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How to keep your eyes on the prize

We all have goals we want to achieve in life, whether they be work-driven or lifestyle centred. However, despite our best intentions and efforts, staying focussed on these goals can sometimes prove quite challenging.

We may start off very motivated and energised, but somewhere down the line we could find ourselves in a position where we have too much going on in our busy lives, that we might often lose track of what’s important to us and lose sight of the bigger prize.

As a technologically advanced and fast-paced society, we’re constantly stretched thin for time and energy, and life often tends to get the best of us. But, just because there are many factors competing for our attention, doesn’t mean we should let ourselves become so overwhelmed and distracted that we forget about what goals we’ve set ourselves and the reasons for why we’ve set them.

There are some goals which appear to be easy and very quickly achievable, whilst others require more effort and persistence, often appearing too far out of reach. We’re then left feeling as though we’ve bitten off more than we can chew.

With the ever-increasing distractions that we face nowadays such as family commitments, work responsibilities, social media pressures, TXTs and emails, and people tugging at us left, right and centre for attention with their own priorities, it’s common to subconsciously put our own priorities aside in order to attend to everyone else’s.

Whether you’re an individual with the drive to succeed in your career, a small business owner, team leader or corporate executive, or simply have an interest to improve and make changes in your personal life, there are some approaches you can take to maintain focus and ensure you stay on track to attaining your goals.

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, make sure you have a robust plan that can help you stick to your guns and prevent you from becoming derailed from what you’ve set out to accomplish.

Below are some approaches which I find quite helpful in maintaining a clear and steady path to achieving the goals I set out in my life. In fact, adopting this strategy helped me take the step to starting my business (my ultimate goal) and ensured I stayed on track to achieve what I needed to in order to reach this ultimate goal.

  1. Establish what your ultimate goal is: this will essentially outline exactly how you see your business long-term. All other goals you set should signify the bricks you use to staircase to your ultimate goal. The growth of your business (or your interest) stems from maintaining a smaller, organised set of goals which all lead to an optimum goal.

  1. Physically write down a set of realistic and attainable goals and then rank them in order of importance to prioritise which of them you want to tackle first. You can even incorporate these goals into a vision board with images (it helps if you can see your goals in front of you). Identifying your priorities and developing a strategic plan, helps you become more proactive in your approach to achieving your goals, rather than treating them merely as abstract. Remember, there will almost always be conflicts between your priorities and actions, each competing for your attention, time and energy – just go with it. Learn to work with the tension, all the while keeping in mind which of them you consider to be the most important.

  1. Time manage: in order to maintain a productive schedule, you need to make sure you’re able to manage your time properly with the implementation of deadlines to keep you on track. There’s a really popular time management system which many people make use of, called the Quadrant Time Management Matrix by Stephen Covey. This system allows you to separate your goals, tasks and activities into four different segments and assists in prioritizing what you need to do and when you need to complete each item: Quadrant one - urgent and important (things we need to get done first and foremost) Quadrant two - non-urgent and important (things that are important but do not require us to complete urgently - these should be planned for) Quadrant three - urgent and unimportant (things that might be urgent to someone else, but not important to us as it doesn’t fit within our own plan and priorities) Quadrant four - unimportant and non-urgent (things that are neither important nor urgent to us – they don’t have to be done anytime soon and probably don’t add a lot of value to the bigger picture/our wider plan).

  1. Create a mission statement for yourself. Having a mission statement encourages you to direct your energy and focus on the things that are important to you – and just reminds you what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It usually consists of your values, what you believe in and what exactly you want to accomplish. It helps you understand what your purpose in life really is. Think about what matters to you and the things that resonate with you.

  1. Set yourself benchmarks that align with your goals. Splitting your goals into smaller milestones means you can tackle each component of the bigger goal more easily and move forward on your long-term goals. It’s also a more effective way in helping you get through everything you need to, making your end goal even more easily attainable.

  1. Measure and record your progress: it’s important to know how you're progressing with your plan to achieve your goals. Make sure you record your progression to determine your success at each point and if you are making good progress, this can be a strong motivator to help you keep going. If you find you need to make changes to your approach, take the corrective action necessary and continue to measure.

  1. Make sure you take the time to reap the rewards: nothing feels more satisfying than reaching your milestones or goals. Celebrating the small wins cultivates the motivation to keep moving forward and achieving your bigger end goal. In a team environment, implementing motivational techniques is also a good way to increase your team’s morale. Enjoying your hard work will ultimately keep you focussed and motivated to carry on succeeding.

Remember, many of us struggle to concentrate and focus on our goals because of the obstacles we face in life. Ensure you maintain your personal power over these factors and don’t let them distract you to the point of failure. Find ways of managing them along with an organised plan to help you stay motivated and on course. Good luck!

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