
-Write down details of the workout for each day, so it is part of a plan and not just an idea.
2) Forgive the diet slip up and move forward. Punishing oneself with calorie/food deprivation is not the answer.
3) Stop watching the news for the rest of the week. Replace this time with something productive like reading a book, exercise, or time spent with family.
4) Call and talk to a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while.
5) Commit to bedtime this week that is reasonable and set the alarm to remind you of the bedtime.
6) Meditate on the serenity prayer for 5 minutes each day
Writing this down helps you go from funk to focused, and it helps the mind feel less overwhelmed and distracted. It gives you action steps to help move forward instead of getting paralyzed by the feelings.
Feeling productive will lead to more productivity.
Feeling in control will lead to taking control.
Feeling focused will help you create the habit of being focused.
Let your feelings become positive, and you’ll be on your way to self-discipline.
When you take action, the small steps compound into making a big difference.
2020 has been a year of teaching us how to be in the moment more than any other time. It has taught us that we can be productive from our living rooms and taught us that instant gratification isn’t always going to happen. It’s taught us patience and to let go of what we can not control. It’s taught us not to take for granted the little things in life and that the little things are big things.
As we approach 2021, let this blog post remind you that you can achieve anything you would like, from big business goals to small goals and habit changing. As you think about “resolution”, be reminded that what you choose to do as a habit the first 31 days of the year will set the tone for the rest of 2021. Create focus driven practices that require you to be self-disciplined.
Remember the compound effect. You can eat an elephant if you take one bite at a time. One bite at a time may seem daunting and time-consuming, but the alternative is being exactly where you are right now, or worse.
What I mean is, if you feel like you’re in deep and barely keeping your head above water, start with taking smaller steps that may seem trivial to start. Eating an elephant one bite at a time might look like cutting each bite into fourths at first. So if you aren’t able to focus at all, you might need to look at what is distracting you. If it’s social media, you might need to set limits or reduce the daily platforms you use. If your house is a mess, you may need to pick one chore to start doing consistently before cleaning the entire home. If it’s healthy eating habits, it might mean adding in a specific healthy food, such as a green vegetable every night before eliminating the bread. If you don’t know where to start with marketing, it might mean consistently posting once a day instead of trying to learn everything in an instant. Learn as you go is much better than know everything before starting.
Soon, you will see you are forming self-disciplined habits that help you be focused and driven. And you’ll be ready for big bites instead of quartered bites. Starting small is always superior to staying small, and moving in a direction is always better than staying still. You have what it takes to make 2021 a fantastic year, despite what uncertainty is attached to it. Even with all the uncertainty, one this is for sure: You can be the most productive you’ve ever been, the most focused you’ve ever been, and the most disciplined you’ve ever been. You got this! Let the fireworks begin!
Comment below with what you are looking forward to in 2021.
What is the most distracting thing from your productivity?
Do you have any tips to get focused?
Leave a comment below lets chat!